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Ivan Maisel
September 18, 2000
Thrown for a Loss Miami and its young passer took a wrong turn on a trip to Washington
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September 18, 2000

College Football

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Thrown for a Loss
Miami and its young passer took a wrong turn on a trip to Washington

The lesson in No. 15 Washington's 34-29 upset of fourth-ranked Miami last Saturday is simple: When a senior quarterback who's a Heisman Trophy candidate goes up against a teenage passer making his first start on the road, before one of the loudest crowds in college football, you don't have to be Bill Walsh to correctly predict the outcome.

Despite throwing two second-half interceptions that kept the Hurricanes in the game, Huskies quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo looked like the picture of poise, especially when compared with Hurricanes sophomore Ken Dorsey. Tuiasosopo passed for 223 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 45 yards and another score, while Dorsey completed 15 of 34 passes for 215 yards, lost two fumbles and twice tripped over his linemen's feet. "Their blitzing forced me to make bad decisions," Dorsey said after the loss.

Still, the 6'5", 195-pound Dorsey is a football prodigy with a voracious appetite to learn. Shortly after dawn one morning this summer, teammate Joaquin Gonzalez went to pick up Dorsey for a round of golf and found him watching game tapes. Miami coach Butch Davis fell in love with Dorsey when he saw him play point guard in a basketball scrimmage at Miramonte

High in Orinda, Calif. "I was blown away at how mature he was," Davis says. "He looked like Larry Bird. I thought, God, if he can do the same thing on a football field...."

In his brief Miami career-three starts as a freshman against Rutgers, Syracuse and Temple plus this year's opener against McNeese State, all home games—Dorsey had thrown 13 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. "If we can put pressure on him, push the pocket, we've got a chance to rattle him," Washington inside linebackers coach Tom Williams said last Friday. "When McNeese put some pressure on him, he threw some errant passes."

Dorsey spent most of the first half trying to change plays at the line of scrimmage, a futile exercise before a crowd of 74,157 at Husky Stadium, where the overhanging roof on each side of the field traps the noise. Washington junior defensive tackle Larry Tripplett, who sacked Dorsey twice and recovered one of his fumbles, said that he couldn't hear his linebackers making calls, and therefore Dorsey had no chance of communicating. For instance, on the first play of the second quarter, despite having had a TV timeout to get the correct call, Dorsey was flagged for delay of game. "I was trying to make some checks that I make at home," he said. "I've got to realize when you're on the road you can't do things like that."

In the second half Dorsey settled down and ran the plays he called in the huddle, and Miami crept back from a 21-3 deficit to make a game of it "When he gets experience," says Tripplett, "it's going to be a thing to watch."

Washington gave him a big dose of experience.

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