But for all his success as a dual-threat quarterback, Martinez has been openly mocked as a passer. Last September, before the first of two games against Nebraska, Wisconsin defensive lineman David Gilbert said, “It still looks like he’s skipping rocks out there to me. … I’m just going to say it. He still can’t throw. He’s not going to beat us with his arm.”
Martinez answered with a huge comeback victory, leading the Cornhuskers to five scores in their final six possessions in a 30-27 home triumph. Moments like that have endeared him to Cornhuskers fans, and the obsession only seems to grow.
This June, Martinez made a quick stop at a Lincoln shopping mall and was almost instantly recognized. He started signing autographs, and before he knew it, security guards had set up a line for the fans. More than an hour later, Martinez went on his way.
Of course, that same fandom helps gives the Cornhuskers a decided home-field advantage. Nebraska is 19-2 at home in Martinez’s three seasons, including 7-0 last year. This year, the Cornhuskers will play eight home games, starting with the first five games of the season.
Nebraska just added 6,000 seats to Memorial Stadium, pushing capacity to 92,000.
“If the crowd gets into it, the place gets rocking,” Martinez said. “[The seating addition] will kind of close off the place a little bit, so it should be a lot louder.”
The whole schedule seems favorable, as Nebraska avoids Ohio State and Wisconsin. If the Cornhuskers emerge with another Legends Division title, they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves in Indianapolis at the Big Ten Championship Game.
At that point, Nebraska fans might even paint a sign: “How do you like the rock skipper now?”