Steven M. Sipple: Zac Taylor had a certain useful vision as a QB, and clearly has vision as a coach – Lincoln Journal Star

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Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor walks off the field after his team’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders during an NFL wild-card playoff game on Jan. 15.
Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor hugs cornerback Eli Apple after a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 30.
Steven M. Sipple, Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett recap a surprisingly busy National Signing Day No. 2, discuss Scott Frost’s latest updates and ponder if NU hoops can break into the win column.
Former Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor perhaps was kicked in the head as a youngster. 
Maybe a goat got him, Corey McKeon says facetiously. 
Whatever the case, McKeon says, Taylor’s field vision was exceptionally unique compared with other quarterbacks. 
“He had this certain thing about him,” the former Husker middle linebacker told me last week. “Most of the time, you can look in a quarterback’s eyes and see exactly who he’s staring down to throw the ball to. But Zac would stare at a whole section of the field. That might mean two, three or maybe four receivers. You couldn’t tell where the hell he was going to throw the ball when he released it. It ticked me off in practices.   
“He was just so broad-eyed — is what we used to call it — that you couldn’t tell where that final release was going to go. I don’t know where that sort of vision comes from. But that was the biggest pain in the ass about him from a defender’s standpoint.” 
Taylor, of course, is still a pain in the you-know-what for defenses, now confounding opponents in the NFL as the offensive-minded head coach of the Super Bowl-bound Cincinnati Bengals. Yeah, it helps to have rising star Joe Burrow playing quarterback. But Taylor also deserves ample credit for the Bengals’ rise — and Nebraska fans are quick to give it to him. 
After all, Taylor was the Huskers’ starting quarterback in 2005 and 2006, the pleasant parts of Bill Callahan’s rocky four seasons as the program’s head coach. Taylor was 17-9 as the starter, a steady hand, his career highlighted by his selection as the 2006 Big 12 offensive player of the year. 
Nobody could’ve guessed then that Taylor would go on to coach a Super Bowl squad. That said, his propensity for strong leadership plus his cool demeanor under pressure were clues that he could be a high-level coach if he chose that path. 
“When you have a quarterback like that, then you can get away with having a goofball middle linebacker like me who likes to have fun — that’s how I motivated and got guys going,” says McKeon, who led the team in tackles in 2005 — he had 98 that season, including 22 for losses — while ranking third in 2006. “There are different ways you motivate. Zac was really good at being that steam engine always moving straight ahead.”  
Ah, but Taylor was willing to take risks as a quarterback, and McKeon sees the same trait in Taylor’s coaching style.  
“You see it in his play-calling — going for it on the goal line on fourth down — and that’s the risk-taking Zac Taylor who would tuck the ball and run for 13 yards before taking that hard shot,” says McKeon, whose father was a high school head coach. “It’s the same type of risks, and he’s still evaluating it the same way. It’s kind of incredible to see.” 
It’s kind of incredible to me that McKeon is still ultra-quotable, still a hoot to talk to, just as he was during his Nebraska playing days. You get the feeling he could talk about Taylor all afternoon, including the manner in which Zac won the starting job during the spring of 2005 after transferring to NU from Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. 
Joe Ganz also was in the QB competition that spring, a feisty redshirt freshman from suburban Chicago. McKeon rooted for Ganz in part because McKeon also was from the Chicago area (now lives in Lincoln). 
Taylor, though, seized the job by playing well against a stalwart defense that included Jay Moore, Adam Carriker, Titus Adams, Le Kevin Smith, Bo Ruud, Stewart Bradley, Steve Octavien, Adam Ickes, Cortney Grixby, Daniel Bullocks and Zack Bowman, among others.
“We just had a sh– ton of talent,” McKeon, a sophomore in 2005, says. “We were beating up on that offense pretty often. The way (head coach) Bill Callahan used to do it, we would scrimmage for five, five-minute periods. When the defense would beat the hell out of the offense, Callahan would just keep the practice going until the offense did well.”
Callahan, of course, was an offensive-minded head coach.  
“Five periods would turn into eight periods,” McKeon says with a chuckle. “People were exhausted. The defense didn’t want to back down because we were kicking their ass. We know the only way out of it is to let the offense win a few plays. We still wouldn’t let them do it. So, Zac just said screw it and started scrambling. He wasn’t the most mobile guy in the world. 
“He took away a little bit of that edge that Ganz probably had by running the ball. But it was not pretty. It was not graceful. It was just pure survival when Zac started running.” 
But he won the job and lived to tell about it.  
Some of those conversations aren’t for the timid. 
“He’d start scrambling like an idiot and get himself head injuries,” McKeon says. “But he wouldn’t take himself out of the game. He’d start running, get hit and I’d be like, ‘Oh, he’s almost dead, but he’s still going to play.'”  
Taylor’s resolve as a head coach manifested itself in the form of this season’s Super Bowl run following seasons of 2-14 and 4-11-1.  
Yeah, he got kicked in the head a few times, figuratively speaking, but kept charging forward like a steam engine. 
He has the vision of a leader, obviously, not to mention a starting quarterback who just may become a G.O.A.T.
Yeah, that good. 
The head coach isn’t too shabby, either.
Position: I-back
247 Ranking: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Composite score: 0.9950
Years at Nebraska: 2005-08
How did it go? Lucky was a do-it-all playmaker for the Huskers, as he carried the ball 515 times and also had 135 receptions, the eighth-most in program hsitory. He dealt with massive expectations and almost transferred at the end of the 2016 season before deciding to stay after a meeting with then-head coach Bill Callahan.
Position: Tight end 
247 Ranking: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Composite score: 0.9833
Years at Nebraska: 2000-04
How did it go? Septak, a Millard West product, struggled with injuries and never gained much momentum at the college level.
Position: I-back
247 Ranking: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Composite score: 0.9815
Years at Nebraska: 2011
How did it go? Green appeared in 12 games as a true freshman and finished fifth on the team in rushing yards (105). A San Antonio, Texas, native, Green chose to move closer to home by transferring to TCU in 2012.
Position: Defensive tackle
247 Ranking: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Composite score: 0.9812
Years at Nebraska: 2008-12
How did it go? Steinkuhler was a productive anchor on the Blackshirts’ line. He amassed 150 career tackles and was a second-team Big Ten (coaches) selection in 2012, when he was also a team captain.
Position: Defensive lineman
247 Ranking: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Composite score: 0.9797
Years at Nebraska: 2005-09
How did it go? Well, you know this turned out. Suh is one of the program’s all-time best players, and his challenge for the Heisman Trophy as an unstoppable force in 2009 is still talked about around these parts.
Position: Cornerback
247 Ranking: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Composite score: 0.9773
Years at Nebraska: 2004-07
How did it go? Grixby was a reliable piece of Nebraska’s secondary, starting 37 games for the Huskers. In 2007, he became the first Nebraska player to run a kick back for a touchdown in nine years.
Position: Wide receiver  
247 Ranking: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Composite score: 0.9769
Years at Nebraska: 2017-18
How did it go? Lindsey appeared in all 12 games as a true freshman — catching 12 passes for 76 yards — before transferring to Oregon State four games into his sophomore season.
Position: Offensive tackle
247 Ranking: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Composite score: 0.9748
Years at Nebraska: 2020-present 
How is it going? Corcoran experienced the highs and lows of being an 11-game starter as a freshman in the Big Ten. The Huskers are no doubt excited to have him as a key cog in the “Pipeline” moving forward.

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Husker sports columnist
Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.
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Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor walks off the field after his team’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders during an NFL wild-card playoff game on Jan. 15.
Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor hugs cornerback Eli Apple after a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 30.
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