LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Throwing three interceptions in four possessions against Wisconsin apparently hasn't shaken Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez's confidence.
Not that he was happy about those game-changing picks.
Asked Monday to assess his ability to read defenses, Martinez said without hesitation that he does a "good job." And he said he doesn't care if he gets criticized for the comment by people who watched the interceptions turn a close game with the Badgers into a 48-17 loss Saturday night.
"You guys rip me anyway, so it really doesn't matter," Martinez told reporters near the end of a news conference in which he tersely answered 20 questions in less than 4 minutes.
Coach Bo Pelini is standing by Martinez as the 14th-ranked Cornhuskers (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten) begin preparations for Saturday's home game against Ohio State (3-2, 0-1). He said the gap between the sophomore and redshirt freshman backup Brion Carnes is "pretty wide."
"Let's face it, the quarterback position is always going to be under the microscope," Pelini said. "Trust me, Taylor had a couple throws he'd like back the other night, a couple things he did he'd like back. When you look at what he's done over the bulk of the season, I'm glad he's our quarterback."
Martinez has been an occasional game-breaker as a runner in his two seasons as the starter, but his decision-making as a passer has hurt the Huskers in some of the biggest games. He has thrown five interceptions and no touchdown passes in his last three games against Top 25 opponents, all losses.
The Huskers led the fourth-ranked Badgers 14-13 in the second quarter before Martinez's three interceptions allowed Wisconsin to take control.
On the first, linebacker Mike Taylor showed blitz before he dropped into coverage. Martinez threw the ball right at Taylor as if he didn't see him.
On the second, Martinez appeared to look only at Jamal Turner but overthrew him, and Aaron Henry made the interception.
On the third, which came on the first play of the second half, Martinez rolled out and threw behind Quincy Enunwa along the sideline. Cornerback Antonio Fenelus picked it off.
"We tried to make some throws that weren't there," Pelini said.
Martinez has run for more than 100 yards twice this season and is averaging 96 a game. But he has completed only 51 percent of his passes, and he's thrown five interceptions and four touchdowns.
"At times he gets impatient and I think he thinks he needs to win the game by himself, and that's part of the growth of a quarterback," Pelini said. "You have to let the game come to you. You have to read it. You're not going to make a big play on every down."
Martinez has the support of his teammates, and receiver Tim Marlowe said the quarterback was upbeat at a team meeting Sunday.
"We'll follow Taylor any day. We know he's going to get after it this week," Marlowe said.
Receiver Brandon Kinnie said, "Yeah, he's our guy. Heck, yeah. He's our quarterback, so we've got 100 percent faith in him, confidence in him, and he's going to take it with a chip on his shoulder."
That chip was evident during Martinez's brief session with reporters. He offered no more than four- or five-word responses to most questions and refused to answer when asked whether he sometimes tries to force plays.
When asked if it's hard to take criticism from fans and media, Martinez said, "I don't read nothing you guys say anyway."
The Huskers will need to shake off the poor showing in their Big Ten debut in time for the Buckeyes and focus on football. The team said, without elaboration, that they had dealt with freshman defensive tackle Chase Rome, who received a $326 ticket from Madison, Wis., police for damaging an airport paper towel dispenser after the loss to the Badgers.
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