A Pitchers’ Duel at the Rose Bowl : College football: It’s UCLA, with quarterback Tommy Maddox, against BYU, with Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer.
In a preseason football magazine, UCLA sophomore Tommy Maddox was listed as the third-best professional prospect in the country.
Brigham Young’s Ty Detmer, the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner, was 12th in those ratings. He was called a “project” in regard to a pro career.
But Detmer is playing college football, at which he excels.
Although UCLA Coach Terry Donahue is downplaying the Detmer-Maddox matchup tonight at the Rose Bowl, it looms as an intriguing aspect of the game.
As a Heisman Trophy winner, Detmer has been scrutinized more than other college quarterbacks, and his flaws have been magnified.
He has been criticized for his relative lack of arm strength and his part in the 1990 season-ending losses to Hawaii, 59-28, and Texas A&M;, 65-14.
Moreover, BYU was beaten by top-ranked Florida State, 44-28, on Aug. 29 in the Pigskin Classic at Anaheim Stadium.
“I’ve always felt the most difficult job in sports is an NFL quarterback,” BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said. “And it’s quite a bit the same way for a college quarterback.
“I think Ty is going to be subject to criticism from the backlash of the last two games (of last season). He is going to have to live through that because we have a very young team and we’ll make some mistakes, and it will take some time to become the football team we want to be.”
Asked to comment on Detmer, Maddox said: “He’s under a lot of pressure, but I guess that’s what success breeds. People say he can’t do this or do that, but he has a Heisman Trophy on his mantle. He has a way of getting things done.”
Detmer, a senior, has set 44 NCAA records. And he needs only 197 more yards to become the NCAA’s all-time passing leader and 435 to rank No. 1 in total offense.
Still, his chances of becoming only the second repeat winner of the Heisman--Ohio State’s Archie Griffin was the first in 1974 and ’75--aren’t all that great.
There is the memory of BYU’s late-season collapse in 1990 and, as Edwards pointed out, the Cougars aren’t as experienced as they were last year.
Edwards has only three starting players back on offense and five on defense. Moreover, defensive tackle Brad Hunter suffered a knee injury against Florida State and will miss tonight’s game.
A Utah sportswriter noted that Detmer is operating without a net, having lost most of his receivers from last year, most notably talented tight end Chris Smith and star halfback Matt Bellini.
However, Detmer said that BYU’s inexperienced players aren’t necessarily young.
Many of them have interrupted their academic and athletic careers with Mormon missions.
For example, the starting offensive tackles, Mike Empey and Tom Ladd, are 24. Outside linebacker Jared Leavitt is 25 and, with the exception of freshman tight end Itula Mili, there isn’t a player on the starting unit younger than 20.
Donahue is cautious in evaluating his team, saying: “My gut feeling is that we are more experienced and a step quicker.”
But he doesn’t want Maddox to get caught up in an individual statistical battle with Detmer.
“Tommy is certainly the featured performer on our offense,” he said. “We’re talking to him all the time to the tune, ‘This is not you and Ty Detmer. It’s UCLA and BYU, and you need to play within yourself and do what you do well and not worry about stats.’
“You have to make (Maddox) understand he’s not going to win the Heisman Trophy Saturday night. I don’t think he’s thinking about the Heisman Trophy at this point in time, or to have a better game than Ty Detmer.”
Maddox, who set Pacific 10 Conference records for yards passing and total offense as a redshirt freshman last year, is regarded as the conference’s premier quarterback.
He isn’t on the same pressure level as Detmer, but he is the focal point of the team.
A possible drawback for Maddox is his receivers. Sean LaChapelle is a proven player, but senior Paul Richardson had an injury-marred season in 1990 and sophomore Michael Moore is inexperienced.
Donahue was reminded that the Rams, Raiders and USC lost their opening games and that his Bruins might have to salvage some respect for the area.
“We desperately want to get off to a nice start, but I’m not as concerned about those other guys as I am about me,” he said.
Terry Donahue said that backup nose guard London Woodfin and reserve cornerback Robert Gamble would not play. Woodfin has two broken hands and Gamble has a knee injury. . . . Donahue said he plans to rotate five running backs--Shawn Wills, Ricky Davis, Kevin Williams, Kaleaph Carter and Kevin Smith, and, possibly, Maury Toy. Wills will play both tailback and fullback.
BYU Coach LaVell Edwards plans to use fullback Peter Tuipulotu at halfback for part of the game. Freshmen Mark Atuaia and Jamal Willis also will be used as running backs. Tuipulotu accounted for all of BYU’s rushing against Florida State with 58 yards. . . . BYU is a renowned passing team and UCLA emphasizes the passing game, so tonight’s game could be the late, late show. “The game could rival one of Jimmy Connors’ long, long (tennis) matches,” Donahue said. “It could be a shoot-out. We’re not a great ball-control team.”