Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 24, 2002 · Page 16
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 16

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Thursday, October 24, 2002
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Page 16 -Thursday, October 24,2002 Mills, PSU set for Ohio State FOOTBALL By DOUG HARRIS Cox News Service COLUMBUS, Ohio — Penn State coach Joe Paterno tried his best to temper the preseason buzz surrounding Zack Mills. "He's good," the coach said of the quarterback who led the team to five comeback wins as a red-shirt freshman last season. "But he's not Moses." Granted, the heroic Biblical figure rallied Israel after 400. years of captivity, while Penn State's torment only seemed to last that long. But Mills certainly knows the way to the promised land. The Nittany Lions are 5-2 overall and are only two overtime defeats — both of which contained questionable calls against them — from having a perfect season going into their game with Ohio State Saturday. The program had slumped to 14 losses in 20 games when the precocious Mills came off die bench to pull out a win at Northwestern a year ago. Penn State hasn't been the same since. "He has an air about him, a look in his eyes, that makes people believe in him," senior offensive tackle Matt Schmitt said. "When you see him walk around campus, you wouldn't know he's a football player," senior tailback Larry Johnson said. "But when you get him in a football atmosphere, it's like he's destined to lead, destined to do something great" The Buckeyes discovered that last season. Subbing for starter Matt Senneca, Mills set a team record with 418 total yards, including a zigzagging, 69- yard touchdown run. The Nittany Lions scored the game's last 20 points in a 29-27 win. "It was a perfect play against that defense," Mills recalled. "They blitzed the other side. We blocked it real well. I just had to basically hurdle over a guy and bounce off another guy, and I was free." Milk hasn't exactly felt unencumbered this week. The sniper shootings near his hometown of Ijamsville, Md., have left him shaken. "It's a terrible, sad thing," he said. "At times, I worry about my dad. He's a construction manager and always driving around to different job sites, making sure things are going OK. It's scary. The chance is one-in-a-gazil- lion, but you never know." Like the rest of the Nittany Lions, Mills also received a dose of reality two years ago when current roommate Adam Taliaferro bruised his spinal chord at Ohio State. Extensive rehab has allowed Taliaferro to walk again. And he is scheduled to revisit the scene of his injury Saturday. "He's an inspiration — a walking miracle," Mills said. Mills already holds the Penn State records for passing yards for a freshman (1,669) and sophomore (1,557). He is completing nearly 60 percent of his tosses this season and throw- Zack Mills will lead Penn State against unbeaten Ohio State Saturday at Columbus. (AP photo) ing for 241 yards per game. Both marks rank second in the Big Ten. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr called him "a great competitor. He's smart, knows \vhere to go with the football. He has wonderful athleticism. (He's) tough — all the things you like in a quarterback." OSU coach Jim Tressel said, "Zack Mills is probably the top play-maker at quarterback in our league at this moment." Even Paterno has been moved to add shot-gun formations and roll- outs to the playbook. Said Mills, "I never saw the quarterback getting out of the pocket when I watched Penn State as a kid." But the coach has a Simple explanation. "He's a big-timer," Paterno said. Seminoles might take to the air vs. Irish By CRAIG DOLCH Cox News Service WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The buzz around Florida State's football program this week has been how the Seminoles cannot run, run, run the ball against undefeated Notre Dame. But when Seminoles All-America offensive tackle Brett Williams hears this talk, he only smiles and says, "Yeah, right." "Every week we're kind of like, 'We've got to throw the ball,' " Williams said Tuesday. "But every week we keep running the ball, and doing it effectively. I'm getting pretty confident with the line and the backs." Only this time, FSU coach Bobby Bowden may be serious when he says the Seminoles need to pass. The sixth-ranked Irish (7-0) have allowed just 80 rushing yards per game, sixth- best in the nation. Only two teams have run for more than 100 yards against Notre Dame — Purdue (147) and Air Force (104) — while two others have passed for more than 280 yards (Pittsburgh and Michigan State). So maybe we actually will see FSU quarterback Chris Rix do more Saturday than hand the ball off to backs Greg Jones and