Days after Nebraska head coach Scott Frost garnered national attention for criticizing his players for wearing hoodies in cold weather against Minnesota, the Nebraska football team practiced outside in snowy, freezing weather on Wednesday.
And yes, players were allowed to wear hoodies.
Practicing in the freezing cold served two purposes for Nebraska. First, it hammered home the need for mental toughness which Frost has emphasized in the past few weeks. More importantly, it may help the Huskers prepare for similar conditions against Purdue on Saturday. Snow is not in the forecast, but temperatures are expected to hover just above freezing.
“Saturday, it might be snowing, and it might be cold, so it was good for us to go out there and create some mental toughness,” offensive coordinator Troy Walters said. “The guys responded, they went out there and did a good job of executing, so we’re ready for any conditions that might happen on Saturday.”
The outside practice was also an opportunity for sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez to perhaps ready himself for his first start in over a month. On Tuesday, Martinez said he was ready to go, and while Nebraska’s coaching staff won’t name a starter yet, it seems the team will have its starting quarterback against Purdue.
“It helps them get acclimated, if the day ends up like that on Saturday, we’ll be ready to go,” quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said. “No pissing and moaning, let’s play football.”
Verduzco said Martinez is looking like his old self in practice, a good sign for his chances of playing on Saturday. The Nebraska coaching staff considered playing him last week over sophomore Noah Vedral, but went with the Wahoo native instead as they felt Martinez’s mobility was still limited to the point where it could expose him to further damage.
“He was irritated right after the Ohio State game, because he wants to play and he wants to contribute,” Verduzco said. “That’s the kind of young guy he is, but he just couldn’t. He couldn’t protect himself very well and that was paramount in our mind about getting him on the field.”
This week has been important for the Husker quarterback group as they come off a good performance against Indiana, although all three of the team’s best options were less than 100 percent by the time the game ended.
“It was a little surreal, I don’t think I’d ever been in that situation before,” Verduzco said. “Luke wanted to continue to go, Noah wanted back in and Adrian wanted in.”
The Husker coaching staff decided against throwing Martinez into the game, instead allowing Vedral to go back in. And while Martinez has been frustrated to miss two full games, the quarterback room is closer than ever, as each member cheered on their counterparts during the Indiana game.
“The culture of our quarterback room is exactly what coach Frost wants: positive, upbeat, excited, prepared, knowledgeable and dedicated to what they’re doing,” Verduzco said. “I don’t know if I could be more pleased with the room in terms of just the culture of it.”