Maddox Gets Best of Morris : * Football: Bruin quarterback answers some of his critics with his performance against San Diego State. Aztec offense raises some questions.
The banner in the San Diego State rooting section proclaimed: “There’s a nu (sic) Marshall in town.”
When UCLA met San Diego State here Thursday it was Bruins quarterback Tommy Maddox who laid down the law.
The matchup of sophomore quarterbacks Maddox and Cree Morris showed that San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium wasn’t big enough for the both of ‘em, and if Maddox didn’t exactly run SDSU’s Morris out of town, he sent him to the sidelines before the end of the third quarter as he led UCLA to a methodical 37-12 victory.
Not even Aztec freshman sensation Marshall Faulk could offset Maddox and the UCLA offense, which ran up 644 yards. Faulk, who set an NCAA record with 386 yards rushing against Pacific, led all rushers Thursday with a more pedestrian 78 yards. He was outgained by two UCLA receivers.
And Morris may have lost his starting job after another frustrating performance, while Maddox only enhanced his standing as one of the nation’s top passers.
Maddox and Morris have several physical similarities--both are big and strong-armed, both redshirt sophomores in programs that feature pro-style passing attacks.
But the similarities pretty much ended there Thursday. Maddox, in his second season as a starter, shredded the Aztecs’ secondary by completing 17 of 26 passes for 303 yards, two touchdowns. He cored another himself.
Morris--who had to win the job in preseason--had an eight-for-23 night for 98 yards and two interceptions. He was harassed much of the time and, when he had time to throw, was often off the mark. Morris finally was placed in the third quarter by David Lowery.
Maddox was coming off what he considered a poor performance in UCLA’s last game, a 30-16 loss at Tennessee--a game in which Maddox hit 17 of 34 passes and was sacked four times while being held to less than 200 yards in the air.
Thursday, Maddox began passing in the second quarter after the Bruins established a running game. In the third quarter he led a 96-yard drive as UCLA pulled away to a 17-0 lead, and moments later he set up another touchdown with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Adams that put the game away.
“At halftime we said we need to go out there and take control, and that’s what we did,” Maddox said. “We played two very good opponents (Brigham Young and Tennessee) right off the bat--when you do that you’re gonna have your misfires. Maybe it took the whole team two or three weeks to get comfortable and have fun.”
Maddox said the two third-quarter touchdowns gave the Bruins confidence. “The 96-yard drive was probably the biggest thing of the whole ballgame,” he said. "(The Aztecs) finally had the momentum, they were moving the ball and it was only 10-0. It was big for us to get it out of there and drive for a score.”
Of the long pass play Maddox said, “The defensive back fell down. I saw Bryan going right by him. It was good for us to take advantage of the situation--you see so much where a (defender) falls down or a man’s open and you don’t take advantage. . . . We were crisp, we executed well, everything we did was working.”
UCLA Coach Terry Donahue said Maddox “played loose tonight, the way we expect him to play. I’m very happy with his performance.”
Noting that Maddox continually picked on the Aztecs on sideline plays, Donahue said, “They were playing in a run defense, pinching the ends. When you do that you’re vulnerable to (opponents) taking the ball outside on you.”
It was just the opposite for Morris, the 6-foot-7 second-year man trying replace Dan McGwire, a first-round National Football League draft choice last spring. He couldn’t find many soft spots in the Bruin defense. For that matter, he hasn’t really found a comfort zone this year.
After two victories to open the season, the Aztecs have lost two consecutive, and Morris has struggled, having completed only 51 of 120 attempts--42.5%.
“I’m just trying to get the job done. Right now we’re not clicking,” Morris said after the game. Asked if he was surprised to be replaced by David Lowery after throwing his second interception in the third quarter, Morris answered, “No, I wasn’t getting the job done.”
Maddox was asked if he recalls having had as miserable a game as his counterpart and quickly replied, “I did at Tennessee. When you play as poorly as I did you’ve gotta look at yourself.”
Maddox has the luxury of his All-American caliber freshman year, when he passed for 2,682 yards and 17 touchdowns, which allows him some slack. He said he hopes Morris gets the same chance.
“It’s tough when you go out there and the fans boo, that’s tough,” Maddox said. “I think he did a good job the second half. If they stick with him he’ll be a good quarterback.”
But on Thursday, Maddox was the one holding the smoking gun.