|After long wait, Ganz the man at Nebraska|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 11 August 2008 13:17|
While stars such as Chase Daniel of Missouri and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech position themselves for runs at postseason honors, Ganz is preparing for his first full season as a starter.
Ganz is entering his fifth year at Nebraska, yet he's a virtual unknown in the nation's top conference for quarterbacks this season. In addition to Daniel and Harrell, eight other starting quarterbacks return in the Big 12.
``They're way more accomplished than I am,'' Ganz said. ``I've only started three games, and I'm 1-2. They have a lot bigger resume.''
But, he added, ``Talent-wise, I can be just as good.''
Ganz had his moments last season. He threw for 1,399 yards in the three games after he replaced the injured Sam Keller. His 510 yards passing and seven touchdown passes against Kansas State were school records. And his 484 yards passing against Colorado marked the second-best passing day in program history.
While the big numbers rung up by Daniel and Harrell were a natural product of their teams' spread offenses, a considerable portion of Ganz's production came while Nebraska was in desperation mode trying to come from behind in games it lost.
``I don't really compare stats with other quarterbacks around the Big 12,'' Ganz said. ``Wins and losses is all I concern myself with, and if that means I have to throw for 500 yards and we win, that's fine. And if I throw for 150 and we win, that's fine, too.''
Ganz's ascension to starter comes after a long wait.
He was one of the last players recruited in former coach Bill Callahan's first class in 2004. He sat out as a redshirt that first year, and he saw no action in 2005 as celebrated freshman Harrison Beck was annointed backup to Zac Taylor. Beck left the program in '06, and Ganz spelled Taylor in five games that year.
Just when it looked as if it were Ganz's turn, along came Keller. The Arizona State transfer beat out Ganz in preseason practice last year in what Callahan said was an extremely close competition.
When a shoulder injury at Texas ended Keller's season, Ganz, finally, was the man.
``I think he's looking forward to having a big year,'' first-year coach Bo Pelini said. ``He followed what he did last year with a good spring, and he's continued that throughout the summer. I think he's excited, and we're excited for him.''
So are his teammates.
``Everybody looks up to him, always has, and I think they always will,'' receiver Nate Swift said. ``Especially this year, he's going to be a great leader for the offense and the team altogether.''
Ganz is a capable passer, but he also is the most mobile quarterback Nebraska has had since Jammal Lord and the triple-option offense went away in 2004. He rushed for 37 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Colorado last year.
Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said he plans to make use of Ganz's ability as the Huskers renew their emphasis on the running game.
But don't look for Ganz to be that old-school Nebraska quarterback like Tommie Frazier or Scott Frost, pitching to the trailing I-back or keeping on the option.
``If a play breaks down,'' Ganz said, ``I'll be ready to run.''
Ganz, after waiting so long for his chance, also is ready to lead.
``It's an honor, and I know it comes with a lot of responsibility, but I wouldn't want to have it any other way,'' Ganz said. ``It's nice to finally be No. 1.''