Taylor, Dailey fighting for snaps

Updated: April 7, 2005, 9:55 AM ET
Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Rundown and feverish from an upper respiratory virus, Zac Taylor would have preferred being anywhere other than on the practice field this week.

But the top challenger to incumbent starting quarterback Joe Dailey says he knows that missing even one of Nebraska's 15 spring practices could cost him in the fall.

This time of the year, there is no rest for the weary, or in this case, the sick. So there Taylor and Dailey were Wednesday, alternating snaps with the No. 1 offense. Taylor's passing, for the most part, looked crisp and precise. His efforts earned the praise of coach Bill Callahan.

"For him to come out and gut out these last two practices not feeling as well as he has is a great sign he wants to play, wants to get out on the field and do whatever it takes," Callahan said. "When you're not feeling real well, it's tough to get out there and throw."

That's for sure, a raspy-voiced Taylor said.

"It's been real tough," he said. "I don't have much energy. But there are other guys who have gone through something similar, and they fight through it. It's not like I'm in a position where I can take a day off."

All signs point to the quarterback competition extending well into fall camp. Dailey left himself vulnerable by throwing 19 interceptions and completing only 49 percent of his passes for a team that, at 5-6, had its worst season since 1961.

Taylor, meanwhile, threw for 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns while leading Butler County (Kan.) Community College to the junior college national championship game last season.

Taylor, from Norman, Okla., has done what he was supposed to do this spring -- provide competition for the job. Dailey never really had any last season.

"I hope I'm giving him quite a push," Taylor said. "They've given me some good reps. We'll see what happens over the next week and a half."

Taylor came out of the first few days of spring ball down on himself. He said he didn't know the pass routes well enough, that he didn't throw well, and that he committed too many turnovers.

The last two weeks, he said, he has felt as if he has become more in sync with the receivers. He also has taken better care of the ball.

"I've finally got all the routes down. I'm a lot more sure of myself," he said.

His biggest test to date awaits in the April 16 Red-White game. More than 60,000 attended last year's spring game, and a similar turnout is expected.

A coach can see only so much in the mostly controlled practice setting. Callahan said he'll get a better idea of how Dailey and Taylor compare when the conditions are more game-like.

"They both have a terrific understanding of the offense," Callahan said. "It's just a matter now of making plays under pressure."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press