QB's scrambling ways have given Tiger offense a boost

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AZTEC — Zach Taylor took it upon himself to lighten the workload of the Aztec backfield as the team entered district play, scrambling around the pocket and heading downfield.

The Tiger wide receiver-turned-quarterback has run for 576 yards and six touchdowns in his last four games, all because his first instinct is to take off running.

“I’m just seeing the running lanes really good right now,” Taylor said. “I drop back in the pocket, and if I see something, I like to run. That’s what kind of quarterback I am.”

Taylor already was accustomed to finding the creases and trying to distance himself from defenders after making a catch.

Now, even with the ball in his hands under center or in the shotgun formation, his mentality as a wide-out comes in handy. During plays when he can’t get rid of the ball quickly, Taylor buys himself time to scan the field for gaps and runs toward those areas.

“It makes a defense play assignment football and have to be responsible for the quarterback. You look at a lot of our scrambles, he does that very much intentionally. He’s able to do that on his own, find those creases and take off,” Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt said.

After the first step or two forward, Taylor can easily cut and shift his way for an easy 3-yard gain or break out for runs of 10-plus yards.

“Now I understand better how to make (defenders) miss,” said Taylor, who has a team-high 833 rushing yards to go with his 2,247 passing yards.

Taylor said being able to lock onto certain targets sooner and reaching them quickly is a big reason he’s generating so many rushing yards.

And because defenders are preoccupied with trying to take him down, Taylor’s dual-threat approach is allowing his receivers to move more freely during their assignments.

The Tigers (5-5) will open the 4A playoffs Saturday at Ruidoso (6-4).

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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