Fullback Zimmerer, Huskers smooth out the no-huddle

Fullback C.J. Zimmerer, center, doesn't mind his blocking role in NU's no-huddle. “It's a great feeling knowing you are the attacker,” said the senior out of Omaha Gross.

LINCOLN — OK, so nobody in Nebraska's offensive huddle literally laughs out loud when it gets an opposing defense gasping for air.

But the smiles produced in those situations, Husker fullback C.J. Zimmerer said, fuel the desire to press the accelerator even harder out of the no-huddle attack and create more panic.

“It's a great feeling knowing you are the attacker,” said the fifth-year senior out of Omaha Gross. “We can run the same play 20 times and it doesn't matter to us because we can throw a different guy in there or run it left instead of right.

“The other team is scrambling. You can see it, like when you go to block linebackers or to run the ball. Guys don't want to tackle you, or they dive at your feet.”

Nebraska has the ability to go even faster this season, Zimmerer said, because of the continuing maturation of four-year starting quarterback Taylor Martinez.

“Taylor is such a better leader now,” he said. “With the leadership development we've done and naming him a captain, he's more vocal and becoming that leader-quarterback that every team needs.”

Two years ago, when Martinez was a sophomore and Tim Beck took over as offensive coordinator, good vibrations about the Nebraska offense weren't as noticeable.

“It took a couple of years for us to get it the way we wanted,” Zimmerer said. “It's been a rough road. We had our ups and downs as an offense. But we've put in a lot of work to get over the hump.

“Now, we're going to do what we do. And the other team is going to have to stop us.”

Zimmerer's 2012 statistics suggest that he's not an integral part of the offense — four carries for 18 yards, one reception for 6 yards. But as the fullback in Nebraska's power and heavy sets, the 6-foot, 230-pounder bulldozes paths for Ameer Abdullah and other tailbacks.

The tag of “glorified offensive lineman” doesn't bother the Omaha Gross graduate. He rooms with three O-linemen and sees the work that group has put in to prep for this season.

“Those guys are all a lot stronger and faster,” he said. “Add that to the extra experience they have and that should be a strength of our team.”

Speaking of experience, Zimmerer is the only senior in the running back meeting room this season, making him a valued veteran voice.

He knows what he's talking about, too. The two-time academic All-Big Ten choice graduated in 3?½ years in criminal justice. This season, he's raising the academic bar.

“I'd really like to go for academic All-American,” Zimmerer said. “I've been close. I got nominated before.

“If I could take that next step on the field, it would be a huge honor for me. And I want to continue things in the community with Uplifting Athletes and other stuff. My time is almost up here, so I want to do as much of that as I can.”

Oh, and one more thing.

“As a team,” Zimmerer said, “I want to win them all.”

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