The Times from Shreveport, Louisiana on December 29, 1999 · Page 20
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The Times from Shreveport, Louisiana · Page 20

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Shreveport, Louisiana
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Wednesday, December 29, 1999
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Page 20
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4C WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1999 1999 Sanford Independence Bowl THE TIMES mmmmim- OU assistant fries to adjust 0 Chuck Long anxious to work with Sooners' record-setting QB. By Nakia Hogan The Times Chuck Long is almost like a freshman during preseason workouts, lie's still learning names and faces. He's trying to adjust to a new system. Long has only been on the Oklahoma coaching staff for two weeks now. He was hired away from the University of Iowa to become the Sooners' quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator. But hell admit, although Oklahoma is playing in a bowl game for the first time since 1994, he has had a few problems. As he and the Sooners go through practice sessions at Parkway High School, he forgets a few things. "There are over 100 guys to get to know," Long said. "Trying to develop a relationship with guys in a short amount of time before the bowl game has been difficult. But I'm looking forward to that for next year." Long, a former star quarternack at Iowa, is also looking forward to coaching his record-setting quarterback Josh Heupel and contributing to Oklahoma's high powered offense. "I'm just going to try and help out and guide," said Long of his role in Friday's Independence Bowl game against Ole Miss. "I'm just somebody to bounce things off of. Things will get better for me as time goes irwL""" 1 ' 4"f' !ij t v & It V v Long Spurrier Jr OKLAHOiviA Notebook on, as far as understanding the entire offense. This offense is one of the main things that attracted me to Oklahoma. This is an exciting offense to be in." Oklahoma's offense isn't called the spread offense for nothing. The Sooners, who average 321 yards passing per game, like to spread the ball around. Twenty different Oklahoma players have caught at least one pass this season (10 wide receivers, six running backs, three tight ends and a kicker). Sixteen players have caught at least one touchdown. And five times this season, the Sooners finished a game with at least 13 players catching at least one pass. That was all by design. "We do our best to get the ball in as many different people's hands as possible," Oklahoma wide receiver coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said. "We try to make sure that everybody gets the ball enough that (the opposition) can't pick on one position and say, 'Let's just cover these two guys.' It's all to keep the defense worried about more than one person." Oklahoma has a strong tradition in college football. The Sooners - , -) I ' . r , Amy Beth BennettThe Times Oklahoma wide receiver Brandon Daniels catches a pass over his shoulder during practice Tuesday at Parkway High School. The Sooners averaged 321 passing yards per game in 1999. have won national titles in 1950, '55, 56, 74, 75 and '85. This year, they have placed three players on the Walter Camp Foundation All-Century Team. Tight end Keith Jackson, who starred for the Sooners from 1984-87, finished his career with 62 receptions for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was joined by defensive lineman Lee Roy Selmon and linebacker Brian Bosworth. Selmon played for the Sooners from 1972-75, totaling 324 tackles, including 40 for losses. Bosworth played from 1984-86. He finished his career with 395 tackles, 27 for losses, including 12 sacks. Friday's game will mark the first time the Sooners have played a game on New Year's Eve since 1973. Oklahoma has a 1-1-1 record in games played on New Year's Eve. The Sooners defeated Penn State 14-0 in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. In their previous two games on Dec. 31, Oklahoma tied Alabama 24-24 in the 1969 Bluebonnet Bowl, and the Sooners loss to Southern Methodist 28-27 in the 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl. Oklahoma to mark Ole Miss' run game Sooners' defense prepares for Rebels' rushing attack. By Nakia Hogan The Times Roy Williams and Rocky Calmus, along with their teammates have reviewed the video tapes. TheyVe seen how No. 22 and No. 28 for Ole Miss 1 have run through opposing defenses. But that has to come to a stop Friday night when Williams and Calmus suit up for the Oklahoma Sooners, who battle the Rebels in the Independence Bowl. No. 22 for the Rebels is Deuce McAllister, and No. 28 is his sidekick Joe Gunn. Both play running back. And both have been successful. They have a double threat," said Calmus an All-Big 12 linebacker. They have some real good fullbacks, who are pretty good