Nick Maddox "We must be able to do both," Bowden said. "You simply cannot win one- dimens io n ally. "Air Force last week was run, run, run, run, run. Didn't want to throw the football It just shows you when they can bring everybody up there and get after that ball, it's just hard to run the ball. Same with us. If our running game is going really good, they're going to bring them all up there. They are going to force you eventually to put that ball in the air." But trying to go from relying on the run to picking teams apart with the pass won't be as easy as hitting a switch or having quarterback coach Daryl Dickey and offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden change their philosophies. In the past two games, FSU has rushed 101 times while throwing 40 passes. Rix has had 13 200-yard passing games, but he hasn't had 200 yards in the past two games combined (197). He has completed just two passes of at least 20 yards while Honda State beat Clemson and lost to Miami. "I'm sure it's Coach Dickev and mv wishes to do that," Rix said. "We need to throw the bail more than 100 yards a game to keep teams honest, but it's really a matter of taking what the defense gives us. The past few weeks they've been not wanting to give up the big play and take their chances with the run. Hopefully, we \vill be able to throw the ball, and throw it deep. I think we'll get our chances." It's been a difficult month for Rix. The sophomore was criticized by Jeff Bowden before the Louisville loss and by offensive linemen Antoine Mirambeau and Williams after it because they believed Rix wasn't being patient enough in the pocket before he started to scramble. Rix also was booed by FSU fans after an ineffective performance against Clemson, and he responded by glaring at the student section. But Dickey points out Rix had one of his best games against Miami. Just as importantly, Rix hasn't thrown an interception the past two games after tossing four in the first five. "He's done a great job staying within the offense and doing what we've asked him to do," Dickey said. "He's not going out there every time think- ing, T've got to be the one who has to do it." I think he's getting more at peace with that, more trusting." But are the FSU coaches more trusting of Rix? In a Tallahassee paper, Bowden said he asked his five offensive assistant coaches to rank the offense from strongest to weakest. Bowden said his assistants ranked them: 1) offensive line; 2) running backs; 3) receivers; and 4) quarterback. "I told them, every time we get into the shotgun and spread out, we turn our offense over to the quarterback and yet you all voted that he is not the strongest part of our offense," Bowden told the paper. "The strongest part is our offensive line and our running backs. Let's go out and run the stinking ball." Jeff Bowden admits he'd rather have his offense revert back to its quick-strike ways through the air. But losing two of the past three games has a way of changing one's perspective. "Me and Daryl are both dying for us to throw it more," Jeff Bowden said. "But it's kind of riding the horse that got us there right now. Greg, Nick and the offensive line are doing such a great job." Even the team's top receiver, An- quan Boldin of Pahokee, seems happy with the role of mostly blocking downfield if that's the strategy that can best lead to wins. "Right now the running game is carrying us," Boldin said. "We're going to pass when we have to. We know that we can pass. If there's a situation where we have to, we will. Like this week,, we think we'll get some opportunities with man coverage outside. "We're going to try and take advantage of it." The player who's been the biggest beneficiary of this Alabama-type approach isn't complaining. Not when Jones has had 53 carries for 354 yards and four touchdowns the past two games after averaging 17.2 carries and 93.6 yards in the first five. "Even though there are seven or eight (defenders) near the line, we've still been able to get 5-yard and 10- yard runs," Jones said. "But for any offense to be. good, they have to pass the ball. We are capable of passing the ball, it just hasn't come yet. The pass is going to come. It's just when it's going to come." Browns' family mourns Lerner's death at 69 By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer CLEVELAND — Al Lerner gave millions to charity, but perhaps one of the self-made billionaire's greatest gifts went to Cleveland's rabid football fans- He brought back their beloved Browns. Lemer, who used his wealth from banking, real estate and credit-card giant MBNA Corp. to buy the Browns in 1998, died Wednesday night. He was 69. Lemer's death came four years to the day that the NFL formally transferred ownership to the native