Nebraska has zero snaps of collegiate experience behind junior quarterback Adrian Martinez on its roster and may still decide after spring ball that it needs to use one of two remaining scholarships on a signal-caller from the transfer portal.
On Monday, though, coach Scott Frost said he thought all three of his scholarship quarterbacks and walk-on Matt Masker played well in Friday’s closed scrimmage.
Martinez has started 27 games and told reporters last week that he agreed with wide receiver Levi Falck’s assertion that he’s throwing the ball better and with more velocity.
Said Frost on Monday, “The throwing’s been great. Physically he looks great. He’s been healthy. He looks leaner to me, looks faster. I think he did a good job putting in work in winter conditioning with (strength coach Zach Duval). When he takes off with it right now, he looks like a 4.4 (40-yard dash) guy. He looks like a guy that can really run and can be a weapon. I think he did a lot of work in the offseason.
“Mostly, I think Adrian’s just in a good place mentally right now. I think he’s really comfortable and playing with a lot more confidence.”
Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco have lauded the athleticism and processing ability of 2020 freshman Logan Smothers since the day he signed his national letter of intent. On Monday, Frost said Smothers and Verduzco continue to work on Smothers’ delivery to increase the amount of force he can get on the ball.
“Simply put, I thought he threw it the best he’s thrown it last Friday,” Frost said of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, native. “That continues to improve. He and Mario have been working on his stroke a little bit. He’s always been a quick decision-maker, he sees the field really well. He’s accurate and he gets the ball out of his hands. He pushed the ball down the field well on Friday, certainly can run well and he made a couple of plays with his feet, too.
“If we get all that squared away, I think the big thing for him will just be reps and confidence.”
Haarberg has opened eyes since he arrived on campus in January. Remember that Frost and Verduzco weren’t able to see the Kearney Catholic graduate throw the ball in person because of the pandemic, but Verduzco said last week that Haarberg was "pretty clean" mechanically.
Frost expounded on Monday.
“Honestly, he’s the type of kid, we’re not going to mess with the way he throws it much because it jumps out of his hand,” Frost said. “With him, it’s more getting comfortable with the offense, getting confidence, making sure he’s making the right reads. His ability will take care of the rest.”
Frost said Haarberg, listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, has "a long ways to go learning it, but he’s working hard at that and doing a good job and his talent definitely shines through quite often."
One good day from the quarterbacks in April doesn’t alleviate all concern or answer all questions, but it was clear Monday that Frost liked where the group was at for the moment. Frost is intent on letting Smothers, Haarberg and Masker compete behind the veteran he’s hoping will have a resurgent season.
“We’re going to let those guys compete and they’re all getting a bunch of reps, so all three are getting better,” he said.