LINCOLN — Taylor Martinez is connecting with receivers at an impressive rate this spring, said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who characterized the senior quarterback's accuracy as “phenomenal” so far.
Said Pelini: “He threw a couple picks the first or second practice. I don't think he's thrown another one since.”
Martinez completed 62 percent of his passes last season, but he's running a more experienced offensive unit that's getting even more comfortable in its scheme.
Junior receiver Kenny Bell mentioned Monday that the quarterback-receiver chemistry keeps improving. Pelini said Martinez is playing more under control.
“He's running the offense. He's not forcing the ball,” Pelini said. “He's making good decisions. That's a big part of playing the position.”
Abdullah will sit out rest of spring practice
It appears that I-back Ameer Abdullah would be suiting up and practicing if Nebraska had a game this week.
But it's just spring practice. And Pelini's not going to risk it with the junior's knee injury.
So Abdullah will remain sidelined for NU's final five practices, including the spring game April 6.
“He could probably practice now if we needed him to, but he's done as far as I'm concerned this spring,” Pelini said.
Also sitting out practice Wednesday was senior defensive back Ciante Evans, who was in a minor car accident Tuesday. “A little fender-bender,” Pelini said. “He's fine.”
Freshman WR Moore impressing teammates
Add Jamal Turner to the Nebraska players and coaches who have been impressed by redshirt freshman Alonzo Moore in his first real practice time at receiver. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck on Monday called Moore an “electrifying player.”
“Very smooth, very athletic. Fast,” Turner said Wednesday. “The thing when you watch Alonzo is how smooth his routes are. He's just an athlete, that's the big thing. The guy is crazy athletic.
“He's one of those guys where if you want a jump ball, he's going to go get it. That guy can leap out of this world.”
Turner said Moore's big task through the spring and into fall camp will be to better learn the plays. But he said the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder from Winnfield, La., is capable of turning heads like he did with a long touchdown reception in the March 14 scrimmage before spring break.
“Little dump-off pass to him, he broke a tackle, stiff-armed a guy and outran everybody else,” Turner said. “He's so fast, you're not going to catch him.”
Qvale jumping on FGCU bandwagon
Nebraska offensive tackle Brent Qvale said he probably would have gone with Kansas before the NCAA basketball tournament started, but the senior can't help but latch onto the hot story heading into the Sweet 16.
“I'm gonna jump on the bandwagon and say Florida Gulf Coast,” Qvale said. “I really like watching how they play. It looks like they're having fun out there. It looks like they're flying around. They're not playing not to lose.”
Qvale knows his NCAA hoops, and even saw a 2010 second-round game in San Jose, Calif., when his brother Brian played for Montana in a close loss to New Mexico. Brent Qvale also was a two-time all-state basketball player in high school at Williston, N.D.
If he had a bracket going right now?
“Who knows who's going to win this tournament,” Qvale said. “You can't really predict anything.”
Defense gets homework during spring break
Being away from practice during spring break didn't mean a complete getaway from football — at least for the defense.
Linebacker David Santos said a rocky showing in a scrimmage the day before the vacation led to some unexpected homework.
“That's what I was looking at the whole spring break,'' Santos said. “The whole scrimmage — 119 plays just going over and over in my head.''
Pelini kept that fresh in the defenders' minds with some paperwork.
“Coach Bo made a big packet of what we needed to see and what we needed to work on,'' Santos said. “It was like a Yellow Book, just full of stuff.''
What caused the defense problems?
“There just wasn't enough effort, enough want-to,'' Santos said. “When the bullets were flying, guys ducked their head and got scared. It was an eye-opener to a lot of the young guys.
“It wasn't terrible. There were some good things. But there is a lot to work on.''
Huskers gearing up for tackling period
Nebraska hasn't done any full-speed tackling to the ground yet this week, Santos said.
“But Saturday we will,'' he said. “And the week before spring break, it was Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. We've had tackling periods and the scrimmages.''
— Jon Nyatawa, Lee Barfknecht and Rich Kaipust
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>> Video: See footage from Wednesday's practice session:
>> Video: See coach Bo Pelini after practice:
>> Video: See quarterback Taylor Martinez after practice:
>> Video: See wide receiver Kenny Bell after practice: