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Switzer Comes to Praise Peete, Not Recruit Him

Times Staff Writer

Oklahoma football Coach Barry Switzer said Tuesday that Los Angeles has a corner on the college quarterback market.

“I think L.A. has probably the best 2 quarterbacks in America today,” said Switzer, alluding to USC’s Rodney Peete and UCLA’s Troy Aikman. “I’m thinking of professional (football), the conventional style of quarterback.

Switzer wasn’t slighting his own quarterback, Jamelle Holieway, who will oppose USC Saturday at the Coliseum. He was just putting the quarterback image in perspective.

“Now, I don’t think there is a better option quarterback in America than Holieway,” Switzer said. “But when people think of the classic quarterback they think of people like Peete and Aikman.”

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Switzer said that he tried to recruit Peete, who, with his skill as a runner, probably would have been an accomplished quarterback in a wishbone offense.

“He’s a great talent,” Switzer said of Peete. “He has a classic delivery, great velocity and he can beat you in every which way.”

Switzer, of course, has more than a nodding acquaintance with Aikman, who, like Peete, is regarded as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Aikman was Switzer’s starting quarterback at Oklahoma in 1985 until he suffered a broken leg in the fourth game against Miami. Enter Holieway, who led the Sooners to the national championship.

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Aikman figured that his career as a dropback-passing type quarterback would be more advanced by transferring to UCLA, and Switzer concurred.

Even so, Switzer was well aware that he was providing another school with an outstanding quarterback.

“I was talking to (Arizona Coach) Dick Tomey before last Saturday’s game,” he said. “We coached the Hula Bowl several times together in the past.

“And I recalled that I was standing in Aloha Stadium before a Hula Bowl practice with Dick and other coaches and we were watching Jim Everett (now the Rams’ quarterback), who was with Purdue at the time.

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“I said at the time, ‘I’m going to tell you something. I’ve got a sophomore quarterback at Oklahoma who is just as good as he (Everett) is.’ They all turned to me and said, ‘Switzer, you’re crazy. What do you know about the passing game?’

“But all those guys I’ve met since said that I was right and that he (Aikman) was everything I said he was.”

Switzer added, however, that Holieway, who played quarterback at Los Angeles Banning High School, has a special niche among Oklahoma wishbone quarterbacks.

“I’ve had a lot of great quarterbacks, J.C. Watts and Thomas Lott and going back to Jack Mildren,” Switzer said. “But I don’t think any of them can handle the game the way Holieway does. He has been handling the triple option since he was a freshman and has done just a marvelous job.

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“And he’s the best broken-field runner we’ve had. Not as fast as some of them, but probably a more gifted talent at running the football.”

Holieway, who reportedly wanted to play for USC but was rejected as a quarterback or running back prospect, is almost part of the Trojan family, according to USC Coach Larry Smith.

“He’s around here all the time,” Smith said. “He sits in our office. And I say, ‘Jamelle, what are you doing here?’ In spring practice, I made him stay at the baseball stadium and not come down on the field.

“He’s a good kid. It’s admirable to me to see the relation he has with Leroy Holt and a lot of our players.

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“He was here the first week of our practice, the week before he went to Oklahoma.”

So Holieway knows his way around the USC campus. Smith can only hope that’s the extent of it.

Smith is with Switzer when it comes to rating Holieway, saying that Holieway is the best option quarterback he has ever seen.

“There is no comparison,” he said. “What you’re trying to do is defense a Heisman Trophy candidate who would normally be a running back but is now a quarterback.

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“He would be a great running back. He has the ability to hit the crease and cut back, taking an average play and turning it into a big play. And he has great confidence.”

Trojan Notes

Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer said that his team is not as dominating as usual this year on defense because of graduation losses. “The offense will just have to outscore the opposition,” he said. Oklahoma will start 4 sophomores and a freshman on defense against USC. On offense, however, Switzer has some skilled, experienced players in quarterbacks Jamelle Holieway and Charles Thompson, running backs Anthony Stafford, Damon Stell, Eric Mitchel, Mike Gaddis, Leon Perry and Rotnei Anderson and 6-foot 3-inch, 286-pound guard Anthony Phillips, an All-Big Eight selection and a candidate for both the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award.

USC Coach Larry Smith has 2 units operating Oklahoma’s wishbone in practice behind quarterbacks Craig Lyneis, a walk-on, and Shane Foley. “Our biggest concern is simulating the wishbone offense for our defense,” Smith said. “There is no way we’re going to give our defense the same look with Oklahoma’s speed of execution.”

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USC was idle last week, and it was a welcome respite because of injuries, Smith said. Split end Erik Affholter suffered a mild concussion in the Stanford game Sept. 10. Other injuries: Linebacker Brian Tuliau, sore back; strong safety Cleveland Colter, sprained ankle; free safety Mark Carrier, bruised shoulder, and tailback Aaron Emanuel, bruised kidney. All, with the possible exception of Tuliau, are expected to play against Oklahoma. Tailback Steven Webster has been alternating at tailback with Emanuel in practice and probably will play for the first time this season Saturday. He is making a comeback from knee surgery, as is offensive lineman Brent Parkinson, who also is ready to play.

Smith said that he would like to look at the 1982 film of the USC-Oklahoma game, but it’s missing from the athletic department. The Trojans won, 12-0. . . . Adrian Cooper, a sophomore Oklahoma defensive end, on the USC game: “I expect USC to pound the ball right at us, but that won’t work. I expect them to throw also, but that won’t work, either. Yes, I am very confident, but come game day, I’ll be just as scared as I was against Arizona.” The Sooners won that game, 28-10.


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