TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson may have led the nation in rushing last fall, with 168.8 yards per game, but he was held to 94 yards in a 17-7 loss to Northwestern. Last Saturday's rematch in Fort Worth gave Tomlinson a chance for revenge and an opportunity to validate his Heisman Trophy candidacy against a Big Ten team.
Horned Frogs coach Dennis Franchione said before the game that Northwestern had stopped Tomlinson last year by shifting its secondary to the wide side of the field. TCU's game plan on Saturday was to run a lot of option plays to the tight end's side, thereby gaining an extra blocker. Franchione also instructed his running backs and offensive linemen to do their utmost to fall forward, to help the Horned Frogs' rushers gain extra yards. 'We want to grind out drives," said Franchione.
The game plan worked better than Franchione had hoped. Tomlinson blasted through the Wildcats, rushing 39 times for 243 yards and two touchdowns in TCU's 41-14 rout. Though 6.2 yards per carry is hardly grinding it out, Tomlinson's numbers would have been even gaudier if touchdown runs of 34 and 74 yards hadn't been nullified by holding penalties. Said Franchione, "If they hadn't brought Big Ten officials, we would have had 500 yards."
In the Godseys They Trust
Together quarterbacks Gary Godsey, a freshman at Notre Dame, and George Godsey, a junior at Georgia Tech, accounted for 324 yards last Saturday. That was nothing compared to the distances covered by their parents last weekend. In what has become a weekly ritual during the football season, John and Barbara Godsey parted ways at their Tampa home last Friday so that each of their boys had a Godsey watching over them. "We've bought 29 plane tickets for the season," says John. "It's important that the boys know someone they can count on is in the stands."
This became an even more important priority when Notre Dame coach Bob Davie announced that 6'7", 240-pound Gary would replace the injured Arnaz Battle for last Saturday's game against Purdue. "I got to see George's first game as a starter [against Central Florida on Sept 2]," says Barbara. "It was only fair that John went to Gary's first."
After traveling the 969 miles to South Bend, John got an eyeful. Gary, playing with a veteran's aplomb, passed for 166 yards and ran nine yards for a touchdown in the Irish's 23-21, last-second upset of the Boilermakers. Barbara, who had only a 416-mile trip to Atlanta, watched 6'2", 209-pound George throw for a career-high three touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets' 40-13 rout of Navy. "The other day the two boys talked on the telephone," said John last Friday. "George said, 'You don't worry about Purdue, and I won't worry about Navy.' "
Then again, John, who played defensive end under Bear Bryant at Alabama in the late 1960s, had more than casual football expertise to draw on in guiding his sons through backyard games when they were kids. His oldest boy, Greg, 28, an Atlanta lawyer who can still bench 500 pounds, became a 220-pound offensive lineman at Air Force. George and Gary became quarterbacks under the tutelage of Jesuit High coach Dominick Ciao. George was a Yellow Jackets understudy until Joe Hamilton graduated after last season. Gary was recruited to play tight end at Notre Dame—until the highly touted C.J. Leak unexpectedly jilted the Irish for Wake Forest on signing day in February 1999. Suddenly Gary was a quarterback again.
"The kids all decided where to go, and we supported them," says John. "But having grown up in Alabama, I didn't much care for Georgia Tech after it broke from the SEC [in 1964]."
Old rivalries aside, John sneaked up to South Bend a little early so he could watch the Irish's Friday-night pep rally. Gary, thinking Barbara was coming, greeted John with a basketful of dirty laundry. This week, with George scheduled to play at North Carolina State on Thursday and Gary at Michigan State on Saturday, Barbara, who is a manager at a Gap store, and John, who owns a cable-TV installation company, were planning on enjoying the rare treat of traveling together.