Bulldogs will try to rattle Nebraska QB

September 8, 2011 

Travis Brown has seen this T-Magic act before, and it was a brutal experience.

"He picked on us," Fresno State's junior linebacker says now with a smile in recounting the performance of Centennial High-Corona quarterback Taylor Martinez in a 42-7 throttling of Clovis West three years ago.

Martinez already had committed to Nebraska by the time the nationally ranked outfit from Southern California marched into Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium and toyed with Brown's Golden Eagles.

Martinez passed for 280 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone against the Central Section's most successful football program in the past 30 years.

"I knew he was going to be a D-I guy," Brown says of the 6-foot-1, 200-pound athlete who rejected an early recruiting pitch from Bulldogs coach Pat Hill while pledging allegiance to the Cornhuskers. "He had an arm."

And legs.

And so yet another unforgiving assignment Saturday for Brown in defending the entire package of the redshirt sophomore quarterback who has been christened "T-Magic" in Lincoln, Neb.

One week after absorbing 319 total yards from Cal quarterback Zach Maynard (266 passing, 53 rushing) in a 36-21 loss to the Bears at Candlestick Park, the degree of difficulty would only seem to increase for the Bulldogs before 84,000 at Memorial Stadium.

As if it wasn't enough dealing with Nevada's machine-like pistol offense under now-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in recent years, here is yet another version with Martinez and the 10th-ranked Cornhuskers.

They, too, have employed a pistol scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Tim Beck.

Only Martinez, generally setting up 3 yards behind center, is also executing triple-option plays where he'll stuff the ball in the gut of his fullback, run himself or pitch to a trailing back.

He ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns and completed 11 of 22 passes for 116 yards Saturday in a season-opening 40-7 rout of Chattanooga.

Martinez, in a West Coast offense formerly coordinated by Shawn Watson, rushed for more than 100 yards in five of Nebraska's first seven games last year before struggling to the finish line with toe and ankle injuries.

But he has returned to top form while stirring continued optimism in a program that has joined the Big Ten Conference this year, has won five national titles, 43 conference crowns and 838 games, including 21 straight against Western Athletic Conference opposition since 1955.

Yet not to cry doom and gloom, Brown says, in a second assignment against Martinez, only 1,600 miles east.

He points to some vulnerable links in a Nebraska offensive front that will start one true freshman and two sophomores.

"It's always going to be difficult going to a school like that, a top-10 team," he says. "But I just feel we actually match up better against them than Cal.

"We have a strong front eight. And, matching our front eight against their front six, seven or eight, I'll take ours. We've got a great game plan, and if we just get a couple hits on that quarterback, I think he's going to be coughing up the ball and will get rattled."

The reporter can be reached at aboogaard@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6336.

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