Reflecting on the
incident today, Prothro says, "There is no doubt about it. We were trying
to gain an advantage. But the Z streak isn't a real hideout play. Remember, our
receiver reported to the huddle. He didn't remain at the sideline and conceal
himself, which is considered unethical. The Z streak is legal. But if you were
to put it on the ballot I would vote against it. Deception should happen after
the ball is snapped, not before."
that beat USC two weeks later was quite in the open. Losing 16-14 in the fourth
quarter, Prothro called for an onside kick. UCLA recovered and went on to score
the winning touchdown, advancing to the Rose Bowl game against Michigan State,
a team that had gone without defeat during the season. Included in its record
was a 13-3 win over UCLA in the opener.
Prothro has two
basic approaches to a football game. "When I have the stronger team,"
he says, "I rarely gamble. I take chances only when I'm the underdog. Some
coaches look at things the opposite way, that is, they gamble only when they
have superior strength, figuring that if the gamble fails they still can
overpower you. As an underdog, they play conservatively, hoping for a
Michigan State during the early mornings, Prothro concluded that the Spartans
for a certainty were stronger than UCLA. He would gamble. "I tried to
figure what Duffy [Daugherty] was thinking," he says, "and I heard him
say to himself that since he had a team that had won 10 straight it would be
wise to stay in the pattern that won for him."
built a defense keyed to stopping Michigan State's basic plays, especially on
third down when short yardage was needed for the first down. This required
commitments which would leave UCLA dangerously vulnerable, but, as Prothro
says, "We pictured them trying safe ground plays, the kind that had worked
all season, and thought we would gamble by throwing all our defense into
Michigan State would look for conservative offensive play on the part of UCLA,
too, Prothro decided to call for passes on most third-down situations on which
short yardage was required. Other thoughts were tossed in. For instance,
Prothro decided that if UCLA scored first in the opening half the Bruins would
come back with an on-side kick. "I figured that, if we recovered, the shock
would be damaging to Michigan State," says Prothro.
Breaking the calm
of Michigan State seemed vital to Prothro. To accomplish this, he drew a new
play to open the game. It was a variation of a standard Bruin play on which
Beban handed off on the belly series to Mel Farr. This time Beban would fake
the handoff and circle right end, but to make sure nobody tipped the play off
and all assignments remained exactly the same, only Beban and Farr knew what
was going to happen.
Beban gained 27
yards before a defensive back, the last Spartan with a chance, caught him from
"It was worth
more than 27 yards," says Prothro. "We wanted Michigan State players to
ask themselves, 'What will those lunatics do next?' "
Six times during
the game UCLA's defense stopped Michigan State's predictable running plays
short of a first down on third and short yardage. UCLA scored first in the
second quarter, came back with the onside kick as planned, recovered it and
scored again. State was unable to gather itself until the fourth quarter, and
wound up losing 14-12. It was Prothro's biggest win.