This offseason, the praise for junior quarterback and fourth-year starter Adrian Martinez has been as high as ever, as Nebraska’s coaches and players said he’s poised for his best season yet.
Behind him on the quarterback depth chart, however, is total uncertainty.
Head coach Scott Frost, offensive coordinator Matt Lubick, and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco have been high on the potential of second-year freshman Logan Smothers and true freshman Heinrich Haarberg as viable backups.
But the reality is that, now a week through fall camp, both quarterbacks still have a lot to prove before either of them solidifies himself as the clear No. 2 behind Martinez.
“We want to throw everything at them quick,” Frost said. “I want to get that first unit available to run anything that we need to run this year early on, and then we’ll start scaling it back and dialing in a little bit more.
“So we’re throwing a lot at those guys, particularly Haarberg. But they’ve picked up right where they left off in the spring. Both of them are doing some really good things.”
Both Smothers and Haarberg showed flashes over the 15 spring practices and in the Red-White Spring Game, but neither separated enough to clear up the competition going into fall camp.
As Frost mentioned, Smothers has a bit of a leg up with his experience, having a full year in the program and learning the offense under his belt.
While Smothers was the presumptive No. 2 going at the start of spring ball, Haarberg’s athleticism and arm strength quickly changed that conversation. Now it’s a matter of which QB will put it all together first.
“We’re really looking forward to the continued development of Logan and Haarberg,” Frost said. “Both of them have a ton of talent. Neither one of them have a ton of experience yet. We need to try to give them that experience in fall camp as much as we can…
“Adrian is obviously going to be our guy. We got to find out who the next guy up is. That may be decided after this fall camp and may change after this fall camp, but we’re going to spend a lot of time with those two to make sure that they’re game-ready and as prepared as they can be if they get their chance.”
Frost has said that he wants to make roster decisions and solidify a depth chart this fall much earlier than he has in the past.
There are still two more weeks of camp left to play out, including two full-team scrimmages, before the first game week of the year begins. Beyond that, NU doesn’t plan on carving its quarterback depth chart for Week 0 at Illinois in stone.
“I have no idea how it’ll shake out right now,” Frost said. “Whatever decision we make for Game 1 might not be the decision for Game 2. So we’re going to keep bringing both of them along.”