Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Puppet Role No Longer Fits Stewart

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Puppet Role No Longer Fits Stewart

Article excerpt

Popular wisdom has it that Colorado quarterback Kordell Stewart has purged the big-game demons that once tainted his career. After all, it was Stewart who orchestrated the Buffaloes' stupefying rally to defeat Michigan 27-26. And it was Stewart who steered CU to five victories over ranked opponents.

"He's a real leader in the huddle," tailback Rashaan Salaam said. "Last year, he was just a puppet following directions."

But the real measure of how susceptible he still is to those puppet strings will take place Saturday, when the second-ranked Buffs visit No. 3 Nebraska in a game that will have a dramatic bearing on the national championship. In CU's 21-17 loss to the 'Huskers in 1993, Stewart completed eight of 28 passes, threw three interceptions and was sacked four times.

"I was trying to be Superman, and that's not possible," Stewart said. "I wasn't relaxed at all. It was like I had rocks on my shoulder."

Thanks to the tutelage of new quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel, Stewart says he longer heaps so much pressure on himself: "I understand now that it's not about me, it's about the team. There's only so much one person can do. You win as a team and you lose as a team."

Stewart, though, has done much to enhance his team's chances this season. Along with Salaam, he is a Heisman Trophy candidate. "That's far, far in the back of my mind," Stewart said. "Of course, if they give me the Heisman, I won't give it back."

What would mean infinitely more to Stewart would be a victory at Nebraska.

"If we come out with a big win," he told reporters, "I'll kiss all of you."

Count Him In: As for Nebraska's ever-shuffling quarterback scene, the second-stringer of the week is freshman walk-on Monte Christo. After missing six weeks of practice with a thumb injury, Christo played for the first time last week at Missouri. He wasn't necessarily ready when he entered the game after reserve Matt Turman was knocked out with a shoulder injury.

"I had a terrible stomachache the whole game, so I was sitting there with my belt unbuckled," said Christo, who wasn't listed on the game-day roster. "When they said, `Monte, get ready,' I didn't know where my helmet was. I didn't have my mouthpiece, and I didn't have my thumb taped. They put a piece of gum in my mouth so it would look like I had a mouthpiece."

Daddy's Boy: Auburn coach Terry Bowden hears talk of how nepotism got him where he is . . . and embraces it. Asked recently by ESPN how much of his success could be attributed to his father, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, the younger Bowden said:

"Everything. Everything. I could not be more proud, more appreciative than that I am the son of Bobby Bowden. I apologize to no one for the breaks I've had. And everything I have right now is because I am Bobby Bowden's little boy. …

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