Terps' defense gives teams so many options to score

Phil Jackman

September 21, 1993|By Phil Jackman

* Reading Time: Two Minutes.

Could there possibly be any relation between the fact Jake Kelchner leads the nation in passing and that his team (West Virginia) played the "Stat Doctors," Maryland, the other night.

"Let's be honest," Mountaineers coach Don Nehlen says, "Maryland's got some problems, but it's hard to know where. They had some balls thrown over their heads, they seemed confused by the option and people have been successful, it seems, running right at them."

Hmm, sounds like the problems are all over.

Meanwhile, at his weekly seance, Terps coach Mark Duffner is fond of picking out a piece of a game and saying, "I think that [the second half] was the best defense we have played to date." While giving up an average of 48 points and 576 yards per game, Maryland has fallen into a huge hole early, then done some things defensively when the other team was playing out the string waiting for the contest to end.

Virginia Tech, which scored 63 points against woeful Pitt before being shut down by Miami, picks on the Terps' arm-tacklers this week.

* A truly great man died during the weekend. Ethan Allen had lived a rich, full 89 years and real old-timers will remember him for his 13-year playing career (.300 batting average), or the fact he was the longtime coach at Yale, including when a lad named George Bush played first base for the Eli.

To millions of kids of the '40s and '50s, Allen will always be the man who hooked them on baseball for good with his origination, All-Star Baseball. This was a board game with a spinner and cards representing what each player in the major leagues was likely to do, percentage-wise. It just might be the greatest sports game ever.

* Frank Gifford has a book out entitled "The Whole Ten Yards" and, in the chapter "The Glory Years," there's a section entitled "Johnny U & Company":

"We're going against the Baltimore Colts in Boston's Fenway Park [in those days we played in some improbable places] and we were holding a fat 14-point lead with about three minutes left in the [preseason] game.

"The Colts take the ball on about their 30 and [quarterback] Charlie Conerly comes over to me and says, 'Look at the goofy so-and-so.' He's referring to the Colts' new quarterback, a guy who's gangly, stooped-over and pigeon-toed, and he's obviously wearing someone else's jersey because he's got rubber bands holding up the sleeves. He looks like a 6-foot gooney bird.

"He ends up looking like Bobby Layne running the show, gets a couple of scores and I ask Conerly, "Who is that guy?' He says, 'Name's U-na-tis.' I said, 'Sounds like a Greek drugstore chain.' We had no idea how ticked off we would be the next time we met him. That was that little sudden death affair in Yankee Stadium, the one they called 'The Greatest Game Ever Played.' "

The book is full of such remembrances from a guy who has done it all in football and in the television field during the past four decades.

* When Reggie Brooks got away for an 85-yard touchdown romp during the Redskins-Eagles game Sunday, the ex-Notre Damer came within three yards of the club record of 88 yards. That gallop was accomplished in 1954 by Billy Wells, a member of Michigan State's famed "Pony Backfield" of Wells, Evan Slonak and Leroy Bolden.

* In addition to working as a commentator for USA Network during its 8 a.m.-5 p.m. coverage of the Ryder Cup showdown between the U.S. and Europe on Friday, teacher of the pros Peter Kostis has been asked by captain Tom Watson to scout the American squad and make suggestions for how to pair the dozen tour stars.

* Of course it was lamentable that the Red Sox ended up losing a big game to the Yankees when a fan ran onto the field during a nationally televised game in Yankee Stadium Saturday. Boston had the last out and the victory, but time had been called and, given another chance, New York won. If memory serves, folks used to always romp onto the field at Fenway Park, disrupting games, and it didn't stop until a Beantown judge sent an offender off to jail for a week.

* Golfers, don't forget, if you're looking for some stiff competition while hobnobbing with some sports greats, the Jim Palmer CF Celebrity Golf Classic goes at Turf Valley Country Club on Oct. 4. Additional information can be obtained by calling (410) 771-9000.

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