College Notebook for 9/21

Thursday, September 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AUSTIN – With Texas 112th nationally in rushing, averaging 50 yards on the ground per game, coach Mack Brown said Wednesday his team is not opposed to trying any and all offensive sets to get the running game going.

"We are trying to make a yard any way we can," Brown said. "We'll take it spread out. We'll take it up tight. We'll take three backs. We'll take two backs. We'll take one back. We'll take no back, if we can make any yards.

"We've told them if you don't know what to do, do it full speed. Go hit somebody and maybe we'll break one."

– Chip Brown

UT practice visitor

AUSTIN – Charley Casserly, general manager of the new Houston Texans NFL franchise, was at Texas' practice Wednesday.

"We're here scouting," Casserly said. "I think what you have here with Mack Brown and Texas is a program that's really emerging with a lot of good, young players.

"I don't know if they deserved to be ranked No. 5 in the country. I think they are another year or two away. I think people kind of got caught up in the recruiting.

"Their better players are younger, and they are not ready to play yet. But this is going to be a good stop for us every year."

– Chip Brown

Baylor loses midfielder

Junior midfielder Danielle Gurney probably will miss the remainder of the season because of a sprained knee, according to coach Nick Cowell. Gurney sustained the injury, originally thought only to be a thigh bruise, last weekend in the Bears' victory over Colorado College. Gurney could return in time for the Big 12 Tournament, should Baylor qualify, Cowell said.

– Dan Noxon

Finding a replacement

AUSTIN – Texas coaches say redshirt freshman FS Dakarai Pearson will replace injured SS Lee Jackson (hamstring) in Saturday's game against Houston.

But UT coach Mack Brown said several players will see action in the nickel package, including CBs Ahmad Brooks and Ervis Hill as well as SS Joe Walker.

– Chip Brown

No going back

Baylor coach Kevin Steele isn't offering many specifics on his plan to replace injured quarterback Greg Cicero, but he said he's not changing the offense or regressing to the ultra-limited package the offense used unsuccessfully last year.

"We can't go back,'' Steele said. "We may limit some things within the package, but not the package itself. That places too much burden on the offensive line.''

Steele probably will use a combination of either junior Michael Odum, redshirt freshman Guy Tomcheck – both of whom played last week against Minnesota after Cicero was injured – and true freshmen Kerry Dixon and Aaron Karas this Saturday against South Florida.

– Dan Noxon

Safety questionable

UNIVERSITY PARK ­ Strong safety Leroy Price's participation in practice was limited Wednesday, but defensive coordinator Eric Schumann has not ruled Price out of Saturday's game against Tulane.

Price, a redshirt freshman, injured his back in the North Carolina State game. If he does not play, head coach Mike Cavan said that true freshman Rico Harris will likely start in Price's place.

Center Rich Nichols participated in some drills and is expected to start despite aggravating a knee injury in Tuesday's practice. Guard Thornton Chandler, who missed last with a knee contusion, will start against the Green Wave.

– Rana L. Cash

Home, sweet, home

UNIVERSITY PARK – Right tackle Jeff Erxleban said coming back home for a game has special meaning now that SMU is in Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

"The Cotton Bowl could be a pretty lonely place at times," Erxleban said.

SMU has won its last four home games and is 1-0 at Ford. – Rana L. Cash

A&M tackles sit

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M starting offensive tackles Michael Mahan (concussion) and Tango McCauley (sprained knee), both injured in the Aggies' 45-17 victory over UT-El Paso, are sitting out of practice this week.

If they are not able to play against Texas Tech in the Aggies' next game Sept. 30, redshirt freshmen Andre Brooks and Britt Lively will start in their place.

– Tim Schnettler

Zuniga injured

DENTON – North Texas starting right guard Nick Zuniga sprained his right ankle during Wednesday's practice.

According to coach Darrell Dickey, Zuniga will be evaluated in the next couple of days to see if he can play Saturday against Kansas State.

– Richard Durrett

UNT adds kicker

DENTON – Murrell Balda, a freshman from Plano Senior High School, joined the Mean Green this week as a placekicker. Balda tore his groin in the middle of Plano's season and was just cleared to play. He's listed as the No. 3 kicker behind Jason Ball and Brad Kadlubar.

– Richard Durrett

Backing it up

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M hasn't officially decided on a backup quarterback, but redshirt freshman Colby Freeman from Brownwood, Texas, is making a strong push for the job.

Freeman has appeared in two games and has led the Aggies to scores on all four possessions – three touchdowns and a field goal.

Freeman has a 16-yard completion and has carried four times for 44 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

– Tim Schnettler

Around the nation

FLORIDA: Coach Steve Spurrier has suspended freshman receiver Jabar Gaffney for the first half of Saturday's game against Kentucky for a throat-slash gesture at the Tennessee bench after his game-winning touchdown catch. Spurrier also issued a gag order on the Gators' other top players.

STANFORD: Junior quarterback Randy Fasani, hurt against Texas on Saturday, probably will miss the season with a knee injury.

Kramer to watch UNT

Shawn Kramer, the former North Texas offensive lineman who suffered a brain injury during spring practice, will be on the Eagles' sideline when UNT plays at Kansas State on Saturday.

Kramer lives in Topeka, Kan., not far from Kansas State in Manhattan. Kramer has a cousin, Lance Kramer, who is a walk-on fullback for the Wildcats.

Shawn Kramer attended UNT's season opener against Baylor as an honorary captain.

– Keith Whitmire

Thursday's TV game

Georgia Tech (1-2, 0-1) at N.C. State (3-0, 0-0)

TV : 7:00, ESPN

Line: N.C. State by 2

Georgia Tech update: Tech has won five straight against the Wolfpack. ... The defense has given up an average of 303 yards passing per game, last in the ACC.

N.C. State update: Freshman QB Philip Rivers, 18, has thrown for 1,069 yards and 10 TDs in his first three games. Rivers has been named ACC Player of the Week for three consecutive weeks. – Javier Gonzalez

Thursday's schedule

Samford at Jacksonville St., 7:00

Georgia Tech at N.C. State, 7:00

Playbook leak?

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State football coach Denver Johnson said his offensive schemes may have been leaked to Northern Illinois, leading to his team's worst defeat in more than 40 years.

Johnson said he was told a former assistant, apparently angry that he was not asked to come to Normal when Johnson left Murray State this year, gave Northern Illinois a copy of his Murray State playbook before the Sept. 9 game. Johnson runs an almost identical offense at ISU, which is off to a 1-2, start including the 52-0 loss.

"It was very obvious to me at Northern that they had an extraordinarily insightful game plan against us," Johnson told the Bloomington Pantagraph. "I heard those same rumors as well and kind of put two and two together. It is very disappointing to me."

Northern Illinois sports information director Mike Korcek said head football coach Joe Novak denied having a Johnson playbook. Johnson refused to identify the former assistant.