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Advantage Crouch

But there's not much difference in 2 QBs

Posted September 7, 1999

By Marc Morehouse
Gazette sportswriter

More coverage: Photos | Boxscore

IOWA CITY -- Here's the controversy, Nebraska has two really great quarterbacks. Both are dynamic field generals and slick option demons. There's not a defense in the country that can contain either for extended periods.

Yeah, everybody feels real bad for Nebraska Coach Frank Solich. Someone should hold a telethon.

If you were to name a winner in Nebraska's 42-7 victory over Iowa Saturday, you'd go with sophomore Eric Crouch, who scored on touchdown runs of 28, 6 and 21.

"I thought just from an observer, Eric came in and played tremendous," Solich said. "And that's what we expect from Eric or if Bobby had come in second."

It didn't matter that starter Bobby Newcombe threw an interception and fumbled twice. He scored on runs of 1 and 5 yards and completed 7 of 10 for 128 yards.

Nebraska rushed for 347 yards and piled up 543 yards total offense. The only controversy here should be who trots out after the coin flip.

"We have two outstanding quarterbacks, they both will be used," Solich said. "It's hard to say there's a controversy when you've got two quarterbacks playing well."

The Cornhuskers struggled in the first half under Newcombe, who saw his first playing time since a knee injury knocked him out with seven games left last year. The Huskers led 7-0 at halftime, with the only TD Crouch's 28-yard run.

"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to set the world on fire," said Newcombe, who rushed 15 times for 35 yards. "I can play much better, but we won the game. It felt great to actually play healthy for a change."

Newcombe's struggles elicited the inevitable questions.

"It doesn't matter who's behind us, it's all who's in front of us," said tackle Adam Julch.

"I don't think there's as much competition as everyone thinks," said I-back Dan Alexander, who led Nebraska with 95 yards on 15 carries. "I really don't see it erupting in the lockerroom or on the field. Nothing like that.

"They're both competitors. We're all competitors. You have to be at this level, if you want to go out there and play and win. There's never been bad words between the two. They hang out together sometimes, they joke. I don't think there's any kind of tension or reason for anyone to take sides on the team."

It might be happy, happy, joy, joy, but Crouch, who expressed bitterness last week after losing the starting nod, didn't talk to the media after the game. Newcombe was nice, but also marked his territory a little.

"I'd be upset as well, disappointed," he said. "We're all going to play a role in our success. We're both going to play a lot no matter what the score is."

Nothing that happened on the field Saturday diminished the QB controversy. But the Huskers somehow managed to eke out a 42-7 victory and look good doing it.

"I'm not going to get into every practice and every game, who's our starting quarterback," Solich said. "We'll let you know when we make a quarterback or an I-back change or any position change."

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