The game of football has its complexities, but there are times when a coach is best to not overthink it.
Sometimes it’s as simple as just flipping the football to the kid who bench presses more than 400 pounds and squats more than 500, the running back who runs over safeties and flips the ball to the official after a touchdown like it’s routine. Because, well, it is.
Need a yard? No need to complicate it. Call the toss play. Adam Taylor will get that yard. More than that.
“You go to your best play and your best player when you have to have it,” said Gary Joseph, the coach at Katy High School in Texas.
Katy had to have it. State championship game. Cowboys Stadium. Down three points. Fourth-and-1.
Katy was up three by the time the play was over. Taylor over the right side. One yard? He got 56 and a touchdown.
“That pretty much sums him up,” Joseph said.
A few minutes later, Taylor put the game away, spinning away from a safety, charging for a 42-yard score to give Katy a 35-24 win in the Class 5A Division II state championship game.
One year after tearing an ACL in the first game of the season, Taylor racked up more than 2,700 yards and 44 touchdowns.
And in the biggest game of his life, he had 277 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries.
Those numbers hardly went unnoticed by Husker fans, who Wednesday were delighting in the addition of Taylor and fellow running back Terrell Newby (West Hills, Calif.) to the Husker program.
Arguably the best back in both Texas and California signing with the same school?
“That’s rare,” Husker offensive coordinator Tim Beck said.
Beck knows plenty about high school football in the Lone Star state. He coached there and still has plenty of connections.
And he heard what those connections were telling him about Taylor.
His running style reminds some coaches down there of another great Texas running back, a guy from Palestine.
“They compared him to Adrian Peterson. That was the underlying theme when I was down there recruiting,” Beck said. “We’ll see. I know that’s big shoes. I know Adam is a humble guy. He’s just going to come and work his tail off.”
Beck thinks Newby has the same mental makeup -- humble and hardworking, eager to play.
Newby ran for more than 2,300 yards and 45 touchdowns his senior season. One game, against a ranked team, he piled up 360 yards and eight touchdowns on just 16 carries.
Watch the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Newby’s highlights and it appears the defenders chasing him have lead in their shoes.
“That guy is an explosive, fast guy, a change-of-direction guy. He’s kind of an Ameer (Abdullah)-type runner,” Beck said. “So I think we really addressed what we were looking for in that position.”
Frankly, it’s a position where two additional talented players are of immediate need after coach Bo Pelini made it official that Braylon Heard is no longer in the program.
With Heard out of the equation, it appears likely both incoming freshmen will play right away, jumping into the fray with Abdullah and Imani Cross.
“We’ve always felt this way since I’ve been here as offensive coordinator. We’ll play freshmen,” Beck said. “Imani. Jamal (Turner). (Andy) Janovich. Guys that are good enough to play, we’re going to play them. And that was part of what we told them: ‘Listen, if you guys can handle it …’”
In Taylor’s case, he’s already proven he can handle a tough situation.
It was the first game of his junior year when he went down with a torn ACL. This after making the varsity team as a freshman and gaining more than 1,500 yards as a backup as a sophomore.
LSU and other schools already had offered him a scholarship.
"If there was anyone that was going to come back from it, it was him,” Joseph said. “I knew he was going to come back. You just always question if he’s going to come back as strong and flash the ability he had before or be as dominant.”
Taylor did so much rehab work the coach says tests at one point revealed his injured leg was stronger than the other one.
And when considering Taylor’s 2,700-plus yards his senior year, keep in mind that he missed all of spring ball and the two-a-days leading into that fall.
“It took him a while to get back into the groove,” Joseph said. “Midway through the year, he hit his stride.”
Joseph is the coach of a high school program that was best in Texas and voted No. 1 in the country by at least one poll.
Many great football players have walked through the halls at Katy.
But only the best of the best are your go-to guy on fourth-and-1.
And only Taylor is described this way by the veteran coach:
“Adam’s not just a good player, he’s a good leader,” Joseph said. “I think his leadership is as good as any we’ve had at Katy in the last 20 years.”