Sam Keller is a bit different
Maybe it's the experience he already has at the Division 1-A level, picked as preseason All-Pac 10 before this season even began. Whatever it is, Keller brings a decidedly different approach to the offense and its players.
"Sam, he's a high, high competitor," junior linebacker Corey McKeon said. "He would get mad if someone dropped the ball or ran the wrong route. He would get very upset. He would yell at the guy."
If Keller were a freshman just getting on campus, a player might take that wrong. But even for an experienced QB as Keller is, there might be that danger as well. What McKeon says he's seen from Keller is someone that isn't only capable of doing his job, but making sure everyone else does theirs as well.
"It's tough for a guy to come in and step into a setting like this and be a leader," he said. "That speaks volumes for his personality. It wasn't that he roasted us a lot of the time, but he's a leader for that scout team, even though he's never been in that position before."
"He's out there running scout team every day, he's doing it with a positive attitude and he's making players better. That's unbelievable."
Before injuring his hand last year as the starting quarterback for the Arizona State Sun Devils, Keller already had proven himself as one of the potential star signal-callers for all of the Pac 10. Through seven games Keller completed 155 of 264 passes (58.7 percent) for 2,165 yards. Of those 155 completions, 20 of them went for scores. That meant that every 7.75 completions Keller was throwing for a touchdown, which compares favorably to Nebraska's current starter as Taylor tossed a touchdown every 8.76 attempts.
At 6 foot, 4 inches tall and weighing 230 pounds, every physical aspect of Keller is considered ideal for this kind of system, and prototypical for drop back quarterbacks in the NFL.
But McKeon disregards some of the physical traits and his wealth of experience, because he says it's his attitude that gets him the respect on the field. "He's such a high competitor, and for him to push other people that don't necessarily want to be pushed, and for them to follow, that's an unbelievable characteristic.
As to whether his personality, almost completely the opposite to Taylor's approach, would be an issue later on, the oft-times brash Chicago native didn't see that as an issue at all. "It's not big of a change. You experience different leaders like that all the time," McKeon said. "I admire someone that is willing to get on one of his teammates in a good way."
"Zac was positive (and) always stayed positive. He's slap you on the back and say get going. Keller is willing to get up in your face and take it to the next level. That worked for Zac and this definitely works for Sam."