Andrew Bunch may not know until Saturday morning whether he will make his first collegiate start that day at 11 a.m. against Troy.
The sophomore walk-on, though, has no doubts about how he’ll react if indeed he gets the nod in place of injured freshman Adrian Martinez.
“I’m ready,” Bunch said flatly Wednesday. “I’ve prepared all week and I’m confident and the coaches have done everything to put me in a good position to go win the game or to do my part. I’m ready.”
Really, Bunch has prepared longer than just this week. He played well enough to earn an even split of practice repetitions this spring and made it halfway through fall camp before the staff began adjusting the depth chart.
Even going back to his 2016 season at Scottsdale (Arizona) Community College, he decided he had paid his dues and was willing to walk on at Nebraska if that’s what it took to give himself a chance at the highest level.
That chance arrived with 3 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in Saturday’s loss to Colorado when Martinez went down. The freshman avoided serious injury to his right knee and walked briskly past reporters without much of a limp on Wednesday, but has yet to practice this week.
"It's hard for a quarterback not to do anything the whole week," offensive coordinator Troy Walters said. "We'll see what he can do. Tomorrow we have a walk-through. Friday we have a short practice. We'll see what he can do.”
If Bunch, a native of Thompson Stations, Tennessee, does indeed start, the Huskers won’t need to radically alter their game plan.
“We’re going to run our offense,” quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said. “He knows our offense. He’s operated the offense. It’s just a matter of him getting the reps in practice with the things that we have planned for Troy and, boom, let’s go.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder completed 4 of 9 pass attempts for 49 yards against Colorado and had one carry. Martinez’s 304 total yards and three scores might be a tough comparison, but Verduzco said nobody should underestimate Bunch’s rushing ability.
“Oh, man, Andrew can fly now. Andrew can run. He can get after it. He’s a fast young cat,” the veteran quarterbacks coach said. “I’m impressed with that part of his profile, just like I am with Adrian. Obviously Adrian maybe has a little bit bigger body profile than Andrew, but Andrew can scoot.”
Bunch said he thinks he can handle the whole offense and can operate it efficiently, adding, “I don’t know if there’s a part that I do the best, but I love the tempo."
Verduzco insists that NU can’t worry about a lack of depth if Bunch starts. There’s no time to get gun-shy or worry about being overly protective.
“He’ll make it through,” Verduzco said. “And it’ll be the next guy up if something unfortunate were to happen. Like any game, you don’t anticipate that, but in the back of your brain you’re prepared for it.”
All of the Husker quarterbacks take a game test each week, regardless of whether they’re expecting to play. So when Bunch says he always tries to prepare as if he’s going to start, he also gets tested that way.
“I don’t really like that (mindset), I demand that,” Verduzco said. “They have to be ready. You know, it’s hard when you’re not starting to have that psychological presence from Monday all the way through. …
“I don’t think they want to disappoint me with regards to how they perform on that test, first and foremost because I’m just an extension of Coach (Scott) Frost and Coach Walters. So if they disappoint me, they’re disappointing those two cats and our entire team. It focuses their attention and they’re pretty serious and they’ve done really well on those tests so far.”