Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on January 3, 1996 · 24
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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · 24

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Lincoln, Nebraska
Issue Date:
Wednesday, January 3, 1996
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24
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4C Lincoln Journal Star Wednesday. January 3, 1996 HUSKERS Page design: Karl Vogel Cornerback Booker shines on defense BY STEVE SIPPLE Lincoln Journal Star TEMPE, Ariz. Nebraska left cornerback Michael Booker knew at least one part of Florida's offensive game plan for Tuesday night's Fiesta Bowl. Booker figured Florida would continually be throwing to receivers he was covering, and he was right. "I knew from day one that they'd do that," said Booker, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior from Oceanside, Calif. Booker made the Gators pay for their plan. He intercepted one pass and deflected three others, playing well enough to earn CBS defensive player of the game honors in Nebraska's 62-24 victory at Sun Devil Stadium. Late in the second quarter, Booker got in front of receiver Ike Hilli-ard and picked off Danny Wuerffel's pass. Booker sprinted into the end zone, helping give Nebraska a 32-10 lead. "When I saw that ball, it felt like a dream," Booker said. "And then I just took off running with it. "I have to say it was an ugly pass. It was pretty for me, but it had no spiral on it." Nebraska defensive backs coach George Darlington said Booker's interception was a key play. "It put us up quite a bit and really had to put doubts in the mind of their quarterback," Darlington said. "(Wuerffel) is a great quarterback and isn't used to those type of things happening. "Plus, they had to be saying. 'Holy Moly, we can't afford to have that happen. They had to be thinking they had to score every time they touched the ball." Darlington said teams typically throw more toward Booker than toward Nebraska's right-side cornerback, Tyrone Williams. Part of the reason is that right-handed quarterbacks prefer to throw to the left side, Darlington said. But he said 'V. KEVIN HIGLEYfor The Lincoln Journal Star A Nebraska cornerback Michael Booker (20) heads for the end zone with help from teammates Scott Saltsman (74) and Tyrone Williams (8) after picking off a Danny Wuerffel pass in the second quarter. IAN DOREMUSLmcom Journal Star Nebraska linebacker Chad Kelsay (57) puts a hit on Florida's Reidel Anthony (1 5), forcing a fumble on a punt. CBS gives BY MARK DEROWITSCH Lincoln Journal Star CBS, the much-maligned and lowest-ranked network of the Big Three, provided college football fans with a championship-caliber telecast of the Fiesta Bowl Tuesday night. Jim Nantz, who has called the last several NCAA men's basketball championship games for CBS, proved to be an excellent play-byplay broadcaster for football, even when things got ugly in Nebraska's 62-24 victory. Nantz kept viewers informed of game situations and provided color commentator Terry Donahue with just the right questions. Donahue took advantage of Nantz's feeds and came through with a number of insightful comments regarding the game. Donahue, who retired from his . coaching job at UCLA last month to take the job at CBS, sounded comfortable in just his second telecast since he joined the network. He made an immediate impact on the telecast with his analasys of Booker also might be considered to be more vulnerable than Williams at least in the eyes of opponents. Darlington praised his entire defensive backfield. The Huskers held Florida to 297 passing yards. The Gators ranked second nationally by averaging 360.8 yards through the air during the regular season. Free safeties Tony Veland and Eric Stokes a junior from Lincoln East also had interceptions for Nebraska. 'The bottom line is we aren't as bad back there (in the defensive backfield) as people think," Darlington said. If Booker has critics, he answered them Tuesday. "We came out and showed Florida is human like everyone else," Booker said. Booker started all but the first two games this season. During the regular season, he finished 10th on the team with 33 tackles, including 20 solo stops. He entered Tuesday's Fiesta Bowl tied for the team lead in interceptions with weakside linebacker Terrell Farley with three apiece. Booker said he felt calm coming out of the locker room before the game. But he admitted feeling a little nervous when he heard Florida's players making train noises in the tunnel right before they came out onto the field. Booker said the Gators were saying, "choo, choo." symbolic of the notion that they were going to roll over Nebraska. "They come and talk a good game, but we play it," Booker said. Booker said winning back-to-back championships is great. But he felt more personal satisfaction about this season's title. "Last season, I was just on special teams, watching everyone play," Booker said. "I just played here and there." Tuesday night, at times it seemed like he was everywhere. -..vrut jr ; - I V.'