Crouch control?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 30, 2001

Nebraska QB presents Troy State with a host of problems


Sports Editor

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Troy State defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt doesn’t know exactly how his undermatched Trojans’ defense will be able to stop the Nebraska juggernaut on Saturday.

His job is to just put them into situations where they’ll at least have a shot at holding the ‘Huskers at bay.

"We’ve been impressed with Nebraska offensively," said Bolt, serving in his 11th season of coaching with the Trojans and his fifth as defensive coordinator. "Like everyone else we watched them on TV on Saturday. They have a great tradition with a great (offensive) scheme and it’s the same one they use year in and year out."

The scheme that Bolt is talking about is the one that Nebraska has used to win 14 overall NCAA rushing titles, including 12 of the last 21. Nebraska routinely rushes for an average of over 300 yards per season.

That same offensive scheme has allowed quarterback Eric Crouch to blossom into a full-grown Heisman Trophy candidate in this, his senior year.

When posed the question at the Trojans’ press conference on Monday, about how the TSU defense could be able to stop Crouch, Bolt replied with the typical response.

"You can’t stop him," he said. "You’ve just got to contain him. I haven’t seen anybody that can stop him."

Texas Christian did an adequate job on Crouch and the ‘Husker defense in Saturday’s 21-7 loss in the Pigskin Classic, but still the senior quarterback managed to find a way to beat the Horned Frogs. Crouch totalled 220 all-purpose yards in the game, becoming NU’s all-time total offense leader.

TSU head coach Larry Blakeney says Crouch is one of the best "dual-purpose" quarterbacks in the country.

"Even though he doesn’t play in an offense like a Clemson or one of these other schools that runs a wide open style of offense, he ranks right up there with them," Blakeney said.

Bolt agrees with the head coach’s assessment.

"He’s a great runner," he said. "The thing you notice about him through the years is that he’s fast. He could be a running back at some schools. But he throws the ball well also. Once he sets his feet and locks on to a receiver, he’s as good a passer as anybody. Plus, he’s a great leader."

Both Bolt and Blakeney have broken down the TCU-Nebraska game to see if there’s anything they could possibly take with them to Lincoln on Saturday.

"There are certain things they (TCU) did that gave Nebraska problems," said Blakeney. "Our coaches are studying that. At one point in the third quarter, I think TCU tackled them behind the line maybe eight times. That’s the key in stopping them, putting them in long yardage situations."

Blakeney points out, however, that TCU and the Trojans’ defense are different in some aspects.

"TCU likes to run an eight-man front, but any team with their scheme can get into an eight-man front," he said. "When you face a running team like Nebraska, you usually sort of evolve into an eight-man front."