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ROSE BOWL NOTEBOOK: TUIASOSOPO, BREES RUN LIKE WIND.

Byline: Gabe Lacques Staff Writer

When it comes to running the football, no quarterback supposedly does it better than Drew Brees' Rose Bowl counterpart, Washington's Marques Tuiasosopo.

After all, Tuiasosopo is the only Division I player to throw for 300 yards and rush for 200 yards in the same game, and his ability to run the option is crucial to Washington's offense.

However, statistics show Purdue's Brees actually netted more rushing yards this season.

Tuiasosopo edged Brees in gross rushing yardage (605-601), but thanks largely to the fact Brees was sacked just eight times this season, he netted 546 yards to Tuiasosopo's 394. Purdue coach Joe Tiller said getting Brees to run more was one of his offensive goals.

``We put in a few more runs for him this season,'' Tiller said. ``He's a much better runner than people give him credit for. He has quick feet. He doesn't have a great 40-yard time, but he's quick as opposed to fast.

``He also has what we call an exceptional internal clock. We used to say Johnny Unitas had eyes in the back of his head. I think Drew Brees has that same sense.''

--Tripplett could go pro: Given the strong junior season Washington defensive tackle Larry Tripplett had, he should be an early favorite to win next year's Outland Trophy. Of course, he can't win if he's not around to play.

Tripplett said he has sent a letter to the NFL inquiring about his draft prospects. If Tripplett goes pro, the Huskies would lose the mainstay of their defense, a player Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said is ``a force unto himself.''

Tripplett (6-foot-1, 295 pounds) earned a spot on four All-America teams and was first-team All-Pacific-10 after recording 6 1/2 sacks and 11 tackles for loss and blocking three kicks.

``I'm still in the process of making that decision,'' Tripplett said. ``I'm not concentrating on that right now, because we play a tough team in Purdue. I'm going to gather all the information and make the best possible decision.''

Tripplett, a Westchester High graduate, must decide by the NFL's mid- January deadline.

--Grinch: Tiller was concerned about the team taking Christmas off from practice, especially after the Boilermakers were sluggish Sunday after arriving in Los Angeles on Saturday night. But he said Tuesday's effort was ``much better.''

``I don't want to call (Sunday) a wasted practice, but we were not very good,'' Tiller said. ``We showed some semblance of focus today.''

--Robbins questionable: Washington coach Rick Neuheisel said freshman receiver Justin Robbins' shoulder injury was a bit more serious than team doctors originally believed.

Robbins suffered a separated shoulder when he ran into a goal post while running a pass route during the Huskies' practice Sunday.

``He's optimistic he can make it,'' Neuheisel said. Robbins is best-known for catching the game-winning 22-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left in Washington's 31-28 win over Stanford.

--On the mend: The news was better for the Huskies' three injured tailbacks. Neuheisel said junior Willie Hurst (broken clavicle) and freshman Rich Alexis (shoulder) definitely will play. They will also participate today in their first full-contact drills since the team arrived Dec. 20.

Sophomore Paul Arnold is questionable for the game with a back injury.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 27, 2000
Words:541
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