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Huskers' Martinez productive, if not perfect

Huskers' Martinez productive, if not perfect

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Taylor Martinez is making enough big plays for Nebraska that coach Bo Pelini can easily forgive his quarterback for the bad ones.

Martinez ran for 166 yards and had 385 in total offense in the 10th-ranked Cornhuskers' 42-29 win over Fresno State on Saturday night.

Impressive, right?

Still, his performance left fans shaking their heads - sometimes in frustration, other times in awe.

Martinez fumbled on the second play, threw too high and hard on a short pass meant for Brandon Kinnie, and he hesitated to go into contact on a failed fourth-and-1 sneak. Then there were those high long passes thrown off his back feet that badly missed the mark.

But there also was that 57-yard keeper that set up the Cornhuskers' first touchdown, and a 38-yard burst that he followed with a 42-yard pass to Kenny Bell that led to another score.

In the third quarter one of Martinez's floating passes found Jamal Turner for 43 yards, and then he put a pass right where it had to be in the corner of the end zone for Quincy Enunwa's 18-yard TD that gave the Huskers their first lead.

Martinez's 46-yard touchdown run on an option keeper with 2:02 left put the game away.

Bottom line: the Huskers (2-0) can overlook the flaws in Martinez's game as long as he keeps them winning.

"No one's perfect," Pelini said. "He's only about 15 games in as a starter. He's not going to play perfect. A lot of people would take what he did. He put a lot of yards up between his running and throwing. I'm glad he was on our team."

Martinez will go into this week's game against Washington as the nation's No. 1 rushing quarterback. He's tied for third overall with Mississippi State's Vick Ballard at 150.5 yards a game.

The sophomore's 8.85 yards a carry is second to Ballard's 9.71 among players with 30 or more attempts through two games.

Against Fresno State, Martinez completed 6 of 8 passes for 140 yards in the second half as offensive coordinator Tim Beck called for deep passes to loosen up a Bulldogs defense that was crowding the line of scrimmage.

"In the beginning we got kind of pushed back, I think, just like last game," Martinez said. "Our offense is (better) when it's in a rhythm. Just keep on going."

Martinez often has disrupted the rhythm on his own. He fumbled three times against Fresno State after dropping the ball twice against Chattanooga in the opener. Fortunately for him, the Huskers have recovered all five of his fumbles.

Then there's his tendency to loft jump balls downfield.

"They threw up some balls but, gosh dang, he threw up some balls that he hit on," Bulldogs coach Pat Hill said. "That was the difference in the game."

Martinez has gone over 100 yards rushing in seven of his 15 career games, and he has 15 runs of 30 yards or longer. His 385 yards of total offense was second-most in his career behind his 435-yard day against Oklahoma State last year.

"I thought he did a great job running our team," Beck said. "We had different tempos we were using. He was throwing to the correct guy for the most part, getting the ball out on time and letting our guys go out and make some plays. He made some errant throws, but nobody's perfect.

"I'm proud he kept battling and did a nice job."



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