New Yorker and one-time furniture salesman who adopted Cleveland as his home. Lerner underwent surgery in May 2001, reportedly to remove a brain tumor, and in June said he had been in and out of the hospital over the past year. The cause of his death was not immediately known. "The Browns have suffered a great loss," the team said in a statement. "Al Lemer was a remarkable man — exceptionally devoted to his family, a tremendously compassionate person, and a trusted and valued friend." NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Lerner's death "leaves a terrible void for all of us in the NFL." "Al Lerner magnificently fulfilled the American Dream, with extraordinary achievement in business and philanthropy," Tagliabue said. "Tough and considerate at the same time, his judgment and advice was always special. His NFL legacy is as much about his being an influential league leader as it is being the generous Browns owner." A regular visitor to the Browns' suburban training facility to see the team he helped return to Cleveland in 1998, Lemer was rarely seen publicly in the past few months. However, on the night before the season opener against Kansas City last month, Lerner went to the team hotel and gave an emotional speech. "America lost a great man," wide receiver Kevin Johnson said Wednesday night. "He's done so much for the country as a whole and especially the Cleveland area." A resident of suburban Shaker Heights, Lerner was ranked 36th on Forbes magazine's 2002 list of the richest Americans with a net worth of S4.3 billion. Although chairman and chief executive officer of MBNA, the worlds largest independent credit-card issuer, Lerner usually shunned the limelight. That changed when he outbid five other groups and was awarded the Browns expansion franchise for S530 million, at the time the highest price paid for a sports team. He hired Carmen Policy as team president and gave Policy, formerly with the San Francisco 49ers, 10 percent ownership. The purchase came three years after his longtime friend, Art Modell, moved the franchise to Baltimore. Lerner was a minority owner of the former Browns, and it was on one of his jets where Modell struck a deal with Maryland authorities to move the team. While Lemer admitted he had a "front row" seat, he said the move was Modell's decision. After bringing the Browns back, Lerner served as chairman of the NFLs finance committee and was regarded as one of the league's most influential owners. "The city of Cleveland has lost a true giant," Cleveland Indians owner Larry Dolan said. "His leadership in bringing the Browns back to Cleveland is only one example of how much he has done for the city." Unlike the flamboyant lerry Jones of Dallas or the opinionated Modell, Lerner was a hands-off owner. He followed a similar approach in most of his business dealings. 1 he son of an immigrant candy shop owner, Lerner was a tough- minded kid, whose first job selling furniture paid him S75 a week. He saved enough to enter a deal to purchase a Cleveland apartment building. His real estate empire grew, and he went on to acquire banking interests in Baltimore. In 1991, he spun off the MBNA Credit Corp. from debt-ridden MNC Financial in Maryland with a stock offering that raised S995 million. He ended up becoming its chief executive. Lerner also was chairman of Town & Country Trust, a Baltimore- based real estate investment trust that owns and manages residential properties. Lerner was bom May 8, 1933, in Brooklyn. He started from modest beginnings and earned a degree from Columbia in 1955. He later became a university trustee and received the Hamilton Medal, the school's highest honor, in 1997. As a philanthropist, Lerner gave generously to hospitals and universities. In June 2002, he and his family gave SI00 million to the Cleveland Clinic, the largest gift ever given to a Northeast Ohio institution. "I love helping people," he said re- cendy. "It vindicates what I have been working for all these years. I have always wanted to leave a legacy in the field of medicine, where I can have some contribution in both furthering and developing new research along with helping sick people to get better treatment. "That is what I hope my legacy is going to be, not just that I made a bunch of money." Lerner's S25 million gift helped pay for Columbia's Lerner Hall, a student activities center. He gave $10 million, on behalf of his wife, Norma, to University Hospitals of Cleveland to help provide a new hospital wing. Cobourne takes aim at Miami By JORGE MILIAN Cox News Service CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Some people think the undefeated University of Miami has problems stopping the run. Some saw what Florida State did to the Hurricanes on the ground and