It's very early in spring practice for Nebraska, and optimism usually runs high for everybody this time of year. Still, it has to be encouraging for Huskers fans to hear about the progress quarterback Taylor Martinez is making as a passer.
Reporters who covered Nebraska's open practice on Saturday said Martinez looked much better throwing the ball. That continued in the second practice Monday night, according to offensive coordinator Tim Beck, who sees a big difference in Martinez's mechanics.
“They’re excellent," Beck told reporters. "He’s really working on the things he needs to work on that we’ve identified in the offseason. He’s put the extra time in and you can see the conscious effort in doing it. It’s helping him.”
One of the big emphases during the winter was working on Martinez's footwork. Yes, his throwing motion looks awkward, but Beck said improper foot placement was the biggest culprit in some of his quarterback's errant passes.
"Your feet control your body," Beck said. "You've got to get your feet going in the right direction before your body can."
Beck said Martinez still needs to work on the depth of his drops in the pocket, but that he's throwing the ball well on short-to-medium routes.
Martinez made great strides as a game manager and team leader last season, but the last hurdle remains his accuracy. He completed just 56.2 percent of his passes in 2011 and struggled in losses at Wisconsin and Michigan.
If the early spring is an indication, Martinez is getting better in that area. And if he can become a more dangerous passer, then Nebraska's offense becomes much harder to contain because defenses have to respect the running ability of both Martinez and Rex Burkhead.
"It’s going to help our run game," Beck said of a potentially improved passing game. "We were very efficient in our play action pass last year. It was high percentage with a very big gain per catch. We feel like we got to do more of that.”