SAN DIEGO - For the first two months of the regular season redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez dazzled Husker fans with his natural playmaking ability.
However, injuries suffered over the final month of the regular season changed that for Martinez and he hasn't been the same quarterback since.
As head coach Bo Pelini gave his final thoughts to the media at Wednesday's Holiday Bowl press conference in San Diego, he reflected on the ups and downs his young quarterback has had this season.
Pelini said that he feels like Martinez will take big steps heading into next season after everything he's been through in his first year as a starter. In fact, Pelini even expects Martinez to take some big steps in tomorrow's bowl game match-up with Washington, as the last few weeks have really allowed Martinez to sit back and take a breath of air.
"I think he'll be another guy. It will be an immense difference I think," Pelini said when asked what type of QB Martinez will be in 2011.
"(Martinez) has been through a lot. He's made a lot of plays and he's made a lot of mistakes too and that's to be expected. We knew what the deal was going in. Trust me, I fully understand what it means when you have a guy who's never lined up under center before being your starting quarterback. I don't know if he quite understood it, but slowly but surely he develops an understanding as he experiences all of those things. I'm not just talking about managing what happens on the field, but also what happens off the field - the media, the fans, his everyday life. There's a lot that goes into that and it's not an easy thing to go through for the first time."
Pelini also expects Martinez to take more of a vocal role with this football team as he continues to mature as a quarterback.
Over the course of the season, Martinez has given just six interviews with the media, which have only been after games Nebraska has won.
Martinez was requested for interviews every day in San Diego, but respectfully declined each day. The hard thing to figure out with Martinez is to understand what exactly he's thinking or feeling, since nobody has really been able to talk with him on a regular basis.
Pelini said that part of it has been by design to take Martinez through the process slowly as Nebraska's starting quarterback.
"You try and protect somebody a little bit in his first go around and manage it a little bit and ease him in to it a little bit," Pelini said. "I think we've done that and we've tried to do that. I think now you see a young man who's a lot more comfortable in his role than he was in September."
As Pelini looks ahead to the future, he's excited to see what type of growth Martinez will make from this year to next.
"I think there's a lot he can do," Pelini said. "He's only started 12 games. There's a lot of football to be played. He hasn't even scratched the surface of what he can do and how much more there is he can learn from the quarterback perspective. Its mind boggling to think how far he can go and how much more he's got to learn…and he needs to. Every time you walk out there you are going to have new experiences and learn something new. That's a great thing."