.' -rAyC r. AyBv 'OX ' Husker fans title-caliber telecast Review Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier. "Tommie Frazier is the most difficult player in college football to defend," Donahue said. Frazier rushed for 199 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown jaunt, and nearly beat the Gators by himself. Donahue, who was 1-5 against Nebraska during his tenure at UCLA, called the Huskers the greatest college football program in the nation. This comment would have been much stronger had he uttered it during the first quarter. But Donahue waited until the Huskers led 55-18 before giving out such high praise. Donahue had a great chance early in the game to show off his expertise when Nanfz asked him about the group of Pac-10 Conference officials who worked the game. Donahue made a comment about it being a good group and left it at that wry JfAcW f' If y tttUkJ5? V J ' .1 1 .6 - Avfv P 1 Jx& L-, J -.c!, J. r - - f sl k JtA A Nebraska l-back Lawrence Phillips (1) leaps over Florida defenders, late third-quarter run. 1 1 M1V mii nii-1iMiirniiirff-ntrY- rl-1- nfflimirr The camara work, for the most part, was well done. On Frazier's late touchdown run, viewers were treated to two shots of Frazier laughing and shaking his head as he strolled into the end zone. Numerous shots of an upset and frustrated Florida Coach Ste, e Spurrier got old, though. The sideline reports throughout the game were few and far between. When a Florida player was injured on the opening kickoff, CBS sideline reporter Michele Tafoya finally came on in the second quarter to report the player was out with an injured knee. The graphics were plentiful and informative, especially in the first half. The network kept close track of total yardage for both teams and were quick to point out developing trends with the numbers. When Nebraska reeled off 26 consecutive points in the second, a graphic showed that the Huskers had gained 124 yards of total offense compared to zero for the Gators. A few minutes later, a graphic pointed out that the Huskers had 149 rushing yards, compared to -13 for Florida. Nebraska notes, quotes NU Coach Tom Osborne said that he was proud of his team "not only tonight but throughout the whole year. Personally I think they have great character, nice work ethic and really pull together," Osborne said. "I was really surprised at how it went. I thought going into thte ball game that it would be a close ball game, and we just got momentum, got a few breaks and the whole thing snowballed," Osborne said. "I didn't think it would be any kind of a blowout. I thought it would be a close game and go down to the wire." "I think it does point up the fact that there is a place in college football for a running quarterback," Osborne said. "We think the option still has a place." "I have to give great credit to our defensive coaches. I think they came up with a tremendous scheme." Osborne said, with the defense able to do some blitzing while still staying in zone defense. Prefacing his comment by saying that he wanted to "say this respectfully", Osborne pointed out that the Big Eight will end the bowl season with four teams ranked in the Top 10. "We did this with Big Eight rules," Osborne said, urging Big 12 officials to reconsider action that would stiffen academic standards for athletes and would eliminate players such as Jared Tomich from qualifiy-ing. Christian Peter said that the team feels that "We haven't gotten the respect that we deserve." "Defense wins championships," Peter said. But to "put up 62 points against Florida is unbelievable." Peter, who ran the length of the field and strode into the endzone after picking up a blocked extra point, complained that officials didn't credit him with scoring. CBS dropped the ball in the first quarter when Donahue introduced his tips for Florida, but then dropped the subject. The graphic finally appeared in the fourth quarter, long after the Huskers had wrapped up their second straight national championship. The pregame show was disappointing because it didn't offer any new or up-to-date information. The lowlight was Boomer Esiason, who assisted pro Pat O'Brien in the halftime studio, playing catch with Bill Cosby, who has a new show coming up on CBS. The worst part of the telecast was the shameless promotion by CBS of a new show and a current one. A sideline reporter interviewed Montel Williams, who talked about his new show and the