November 27, 2006
Lincoln, NE (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Trick plays had been a staple of Nebraska's game plan for much of the season, but not to this extent.
On Friday, the Cornhuskers dug a little deeper into their bag of tricks in a 37-14 win over Colorado in front of a Memorial Stadium-record crowd of 85,800.
Here's a rundown of some of the craziness - the backup quarterback tossed a touchdown pass to a backup defensive end on a fake field goal; an I-back attempted two passes in the third quarter, including one intended for the starting quarterback; a safety took the snap on what appeared to be a punt on fourth-and-1 and ran for a first down.
"Those are plays that we've always executed, and they're in our repertoire," said NU Coach Bill Callahan. "It just so happened that the situations were just right for those particular calls."
The Huskers (9-3, 6-2 Big 12 Conference) needed no tricks on their first score of the game, a 15-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Zac Taylor to junior wide receiver Terrence Nunn with 5 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Colorado (2-10, 2-6 Big 12) answered on its next drive, needing only six plays to march 75 yards and knot the score at 7-7 with 1:31 left in the first quarter.
The Huskers struck first in the second quarter thanks to their first gimmick of the day.
NU appeared set to kick a field goal from Colorado's 29-yard line, but instead, backup sophomore quarterback Joe Ganz took the snap and connected with sophomore defensive end Barry Turner for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Huskers a 14-7 lead with 4:14 left before halftime.
"I don't know that Joe looked like a real field goal kicker or not, but he did his best trying to portray that," Callahan said. "I think we created a monster with Barry Turner. Now he's going to be asking me to play tight end."
Only 3:09 into the third quarter, the Buffaloes tied the score again when Omaha native Mell Holliday got loose for a 45-yard touchdown run. It was the last time Colorado put points on the scoreboard, as Nebraska posted 23 unanswered points to finish the game.
NU's Brandon Jackson scored the first of his two touchdowns on a two-yard burst to give the Huskers a 21-14 lead with 4:49 remaining in the third quarter. The junior I-back rushed a career-high 34 times for 142 yards to power the Huskers' ground game while also catching six passes for 42 yards.
On the same drive ending with Jackson's score in the third quarter, sophomore I-back Marlon Lucky attempted two passes. On second-and-9 at CU's 25-yard line, Lucky overthrew senior tight end Matt Herian in the end zone.
Then, after a Taylor completion and two NU false-start penalties, Lucky took on the QB role again, attempting a pass to Taylor. Though the ball fell incomplete, the Huskers still moved 10 yards on the play after the Buffs were whistled for pass interference.
"It's exciting for players," Taylor said of the trick plays. "We really get into that stuff because it's nice to just have some fun out there."
In his final home game, Taylor completed 19 of 28 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 43 in his career and tying him with Tommie Frazier atop NU's all-time charts.
In the fourth quarter, Nebraska scored on a safety, an 18-yard TD pass from Taylor to Jackson and a seven-yard run by junior I-back Kenny Wilson.
But the highlight of the second half might have come with NU leading 23-14 and apparently set to punt at fourth-and-1 from CU's 40-yard line. Junior safety Tierre Green took the snap and ran seven yards for a first down, which eventually set up the touchdown that gave the Huskers a 30-14 lead.
On that play, Taylor did his best acting job as he pretended to be walking off the field as the play began following an NU shift that put him behind center.
"Ganz was giving me junk for not being a good actor on that one," Taylor said. "I think I've done a better job selling that in practice."
Still, Taylor's performance served its purpose of confusing the Buffs.
Next up for NU is a showdown with Oklahoma on Saturday in the Big 12 Championship game in Kansas City, Mo.
And according to NU Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell, there are plenty of tricks left in the playbook.
"We work on all types of plays that we think can help us win," Norvell said. "If we feel like it can help us and give us an edge, we're not afraid to use it."
(C) 2006 Daily Nebraskan via CSTV U-WIRE