Nebraska Player Quotes

By NU Athletic Communications
Nebraska Quarterback Zac Taylor has completed 72 percent of his passes in the Huskers' first two games this season.
Nebraska Quarterback Zac Taylor has completed 72 percent of his passes in the Huskers' first two games this season.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska Weekly Press Conference
Pregame vs. USC
Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006
Memorial Stadium

Zac Taylor
Senior, Quarterback

On the excitement surrounding the game
“It’s going to be exciting.  Obviously, the media is going to make a pretty big deal of the game.  But I think anytime you get to go and play at a place like the Coliseum and play a big-time team; it’s going to be exciting.”

On whether Nebraska can treat USC just like any other game 
“I think we have to.  I think you can’t get caught up in all the hype that everybody is going to make out of this game.  It’s going to be a tough team, but we can’t get too caught up in everybody saying that this is going to be the biggest game we’ve played.  It’s going to be an exciting game, but we really have to approach it and study USC just like we’ve studied any other team.”

On USC's defense 
“Their speed is obviously to their benefit.  I think that passing lanes are going to close down a lot quicker than we’re used to.  But I think the benefit of our offense is that we can just focus on our game and we don’t have to worry about what the defense is doing all the time.  We can get into a lot of different shifts and formations that will really allow us to make the defense have to adjust to us.”

On what Arkansas did against USC that Nebraska can learn from 
“They spread them out and did some good things.  They ran the ball pretty well in the first half.  Arkansas played really great in the first half, but the second half they sort of let it get away from them.  I don’t think they were intimidated by them and I think that’s the biggest thing.”

On the recent emphasis on protecting the football 
“There’s been a big emphasis.  I think the biggest deal last game was that Coach (Jay) Norvell kept stressing to us not to have any turnovers and obviously we came out of that game without any turnovers, so that’s going to keep us in a lot of games.  Especially a game like this, if we can go in there and not have any turnovers, I promise you it’s going to be a great game in the end and we’re going to have a good shot to win.  So that’s something that we’re focusing on, just ball security and not forcing balls.”

On whether he thinks this game could gain him some personal attention 
“It’s not something that I really think about.  I think it will really help put our team back on the national stage if we win a game like this.  Just being on television in a national game like this, everyone is going to watch and realize that we’re a pretty good team and we’re coming back to where we used to be.  Individually I don’t worry too much about how my own performance is going to affect my national attention, but I just go out there and play like myself and not make mistakes. 

"I think everyone wants to be considered one of the best players at their position.  I think that’s only natural.  But if I go out there and I’m 5-for-5 for 45 yards and we rush for 400, then I think I’ll be pretty satisfied with that.  So I’m going to play the best I can and if honors come with that, they come.  But if not, I’m not going to worry too much about it.”

On the importance of his poise in keepting the team focused 
“I think the key here is that we’ve got a lot of good seniors on this football team that will keep everybody on an even keel.  They won’t let people get too hyped up or too caught up in the attention that their getting.  We’ve got like 18 great seniors on this team and everybody is going to do a great job of approaching this and not letting the younger guys get too caught up in things and just focusing on the task at hand.  I think we’ll do a good job of making sure everybody does that.”

On USC's pass rush 
“I think from what I’ve seen on film, it’s the toughest pass rush we’ve seen so far in the last two years.  Obviously they recruit well every year and they have a lot of talent out there so the offensive line is going to have their hands full, but I think they are more than capable.”

On the importance of having starting center Kurt Mann healthy 
“It’s going to be big, just from a leadership standpoint.  He’s been in some big games and he’s been playing for the last couple years.  He’s going to be a great asset out there if he plays.  If not, [Brett Byford] did a great job last week.  He’s real level-headed, so whoever plays will do a great job.”

On comparing this game to last season's Alamo Bowl win over Michigan 
“It’s got some of the same feelings, but coming off a game a couple days ago where we were focused on another opponent, it makes it feel a little different just because it’s a regular-season game.  It’s not going to make or break our season.  Whereas we were just preparing for that Michigan game and it was the last game of the season.  Obviously we want to win, but I think it’s a little bit different than a bowl game.”

On preparing for the level of talent USC presents 
“I don’t think you ignore that.  I think that’s really something you have to make sure you’re aware of just because they can make so many plays.  But I think at times you have to use that against them.  I think with all of the formations and shifts we do, that will put us in some good situations to where we can make them adjust to what we want to do.”

On playing the game on the road 
“For myself, I don’t see much difference in playing on the road.  We didn’t have as much success last year as we would have liked to on the road, but I think we’ll approach it just like we do at home.  It’s a little bit different just because you have to go on the plane and what not, but we still stay in a hotel the night before the game and have the same schedule, so I don’t think that will affect us too much.”

On the similarities between the Nebraska and USC offenses 
“I see a lot of similarities.  There are a lot of the same plays and they do a lot of the same things we do.  I don’t watch them on film offensively.  I’ve just seen them playing on TV in the last two years and I’ve noticed a lot of the same things we’re doing.”

On the team's perception of this game being important for the program
“That’s something we really haven’t talked about.  You hear a lot about that in the media, but for us, we’re just excited to go play.  If we win, I don’t think we’ll take too much out of it and if we lose, it’s not going to take too much out of us.  We’re just not going to focus on measuring ourselves up against them.  We think we can beat them.  We’ll just play our best and whatever happens, happens.”

On if there is any satisfaction in just making a good showing 
“No.  We go out there and we want to win this game and we know we’re capable of doing that.  We’ve a lot of great talent and good coaches.  It’s going to take a good job from us.  We’re going to have to be disciplined and take care of the ball.  USC is going to be amped-up to play.  They’ve got a lot of talent and they don’t want anyone coming into their house and beating them.”

On USC being a three-touchdown favorite 
“They deserve that kind of respect.  They’re playing at home and they’ve played in some big games so they’re not going to be intimidated by us by any means.  But that’s not going to affect us.  That’s not going to give them any points before the game starts by just being the favorite.  So we’re just going to go out there and play our own game and not let that affect us.”

On his confidence in Nebraska's secondary 
“I’m really confident.  We’ve got some big receivers that they go against in practice.  I think Mo Purify is 6-4, and we’ve got some big guys that they’ve been against.  I don’t know exactly how tall (Dwayne) Jarrett and those guys are, but our defensive backs have seen some big kids in their day and I think they are more than capable.”

On Nebraska establishing the running game against USC
“It’s going to be big in this game.  I think just staying in manageable situations.  If you get third and 15 against these guys it’s going to be a lot tougher.  That running game really takes the pressure off of us.  We can change up the backs and keep the guys fresh.  If we can pound out four or five yards a rush, it’s really going to help us.”

On utilizing quarterback Sam Keller's experience against USC 
“He’s really been helping us out in meetings.  There are a couple of tidbits of information he’s been able to pass along.  He knows what works and what doesn’t work, and he took a lot away from his experience last year.  He told us not to force big plays.  He told us that the passing lanes are going to collapse a lot quicker than we’re used to.  Those guys are so good and so fast that you see a lane and the next thing you know, it’s gone.  So we just have to try not to force plays and take what they give us.”



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