A Good Read
Since writing The Complete Passing Game in 1967, Don Read has made several stops around the Northwest: Portland, Eugene, Klamath Falls and now Missoula. You might say he has been on a long book tour.
In evaluating his book's popularity, Read, who has been Montana's coach since 1986, says, "It wasn't a Gone with the Wind deal." Maybe not, but the subject matter still seems to hold fans' interest.
Last Saturday, before a packed house of 15,466 and an additional 400 who had purchased lawn seating behind one of the end zones at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, Montana's junior quarterback, Dave Dickenson, threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns as the Grizzlies, the top-ranked team in Division I-AA, threw the book at third-ranked Idaho 45-21. "It's a fun offense to watch, and even more fun to play," says Dickenson, who last year led all I-AA players (including a certain quarterback from Alcorn State) in total offense, averaging 361.6 yards per game.
Read, 59, has used his book to tutor Dickenson and each of the quarterbacks who have played under him in his one-back, motion offense. After coaching stints at Portland State, Oregon and Oregon Tech, Read has had winning records in all nine of his seasons at Montana. It was while in Eugene as an assistant in 1972 that Read schooled future NFL Hall of Famer Dan Fouts in the good book.
Though not blessed with Fouts's physical gifts, the 5'11", 175-pound Dickenson, who had a 3.86 GPA in molecular biology last year, is a lionhearted competitor and a quick study. "Dave wears thick glasses, and he looks like a nerdy guy, like he belongs in a chemistry lab," says Read. "But when he talks, all of our coaches listen. Dave doesn't do one thing better than everybody else, he just does everything a little better than any one guy."
Winning is one of those things. Since his junior year at C.M. Russell High in Great Falls, Mont., Dickenson has been 41-1 as a starter. In the one loss, a 49-48 heartbreaker against Delaware in last November's playoffs, he was 37 of 44 for 409 yards. Says Dickenson, who has thrown 23 touchdown passes and only five interceptions this season, "Nobody ever expected much of me—not even my parents."
Meanwhile, Read is writing again. "I've been working off and on for six years on my second book," he says. "It's called Making of a Quarterback."