Rose Bowl QBs Speak Softly But Direct Powerful Offenses

Dec. 31, 2001

AP Football Writer

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – They look harmless enough off the field.

Nebraska’s Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch and Miami’s Ken Dorsey speaksoftly about the fierce game they play. They talk about dedication, hardwork and loyalty, about winning a national championship for their coach, andbeing part of the great traditions of their schools.

Then the games begin.

And, as Dorsey says, they become “very competitive on the field.”

He is the tall, skinny kid from California, built more like a point guardthan a pinpoint passer. Crouch is smaller, and in shorts and a Huskers’jersey seems more ready to hit the surf than take hits from big, bruisinglinebackers.

On Thursday night at the Rose Bowl, the quarterbacks take center stage whenNo. 1 Miami (11-0) plays No. 4 Nebraska (11-1) in the BCS’ national titlegame.

A win by the Hurricanes and there’s no controversyover who’s No. 1.

If the Huskers win, there’s a good chance Tuesday’s Fiesta Bowl winner, No.2 Oregon or No. 3 Colorado, will be voted national champs in the AP mediapoll, creating a split title. The Rose Bowl winner is automatically No. 1 inthe coaches’ poll.

Dorsey, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior, has the luxury of a star-studdedsupporting cast. Crouch, a fifth-year senior, has carried the Huskers’ loadvirtually by himself, running for 1,115 yards, passing for 1,050 yards andproducing 26 TDs. Even in the 62-36 loss to Colorado in the Huskers’ lastgame, Crouch set a school record with 360 total yards.

He’s listed at 6-1, 200 pounds, but doesn’t look it. He won’t flinch,though, when faced with trying to plow through heavy traffic. Huskers tightend Tracey Wistrom can attest to that, recalling a short TD run by Crouch inthe 1999 season opener against Iowa.

“I think the guy expected him to run out of bounds and he just absolutelyran him over. They showed it over and over on TV,” Wistrom said. “That’swhen you knew Eric was going to be something special. He does whatever ittakes for the extra yard, whatever it takes to make this football teamsuccessful.”

This season, there was the record-breaking 95-yard TD run against Missouri,a zigzagging odyssey in which Crouch broke at least five tackles. And therewas the 63-yard TD catch off a trick play that sealed a 20-10 win overOklahoma.

“He never ceases to amaze me,” Wistrom adds.

Crouch also is the fastest quarterback Nebraska’s ever had, and coach FrankSolich says the Huskers’ option was redesigned to include more plays for hisquarterback. “I just try to make people miss and get as many yards as Ican,” Crouch said, “but being physical is part of my game.”

Even though he had surgery twice on his right throwing shoulder, Crouchnever missed a snap because of injury in his final three seasons. He sayshe’d like one chance to stop running and keep throwing. But at Nebraska,it’s power football forever.

“The only time I did it was on a video game,” Crouch said. “I’d like tothrow it every play and see. I have enough confidence in myself that I thinkI could get it done if I threw 40-50 times.”

Dorsey threw for 2,652 yards and 23 TDs with just nine interceptions,completing 57.9 percent of his passes. “I wish I knew how to stop him,”Solich said. “There’s no one yet who’s been able to stop him and theiroffense.”

Crouch and Dorsey met in the week leading up to the Heisman presentation onDec. 8 and struck up a friendship.

“He has all the characteristics of a big-time leader and that’s why theirteam is so successful. He knows how to get the ball to the right players,”Crouch said. “Plus he’s a down-to-earth guy.”

In addition to running the offense, Crouch has spent time this weekdefending the Huskers’ selection to play for a national title. Miami andNebraska finished 1-2 in the final BCS standings, which determine who playsin the Bowl Championship Series’ title game. Colorado was third, Oregonfourth.

“Despite what’s being said about what’s fair and what’s not, it’s realitythat we are playing in this football game,” Crouch said, “and I think thatwe definitely put all that behind us right now. It’s a great opportunity forus to prove we are a better team than we were the last time we stepped onthe field.”

Even the Miami players are impressed by Crouch.

“He’s a complete player,” Miami cornerback Phillip Buchanon said. ” Hedoesn’t pass the ball that much, but he’s a tremendous athlete.”

Ken Dorsey, QB, Miami

Opponent Comp Att Yds Td Int
Penn St. 20 27 344 3 1
Rutgers 14 25 315 2 1
Pittsburgh 18 32 208 1 1
Troy St. 18 30 299 2 0
Florida St. 14 27 249 3 0
West Virginia 16 27 192 2 1
Temple 16 24 175 2 0
Boston College 20 41 222 0 4
Syracuse 13 20 224 4 0
Washington 14 21 189 3 1
Virginia Tech 21 44 235 1 0
Totals 184 318 2652 23 9

Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska

Rushing Passing
Opponent Att Yds Td Comp Att Int Yds Td
TCU 29 69 1 10 18 1 151 0
Troy St. 15 48 1 8 15 1 109 0
Notre Dame 14 31 0 6 9 0 88 1
Rice 12 97 2 9 11 0 165 3
Missouri 17 191 2 8 14 1 120 0
Iowa St. 15 104 4 10 14 0 110 0
Baylor 18 132 3 10 18 1 102 0
Texas Tech 21 105 1 10 22 2 196 3
Oklahoma 13 21 0 10 18 1 102 0
Kansas 13 49 1 14 24 0 164 0
Kansas St. 23 106 1 3 7 2 60 0
Colorado 18 162 2 28 13 2 198 0
Totals 203 1115 18 105 189 10 1510 7