Heupel, Beasley arrive at big game from different routes

Thursday, October 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ In a two-man shootout where all they do is face off and fire away, Josh Heupel owns the edge.

On a run-pass option with the quarterback coming around end, the advantage tilts to Jonathan Beasley.

Both seniors rank among college football's finest quarterbacks.

Neither has lost a game yet this year. Both have been in charge of record-smashing victories.

In all likelihood, the winner of Saturday's clash between No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 2 Kansas State will be the team whose star quarterback is nearest the top of his prodigious game.

``Heupel is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the nation,'' said Kansas State defensive tackle Mario Fatafehi. ``He's real accurate and he gets good pass protection. Hopefully, we can put pressure on him and I can get in there and put a hat on him.''

Coach Bob Stoops of Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) is a former Kansas State assistant and well acquainted with the firepower Beasley commands within the complex attack of the Wildcats (6-0, 2-0).

``He's a strong runner and an accurate thrower,'' Stoops said. ``You see him checking a good number of times at the line of scrimmage and what results a lot of times is a good play.''

Although they'll be sharing the national spotlight, the two took distinctly different paths to stardom.

Heupel arrived from Snow Junior College last year and immediately started to erase Oklahoma's passing records, while helping restore the national prominence that had slipped so far away from the once-mighty Sooners.

Beasley, in the meantime, was having trouble with Kansas State's complicated playbook and was benched during the Iowa State game.

Senior Adam Helm started the next week at Texas and Beasley, after two years as backup to Heisman runnerup Michael Bishop, appeared to be fading from view.

But when Helm faltered at Texas, coach Bill Snyder hustled what turned out to be a brand new Beasley onto the field.

And he's been there ever since.

Counting a 2-point conversion, Beasley tops the NCAA's list of ``points responsible for'' this season with 134. He is also No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency at 187.9, hitting 71 of 114 for 1,359 yards and 10 TDs. He has rushed 57 times for 225 yards and 12 scores.

Heupel has run for 61 yards and four touchdowns. But he's kept Oklahoma unbeaten by hitting 115-of-173 passes for 1,520 yards and nine touchdowns.

With 275 yards last week in Oklahoma's historic 63-14 dismantling of Texas, he has thrown for 200 or more yards in 15 of his 17 games as a Sooner.

He holds 21 school and Big 12 passing records and has thrown 81 straight passes without an interception _ nine fewer than Beasley's current string.

Behind Heupel, the Sooners have amassed 2,432 yards of total offense and 29 touchdowns.

``There are an abundance of things they are capable of doing,'' said Snyder. ``When you put a Josh Heupel with (the Oklahoma offense) and some very find receivers and backs, then it can become more prolific.''

Beasley owns a few school records of his own, such as the five touchdowns he scored against North Texas. He is playing as though he personally designed Kansas State's complex offense.

``No. 1, he's very, very intelligent,'' Stoops said. ``That's the thing that really jumps out at you. You can see how well he moves around, how he sees the field, how well he scrambles if he feels pressure. He buys time, and his ability to throw the ball downfield on scrambles has just been uncanny.''

Kansas State figures it will need to play its best game of the year to get by Heupel and keep what could be a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 rendezvous with Nebraska on Nov. 11

``He gets rid of the ball very quickly,'' defensive end Monty Beisel said. ``Our front four will need to put pressure on him. No question about it, we will have to have a big game.''