game. What a complete waste of time. Part of the halftime show featured a live portion with Late Night host David Letterman, who treated viewers to the Top 10 List of Rejected Cheers. The list was a sign of things to come in the game : it was a real laugher. TED KIRKUncom Journal Star including Johnny Rutledge (58) on a "Can you believe that? For crying out loud, I go 90 yards and they call it back!" he bellowed into the microphone in the interview tent. "I about had a heart attack at the 10 yard line." "That was the best we played all year," linebacker Terrell Farley said of the defensive effort. Despite the success that Nebraska's defense had, Jared Tomich praised the athleticism of the Florida offensive players. "They were good. They had a really good line. For the most part, if it wouldn't have been for our blitzes and catching them off guard, it would have been a different story." The safety recorded by Jamel Williams in the second quarter is Nebraska's second of the year and the second consecutive safety in a bowl game. Last year Dwayne Harris sacked Miama's quarterback Frank Costa. Earlier this year Terrell Farley blocked a punt through the end zone for a safety against Missouri. Michael Booker's interception for a touchdown just before halttime which gave NU a 32-10 lead was his fourth this year and the first he returned for a touchdown. Tony Veland made his second interception of the year and Eric Stokes recorded his first. Nebraska's victory against Florida marked the first time in 34 bowls that two Huskers rushed for 100 yards or more. (Phillips tallied 165 and Frazier ran for 199.) It is only the second time that a Husker quarterback rushed for more than 100 yards in a bowl game. Dennis Claridge ran for 108 yards in the 1964 Orange Bowl against Auburn. Frazier's total of 199 yards broke the previous NU record for rushing in a bowl game set by Mike Rozier who ran for 147 yards in the 1984 Orange Bowl loss to Miami. H 35l-.2rl3H3IS& . Frazier completes title run BY CURT McKEEVER Lincoln Journal Star TEMPE, Ariz. Tommie Frazier's defining moment as Nebraska's quarterback should go down in Cornhusker football lore as simply: The Run. Fittingly, it came after he first had put his team in a position where it wouldn't be denied a second national championship. Frazier, who couldn't impress enough voters to win the Heisman, showed why he was the best option quarterback, and undoubtedly the one player with the most guts, during a 75-yard touchdown run that gave the Cornhuskers a 49-18 lead on the final play from scrimmage in the third quarter. During his path to the end zone, Frazier made two Florida players miss tackles and, after being stopped to a near standstill, pulled away from three others. "Play of the year," said offensive tackle Chris Dishman. "You don't see that in college football. "I was on the sideline, but we must have not done a good job of blocking because all 11 guys touched him." Center Aaron Graham admitted that after he snapped the ball, he didn't even see Frazier's defining moment. "I'll be the first to admit I was the first guy to seal my man and was walking back to the huddle for the next play," Graham said. "I told Tommie on the sideline that play was bound to happen. Great players make plays." Frazier finished with a Nebraska bowl-record 199 yards on just 16 carries. After improving his record to 33-3 as a starter for the Cornhuskers, Frazier, a senior from Palmetto, Fla admitted his 75-yard run would be a fitting summation for his career. "I think that's the way I want to be remembered as a quarterback who goes out and gives everything he has no matter what happens," he said. "I just kep my legs running. I felt them all trying to take the ball and the next thing I knew I was on the other side." Tuesday's 62-24 result, watched by a Fiesta Bowl record crowd of 79,864, also let Frazier turn another dream into reality. "Four or five nights ago, I was sleping and I had this dream," he said. "I can't remember what score it was but I knew it was a big score. "Last year I dreamed I was going to come into the Orange Bowl and make something happen. When things are on the line, that's when I get most of my dreams." Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne, not known for getting caried away with his praise of NU players, said Frazier's perfomance Tuesday was a final display of his greatness as a Cornhusker. "I think this does point out the fact that there's still a place for a running quarterback in college football," Osborne said with a smile. Frazier also tossed a touchdown pass to Lawrence Phillips in the third quarter, and had a 35-yard TD run earlier in the third period. But his last run to the end zone was THE run. 4 V V'J

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