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CU Looks to Contain Young Tiger QB

Nov 6, 2002

BOULDER - As the No. 18/21 University of Colorado football team (6-3, 4-1 Big 12) continued to prepare for Missouri (4-5, 1-4 Big 12) Wednesday afternoon, the Buffs remained focused knowing they are going to face one of the conference's top quarterbacks this weekend.

"They have got a bright, young, talented quarterback," head coach Gary Barnett stated Tuesday of Tiger signal-caller Brad Smith. "He is going to be somebody who they build that program around, and they should, because he is that good."

Smith, who is only a redshirt freshman, has taken the Big 12 by storm this season utilizing his deadly pass-run abilities. As much a threat through the air as he is on the ground, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has averaged 289.1 yards of total offense a game thus far--good for second best in the Big 12.

Having completed 160-of-287 pass attempts for 1,827 yards and five touchdowns, Smith also leads the Tigers in rushing with 856 yards and six scores. This Saturday, he needs just 173 passing yards to reach 2,000 and 144 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the year. If he attains both marks, he will become only the second player in NCAA history to accomplish such a feat in one season.

"You can see how valuable and dangerous he is every snap," Barnett continued. "He's a great athlete, throws the ball really well and is really poised for a redshirt freshman. When I heard that they were going to start a redshirt freshman (in August), I said, 'Yes!' Then I saw him play and I said, 'No!' He's a superstar in the making."

"He's really quick," CU starting defensive end Gabe Nyenhuis stated Wednesday. "He is like Michael Vick out there. He has a good arm and he can run all over the place. We need to keep him from making plays this weekend."

Though Missouri only ranks seventh in the Big 12 in pass offense averaging 214.7 yards a game, the Tigers do boast one of the nation's top receivers in senior Justin Gage--an equally lethal complement to Smith's playmaking skills. At 6-4, 210-pounds, Gage is averaging 12.3 yards per reception, a stat that ranks him 10th in the nation, while he has also reeled in a team-high six touchdowns.

"There is no question that they have some really great players," CU linebacker Drew Wahlroos stated after practice Wednesday. "From what I have seen, Smith is a big-time playmaker, and he has some great weapons with Gage and (TB Zack) Abron (123 attempts for 540 yards, 12 TDs). We know what we're going up against."

"This isn't a team that is looking ahead," Barnett stated. "We have an opportunity, and now we have to go out and play better than we did last week to beat Missouri. We have got our work cut out for us. If we want a chance to play on Dec. 7 (in the Big 12 title game), we need to win this game."

Wednesday Practice Notes: Senior offensive tackle Rawle King (fractured finger) practiced during the day and will be ready to play Saturday.

Game Notes: The Buffs own a 15-2 edge against Missouri since 1985, including a 7-1 mark in Columbia... Since 1966, CU is 22-14 against Missouri, however, the Tigers still lead the all-time series by a 35-28-3 count... Last season, Cortlen Johnson, Daniel Graham and Roman Hollowell combined for 432 all-purpose yards to help the Buffs beat the Tigers 38-24 in Boulder... Remember the 1999 game? That's when the Buffs beat Missouri 46-39 in overtime--the first overtime game in CU history... CU and Missouri will kick off at 10:39 a.m. MST Saturday, in a Fox Sports Net broadcast. Bill Land (play-by-play) will call the action with Gary Reasons (color) and Jim Knox (sidelines).