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Martinez, Verduzco reflect on the last year and look ahead to 2021

For Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco and quarterback Adrian Martinez, the last year has dealt its fair share of challenges.

From making the decision to bench Martinez for Luke McCaffrey to on-the-field struggles and turnovers. It's all been there this last year.

It's challenged, Martinez. It's challenged, Verduzco. It's tested their relationship, but in the end, this last year has arguably strengthened their bond.

Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco.
Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco. (Associated Press)

“He and I have a tremendous relationship,” Verduzco said of Martinez. “Those lines of communication were wide ass open when we recruited him, when he came here and they still wide open.”

Monday was the first time reporters have talked to Verduzco since before the decision was made to bench Martinez for the now-departed McCaffrey.

Verduzco said that was a very difficult decision he had to relay to Martinez, but he handled it about as well as you could. You could see the emotion in Verduzco when remembering that conversation.

“You all have children, and you love them to death. So he’s like your son,” Verduzco said of Martinez. “Sometimes those things are difficult to tell them the truth about themselves. That’s not always easy, but it needs to be done.”

Martinez came back in late vs. Illinois after McCaffrey earned starts against Penn State and the Illini. The following week at Iowa, Martinez took back over the starting job and never looked back. McCaffrey skipped town in January to Louisville.

Even with a clear lock on the job right now, you get the sense Martinez is still trying to play with a sense of urgency, something that at times he didn't have after his freshman year when in a similar position to now.

In a conversation with head coach Scott Frost this past June, he even referenced that in 2019 there were times Martinez took his foot off the gas in his preparations and tried to turn it back on during game days.

“I would say after an experience like that, I am always going to be competing,” Martinez said. “You go through losing your job and getting it back, that mentality is something I have to stick with, and won’t neglect. Those (other quarterbacks in the program now) are talented. Those guys are doing a really great job. I’m not going to let up and I know they won’t either.”

Technically Martinez has two years of eligibility left, but 2021 will be his fourth season as NU's starter.

At this time though he's not worried about anything but 2021.

“I want to play as best as I can this season and focus on what’s ahead of me,” Martinez said. “As crazy as things have been, there’s no way I should be looking ahead to two years in the future. I just really have to focus on the now, and really focus on the best I can be, and the rest will work out.”