Stanford’s Brad Muster Ruins the Bruins With Silent Running

Times Staff Writer

The fourth quarter had just begun, and Kurt Josephson, the Stanford left tackle, was yelling. The fourth period does that to Josephson, sort of the excitable type anyway.

But this was different. This was the UCLA game. This was for a major bowl invitation. A 7-2 record. Vindication from the ghosts of Stanford past.

So Josephson yelled louder.

“C’mon line, we’ve got to block better!” he shouted. “The fourth quarter is ours!”


Soon, everyone in the Stanford offensive huddle was busy slapping helmets and working themselves into a lather. Except one guy, running back Brad Muster.

“You look around the huddle and you’re saying, ‘All right.’ And then you look at Brad and he’s just looking at you,” Josephson said. “He’s so calm. He’s not real excitable. He just does his job.”

The numbers, please: 38 carries, 183 yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 receptions.

His reaction: “I’m not worried about numbers.”

Muster was Stanford Saturday at the Rose Bowl. By game’s end, a 28-23 Cardinal victory, Muster had the look of someone found in a deserted alley. “I was tired out there,” he said. “(UCLA) makes you pay for every inch.”

Standing outside the Stanford locker room, Muster didn’t know whether to wince or smile. His ribs ached. His right arm was bruised. A groin pull suffered in the second period still hurt. Blood trickled from his elbows and onto his white game pants. Grass stains dared any detergent to loosen them.

No wonder he didn’t yell during the game.

“As tired as he looks in the huddle--that guy looks beat up--I swear to God the guy loves running the ball 38 times,” Josephson said.

Good thing, too, since quarterback John Paye was nursing a sore shoulder, which left Stanford with few options. It could run, or it could try to survive the afternoon on short swing passes, slant-ins or out-patterns. It chose Muster.

This wasn’t exactly a surprise. Last week against Washington State, Muster gained 190 yards in 37 rushes. The 37 carries broke the school record of 34 set in the 1925 Rose Bowl by Ernie Nevers. Now, the record is 38.

UCLA Coach Terry Donahue predicted that Stanford would rely more heavily on the run Saturday, “ . . . and run the football is exactly what they did,” he said.

Muster wasn’t choosy. He took turns playing first, mule and then, thoroughbred. One moment he was lunging for five yards, the next he was sprinting for 74. Try defending against that.

This was all part of the plan, of course. For the past three weeks, Josephson and the rest of the Stanford offensive linemen had pleaded with their coaches to rely on the run. This was even before Paye’s shoulder became a problem.

“Hey, you’re talking to an offensive lineman,” Josephson said. “I mean, (Muster’s) been a pretty good weapon. But now we finally had an offensive line that came into its own this year. We’re starting to jell. (Muster) was ready to jell the whole year.”

Said Paye: “Going into the week, I hardly practiced at all. So we really concentrated on the trap game and quick-hitting running plays.”

About the only guy who said he wasn’t aware of Stanford’s intentions was Muster. “I didn’t know what the game plan was,” he said.

By halftime, Muster had carried the ball 24 times, had gained 159 yards and had scored one touchdown. As he sat in the locker room waiting for the second half to begin, someone told him about his statistics. “Geez, no wonder I’m hurting,” he said.

After the game, Muster, 6-3 and 226 pounds, was asked to describe his running style.

“I just try to stay on my feet, get as much out of each play as I can,” he said. “I’m not sure I did that too well today. A couple of times I was falling down on my feet.”

Said Josephson: “I think Nevers would be pretty proud of Brad. From what I know of Ernie Nevers, he never quit, and I don’t think Brad does. Brad will always run hard every play.”

Shortly before Muster retreated to the showers, a green-jacketed gentleman from the Citrus Bowl shoved a brochure into his hand.

“Maybe you’ll consider 40 carries on New Year’s Day in Orlando, (Fla.,)” the bowl scout said.

Muster glanced at the brochure and nodded.

“I’d like that,” he said.