Lincoln, NE - Growing up in California during the late 90s and early 2000s, one might think Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez was a USC fan.
Martinez was all about the UCLA Bruins - the same Bruins who showed interest in him during his senior year of high school as a safety, but never offered him a scholarship.
Four years later, Martinez will return home to take on UCLA. The junior, armed with confidence, is the reigning Co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 354 yards and five touchdowns in the Huskers opening game of the season against Southern Miss on Saturday.
Martinez, who worked out with West Coast quarterback coach Steve Calhoun in the offseason, saw his extra work this summer become a huge storyline entering the season. It appears the work paid off. The junior's mechanics and footwork are different and his passing completion rate is higher – even if it was only game.
"I am glad it happened in the first week," said Martinez, when talking about the start to his season. "Hopefully this momentum can keep going against UCLA."
Martinez was at ease in the pocket against the Golden Eagles, with plenty of time to find receivers down-field. He's finding he doesn't have the same amount of time to find tickets for friends and family for the Saturday night kickoff against the Pac-12 opponent.
"I think 40-50 people are going so far. A lot of people on the team have family out there, so I can't really get a lot from the players," said Martinez. "I'm very excited. I think there are a lot of California players on the team and we are all excited.
"I have never played there (the Rose Bowl). I have been to a few games there. It means a lot to go back to California and play there, so I am really excited to play."
Asked on Monday by reporters if he would have extra motivation playing UCLA considering they never offered, Martinez said "not really," he's happy being a Husker.
With his 354 yards, the California native became just the sixth Nebraska quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards in his career, joining the likes of Heisman trophy winner Eric Crouch. If Martinez stays healthy, it's likely he will break the Nebraska career passing record by early next season.
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