blockers, too. We have to stop the run and make them pass. If we stop the run we will have played them into our game plan. And we can do what we want with them." What the Sooners want to do with the Rebel running game is simply shut it down. The Rebels averaged 182.5 yards rushing per game, which ranked second in the Southeastern Conference and 25th nationally. Gunn, who rushed for 951 yards this season, was the SEC's second-leading rusher. McAllister, the conference's fifth-leading rusher, to taled 809 yards. "We know their potential," said Williams, a sophomore safety with 75 tackles this season. "We've studied the two running backs. They are two very good backs." The Sooners say they are prepared for the challenge. They know about Ole Miss' speed and tendencies in the running game. But they know they have a solid defense, too. Oklahoma has only given up six rushing touchdowns this season and 125 rushing yards a game. Only three players have rushed for more than 100 yards against the Sooners in 1 1 games. "We've seen a lot of good backs," Calmus said. "We've seen the big ones like (Ja'Mar) Toombs (of Texas A&M) and we've seen the quick ones like (Darren) Davis at Iowa State. "Maybe having two (will put Oklahoma at a disadvantage). If one is tired, you bring in another fresh pair of legs. And see him go. But that's nothing our defense can't handle. Our coaches have done a good job of preparing us for their run game. We know what they like to do." And Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is prepared to do whatever it takes to stop the Rebels. "If we have to put nine or 10 up there to stop them from running well try it," he said. They have an excellent running game, two solid backs. They do an excellent job of hammering it at people. Obviously it's a major focus of ours. But well see (what happens), that's what the game is for." Tandem: Backs like to pound opposition B Continued from 1C "It's been kind of frustrating because I think the last four or five games, I played up to my potential," McAllister says. "I had to sit out the Arkansas State game with a shoulder injury. And I think the shoulder kind of bothered me early on. The more it got well, the more comfortable I became. "Kind of toward the end of the year, I played like I should have played all year long." And that is pounding the opposing defense. McAllister has the size to gain yards between the tackles. He has the speed to be a big play threat He also has the numbers to prove he is a productive back. "He has great speed. He has great size. He has good knowledge of the game," Cutcliffe says. "He's a great football player." College Football "We compete against ourselves real well. We Just try to work as a team and get the Job done. We know that most of our offensive progress relies on us and that's the way we approach every game." Joe Gunn, Ole Miss running back on teammate Deuce McCallister In fact, the Rebels have used McAllister in a variety of different ways to get him on the field. They've used him on special teams returning kicks. They've even thrown the football to him. "He can line up at wide receiver. He can line up at tailback," Cutcliffe says. There are a lot of things out there for us with Deuce. He's a versatile player." Gunn (5-foot-8, 200 pounds) isn't as big as McAllister. But that doesn't mean the sophomore running back is any less of a threat "Joe Gunn is as productive a tailback as I've ever been around," Cutcliffe says. "He's just an outstanding football player." Perhaps the most important thing about the "McGunn" tailback situation has been the ability of the two players to share time at the position. Both have sacrificed some of their own goals for the good of the team. "We compete against ourselves real well," Gunn says. "We just try to work as a team and get the job done. We know that most of our offensive progress relies on us and that's the way we approach every game." Says McAllister "You have to be a team player. You can't be over there focusing on yourself, 'Me, me, me.' .That's not helping the team. Neither one of us is trying to break up the team. If he's on, leave him in there." Actually, finding playing time for both players has not been a major problem. While some college football teams are bringing the sandlot to the stadium with wide open passing attacks, the Rebels have done just the opposite. They have added a fullback to their offense. And, with Gunn and McAllister splitting time at tailback, the Rebels are pounding away at opposing defenses. This offense is much more of an aggressive offense than a finesse offense," Gunn says. "We rely more on our offensive line to be sound in their assignments. We have real physical Gple up front and they come off the and run straight at them. The (Coach Tommy) Tuberville offense was more, "Well adjust to you.' In this offense, we make the opposing defense adjust to us." Rebels' Heard returns ' - -"if to scene of knee