Quarterback Zac Taylor

By NU Athletic Communications
Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.
Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska Weekly Press Conference
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006
Memorial Stadium - Lincoln, Neb.
Pre-Big 12 Championship Game

Zac Taylor
Senior, Quarterback
On playing Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game
“It’s nice. It’s going to be a tough team that we’re playing against and that’s what you have to expect in a championship game. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

On having friends and family travel to Kansas City for the game
“I think everybody back home knows that there are probably a lot of people coming to this game that don’t normally come. I immediately got texts and phone calls after the (Oklahoma) game that said that people were going to come to Kansas City. A lot of people that normally wouldn’t come if it was just Nebraska playing are now going to come just because it’s Nebraska-OU.”

On playing Oklahoma instead of Texas
“I really didn’t care. Seeing the way Texas kind of stumbled down the stretch and Oklahoma has been playing really well, you want to play the best team. Going into a BCS bowl, you want to be able to say that you beat the best team. Obviously, Oklahoma has been playing really well lately and they have a lot of history in this game particularly. You’ve got to play the best team and Oklahoma is the best team in the south right now.”

On playing Oklahoma after losing to the Sooners in 2005
“We’re a completely different team than we were last year and so are they. It was a rough game here in Lincoln. It was a close game. I think both teams really are completely different with different styles now. It will be a different game.”

On Nebraska’s performance in the red zone
“I think we’re better about not turning the ball over down there. I think that was a problem we had last year. We expect to score when we get in the red zone, and I think that’s something we lacked last year. Guys are a lot more confident this year. We’re just making more plays than we were a year ago. When we get down in the red zone and expect to score. That’s just something we take pride in.”

On Oklahoma’s defense
“They are very athletic. They’ve got some great linebackers. Two of them played against us last year. We know a lot of their ends are back. I played against one of their ends in high school, (Larry) Birdine. He’s always been a great player. They have a very athletic secondary. I think we recruited both of those safeties and they are both playing well. And their corners have come on this year and they are playing well, so you can’t make mistakes against them. They’ll make you pay. You just have to play smart and take what they give you. They don’t run anything real complicated, but they are very good at what they do so you just have to adjust and be smart.”

On getting hit out of the pocket against Colorado
“I think sometimes it looks harder on film than it is in real life. There are some hits that are harder than others, but its part of the job. You’re going to take shots and you’re going to be in vulnerable positions sometimes. It’s just something I’ve gotten used to. You’re going to take hard hits. You just have to suck it up and get back in there.”

On the hit that took him out of the game against the Buffs
“They’ve been telling me that for two years now, and I haven’t really been listening. Watching the film, I was already across the line of scrimmage, so I should have just gone out of bounds. I don’t know what I was doing. There are plenty of times when I should have thrown the ball away sooner, but I’ve been doing it for two years and I’m probably not going to change it.”

On potentially earning All-Big 12 Conference honors
“It would mean a lot. I think I’ve come a long way, personally. It would be a great honor if I did, but I’d rather have the (championship) ring. It’s something that means a lot, but the most important thing is getting a ring on Saturday.”

On possibly winning the Big 12 title over Oklahoma|
“It’s a great way to go out. We’re playing a team I grew up rooting for and that’s fun to talk about during the week, but when we step out onto the field, it’s just another team. I don’t know any of those guys, so for me it’s just like playing against Colorado or Texas. It’s something fun to write about, me being from Norman and maybe 30 years from now I’ll look back on it and think it was special, but for right now it’s just another team.”

On Nebraska’s progression this season
“I think when you play against a team with a lot of talent it prepares you for the next team you’re going to play. It doesn’t allow you to be intimidated. That’s the biggest thing. When you play against a team like USC that has been in the national championship the last three years and figure out that you can play with them, then you go up against Texas with the same kind of attitude. Oklahoma is going to have a lot of talent. They’ve played in a lot of big games, but we’re not going to be intimidated by them and I don’t think they’re intimidated by us.”

