Taylor shines, paces white to 42-14 victory

It took just 5 seconds into the second quarter and some of the passing statistics set last year that had the Husker fans in awe, disappeared. In front of a record 63, 416 fans, Nebraska hit the field turf and the air for "Air Nebraska" part II.

It's been a short spring, but it seems that the Nebraska fan has had a lifetime to get to know Zac Taylor. In the short time from January, when Taylor arrived from Butler College, his name has already skyrocketed to the tips of tongues and top of the depth chart, amidst a quarterback controversy that never really materialized.

If there was a controversy, Taylor squashed it, probably for good today, and he did it all, almost before the first quarter was even over, tallying most of the new record 357 yards in the air, missing on only 7 of his 27 passes, tossing 3 touchdowns as he led the White team to a 42-14 victory over the red. Taylor's mark bested last year's total of 241 yards by Joe Dailey.

Not bad for a first-timer, eh? "All spring long, we have been talking about his ability to throw the ball on location and his ability to throw the deep ball," head coach, Bill Callahan said. "Overall, he has a big play arm and a big production arm in terms of making the big play and we wanted to feature that today."

Terrence NunnS.jpg - 46256 Bytes
Half of Nunn's receptions (4)
went for scores.
The big play came out in full force, 5 receivers on the white team catching balls for at least 20 yard gains, Terrence Nunn and Isaiah Fluellen leading the group, catching longs of 53 yards and 50 yards respectively.

Nunn led all receivers in yards, catching 4 balls for 133 yards, scoring twice.

Even in a scrimmage like this, where the number one offense doesn't have to face the number one defense, there was going to be a lot of eyes as to how Taylor might perform with the eyes of Nebraska upon him. Completing almost 75 percent of his passes, Taylor's doubters will probably have to move to the back seat for now. "He has location, he has accuracy," Callahan said. "When you are able to throw with location and accuracy, it's going to produce some high numbers."

"So, we are really pleased with where he's at right now."

Where he's at isn't where Joe Dailey is at and aside from Taylor's meteoric rise being the focal point of spring, so to has been the cataclysmic fall of Dailey, once number one, but now residing on the depth chart at number four.

Dailey did end up having the second most passing attempts in the game with 20, but ranked 4th overall in completion percentage, hitting just 7 of his 20 passes. And, the highlight of his time or for Dailey, lowlight was a 58 yard runback for a touchdown by Safety Daniel Bullocks as he jumped on a slant pass of Dailey's, picking it off and taking it in for the score.

It was an obviously disappointing performance for Dailey, but Callahan said that he wasn't taking this game as a judgment of what's going to happen in the fall. "I am not disappointed in Joe at all," he said. "It's a tough situation when you are not working behind the ones in rhythm."

"Overall, I am proud of Joe and how he's responded throughout the spring and we are hopeful that he will get better."

Taylor's performance did come behind the projected starters going into the fall. Taylor never had to face the number defense as well. And, the number one defense, confronted with the second team offense, well, you can figure the outcome.

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Despite consistent pressure,
Davis still managed
to
complete 50% of his passes,
throwing one for a touchdown,
a 4 yard strike to Grant Mulkey

12 reported sacks for 52 yards lost was just part of a mostly frustrating day for the red team as they netted 243 yards for the game, compared to the white's 412. "Our front four applied the pressure we have been looking for," Callahan said. "Our safety play overall has been good this spring (and) we didn't have a lot of coverages, but I thought Cortney Grixby and Tierre Green stepped up to the forefront. Our linebackers are very athletic and I thought they ran very well to the ball today."

Moore led the team in sacks, tallying 4 for 27 yards lost.

Lost in the prolific air attack and defense that dominated at times was the running-game, something that usually isn't a question at Nebraska. Because of the loss of listed second-string running back Brandon Jackson, however, that changed some of the focus for today's contest. "We went into it (the game) with throwing in mind," Callahan said "We don't have great depth at the running back position, so I didn't want to risk injury to Cory."

"He's done a lot of work this spring. He's carried a great load and we have taxed him and stretched him quite a bit, so Thomas Laweson and Marque McCray received a lot of the duty. So, we featured the throwing game a little more today."

On the game, Ross finished with 12 carries, rushing for 71 yards, scoring twice and he added three receptions for 26 yards as well.

It was a game that was meant to be a showcase of sorts. A dress rehearsal for the fall, if you will. Big numbers, efficient performances, defensive dominance, all are part of the menu in a game like this.

Nebraska got that and in some cases, possibly more than they would have hoped. However, reality sets in as you realize that it's going to be another four months before the Huskers take the field once more. But, Callahan did say that if you took this spring and compared it to last, the differences are many. "I think it's night and day," Callahan said. "Because of our familiarity with the team, we know our team so much better."

"I believe we have better continuity and stability internally. When you look at our team, I think the retention is better (and) there is an ease to what is happeing in terms of the system. We don't have to re-educate our players on certain areas of the system."

"It's coming together. I don't know if that guarantees us anything, but it certainly gives us a chance to be better."

FINAL STATS

Nebraska will not take the field until training camp in fall. Until then, it's summer conditioning for one and all, Dave Kennedy now taking the reins of this football team as he prepares them for the 2005 season.

Make sure to check back to the site as we will have full video Q & As with coach Callahan, Zac Taylor, Cory Ross, Terrence Nunn, Le Kevin Smith and Joe Dailey.

Dailey talked about his performance and the big question was, ‘will you be here next year?'. Dailey answered that question, so stay tuned for our video bytes with the Huskers.


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