Afterward, Mackovic, who turned 51 on Saturday, insisted that he had suffered no memory loss and proved he was alert enough to outduel a sportswriter. "Can Texas be satisfied with this moral victory?" asked the scribe.
"I never called it a moral victory," replied Mackovic.
"What would you call it, then?"
A New Volunteer
It was like old times last Saturday evening for Mr. Manning: warm Southern air, a triumphant walk from the floor of the stadium through a cluster of teenage girls crowding around for his autograph. Only thing is, the winning team wasn't Ole Miss; it was Tennessee. It wasn't Hemingway Stadium in Oxford; it was Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. And the conquering quarterback wasn't Archie, the Rebel All-America in 1969 and '70; it was his 18-year-old son, Peyton, who as a true freshman making his first collegiate start had just led the Volunteers to a 10-9 win over 17th-ranked Washington Slate.
"I remember my first start," says Archie. "I was a sophomore, and it was against Memphis State. The Tigers" defense wasn't nearly as good as Washington State's."
The Cougars came into the game 3-0, and their defense hadn't allowed a touchdown since 1993. Peyton was tossed into this lire because senior Jerry Colquitt and junior Todd Helton are both out with knee injuries. And the heat was on him: A loss would drop Tennessee to 1-4 in front of a homecoming crowd of 95,556. "We told Peyton, 'You've got to avoid losing before you can win,' " said Vol coach Phillip Fulmer after the game. "We don't generally think that way around here, but we were playing for our self-respect."
While Nilo Silvan's 62-yard touchdown on a reverse in the third quarter and John Becksvoort's field goal with 10:15 to play decided the game, it was Manning's cool, flawless work that kept outgunned Tennessee alive. He completed seven of 14 passes for 79 yards, with no turnovers. His 41-yard completion to wideout Kendrick Jones kept the winning drive moving, it felt good to let it loose once," said Manning, who has moved ahead of fellow superfreshman Branndon Stewart in the Vols' quarterback-of-the-future contest.
Manning's heady performance came as no surprise to one very interested observer. Washington State coach Mike Price had recruited Manning, and on the morning of the game that was supposed to vault his program to national prominence, Price said, "I know he's a freshman, and we're going to pressure him, but I've watched him enough to know that he's a terrific quarterback."