Quarterbacks running down Big 12

Coaches having a tough time solving two-dimensional stars.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:10 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

When Ell Roberson enrolled at Kansas State, he might have had an identity crisis. Is he a running back or a quarterback?

Like several other Big 12 Conference quarterbacks, Roberson runs the ball frequently. Alhough it might have been confusing at first, the Wildcats have benefited from Roberson’s multiple options.

In the Big 12 conference call Monday, coaches discussed the problems dual-threat quarterbacks present for other teams.

“Most teams struggle against mobile quarterbacks because it just adds another dimension to your offense,” Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. “I think everybody now is searching for that type of quarterback; a good thrower and a guy that can break the long run on you at any time.”

Nebraska has such a quarterback in Jammal Lord, but its only loss came against Missouri, whose quarterback Brad Smith ranks second in the Big 12 in rushing with 851 yards. The Cornhuskers especially struggled in the fourth quarter against the Tigers because of Smith’s capabilities, Solich said.

Against Baylor on Saturday, Texas quarterback Vince Young split time with Chance Mock and ran for 101 yards.

“I think my hair might turn a whole shade lighter after seeing Mr. Young,” Baylor coach Guy Morriss said. “It’s a trendy kind of deal, but I think a lot of people are looking for those kind of athletes because they do put a lot of pressure on defenses.”

As far as strategies for stopping the quarterback, Morriss said teams should take special precautions.

“You’ve got to talk to your (defensive) ends about containing him,” Morriss said. “I’m not so sure you shouldn’t assign one of your inside guys to spy him.”

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder noted the abundance of running quarterbacks in the Big 12, saying they are just as valuable as running backs.

“If you look around our conference, you see quite a few Brad Smiths, you see quite a few Jammal Lords,” Snyder said. “You see quite a few dual-threat people. Are they the equivalent of running backs? Probably so.”

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