Zac Taylor’s Memorial Stadium debut Saturday began to answer lingering questions about when and how Nebraska’s offense was going to start clicking.
The White team’s starting quarterback began the Red-White game with eight consecutive completions, including a 34-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Nunn on the White team’s first drive.
After breaking the spring-game record with 357 passing yards despite playing only in the first half, the Butler County (Kan.) Community College transfer said he got all of his jitters out on the first play before settling into a rhythm.
Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell said Taylor has developed good chemistry with receivers like Nunn and Isaiah Fluellen, who combined for 239 yards.
Having been in two different college systems, Norvell said, Taylor understands transitions and the importance of forming relationships with the other players.
“Zac’s caught on quickly,” Norvell said. “He’s come in and infused himself with the system and his team and he’s got very close to guys in a short amount of time.”
Taylor said he began settling into Nebraska’s system about two weeks ago. It felt like he got over a hump and then things started clicking.
Players like Cory Ross, Nunn and the offensive linemen, Taylor said, helped him to ease into the position.
“They make me feel comfortable in the huddle,” he said. “If I stutter and they know the play, they help me out.”
Norvell also said Taylor’s focus has been on doing his job and not on trying to do things he isn’t capable of doing. If he continues to do that, Norvell said Taylor’s success will continue.
In the game, Taylor also was able to showcase his ability to throw the long ball. Norvell said Taylor has surprised the coaching staff with his ability to throw the long ball with precision and accuracy.
A goal the coaches have for all the quarterbacks, Norvell said, is to give the receivers a chance to make a big play and receive it deep.
“All spring ball, we’ve been talking about (Taylor’s) ability to throw the ball on location and his ability to throw the deep ball,” NU Coach Bill Callahan said. “Overall, he has a big-play arm and he has a big-production arm in terms of making the big plays so we were able to feature that, and I thought he was complemented well with our receiver play.”
Callahan said NU’s coverage was “vanilla” and Taylor didn’t see the types of mixtures he would normally see in a game. But was pleased with Taylor’s performance anyway.
With lack of depth in the running game because of injuries, the passing game was depended on more than usual.
With the implementation of the West Coast offense last season, Callahan seems to have found at least one quarterback who he can depend on to bring a diverse selection to the passing game.
“I think he has a variety arm,” Callahan said. “Deep, short, medium, outside, inside, whatever.”
Although Taylor is listed at the top spot for now, he knows the competition will only continue to get tougher this fall.
“These other quarterbacks aren’t going to give up,” Taylor said. “They are very competitive, and it’s going to go all the way through the summer.”