Wildcats' offense cruises thanks to Beasley's efforts
By Gary West, The Dallas Morning News
January 1, 2001
Jonathan Beasley ran Kansas State's potent option offense as if he were driving a finely tuned roadster, and, of course, had a definite destination in mind.
Beasley knew the shortcuts and every potential bump in the road. He never ran a light, and at every intersection, or almost every one, he made the right turn and the correct choice. And so in the end, with Kansas State defeating Tennessee, 35-21, in Monday's Cotton Bowl, the Wildcat quarterback became the choice as the game's outstanding offensive player.
Beasley, who ran for nearly 500 yards during the season, ran for 98 yards Monday, as well as a touchdown, on 17 carries. And he passed for another 210 yards and two touchdowns. Most important, he pushed all the right buttons and shifted all the right gears for the Kansas State option offense, which took advantage of the young men in orange.
"It's only fitting that he went out like that," Kansas State center Randall Cummins said about Beasley, who was playing his final game for the Wildcats. "He's probably one of the most intelligent young men I've had the opportunity to play football with."
And with Monday's performance, Beasley not only emerged but separated himself from the shadow of Michael Bishop, the All-America quarterback of Kansas State's 1998 team according to offensive coordinator Ron Hudson.
Beasley accepted the victory and his award Monday with modesty and aplomb. Just another day driving the roadster.
Nor was he surprised by the success the Wildcats had against a formidable defense.
"Just by watching film (of Tennessee's defense)," Beasley said, "we knew what we could do with the option and with the QB run."
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said he believed prior to the game that the Wildcats would be able to run on a Volunteer defense that had allowed only 74.3 rushing yards game, best in the Southeastern Conference and third best in the nation. "But I didn't believe we'd ever be able to run the football as well as we did," he said.
Volunteer coach Phillip Fulmer said he was also surprised at how effectively Kansas State ran the option and how the Wildcats churned up the real estate. While accumulating 507 yards of offense, the Wildcats had 297 of those on the ground.
And offensive coordinator Ron Hudson gave most of the credit to Beasley.
"Our option isn't that complicated," Hudson said, "but you need a quarterback who can understand the schemes and the formations and the numbers. ... Beasley's just a very intelligent player. That's the difference. He was handling it right."
Kansas State began the game passing. Three of the Wildcats' first four plays were passes. But in the second half, Kansas State took a different approach and ran the ball on its first 11 plays.
Calling Kansas State's 75-yard drive to open the second half the most important of the season, Hudson explained that Tennessee had adjusted at halftime in an effort to "take away Quincy Morgan." Moreover, Morgan began the second half with a sore ankle, and wide receiver Aaron Lockett had "his bell rung."
So Hudson and Snyder turned the steering wheel over to Beasley and the option. It was especially effective, Hudson said, because Tennessee, playing in the SEC, had seen little of the option during the season. And the Wildcats responded by running for 179 yards in the second half. With the score, 35-14, at the end of the third quarter, the outcome of the Cotton Bowl seemed inevitable.
Kansas State running back Josh Scobey, who ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns, said he thought the option had Tennessee confused. "We put them on their heels, and we rolled from there," he said.
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