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Miami's Dorsey, Johnson air out Huskers in Rose Bowl triumph
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Miami's Dorsey, Johnson air out Huskers in Rose Bowl triumph

By MECHELLE VOEPEL - The Kansas City Star
Date: 01/04/02 00:25

PASADENA, Calif. -- Made sense that the lasers zipping around from atop the Rose Bowl for the halftime follies had the Hurricane hue of green.

Miami had shown laserlike precision in passing during the first half, during which the Hurricanes pretty much did all they needed during Thursday's 37-14 Rose Bowl victory over Nebraska to claim the national championship.

With receivers too fast, a quarterback too sharp and an offensive line too stalwart for the Cornhuskers to do anything with besides bounce off, Miami had 258 yards receiving on its way to a 34-0 halftime lead.

The Hurricanes finished with 362 passing yards; sophomore receiver Andre Johnson led the way with 199 on seven catches with two touchdowns. Junior tight end Jeremy Shockey had 85 yards on five catches with one TD.

Miami passing its way to a national championship is hardly new stuff -- the Hurricanes aired it out on their way to titles in 1983, '87, '89 and '91. But because it's been a decade, it looked as good as new to the Miami fans.

Now Ken Dorsey joins the Hurricane championship quarterback club with Bernie Kosar, Craig Erickson and Steve Walsh. Dorsey, from the Bay area city of Orinda, especially enjoyed doing it in his home state.

"I not only had all the people who came up from Florida supporting me, but I had my friends from right in my back yard," said Dorsey, who was 22 of 35 with one interception.

He added that because the bowl trip wasn't far, family members got to save money.

"I had a little bit better Christmas because of that," he joked.

Nebraska gave him a gift early Thursday. The only time he'd looked even mildly bothered by the Huskers was with just more than 9 minutes left in the first quarter. Linebacker Scott Shanle put the rush on, and Dorsey's hurried pass was intercepted by cornerback Keyuo Craver.

But just a couple of minutes later, Craver would be face-first in the grass. He fell on coverage, leaving Johnson all by himself.

"Miami was a very physical team," Craver said. "I was pulled down, and the guy beat me."

Was it the easiest touchdown pass Dorsey ever threw?

"It was pretty nice," he said. "I got so excited, I thought I'd put too much on it."

Johnson's take: "Coming off the line, I just pretty much tried to get physical with the DB. I was shocked to be that wide-open. Then I was just thinking, `Please let me catch it.' "

Johnson, who is from Miami, caught another scoring pass with 3:35 left in the second quarter. His diving 8-yard grab was the Hurricanes' last touchdown and made it 34-0.

Miami coach Larry Coker wasn't surprised Johnson was so effective.

"We knew he could be because of the coverage they play," Coker said of the Huskers' man-to-man defense. "We knew there might be some mismatches. Andre capitalized on it; Ken made some phenomenal throws."

The offensive line, led by Outland Trophy winner Bryant McKinnie, and the rushing game, led by Clinton Portis' 104 yards, combined with the passing game to make the Hurricanes almost flawless.

"Their offense is what you look for in all areas," Nebraska coach Frank Solich said.

Dorsey said almost nonchalantly after the game that he would definitely return for his senior season. Then he joked about his lack of mobility but said it didn't matter much considering all he had to work with.

"Having weapons all over the field," he said, "is very helpful for a quarterback."

And Dorsey more than helped himself on the way to a title.

All content © 2002 The Kansas City Star