Nebraska is two-thirds of the way through its regular season and, unless the program wins three of its final four games, the season may well be finished in a month.
All but eight of the Huskers’ scholarship players have eligibility remaining after this year, but many of them are going to have decisions to make about whether to return to NU, declare for the NFL Draft or perhaps try to play elsewhere.
None of those will be more closely watched than junior quarterback Adrian Martinez. The 35-game starter said Monday that whatever decision he comes to, it will not be made until after the Huskers are done playing this fall.
“One hundred percent, that’s after the season,” Martinez said. “There are so many things that are way more important than that right now.”
However, the bye week also gave players and coaches their first chance to step back and get away from the daily grind of the season since before camp started in late July. The season always goes by fast. So did Martinez think at all about the possibility that the coming weeks could be his final four games at Nebraska?
“Not necessarily. I might use a little bit of that to even increase the sense of urgency," he said. "It’s really important to emphasize that with our team and with myself. Now, I’m not necessarily thinking about the bigger picture and what it could all mean, whatever it is. The focus has to be on this week. But yeah, hey, it’s sort of football. You never know when it’s your last snap, your last game. So taking that approach, a little bit of that as well, having that sense of urgency and really appreciation for where I’m at and making sure that I enjoy the moment.”
Several opposing coaches have taken the opportunity after games to talk with Martinez. The last time NU played, Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck embraced him and talked to him for nearly 30 seconds on the field after the game. Earlier this month, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald did something similar. Both coaches know they may or may not see the veteran Nebraska quarterback again after this season.
“Generalizing it, it’s about respect and about an appreciation for toughness and some of the things I’ve been through here and have battled through, which I genuinely appreciate,” Martinez said. “It’s always a good thing to get that kind of recognition and appreciation. Now, some of those came after we lost a game and maybe they’re just being nice. It is what it is.
“I really don’t put too much into it, but it is nice to hear from opposing coaches that they respect my game.”
With the bye week in the rearview mirror, though, Nebraska’s three-time captain said anything big picture, whether it’s his own future or the Huskers’ path to six wins or what might happen after the season has to be shelved in his mind.
“I don’t think we’re in a position to (think big-picture), personally,” Martinez said. “We can’t afford to have any attention on anything else besides Purdue. We need this win. Ultimately, if we want to go to a bowl game, we need to beat Purdue. Simple as that for us. All attention on Purdue.”
For his part, he thinks Nebraska can do that and he thinks his team has the right approach with four games to go.
“You need to always have a sense of urgency and we haven’t lost that. We had that at the beginning of the year and we have it right now,” Martinez said. “There’s a sense of patience when it comes to where this program is and where we know we can be, where we want to be and having confidence in that.
"The urgency can’t stop and it won’t stop. We obviously need this win and it’s a huge game for us.”