Akron visits Lincoln in a little over two weeks and the Huskers have yet to decide who will be starting under center.
Can you feel it? It’s almost here. We are just over two weeks away from Nebraska’s home opener. It also marks Scott Frost’s first game in his return to Lincoln. It’s an exciting time to be a Husker.
The football team has a new energy about them that we haven’t seen around here in a long, long time. I’d be lying if I didn’t say my expectations are higher than they probably should be. After all, the most important position battle on the team has yet to be decided.
Yes, Tristan Gebbia and Adrian Martinez are still neck and neck in the quarterback arms race. Frost has suggested that they will not employ a two-quarterback system, so one of them will have to win the job outright. As they say, if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.
A team scrimmage on Sunday was supposed to provide a front-runner. Instead, both Gebbia and Martinez looked sharp and focused, contrary to what the coaches saw the previous week, where both QBs struggled.
So who will it be? The staff will reportedly decide within the next week, so expect the news sooner rather than later.
Who should it be? Well, that’s a tougher question.
Bet On It
Back in July, online sportsbook BetDSI listed Martinez as the favorite (-120) with Gebbia behind him (+105). This was when JUCO transfer Andrew Bunch was still in the race, which he is now out of.
Would Frost really start a true freshman over a seemingly more-experienced, polished and game-ready Gebbia? Well, he did two years ago at UCF. McKenzie Milton started ten games his freshman season, replacing veteran Justin Holman. Why? Milton’s explosiveness and playmaking ability.
Frost’s offense is dictated by tempo and speed. They want to get plays off, they want to score and they want to do it all as fast as possible. With plays based around a spread option offense, quarterback mobility is also key. Lastly, big plays are also vastly important.
Gebbia is a talented quarterback and his mobility is underrated. He is a more poised passer and decision-maker than a raw Martinez. Keep in mind, the last meaningful football Martinez has played was in his junior season of high school due to an injury his senior year. Gebbia, on the other hand, was setting records his senior year, but sat last year on the bench.
Either way, the Huskers will be running with a player with zero career minutes in collegiate football, as both are freshmen. Gebbia reshirted a season ago.
Lucky for them, they have talent around them to make a transition easier, no matter who it is.
Both wide receivers, Stanley Morgan and J.D. Spielman will look to break more records as one of the best receiving duos in the country. Don’t count out former top-recruit Tyjon Lindsey with this new staff, either.
Then in the backfield, Devine Ozigbo has lost weight and is reportedly a home run threat. Greg Bell, who came in relying on athleticism, has learned the playbook and is more mentally prepared. Then there’s Maurice Washington, whose uphill climb to make the team paid off and he’s looking electric in practice. Don’t forget Tre Bryant is there, too.
That’s not even mentioning all the talented JUCOs and other freshmen wideouts or the sneaky talented tight end group.
Martinez and Gebbia should feel more comfortable with the players around them. The coaches around them help, too.
Troy Walter, the offensive coordinator, was assistant coach of the year. Coach Frost was the national coach of the year. Both men know how to make life easier for their quarterback.
Make the Pick
If pressed to decide right now, who would it be? The calm, cool and collected Gebbia? Or the guy coach Frost battled through mental and physical fatigue the night he was hired to try and flip to the Huskers?
Martinez is his guy. And I’m thinking he’ll be the second Martinez to wreak havoc as a Huskers freshman starting quarterback.