injury Ole Miss wide receiver waits for next season. By Scott Ferrell The Times Ole Miss Rebels wide receiver Grant Heard has no reservations about returning to Shreveport Certainly, Heard could be forgiven if he did. Because just a year ago, during preparations for the Sanford Independence Bowl, he injured his right knee, keeping him out of the Rebels' 35-18 win over Texas Tech. Another knee injury during two-a-day practices in August limited him to just one game and two catches for 11 yards. Bad feelings toward Shreveport? "Nah, nah. I'm past all that-Heard said. "I'm just getting ready for the spring." The injury came at a time when the Rebels were moving from one practice field to another trying to find suitable field conditions. Those field rnnHifinns that 1atf n December day I "', ' r J were a factor in his Peterson injury. The grass was kind of thick and I was making a cut" Heard said. "And I twisted my knee. "I didn't think it was that serious. But I knew something was wrong. It scared me more than anything." The injury ended what had been the best year of Heard's Ole Miss career. He caught 40 passes for 559 yards and four touchdowns as a junior. After returning to campus, he had surgery on the knee and began preparing for two-a-day practices. But during preseason practice he tore cartilage in his knee and had more surgery, limiting him to just the one game. Heard, who will seek a medical redshirt after the season, has begun the rehabilitation process. "I've started running again on a regular basis," Heard said. "I've got a couple of aches and pains here and there. Other than that I feel fine." Sanford Independence Bowl officials wanted to vary the bowl activities for the players, in part because of Ole Miss' return to Shreveport for the second straight year. The changes seem to be a hit with the players. They've done a great job this year just like they did last year," Ole Miss wide receiver Cory Peterson said. "We had a great time (Monday) night and had a lot of laughs. Some great Louisiana food. I had a good time. It's been fun so far." I.IJ I. .011111 II.MBH..U.II -J cllIMIMMIWIDm 1 jS l ' : I Urn HudelsonThe Times Rebels' Deuce McAllister rims through drills at Southwood High ; School Monday. The l-Bowl has tried to vary the activities for the players who played here last year. Ole Miss Notebook ; Ole Miss free safety Syniker Taylor is going to have a busy weekend. 5- Taylor will play in Friday's Independence Bowl then return to Oxford, Miss., on Saturday. He plans to join the Ole Miss basket- ball team in time for Sunday's ! game between the Rebels and Birmingham Southern in Oxford. ' "It's going to be a challenge," ! Taylor said. "Last year I wanted to i do it but I couldn't (because of an ' ankle injury). I just want to go put ' there and see what I can do." Taylor will join the Rebels as art i off-guard. . But football will remain his top priority. Ole Miss coach David .t Cutcliffe will make certain of that fact VJ; ; "Well kind of lay the ground rules," Cutcliffe said. "I've already talked with (basketball) coach (Rod) Barnes so it's in the process." The Rebels will play the Independence Bowl game without redshirt freshman defensive back Darius Tate. c The 6-foot 175-pound Tate re- ! mained in his Atlanta, Ga., home- ; town working out personal prob- I lems. He played primarily on spe- cial teams during the 1999 season. ; Ole Miss had one player se- lected to the Walter Camp Football . Foundation All-Century team1 released Tuesday. ',; . Bruiser Kinard was one of 12 defensive linemen chosen to the all-century team. He was also one of ; 83 college football players selected to the team. 2 jij...,4wmii i Jim HudelsonThe Times Ole Miss running back Joe Gunn (left) runs drills with other members of the team Monday. Gunn, who ran for 951 yards in 1999, and the Rebejs will play Oklahoma in the Independence Bowl on New Year's Eve. Penn State crushes Texas A&M in Alamo Bowl 0 No. 13 Nittany Lions shut out No. 18 Aggies. From Wire Reports SAN ANTONIO Penn State shook off that losing feeling. Rashard Casey passed for a touchdown and ran for one as No. 13 Penn State, ending a three-game losing streak that cost it a possible shot at the national title shot defeated No. 18 Texas A&M 20 Tuesday night in the Alamo Bowl. Penn State (10-3) sent longtime defensive ccrdinator Jerry Sandusky into retirement with a strong performance, shutting down Texas A&M's rushing and passing offense. Penn State avoided what could have been the first four-game losing streak in Joe Paterno's 34-year career as coach. The lions started the season 90 then saw their national championship hopes dashed with three straight losses to end the season. It had been 85 years since a Penn State team lost its last three games. Penn State jumped to a 140 lead by halftime, then added another touchdown early in the fourth period when Casey ran in for the score on the first play of the fourth