Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson had plenty to say about his quarterback, Taylor Martinez, after he rolled up 369 yards of offense and five touchdowns in the Huskers 48-13 win over Kansas State on Thursday.
Here are a few selections of what he had to say after Thursday night's game.
It's something else. That's what he is, he's an explosive runner and he's a strong runner, too. It's now, right now, first step. He's at first-step speed. His first step he's at full speed. ... We do so many things with our run game. You have to account for everybody, and we continue to develop it. We haven't shown a lot yet. We haven't had to, fortunately. We just gotta keep developing. We've got a lot of work to do. We are not even close to where I think we can be.
What's your night like as a play caller when it seems like everything's working?
It's easy. (Laughs) It's easy. It's really a credit to the kids. We were really upset with the way we played against South Dakota State. That got everybody's attention and the last week and a half of practice was an easy week of practice, because the kids went out and practiced the way they played tonight. Good on good, that's the thing about our program and our culture. We put our goods on the defensive goods and we get after each other. So, all those things started coming together and it got really competitive. So much so that we had to back 'em down. It's just what we believe in as a staff. You could see the confidence and the persistence and focus and the details they had to clean up was there.
Where does tonight sit for you in terms of Taylor at his best?
This has been his best game. It's a short career right now. Hopefully we see some other things down the road.
What about practice, though?
This is kind of like what practice is. Not every day, but a lot of days.
What can we expect from him the rest of this year?
We'll see. We'll see what happens. The kid's been amazing.
What happened [last week against South Dakota State]?
It's not what they did, it's what he did. He was really trying to force reads. He was trying to force decisions. He wants to make the big play. And when he lets the game come to him now, I'm telling you, he's hard to contain.
Why did that happen?
I think a) it was homecoming and b) no disrespect intended, but you know, South Dakota State, he thought, "I can go have a knockout game and really light the lights up." Young quarterbacks go through that. Immaturity that you have to help him grow through. So it was a good thing for his career, because it got his attention.
...No disrespect to you guys, but he doesn't like the media. He just wants to be left alone to play. And that's a good thing because it's a throwback attitude. He just wants to play. Give me the ball.
The way he's started the season begs the question, what kept him off the field last year?
We had to find a place for him. We didn't know for sure. We had recruited him as an athlete and what we saw on film was explosiveness. Our offense was at that time evolving to what we are today. We were still finding ourself and finding our direction. We knew what direction we wanted to head, but we didn't know for sure how we were going to get there yet. We were moving in that direction, and then once I saw him on film, out on the field, when [the offense] had him, I said, "No way I'm giving this kid up. There's no way I'm giving this kid up. Because he can add to us a dimension that we don't have." And that's how he won the job. What you saw tonight is how he won the job, because that competition was close, on paper, on scores on percentages, on pressure throws. Those other two guys are good football players and he won it because of that, explosive runs.
Were you ever close to burning his redshirt?
No, because at that time, he had just come in. We didn't have him. He just came in in the fall. Had he been there in December? Maybe so. But he hadn't been. He had a lot to learn. He was in China, man. He was learning how to speak the language.
So what did he look like last year?
Last year, he was everywhere being explosive. Free safety, wide receiver, quarterback. We kind of do that with freshmen when we first get them to camp and after I had a chance to work with him a little bit, because the thing that caught my eye -- I knew the running stuff, I saw that on high school film -- and then he did it whether it was at receiver, whether it was at quarterback, whether it was at DB, you could see it. Where he caught my attention was his passing talent. So he has arm talent. He has a great delivery.