On the importance of a win on Saturday
“We need this. We want a championship. I don’t want to finish my senior season second in the Big 12. It’s a big game and we knew it was going to be a big game.”

On what kind of defensive packages Nebraska might see
“They’ve got a lot of blitzes they’ve been using all year. They’ve been successful all year. I think we’re pretty well prepared. Our coaches have seen pretty much every blitz in the book. We’ve played 12 games this season so we’ve seen all kinds of blitzes. There’s not some special blitz you can just come up with, but Oklahoma does a great job of showing things late and they do a good job of blitzes. So if they do come up with something new I’m sure we’ll adapt to it.”

On the importance of the Nebraska fans in Kansas City
“That’s huge. That really is huge for us. It sounds like we’re going to have a lot more people than they will. That’s just great. It will hopefully be somewhat like a home environment. That should give us a couple advantages. It’s great when you’re playing this close to home and having that kind of support.”

On his familiarity with Oklahoma's coaches
“I really didn’t know them. They didn’t really recruit me. They only talked to me once or twice. (Head Coach Bob) Stoops is a great guy, but I never really got a chance to know him. I know the players that play for him really seem to like him.”

On playing for Nebraska instead of Oklahoma
“I don’t think anything could have worked out better for me if I’d have gone to Oklahoma.  This is the perfect situation for me. I’m glad things worked out the way they did. I’ve never been bitter at Oklahoma for not recruiting me. That’s just how it is. I’m happy where I am, and they have been successful without me. It will just be fun to play each other on Saturday.”

After his first session with the media, Taylor was informed that he had just been named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, so he returned to answer more questions from the media.

 

On being surprised about being named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year

“I really didn’t know what to expect.  It’s a great honor that people thought enough of me to vote for me.  But we’re still focused on winning this game (the Big 12 Championship Game) and, later on in my life, this is probably something that I’ll look back on and be proud of. Right now, I’m still focused on the things that are really important.”

 

On fighting through questions of confidence as he developed as a quarterback

“A lot of people always tell you that you have to have confidence in yourself, but it (self-doubt) happens.  I’m human, and when you bounce around three colleges, you begin to wonder if it’s all worth it and if it’s going to work out. I think I’ve been blessed. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities and things have just worked out for me.”

 

On Nebraska’s offensive improvement in 2006

“I think we all have more experience in the system and we all play well together.  That offensive line has fought their tails off for me and I have great running backs and receivers that make plays, and our defense keeps getting us the ball back, so I think Coach (Jay) Norvell and Coach (Bill) Callahan have played a big part in my progress, just over the last offseason.  Just small things they’ve had me work on and just getting time to work through the spring, the summer and improve on things I didn’t do so well last year has really given me the opportunity to become a better player.”

 

On the award reflecting on the team

“I think that’s the best thing.  It gives recognition to the program that it deserves.  I know they give it to an individual, but it’s a team award.  It says a lot about our offense and the way it’s been progressing.  It would be nice if they could give it to everybody on the offense, but just one guy gets it.  It says a lot.  I think everyone on the offense knows that they played a big part in that and the coaches know that and the defense knows that they’ve done their part to help us out.  If we were 1-11 right now, I wouldn’t have gotten the things I’ve gotten.  Everybody knows they’ve played a big part in it.”

 

On staying within himself

“I’ll just keep playing the way I’ve been playing all season.  I just have to be smart and keep my team out of bad situations.  I know our running backs are going to do their part.  Everybody is going to play well.  I just have to be smart and not make too many mistakes and I think we’ll have a good shot.”

 

On the recognition he’s received

“It would be hard to say it’s not exciting.  It’s definitely exciting and it’s a great honor when coaches think that highly of you.  It just says a lot about how far this offense has come.  They think it’s going well and they think I played well.  It’s definitely an exciting honor and I appreciate people thinking that.”

 

On potential Heisman talk

“I’m not going to worry about that.  I’ll let Troy Smith deal with that.”

 

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