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Ron Brown on Adrian Martinez: 'He was a warrior in many ways'

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Sam dishes on his three keys for the Huskers vs Iowa.

Count Ron Brown among those who admire what Adrian Martinez has accomplished at Nebraska regardless of whether the quarterback returns next season.

Brown, elevated to running backs coach this month from his role as senior offensive analyst, made his first public comments since the coaching changes Wednesday evening on the Husker Radio Network. As someone who has seen about as many Huskers as anyone – he was an assistant for 24 seasons (1987-2003 and 2008-14) and is in his fourth year as a support staffer under coach Scott Frost – Brown said Martinez has impressed him as much as any.

“I’m as old as dirt around here,” Brown said. “I said, ‘I’ve seen a lot of players come through here. To break the total offense record, that’s saying something. At this place, that’s saying something.’

“He was a warrior in many ways. … Without Adrian, we wouldn’t have had, I think, the close games that we had. He truly, I think, guided us to a lot of this.”

The coaching transition has been difficult, Brown said. He recruited two fired assistants in Ryan Held (running backs coach) and Greg Austin (offensive line) back when they came to Nebraska as players.

Said Brown: “Never an easy deal. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, in a sense.”

Meanwhile, the running back group continues to be hit with attrition. Starter Gabe Ervin has been out since September with a knee injury. Sevion Morrison entered the transfer portal this month. New starter Rahmir Johnson has been hurt and will be a game-time decision against Iowa on Friday.

Those who stepped in against Wisconsin performed well, Brown said, despite weeks of little to no game action. Brody Belt, Markese Stepp and Marvin Scott combined for 78 yards at 3.12 yards per carry against the best statistical rush defense in the country.

The other healthy running back, Jaquez Yant, has a “very good chance” to play Friday, Brown said, after not appearing in Madison. He was out for breaking team rules but didn’t do anything “really drastically bad.”

“When you keep the 10-foot rim at 10 feet and don’t lower the rim, I think you’re going to get consistency from your players,” Brown said. “That kind of discipline is what leads to championships later on.”

Also:

>> Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, appearing later in the radio show, said nickelback Isaac Gifford graded out well in his first career start in the stead of injured senior JoJo Domann. The freshman collected three total tackles and frequently set the edge well against Wisconsin defensive ends and tight ends.

“He had a couple busts and there are some things he needs to improve but he played really well in his first football game too,” Chinander said. “I thought he played a physical football game.”​

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