Monday, Nov. 15, 1999

 

Crouch's speed gives defense problems


Frank Flaton
Kansas State Collegian

Going into the highly touted matchup against Nebraska, K-State's defense was ranked second in the nation and ranked first in pass efficiency.

Nevertheless, someone forgot to give Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch the memo.

Crouch riddled the Wildcats with a career-best 158 rushing yards and two touchdowns to lead the Huskers over K-State, 41-15. The 6-foot-1-inch sophomore engineered the Nebraska option offense, while passing for 69 yards, completing eight passes on 17 attempts.


JUSTIN HAYWORTH/Collegian

Eric Crouch flips an option to his running back at the last second as he is dragged to the ground by K-State's Monty Beisel in the first half of Saturday's game in Lincoln. The Huskers won the game 41-15.

"He got 150-some odd yards, and that is pretty doggone good when you are a quarterback," K-State head coach Bill Snyder said. "He did a nice job. He does a very nice job executing their offense. I think their offense in total does a nice job in executing, other than the fact that they are turning the ball over some."

Crouch's 158 yards rushing is the most any player has rushed against the Wildcats this season. Darren Davis rushed for 151 yards in K-State's 35-28 win over the Cyclones.

Crouch led a Nebraska rushing attack that included eight runners totaling 309 yards - also the most any opponent has rushed against the Wildcats.

K-State free safety Lamar Chapman said Crouch's quickness and speed allowed him to elude K-State's defense.

"He was able to run all over the field," he said. "We knew we had to stop him and it just wasn't our day."

Crouch rushed for more than 100 yards for the second time this season and for the fourth time in his career.

His career-high 27 rushing attempts was a new Nebraska school record as he passed the 1,000 career rushing yard mark and became the 50th Husker to total 1,000 rushing yards. Crouch's 1,153 career rushing yards ranks him at 42nd in the Husker record books.

"Eric was tremendous," Solich said. "He showed a great deal of athletic ability and a great deal of heart. For a quarterback to do something with the football as many times as he did in terms of the running game, and also be valuable to what we did in the passing game, is vital."

Crouch, who leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency at 149.22, completed only eight passes, but was able to expose K-State's secondary by using the tight end.

Crouch connected with tight end Tracey Wistrom on four pass plays for a combined total of 68 yards, including a 26-yard strike.

With Crouch at the top of his game, the Wildcat defense failed to get an interception, ending its streak of 17 games with a pick-off.

K-State defensive end Darren Howard said the Wildcats failed to adjust properly, allowing Crouch's targets to be wide open.

"We made a lot of mistakes that we didn't correct," Howard said. "You can't make mistakes against Nebraska. We adjusted wrong and the tight end killed us in the first quarter."

Crouch began his career day with just over seven minutes to go in the first quarter. He rushed for quick gains of 9 and 5 yards before dashing through K-State's secondary for a 30-yard touchdown jaunt.

He scored his second touchdown run with 41 seconds to go in the first quarter. After Randy Stella blocked a K-State punt for a safety, Crouch started the Nebraska drive with passes of 26 and 14 yards to Wistrom.

Nebraska stalled on six straight plays before Crouch slid through K-State's defensive line for an 18-yard touchdown.

"He is the best quarterback we have faced," K-State linebacker Ben Leber said of Crouch. "And we just had a lack of execution on our part. You will never see a team like Nebraska. They are just hard to figure out."

Crouch has rejuvenated a Husker offense that chalked up only 185 yards against Southern Mississippi and scored a season-low 20 points against Texas.

He is 6-1 as a starting quarterback and has thrown only three interceptions. He led the Huskers to a 37-0 shellacking over Texas A&M with 137 rushing yards and 95 passing yards to earn Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.

"We're really making a lot of progress," Crouch said. "Our timing and chemistry is good and we're playing very good football right now. I think we made a big statement today, beating a top-five team and showing how good we are."

 

 


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This item was published in the Kansas State Collegian on Monday, Nov. 15, 1999.

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Copyright 1999, Student Publications Inc. All rights reserved. This document may be distributed electronically, provided it is distributed in its entirety and includes this notice. However, it cannot be reprinted without the express written permission of Student Publications Inc., Kansas State University.