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College Football
Ivan Maisel
September 27, 1999
Big Red Alert A musical chairs backfield has left Nebraska's offense in disarray
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September 27, 1999

College Football

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NAME, POSITION, SCHOOL

SKINNY

Shaun Alexander, RB, Alabama

The 6'1", 220-pound senior is tied for the national lead in touchdowns with nine: six rushing, two receiving and one on a 76-yard kickoff return. He has 649 all-purpose yards, 449 on the ground.

Nick Davis, WR-KR, Wisconsin

The 5'10", 177-pound sophomore, one of the most dangerous return men around, has returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown this season. He has also caught seven passes for 146 yards.

Chafie Fields, WR, Penn State

The 6'1", 199-pound senior averages 23.6 yards per catch and 22.6 yards per rush. His game-winning 79-yard touchdown reception against Miami last Saturday was his third scoring catch of the season.

Ben Kelly, DB-KR Colorado

The 5'10", 190-pound junior is the Buffaloes' alltime leader in return yardage (1,336) and one of the college game's top cornerbacks. He has had two punt returns for touchdowns called back this season, but returned a fumble 96 yards for a score in last Saturday's 51-17 victory over Kansas.

Travis Prentice, RB, Miami (Ohio)

The 6'1", 228-pound senior, nicknamed Touchdown Travis, became the Mid-American Conference's alltime leading rusher (4,369 yards) after running for 116 yards in last Saturday's 35-14 win over Eastern Michigan. He also scored four touchdowns.

Antwaan Randle El, QB, Indiana

The 5'10", 190-pound sophomore has passed for five touchdowns and run for five. In last Saturday's 44-35 loss to Kentucky, he rushed for 115 yards and three TDs and threw for 201 yards and one touchdown.

Ken Simonton, RB, Oregon State

The 5'7", 175-pound sophomore leads the nation in rushing with 557 yards, is tied for first in touchdowns with nine and has helped the Beavers (3-0) get off to their best start since 1967.

Troy Walters, WR Stanford

The 5'8", 175-pound senior is the Cardinal's alltime leader with 2,867 receiving yards. This fall he has 21 catches for 337 yards and a touchdown and five kickoff returns for 104 yards.

Peter Warrick, WR-KR Florida State

The 6-foot, 195-pound senior gives opposing coaches chills every time he touches the ball. He has 26 receptions for 338 yards and one touchdown, and five rushes for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

Dez White, WR-KR, Georgia Tech

The 6'1", 214-pound junior is more dangerous than even Yellow Jackets quarterback Joe Hamilton. White averages 122.0 all-purpose yards and 28.8 yards on kickoff returns.

—B.J.S.

Big Red Alert
A musical chairs backfield has left Nebraska's offense in disarray

After Nebraska gained only 185 yards of total offense and committed five turnovers against Southern Mississippi last Saturday, it was clear that coach Frank Solich's decision to put the Huskers' offense in the hands of just one quarterback, sophomore Eric Crouch, is no panacea. Nebraska won 20-13 because senior linebacker Julius Jackson returned a first-quarter fumble 16 yards for a touchdown and a third-quarter interception 28 for the decisive points. "We had a lot of mental blunders," said junior I-back Dan Alexander, whose 54 yards rushing and two fumbles didn't make anyone forget his predecessor, junior DeAngelo Evans, who began a tumultuous week in Lincoln by quitting the team.

Alexander at least performed better than Bobby Newcombe, the junior who had started the first two games at quarterback but who proposed last week to the Huskers' coaching staff that he move to wingback and end his job-sharing arrangement with Crouch. "My heart is at quarterback," Newcombe said three days before the game, "but I'm an athlete. I just like to play. I want to go out on the field with no stress, no pressure."

As a freshman playing two positions in 1997, Newcombe averaged 16.4 yards every time he touched the ball. "We've got to have both guys on the field," quarterbacks coach Turner Gill said last Friday of Crouch and Newcombe. "They're both so explosive." But Newcombe imploded against the Golden Eagles. In the first quarter he dropped a punt and then kicked the ball. Southern Mississippi recovered the muff and drove 45 yards for a touchdown and a 7-6 lead. In the second quarter he dropped a pass in the end zone. In the second half he never touched the ball. Newcombe finished with no receptions.

Give the Golden Eagles some credit for the Cornhuskers' offensive difficulties. They used their quickness and effective slanting up front to hold Nebraska to five rushing first downs. The Huskers hope their running game will be more effective in the weeks ahead, but they aren't likely to benefit from the return of Evans: He quit the team without citing a reason and will transfer.

You know Nebraska is struggling when three games into the season, a reserve linebacker is its third-leading scorer. Asked if he would like to try playing I-back, Jackson said, "I was thinking about it."

Solich, too, no doubt.

Aaargh, Wisconsin
Cincinnati Ruins Dayne's Day

The game was supposed to be a simple accounting exercise, the adding of a fat new entry to an old balance. The publicity was all about Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne and his quest to break the career NCAA rushing record set last year by Ricky Williams of Texas. The players from Cincinnati were supposed to be no more than assorted pieces of furniture to be moved out of the way of Dayne's grand march.

The question wasn't so much how many yards the 5"10", 252-pound Dayne would gain as it was how long Badgers coach Barry Alvarez would let him play in the expected rout. Wisconsin, favored by 26½ points, was already looking toward its Big Ten opener against Michigan a week later. The sad Bearcats had lost to Division I-AA Troy (Ala.) State 31-24 a week earlier.

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