How Collin Klein is helping K-State QB Adrian Martinez shed turnover-prone reputation

Kellis Robinett
·3 min read

There is much to like about the football statistics Adrian Martinez piled up during his four seasons at Nebraska, but he was far from a perfect quarterback for the Cornhuskers.

He actually made so many mistakes with his previous team that many have labeled Martinez as turnover-prone.

Martinez has vowed to shed that reputation now that he is the presumptive starter at Kansas State. But that’s not an easy task. Fortunately, he is now playing for an offensive coordinator who knows a thing or two about taking care of the football.

Collin Klein only threw 15 interceptions when he played quarterback at Kansas State a decade ago. On top of that, the passer he coached the past five seasons in Manhattan, Skylar Thompson, only tossed 16 interceptions during his 45 games with the Wildcats.

Martinez accounted for more than double those turnovers while he was at Nebraska, throwing 30 interceptions and losing a handful of costly fumbles over the course of 39 games. Teaching him to continue making impressive plays with both his arm and his feet while also limiting turnovers has been one of Klein’s top priorities during preseason camp.

He even had a speech prepared to help Martinez stop throwing so many picks.

“You cannot say, ‘Hey, I can’t turn this ball over.’ No, you can’t think like that,” Klein said earlier this week. “But you can think of, ‘Hey, how do I manage the football game? How do I make smart decisions?’ You can’t think, ‘Hey, I have got to go win the game on this play.’ You have got to let the system and the machine do its work and trust your teammates and understand not to force anything.” We’ll do it on the next one. I think we’ve made strides in that area.”

So far, that advice seems to be sinking in.

“He’s doing a good job,” Klein said. “He is very aggressive and he can make every throw on the field and he’s an electric athlete. My biggest message to him on that is, you cannot play quarterback scared to make a mistake.”

Martinez has tried his best to distance himself from Nebraska, and the mistakes he made while playing there, since he traded red for purple.

When asked about the biggest differences between training camp at both schools, Martinez simply said he was enjoying his new experiences at K-State and the opportunity to play in a new offense.

But even he admits he can’t keep giving the ball away like he has in the past.

Perhaps a change of scenery will help. Not only he is now playing for a coaching staff that has a track record of avoiding turnovers, he is also now playing behind an offensive line and with an explosive running back (Deuce Vaughn) who might curb his desire to take unnecessary risks.

“It’s all about playing within myself,” Martinez said. “Some of those plays will happen naturally. Other times you need to let the offense work. That’s where Coach Klein is going to have to trust me and I’m going to have to trust him.”

When Martinez was at his best at Nebraska, his positve stats (8,491 yards and 45 touchdowns passing, 2,301 yards and 35 touchdowns rushing) shined through. When he committed too many turnovers, fans focused on the negative.

He is searching for more balance at K-State, and he thinks he is on the verge of finding it.

“It’s one of those things where I have to let the machine work and let our other playmakers get to work,” Martinez said. “Shoot, we have all those guys. I don’t need to make every play. So I want to have that mindset and still maintain my aggressive-type nature.”