Nebraska's Taylor Could Make Name for Self

Wednesday, September 13th 2006, 11:26 am
By: News On 6

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Zac Taylor is out to prove Nebraska has one of the top offenses in college football. His reputation isn't one of his top concerns.

No. 19 Nebraska visits fourth-ranked Southern California on Saturday night for a nationally televised game between two tradition-rich programs that haven't met since 1970. It's an opportunity for Taylor to elevate his stature nationally, but he's focused on showing the country the Cornhuskers are back to their old tricks on offense.

``I'm not out just to prove I'm a good player,'' Taylor said Tuesday. ``More important, I want to show this offense is a good offense. If we put up a good performance against USC and we score some points, people will take notice of the offense and realize we know what we're doing out here.''

Taylor has completed over 73 percent of his passes and thrown for seven touchdowns, which is tied for the national lead. He's been intercepted once in 56 attempts, and that was on a deflected ball.

His statistics have been built up against Louisiana Tech and Division I-AA Nicholls State, but a big performance on the road against USC likely would give Taylor a national identity after he didn't even make the preseason All-Big 12 team.

``Everybody wants to be considered one of the best players at their position _ it's only natural,'' Taylor said. ``But if I'm 5-for-5 for 45 yards and we rush for 400, I'll be pretty satisfied with that. I'm going to play the best I can. If honors come with that, they come. If not, I'm not too worried about it.''

Taylor, a senior from Norman, Okla., has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 10 of the last 11 games.

He had three TD passes in a 32-28 come-from-behind victory over Michigan in the Alamo Bowl, three more in a 49-10 season-opening win over Louisiana Tech and a career-high four in a 56-7 rout of Nicholls State.

USC presents the biggest challenge Taylor has faced. The Trojans have won 27 straight at the Coliseum and 46 of their last 48 overall.

``I haven't seen film on every other team we're going to play, but it's probably the toughest pass rush we've seen so far in the last two years,'' Taylor said. ``The offensive line is going to have its hands full.''

The Huskers will need to establish a competent running game to keep pressure off Taylor and also must protect the ball. The Trojans converted five Arkansas turnovers into 31 points in a 50-14 win and have intercepted a pass in 43 of the last 50 games.

``SC lives for third-and-long, getting heat on the 'Q' and getting off the field,'' Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said. ``That's been their history, and that's why they're successful.''

Taylor took over as starter last season after transferring from Butler County (Kan.) Community College. Callahan said Taylor has grown in the West Coast offense.

``He's dispersing the ball real well, getting it to a lot of different guys,'' he said. ``As far as his reads and progressions, he remains quite disciplined. He's not taking sacks, not taking minus-yard plays, getting the ball off quick.''

Tight end Matt Herian said Taylor has elevated his level of play since last season.

``Everybody knew before the season that he had the offense down,'' Herian said. ``He worked real hard this summer. He's doing what we thought he would do.''