September 24, 2008

Huskers focused on containing versatile QB Taylor

Outside of maybe special teams, Virginia Tech doesn't boast a threat more potentially dangerous to Nebraska this weekend than dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

With his outstanding running ability and deceptive arm strength and accuracy, Taylor will likely be the biggest challenge of the season for the Husker defense so far. The sophomore signal caller has guided the Hokies to a 2-1 start while racking up 420 total yards and a rushing touchdown.

Though his numbers are a bit low because he sat out the first game and then split time with senior Sean Glennon before taking over the starting job, NU coaches are still viewing him as a game-changing player heading into this weekend's prime time contest.

"Taylor is a pretty athletic guy," Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said. "He's as athletic of a guy that I've seen in a long time. We played him at LSU and he got in there at the end of the game and he's an athlete. He can do some things with his feet that most guys can't do."

The game at LSU in which Pelini was referring came last season, when Taylor replaced Glennon in the second half of a 48-7 victory by the Tigers. Taylor finished 7-of-18 passing for 62 yards and led the Hokies with 44 yards rushing on Pelini's defense, and he also scored Tech's lone touchdown of the game with a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

While his impact on the scoreboard was minimal, Pelini said he recognized Taylor's ability immediately. As a result, Pelini said containing Taylor has been the Huskers' top priority all week in practice.

"He stresses you on the edge when he gets out," Pelini said. "You've got to be really rush lane conscience up front. He's hurt a lot of people over the early part of the year on a regular drop back pass just finding a lane and taking the hole and making some big plays out of it.

"He took one about 50 (yards) or so yards against Georgia Tech just on a drop back pass. He just has that added element to him, that athleticism to him that's hard to practice. You can talk about it, you can work on it during practice, but it stresses you."

The Huskers certainly haven't faced a quarterback as versatile as Taylor yet this season, but they did struggle against the player closest to him in San Jose State's Kyle Reed. In NU's 35-12 win over the Spartans in Week 2, Reed nearly led his team to an improbable upset, as he completed 18-of-26 passes for 161 yards and rushed for a touchdown.

With Nebraska leading just 14-12 in the fourth quarter, Reed was knocked out of the game with a concussion, and that was when the Huskers were finally able to pull away with 21 unanswered points.

Pelini said Taylor was even more athletic than Reed, and has stressed to his defense the importance of not letting the quarterback control the game all week.

"He's an athletic kid," senior linebacker Cody Glenn said. "He's really fast. He can make a lot of plays out of nothing. You just got to try and contain him and not let him beat us with his feet and not let him get out of the pocket. We feel like we can pretty much handle him throwing the ball. We've just got to keep him in the pocket and not let him get out."

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