Opposing Fiesta Bowl QBs Are Alike
Dec. 28, 1997
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ Kansas State defensive coordinators might as well sit down with their Syracuse counterparts, because they have the same problems.
Each side has to stop the other team's quarterback when the Wildcats and Orangemen meet in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Eve.
Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop and Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb are cut from the same cloth. Both would just as soon run, and both can do damage passing.
The edge in rushing might go to Bishop, but McNabb appears to be the more accurate passer, and maybe is slightly more willing to stay in the pocket.
But make no assumptions about what either one might do.
``The key is to stop the quarterback,'' Syracuse linebacker Antwaune Ponds said Saturday. ``He's almost as good as our quarterback. If you take that quarterback out of the game, you stop their offense.''
Kansas State linebacker Travis Ochs sees the same thing in McNabb.
``When you watch him, he's a playmaker,'' Ochs said. ``He runs the whole field. He never gets sacked. He can throw the ball with great accuracy. We've got to cover all their guys, but we can't forget about him.''
Bishop, with one of the strongest arms coach Bill Snyder has ever seen, rushed for 566 yards on 147 carries this season while completing 80 of 185 passes for 1,557 yards. He threw 13 touchdown passes and eight interceptions.
McNabb gained 404 yards on 110 carries as the Orangemen turned increasingly to the option offense. He completed 145 of 265 passes for 2,488 yards and 20 touchdowns. McNabb had six intercepted.
Bishop led Kansas State to a 10-victory season, the first for the Wildcats since 1910. Getting an Alliance Bowl bid was yet another step up for No. 10 Kansas State under Snyder, who took the team to the Cotton Bowl last year.
Kansas State's only loss this year was to Nebraska, then ranked No. 1.
In selecting Syracuse, the Fiesta Bowl committee passed over some higher-ranked teams. The Orangemen recovered from a 1-3 start to finish 9-3 and win the Big East title.
The quarterbacks are the acknowledged leaders of both teams.
``The key to success is to contain Mike Bishop,'' Syracuse safety Donovan Darius said. ``We have to minimize the big plays he makes that they have capitalized on all year long.
``Both quarterbacks are the same,'' he said. ``They have agility. They have speed. They have creativity. They are elusive.
``He (Bishop) is an all-around quarterback. Sometimes you have quarterbacks who can throw the ball, but they may be lacking in mobility. But you have to consider him another tailback. Here you have a quarterback who can run, but can also throw it on the line for 50 yards.''
McNabb, a junior, has been pestered all season by a flip response he gave this summer when asked if he was considering the NFL. He has worked harder this season, although not quite as hard as offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers would like.
``I'm seeing more things on the field. I'm watching more film, studying the opponent,'' McNabb said. ``I'm a guy who tries to pick up a first down, move the chains. I run hard at times, I just try to get the extra yard. There are times when I lower my shoulder and run over somebody, there are times when I try to make you miss. It depends on the situation.
``I feel like I've grown, not only as a football player, but as a human.''