Saying the plays as hard as executing them for Huskers' Taylor

Updated: August 7, 2005, 2:35 PM ET
Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Calling plays in the huddle at Nebraska isn't anything like calling them at Wake Forest or Butler County Community College.

That's why Zac Taylor is glad he enrolled at NU in January so he could go through spring practice learning the Cornhuskers' version of the West Coast offense. The move has helped him gain the inside track to the starting quarterback's job when the Huskers open the season Sept. 3 at home against Maine.

Asked what the first few days of preseason camp would have been like if he hadn't taken snaps in April, Taylor said, "My head would have been spinning."

No wonder, considering the following gibberish amounts to one play Taylor has to know -- and say:

"Strong right, F short, spider two, wide banana, Z over."

Say what?

"There are a couple other plays that are as complex as that," he said.

The junior from Norman, Okla., started his collegiate career at Wake Forest and then moved to Butler County CC in Kansas last year. Taylor said he's feeling at home at Nebraska, so much so that he has tried to become more vocal.

"The first thing I wanted to do was learn the playbook and get accustomed to being part of the team," he said. "I think I did a decent job of that in the spring. This summer one of the things I wanted to do was take more of a leadership role."

Coach Bill Callahan and Taylor's teammates noticed.

Mark LeFlore said it wasn't uncommon for Taylor to call him and other receivers to get together to throw the ball around.

"We would run routes just whenever. It was at his discretion," LeFlore said.

Callahan said Taylor stopped by his office several times over the summer to talk about his progress.

"He has very good retention and intelligence ... and can transmit it on the field and lift everybody out there and get them going," Callahan said. "The summer is more about bonding, in my opinion. Summer is more about leadership. Certain players stepped up, and Zac certainly was one of them."

Taylor was so good in the spring that Joe Dailey, last year's starter, decided to transfer to North Carolina. After completing 20-of-27 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game, Taylor was anointed the quarterback of the future by the fans.

Callahan isn't ready to go that far. He has repeatedly said that all starter's jobs are open, including at quarterback.

Taylor said he isn't feeling anxiety as he waits for Callahan to make a decision. Freshman Harrison Beck and returnees Jordan Adams, Beau Davis and Joe Ganz also are auditioning.

"It keeps us all motivated when you know you're not the for-sure guy," Taylor said. "You can't become complacent. Hopefully I'm the starter against Maine. I know the four other guys will work hard, too."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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