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K-State Wildcats





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Posted on Sun, Oct. 24, 2004

Webb, prepared and polished, masters Huskers


MANHATTAN -- The script for Saturday's Kansas State-Nebraska game seemed pretty simple.

If quarterback Dylan Meier is able to play, K-State probably wins.

If he isn't, K-State probably loses.

Meier didn't play against the Huskers. He took some huge hits last week against Oklahoma, including one in the fourth quarter that knocked him silly.

That meant Allen Webb was out there for the Wildcats, and that wasn't a nice thought.

In two emergency starts this season, Webb was a combined 8 of 22 passing and rushed 22 times for zero yards. In both games, losses to Fresno State and Kansas, Meier had to come in and try to make a rescue because Webb looked overmatched and confused.

The Allen Webb who helped K-State beat Nebraska 45-21 on Saturday was a different Alan Webb.

He came out of the chute running for huge yards. He made some important pass completions. Yes, he made some mistakes, including a fumble that Nebraska recovered in the end zone.

But if we're keeping a pie chart of Webb's performance against the Huskers, 92.6 percent is covered with positives.

He rushed for 147 yards and four touchdowns. It was the most rushing yards for a Kansas State quarterback since Ell Roberson gained 178 yards against Colorado on Oct. 5, 2002 and the third highest ever for a K-State QB.

With Webb as a threat, more holes opened for tailback Darren Sproles, who busted loose for 135 yards. It is the 10th time in Wildcats history that two players rushed for 100 or more yards.

Allen Webb?

After his performance against Kansas two weeks ago, in which most of his passes were way off target and his decision making illogical, I figured Webb would be lucky to keep his uniform, let alone make another start.

But Saturday, nobody had a chance to raise an eyebrow before Webb sparked a seven-play, 75-yard drive on Kansas State's first possession. He rushed three times for 34 yards during the drive and dumped off a 16-yard pass to Sproles.

Webb again was instrumental during K-State's second possession, which resulted in his eight-yard touchdown run.

He was electric with his moves. He oozed confidence. He played as if he had been returned to the factory and given new wiring.

Webb led a ground game that gained 294 yards against a Nebraska defense that allowed an average of 66.8 to its first six opponents.

And just what about Nebraska?

Anyone who thought the Huskers' problems were going to be a quick fix for new coach Bill Callahan was wrong.

The defensive statistics might look good, but this is a team that has allowed 142 points in its past three games.

And Callahan's West Coast offense, which he brought with him from the Oakland Raiders, is moving along about as quickly as traffic on the LA freeways.

Sophomore quarterback Joe Dailey, recruited by previous coach Frank Solich to run a ground-oriented attack with a pass mixed in here and there, is probably not going to be the long-term answer.

He completed only three passes against K-State, and one of those was to an offensive lineman after being tipped at the line of scrimmage. Another was a shovel pass to Cory Ross that resulted in a 63-yard gain. And the third was to a wide open Terrence Nunn for 55 yards.

There are sure to be quarterback issues at Nebraska.

But despite Webb's big day, don't expect controversy at Kansas State.

KSU coach Bill Snyder put an end to any speculation, saying Meier is will be the Wildcats' quarterback when he's ready to play. But he couldn't resist taking a jab at Meier in the locker room after Saturday's game.

"I just saw the list of guys who needed to come in and see the trainer (Sunday) and Dylan's name was on the list," Snyder said. "And I said, 'Is that Dylan Meier, our No. 2 quarterback?"'

Bad-a-bing.

But seriously, folks.

"What it really does, it puts Alan in a position where we feel comfortable with him," Snyder said. "If he continues to do what he did today -- if he continues to prepare himself over the course of the week -- that's the key. Most anybody can play well if they spend the time and effort to prepare themselves. If he does that, obviously we'll have a great deal of confidence in him."

Webb is more typical of K-State's recent quarterbacks: Roberson, Jonathan Beasley and Michael Bishop. That's definitely the case with his ability to run, although he had not developed into the passing threat his predecessors were.

Meier, conversely, has a rifle arm and can get the ball downfield with ease. But he doesn't present much of a running threat, and he is not a skilled option quarterback.

It's not a coincidence that Sproles, who has struggled most of the season, was able to break through on a day when his quarterback, too, was a threat.

Meier is the more polished of the two. As good as Webb was against Nebraska, there were times when he misread blitz packages or threw to the wrong receiver.

Watching Webb is like riding a roller coaster -- you're gonna scream.

But when he plays the way he did Saturday, you want to ride again.


Reach Eagle sports columnistBob Lutz at 268-6597 orblutz@wichitaeagle.com.

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