Rattay also puts in lots of time off the field. Nearly every night he studies game tapes at home for two hours, this in addition to the two hours he spends watching tape before practice. Rattay shares an apartment with two of his teammates, and so as not to monopolize the living room, he has moved the VCR into his bedroom. He falls asleep not to Leno or Letterman but to videos showing the upcoming opponent's defense. He has Bulldogs film coordinator Mitchell Wilkens edit the tapes to highlight blitzes, red-zone fronts and packages used in third-and-medium and third-and-long situations. On road trips Tech brings an extra VCR and sets it up in Rattay's hotel room for late-night viewing. Often Rattay finds something that the coaches overlooked. And he's devised plays of his own. Against Nebraska the Bulldogs used one of them, 82-All Slant-R Flat, to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Rattay, a secondary-education major with a 2.96 grade point average, is so focused on offensive strategy that he occasionally grows distracted during classes and begins diagramming plays in his notebook. "Like five or six pages of nothing but plays," says roommate Newman. "He does that all the time. At the table at home he'll just sit and draw up plays. When there's nothing to do, that's what he's doing. Sometimes I wonder how we got him down here. He could be starting for any team in the country, and at a big school he'd be a certain All-America."
There couldn't be a less self-impressed one. In his spare time this fall, which has been little, Rattay has been coaching a sorority flag-football team, the Sigma Kappas. He works them out on Sunday afternoons on the same field where the Bulldogs practice, and he runs an offense remarkably similar to the one he operates for Crowton. "He has all these fancy plays," says Tara Johnston, a cornerback on the team, "and he writes them down on cards. I remember running into him in the student center. He pulled me over and said, 'Hey, Tara, guess what? I've got some new plays.' "
Rattay has thrown 65 touchdowns in less than two years at Tech, more than any other quarterback in school history, including Bradshaw, who had 39 during his career. Yet off the field he goes largely unnoticed. On those rare occasions when fans recognize him, they find he's easy to approach. Want an autograph? Sure. Want to sit and chat for a few minutes? Why not?
"The great thing about Tim is that he's so modest and so real," says Johnston, "and you just don't expect that out of a big-time quarterback."
"Let me put it to you this way," says O.K. Davis, a sportswriter for The Ruston Daily Leader who also covered Bradshaw 30 years ago. "If somebody delivers a pizza to your motel door, he just might be Tim Rattay. The guy is that unassuming. You look at him and kind of want to laugh. Those sideburns and all. I mean, why isn't this guy off somewhere playing a piano?"
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