Taggart not concerned with Nebraska QB situation

2 09 2010

Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart said Thursday that it makes no difference to him who Nebraska starts at quarterback Saturday, saying that the Hilltoppers are preparing for the No. 8 Cornhuskers’ offense – not necessarily one specific signal caller.

“We’re preparing for their offense, not a particular quarterback,” he said. “They’re going to run their offense. They’re not going to do anything dramatically different depending on which guy is in there – we’re going to prepare for their offense.

“It doesn’t matter which one is in there, they’re going to run that offense.”

Much has been made about the quarterback race between incumbent senior Zac Lee, freshman Taylor Martinez and sophomore Cody Green. At this point, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini seems content with keeping his decision – if in fact he’s made it – a secret until the team takes the field for its first offensive possession Saturday.

Lee might seem like the natural choice after starting 12 of the team’s 14 games last season, throwing for 2,143 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the process. The more athletic Green, meanwhile, was able to get a pair of starts in nine appearances last season. Green took over for Lee midway through the season in 2009 with Nebraska in the midst of a two-game losing streak.

Green started in a 20-10 win over Baylor and got the first five possessions the next week against Oklahoma, but was then lifted in favor of Lee midway through the game. Lee started every game from there on out.

The competition was further clouded this offseason due to Lee’s offseason arm surgery, Green’s progression and Martinez’s emergence.

Taggart wouldn’t say one way or another who he expects to see the bulk of Saturday – but from his comments, it sounds like the Hilltoppers are prepping for the senior.

“Personally I can’t see the other two guys bringing the same thing to the table that Lee can, because he started last year,” Taggart said. “I don’t care what anyone says, he’s got experience – and there’s nothing better than experience when you’re going into the fire.

“One might be better athletically, but only one has the experience of leading his team, making the plays and making all the throws. The other ones haven’t done it yet, but he has.”

But whether it be Lee, Green, Martinez – or a combination of all three. Taggart says the only thing that matters for WKU is stopping the 11-man unit across the ball.

“We’re prepared to go against whoever,” he said. “You never know what those other guys are doing in practice or what coach Pelini is thinking – but from our standpoint, whoever is out there, we’ve got to stop them.”

Stemming the tide

Taggart talked again Thursday about how important it will be Saturday for the Hilltoppers to be able to roll with the punches as they come.

As many will recall, 2009’s season opener at Tennessee was a 0-0 game after the first quarter – but once the Volunteers hit the endzone first early in the second frame, WKU immediately fumbled. Allowing UT to score again and opening the floodgates to a 63-7 punishing.

Taggart said he’s acknowledged to his group this season that Nebraska is No. 8 in the country for a reason – bad things are going to happen throughout the course of a game. But WKU’s response will be what matters in the end.

“That’s one of my biggest worries,” Taggart said. “When things get tough, how are we going to respond. That was one of (WKU’s) biggest problems last year. Things got tough and we didn’t know how to respond, we’d respond in a negative way. We’ve constantly been preaching to keep fighting. When I watch film on Sunday, I want to see a team that’s fighting for four quarters.

“They’re going to score, it’s going to happen. They’re on scholarship, too, and they’re the No. 8 team in the country – they’re going to score. We just have to try to limit them and answer when they do. I really believe a lot of the negative way and how guys react happens before you even step on the field. They go out there and see how strong a team is or how big they are or fast they are – and as soon as something bad happens, it falls apart.

“Every year is a new team, it’s not the same team. That’s the same with every program. We’re not playing (the history of their entire program). Don’t get me wrong, they’re good – but this isn’t even their team from last year. And it’s the same for us, we’re not the same either.”

Back in action?

When asked if there were any changes to the depth chart for Saturday’s game, Taggart joked that – in a dream world – he’d make one alteration.

“The only thing that’s different is that I might start,” Taggart joked. “I’m fired up, I really am.
“I’m jacked up and ready to go – don’t worry about coach T – it’s game time. I’m ready.”

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