ROBIN WASHUT: Tech game a win despite the score

Tech game a win despite the score

When the 18-year-old kid in the No. 3 jersey began warming up on the sidelines, you could practically hear the sound of nearly 80,000 jaws dropping in unison.

Though most may have been speechless at the time, their thoughts were most likely all the same â€" why would you bring in Harrison Beck now?

In the fourth quarter of Nebraska's second-to-last game of the season, NU Coach Bill Callahan decided to throw away the redshirt eligibility of the crown jewel of last season's heralded recruiting class and send Beck into the game.

Junior Zac Taylor had just been knocked into next week after taking a vicious hit on the Huskers' first drive of the fourth quarter, and for the first time all season, the Huskers were forced to play another quarterback.

There were many options, and for many the most logical would have been replacing Taylor with redshirt freshman Joe Ganz â€" who entered the season as NU's No. 2 quarterback â€" and save Beck's redshirt status.

But as completely ludicrous as the decision seemed at the time, sending Beck into the game was the best move Callahan could have made.

As much as some people focus on saving up for the years to come, Callahan was focused on both the future and the present when he threw Beck into the fire Saturday.

Beck entered the game as the Huskers' second-string quarterback because of what he had shown in practice, and NU needed the best player available to take over the offense.

It wasn't as if the Huskers could have gotten away with handing the ball off for three straight plays and punting â€" leading by just two points with more than 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, they needed to move the ball.

Sure, Beck started off 0-for-5 passing, fell down for a seven-yard loss and threw a costly interception that set up a go-ahead field goal by the Wildcats.

He also drove the Huskers' on a seven-play, 55-yard drive to set up an eventual game-winning field goal in their final chance of the game.

Because of that drive, the Huskers are now going to a bowl game.

Maybe Ganz could have done just as well as Beck did, and the Huskers could have saved Beck's redshirt.

But the benefits of the move far outweigh the obvious costs.

What Beck learned in those three possessions Saturday will help him more than an entire season of watching from the sideline.

He learned what it was like when things don't go how they're supposed to, and he learned how to shake it all off when he absolutely had to.

More than anything, Beck learned what it was like to win at Nebraska, which will be a feeling that sticks with him for the rest of his life.

After the game, Beck didn't express any regrets about losing his extra year of eligibility.

He was too busy trying to soak in everything that had just occurred.

"It's amazing," Beck said. "You warm up in front of 78,000 people, but that's nowhere near being in there with six minutes left in the fourth quarter against Kansas State, up by two. It was amazing. It was fun."

As much as some saw playing Beck as wasting what could have been, Callahan's decision will only render positive effects.

There's no substitute for game experience, and there is definitely no way to duplicate the confidence a player gains from marching his team on a winning scoring drive.

Especially for a quarterback, there is no attribute more important than confidence.

Saturday was a small glimpse of what the future holds for Beck, but if his start is any indication of what's to come, those 80,000 dropped jaws may eventually turn into smiles of success.