For years Prothro
had favored the walkie-talkie over the telephone to communicate between the
scouting box and the bench. He uses this system half of the time away from
home. "A phone is easier to tap," he says.
Upset 24-22, Penn
State took the loss hard. Its alumni secretary not only charged UCLA with
sending signals, but quoted some of the plays that were intercepted. Prothro
"He had us
running such things as '48 sweep right' and '48 sweep opposite,' " said
Prothro. "They were nice numbers, except that we had no 48 in our attack.
If, as Penn State claimed, it intercepted our plays and still lost, I would say
it did a sorry job with an advantage like that."
With a 4-1-1
record after six games in that first year at UCLA, Prothro had to whip
Washington to stay in the Rose Bowl running. A tough team, Washington had
clobbered Stanford 41-8 the week before, and appeared to be improving. Thinking
this over at 2:30 one morning, Prothro suddenly had a revelation. Washington's
defensive huddle, he recalled, was the most beautifully disciplined of any he
had seen—11 heads down, 11 popping up in crisp unison.
It occurred to
Prothro that if a UCLA end were to break the offensive huddle prematurely, trot
toward the sideline and stop a foot short, he might not be noticed by
Washington players with heads bowed. Then, on a quick snap, the quarterback
could throw to the end.
Thus the infamous
"Z streak," a refinement of the old sleeper play, was born. With
Washington leading 24-21 in the third quarter and UCLA in possession of the
ball on its 40, Prothro gave the word. A swift end, Dick Witcher (now with the
San Francisco 49ers), eyed the Washington defensive huddle. When the heads went
down, he broke quietly. Most spectators thought he was leaving the field.
Absurdly in the clear, he took the pass from Beban on a 60-yard touchdown play,
and UCLA won 28-24.
strong emotions in the locker room later, Washington Coach Owens said he wished
he had thought of the Z streak himself. But J. D. Morgan reveals that that is
not quite the way Owens put it to him. The exchange between Owens and himself,
he says, went as follows:
Owens: I'm not
sure how kosher that play was.
Morgan: It wasn't
illegal, was it?
Owens: I told you
what I think. I know you'll talk to Tommy. I also know we'll have a competitive
game next year.