figure, they're flawed. Some think a team with a strong running backcanbeatMi ami. But West Virginia's Avon Cobourne, the No. 3 running back in the country, isn't buying it. "It was just a one- game thing," he said. Cobourne and his Mountaineers host top-ranked Miami Saturday in Morgan town, W.Va. If West Virginia, a 19 l /4-poim underdog, has any chance to beat the Hurricanes, it will have to ride the 5- foot-9, 190-pound Cobourne, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the Mountaineers' victories and in six games overall. "Cobourne is a first-round draft choice," said UM coach Larry Coker. "This is what the NFL people tell me. He's a lot different back than the big backs we've seen in the past. He's more elusive,- more of a Barry Sanders-type player. "That will be a test for us — stopping him." Cobourne has set Big East career records for rushing yards (4,331) and 100-yard games (24). Last week, the senior became only one of five Division I-A runners to rush for 1,000 yards in four seasons. "The only record I really care about is our wins and losses," Cobourne said. . Cobourne is doing a pretty good job there as well, leading the Mountaineers to a surprising 5-2 record, pretty good considering last year they were 3-8, their worst record since 1978. Saturday's game will be Miami's first game since its slim 28-27 win over Florida State Oct 13. The Hurricanes didn't stop much running that game. The Seminoles ran for 296 yards, including 109 yards on 31 carries by Greg Jones. It was the most yards a UM opponent has gained since West Virginia's Amos Zereoue ran for 206 yards against the Hurricanes in 1997. Cobourne, who grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., ran 22 times for 76 yards and a touchdown in a 28-20 loss to Miami as a freshman. He did not play against Miami as a sophomore because of an ankle injury. Last season, he rushed for 132 yards, but the Mountaineers were blown out, 45-3. Only Wisconsin has held Cobourne under 100 yards this season, limiting him to 79 on 18 carries. Cobourne has since ripped off five straight 100- yard games, including a career-best 260 yards against East Carolina. Cobourne is ranked third nationally in rushing with 143.14 yards per game. Injuries to idle Hartings, Bus at Baltimore Continued from page 15 "I think everybody is making a bigger deal out of Ray Lewis than I do," Okobi said. "He's an excellent football player, but we have excellent players here that I go against every day, too. They've got a lot of really good players on their defense, so for me to focus on No. 52 (Lewis), that would be silly. If you focus too much on him, the other guys will get you." Zereoue also filled in last season when Bern's was out six weeks with a groin injury. Besides his 73-yard game against the Ravens, Zereoue gained 63 yards on 24 carries against them in the playoffs. "It really doesn't matter to me if I get in on the first play or the third play," said Zereoue, who usually replaces Bettis as the third-down running back. "Right now I'll be getting the first play and getting more opportunities, so I'll just go out and play ball." Zereoue, who at 5-foot-8 is one of the NFLs shortest running backs, has 209 yards on 44 carries this season. He ran for 138 yards in his last two games, against the Colts and Ben- gals. "At first I was too small to play in this league and I was too slow," Zere- oue said. "It's always something. If people don't realize that I can go out there and get the job done by now, they never will." Al Lerner, who brought the Browns back to Cleveland, died Wednesday at the age of 69. (AP pnoto ) opening of the Lerner Research Institute. In October 2001; President Bush named Lerner to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which provides independent advice to the president on the quality of the nation's intelligence system. Lerner is survived by his wife, the former Norma Wolkoff, two children and seven grandchildren. Lerner also helped create the Cleveland Browns Hero Fund to aid one family each from the New York City Fire and Police Departments who lost a parent in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was president of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, which oversees a medical complex with an international reputation. His gift of $16 million to the Clinic led to the 1999 Attention parents Does your child participate in college sports? The Gazette sports department is compiling a list of area athletes who play collegiate sports. If your child or someone you know plays college sports, send us his or her name, high school, college and sport. E-mail:sports@indianagazette.net Mail: 899 Water Street Indiana, PA 15701 Fax:(724) 465-8267

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