Turns out, Zac Taylor had sweaty palms Saturday before Nebraska's Red-White Spring Game.
Evidently, 63,416 spectators typically don't attend spring games at Butler County (Kan.) Community College, Taylor's former school.
"I think if you watch that first play, it was pretty ugly," said Nebraska's first-string quarterback, referring to his 12-yard completion to I-back Cory Ross to open the annual scrimmage at Memorial Stadium.
"After the first play, you get the jitters out," Taylor said.
Boy, did he ever.
Taylor, who transferred to Nebraska in January, completed his first eight passes and finished 20-for-27 for 357 yards and three touchdowns to lead the White squad made up mostly of first-string players to a 42-14 triumph over the Reds.
The attendance was a Spring Game record, topping the 61,417 on hand last year.
Taylor's 357 passing yards all of them coming in the first half eclipsed the record of 241 established last year by Joe Dailey.
Hitting receivers in stride and managing the offense with poise, Taylor put a stranglehold on the starting quarterback job as Nebraska ended its 15-practice spring season.
"All spring long, we've been talking about Zac's ability to throw the ball on location and his ability to throw the deep ball," NU head coach Bill Callahan said. "Whether it's the post (route), the go, or the seam he throws those exceptionally well.
"Overall, he has a big-play arm. We wanted to feature that today, and I thought he was complemented well by our receiver play."
Wideout Isaiah Fluellen capped a strong spring with a White squad-best six receptions for 106 yards, and wideout Terrence Nunn caught four passes for 133 yards and two scores.
The White team scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions and was never threatened by a Red team made up of reserves.
Ross led the White team with 67 yards on 12 carries, including a 34-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter that completed the scoring for his team.
Defensive end Jay Moore continued his strong spring with four sacks, and interior linemen Titus Adams and LeKevin Smith added two apiece as the White team finished with 11.
Smith, a senior, graded the White defense's performance an A-plus.
It's probably fortunate all of the quarterbacks wore "no-contact" green jerseys, meaning they were "sacked" once a defender touched them.
Taylor sat out the entire second half, deferring to redshirt freshman Joe Ganz (1-for-4 for 9 yards), as the clock ran continuously during the third quarter and during the final 7½ minutes of the fourth.
The crowd saw enough of Taylor to leave impressed.
"We're pleased with where he's at right now, but he has some work to do," Callahan said. "He has a long way to go yet. When you're playing against one or two coverages like we were today, you can pretty much zero in on your reads and anticipate them a little quicker."
The only glitches of note in Taylor's performance were two botched exchanges with the center after Gary Pike replaced starter Kurt Mann, who limped off the field in the first half.
Although the passing game sparkled, Nebraska's running game sputtered at times, as the teams combined for 49 yards on 51 attempts. The rushing total, however, was held down by the losses incurred from all of the sacks.
"We went into the scrimmage with throwing in mind," Callahan said. "We don't have great depth at running back, and you saw that today."
On defense, Callahan was particularly pleased with the linemen and safeties. He noted strong safety Daniel Bullocks' 58-yard touchdown return of a Dailey pass, pushing the White team's lead to 35-7.
Bullocks stepped in front of wideout Grant Mulkey and outran Dailey to the end zone.
"Daniel read Joe's eyes and made a great break on the ball," Callahan said.
Dailey, who started every game last season, finished 7-for-20 for 121 yards. He was demoted to fourth- string last week.
"I'm not disappointed with Joe at all," Callahan said Saturday. "I think he's still in competition and handles himself well."
Offensive coordinator Jay Norvell reiterated his contention that Dailey has improved markedly since last season.
Asked about Dailey's attitude in the wake of his demotion, Norvell said, "His attitude's been fine. All of our kids are just competing, trying to put their best foot forward."
Callahan emerged from the scrimmage both realistic and upbeat. Most of his optimism stemmed from the comfort level players and coaches have achieved since last spring, when everything was new.
"There's a flow going through our practices," the coach said. "We don't have to re-educate our players. It's coming together. I don't know if it guarantees us anything, but it certainly gives us a chance to be better."
Many of those who watched Taylor would agree he gives Nebraska a chance to improve on last year's 5-6 record.
"It's hard to do what he's done," Norvell said. "To come in and learn this system and be as comfortable as he's become in it, in a short amount of time it's a credit to him.
"We feel confident we can get guys open. We just need to hit them, and he did a good job of it."
Reach Steven M. Sipple at 473-7440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.