Nebraska still has confidence in Martinez

Taylor Martinez, pulled in the second half against Texas for ineffectiveness, will remain Nebraska’s starting quarterback for this week’s game at Oklahoma State.

Coach Bo Pelini and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said they still have confidence in the redshirt freshman after he struggled in Saturday’s 20-13 loss to the Longhorns.

Zac Lee, the starter last season, replaced Martinez in the third quarter and helped steady a shaky offense. Meanwhile, Martinez stood by himself on the sideline as the Cornhuskers tried to come back from a 17-point deficit.

”I sensed frustration out there,” Watson said. ”There were a lot of things happening to him that he couldn’t help. He was in a situation where it started snowballing on him. We went with Zac because Zac had the experience and maturity to handle it. Taylor is still our starting quarterback.”

The Huskers dropped nine spots to No. 14, in The Associated Press Top 25. The loss dealt a major blow to their national championship hopes, but the Big Ten-bound Huskers are still in position to win the Big 12 North and return to the conference championship game in their last year in the league.

In Nebraska’s first five games, Martinez averaged 147 yards rushing and almost 11 yards a carry, and he had 12 runs of 20 yards or farther.

The Longhorns were by far the best defense Nebraska has faced. They held Martinez to a season-low 21 yards on 13 carries, with his longest run going for 14 yards.

Martinez didn’t speak with reporters after the game.

”He was battling hard out there and was trying to make plays,” Watson said. ”He’s a competitor. He felt like he needed to deliver.”

Martinez completed only 4 of 12 passes for 63 yards. He isn’t to blame for the horrid numbers. Rex Burkhead, Brandon Kinnie and Niles Paul dropped passes that would have resulted in touchdowns.

”When it’s there and it’s laid out for you right in your hands, you have to focus and make the play,” receivers coach Ted Gilmore said. ”You trust you’ve done it countless times in practice and that those repetitions will prepare you for it. When the opportunity was there, we didn’t do it.”

Nebraska had just 202 total yards, well below its average of 494 the first five games.

Watson said the fact he put Lee in the game rather than Cody Green doesn’t mean Lee has taken over the No. 2 quarterback’s job. Watson said Lee had more experience in big games.

”Zac came in and settled everyone down and went to work,” Watson said. ”That had a real calming effect on us.”

Lee ran 10 times for 25 yards and hit 4 of 9 passes for 14 yards. He led a 16-play, 83-yard drive that ended with Alex Henery’s 28-yard field goal, and he moved the Huskers from their 41 to the Texas 28 before a holding penalty put them in a fourth-and-18 and they turned the ball over on downs.

Watson said Martinez was disappointed when told he would be coming out of the game.

”He’s no different than I would be or you would be — he’s stung by it,” Watson said. ”He’s going to have to understand it and come back to work and go back at it.”