CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez has enjoyed playing Illinois the past three seasons. The Illini defense is hoping that changes Saturday in Champaign. In three games against Illinois, Martinez has accounted for 791 total yards, including a career-high 446 in the 2019 game, the third-highest total in Husker history. After an up-and-down season last fall, Nebraska’s first three-time captain is a focus for the Illini heading into the season opener.
“Containing him in the pocket obviously because he has great legs, and he is showing he can throw the ball really well too,” Illinois senior linebacker Jake Hansen said about Martinez. “We’re going to have to cover well and just play a good game across the board.”
“I played him a couple times so I know what to expect a little bit,” Illinois senior cornerback Tony Adams said. “I heard he got better and we got better as well.”
Illinois beat Nebraska in Lincoln 41-23 in a game that redshirt freshman Luke McCaffery started for the Huskers. Martinez came in late, throwing for a fourth quarter score. Beating the Big Red on their home field means Nebraska will come in hungry, something the Illinois defense says it will be ready for.
“What we did to them has nothing on our minds,” Illinois outside linebacker Owen Carney Jr. said. “Everything is fresh and we want to build on from August 28th to the end of the season.”
Illinois and Nebraska kickoff at noon Aug. 28 in a nationally televised Week 0 game on FOX.