quarter. A field goal later by Travis Forney pushed the lions' lead to 24-0. Casey had his first start of the season and played the whole game for Penn State, which had used Casey and Kevin Thompson at quarterback this year. Paterno said Monday that Thompson's arm was slightly sore. The Aggies had only one promising drive in the first half, and it failed when Shane Lechler also the team's punter saw his 44-yard field-goal attempt fall short. Texas A&M lxked as though it might get its running game together to start the second half, as Ja'Mar Toombs and D'Andre Hardeman combined for an impressive drive to begin the third. But when the Aggies got near the Roundup end zone, Ron Graham of Penn State intercepted Randy McCown's pass at the 7. McCown threw four interceptions in the game. Other Aggies mistakes followed, including Bethel Johnson's fumble of a kickoff return in the fourth quarter. An ocean of Aggies fans packed the 65,000-seat Alamodome, but the loud maroon-clad crowd couldn't keep the Aggies afloat Some fans started to head for the exits with 10 minutes left in the game. The defeat ended a season of tragedy for Texas A&M (84), whose players wore a helmet decal honoring the students killed in the Nov. 18 bonfire log collapse on campus. ALABAMA: Alabama coach Mike DuBose was given a contract extension Tuesday, five months after he was nearly fired in a sexual harassment scandal. The university trustees' Compensation Committee approved the extension, reportedly for two years through 2002. Trustees secretary John Hicks said no details of the extension would be released until university officials had a chance to talk with Du8ose, who is in Miami preparing for the Orange Bowl on Saturday. "I do not see any type of problems with it," DuBose said Tuesday. "It's Just a matter of formalizing it. I am encouraged, I do feel good about it. I would anticipate in the next few days to get it finalized." The contract extension will restore time stripped away as punishment following a sexual harassment scandal last summer. The two years had previously been given to DuBose last January, then taken away after the scandal. Hicks said the extension was recommended by president Andrew Sorensen and approved by the athletic oversight committee. The committee was created when trustees weren't informed about the university's settlement with a female worker who accused DuBose of sexual harassment. The school agreed to pay the woman $350,000 to avoid a court fight. DuBose initially denied any involvement with the woman, and some trustees felt he should have been fired when he later admitted lying about the relationship. But the coach quickly regained support as the Tide went 10-2, earned the No. 5 national ranking, won the Southeastern Conference title and earned the bowl berth against No. 8 Michigan. The Birmingham News reported earlier this month that the third-year coach would receive a two-year extension and a $25,000 bonus. The bonus was guaranteed under DuBose's contract, which pays him 16.66 percent of his $150,000 base salary for taking the Crimson Tide to the SEC Conference championship and a bowl. FLORIDA: Senior quarterback Doug Johnson missed the Gators' practice on Tuesday for the upcoming Florida Citrus Bowl game because of a stomach virus. Johnson was named the starter for the bowl game last week after sharing time with Jesse Palmer late in the season. The Gainesville native played In just three plays in the SEC Championship Game because of tendinitis in his shoulder but was recovered and throwing well during a bowl minicamp last week. Since kickoff is not until Saturday afternoon, the Gators co-captain still has three days to recover. Florida is also concerned about its running back depth. Starter Earnest Graham has aggravated a turf toe injury and did not practice on Tuesday. Chuck Marks sprained his ankle and will miss the game while Graham could return on Saturday. .sag W DuBoso Nutt ARKANSAS: While it normally requires little more than a sunrise to get Houston Nutt pumped up, the Arkansas coach seemed particularly animated Monday when he said he is "really excited about Anthony Lucas returning to practice. .. Lucas, the team's leading receiver "and one of the premier deep threats in the na-" tion, underwent arthroscopic surgery Dec. 10 to repair a damaged knee. The Razorbacks' opening Cotton Bowl workout Monday was his first day back in pads. BAYLOR: Quarterback Greg Cicero, who began his college career at Texs then starred at a junior college, will enroll at Baylor next month and join the football team for spring drills. , Cicero, who has two years of eligibility remaining, threw for 2,800 yards and $3 touchdowns while leading Palomar (Calif.) Junior College to an 8-3 record. ,' , Cicero, a California native, was redshirted by Texas in 1997 and was injured for most of 1998. He then transferred to Palomar r

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