A good-looking, yellow-blond 6-footer, who wears a sweatband around his head to make his headgear fit, Dennis developed in the Jaycees as a passer, a cool, accurate thrower with what Prothro calls "the best anticipation" of any passer he's coached. Last December Prothro knew he wanted Dummit—needed Dummit—and he got him. Dennis enrolled in the spring quarter and had the spring drills to try and learn UCLA's multiple, highly-sophisticated offense, which features just about everything from pro spreads to triple options, with no doubt the widest spacing of any line in the country.
"We had to find a quarterback, and I went to the Jaycees to get one," said Prothro. "I'm happy I found one with a 3.6 grade average as well as an arm."
There can be no question that Dummit has made UCLA the biggest surprise among the nation's undefeated teams. If he can be as good as he was against California last Saturday in what was supposed to be UCLA's first stern test—good enough to make it a 32-0 laugher—then he just might hurl the Bruins past Stanford this week. Then the whole Rose Bowl thing, not to mention something to do with the national rankings, will come down once again to that stroll through the zoo known as the USC- UCLA game. Even should UCLA lose to Stanford—and it could—the USC game would be decisive, for a UCLA victory would throw the conference into a three-way tie and give the Rose Bowl nod to the Bruins for having a better overall record.
Prothro is still not sure how good UCLA is. There was no way for him to know after the Bruins had whipped only Oregon State (37-0), Pitt (42-8), Wisconsin (34-23), Northwestern (36-0) and Washington State (46-14). These were have-not teams. But he thought the Cal game would tell him something. Cal had lost to Texas in its opener, but it had come back to beat Indiana and then romp past Rice and Washington. It had a good defense.
Cal either told him nothing or it told him he had the best UCLA team of his career. "We have a chance to be better than either of our good Beban teams," Prothro said.
If UCLA is truly this good, Dummit's passing mixed with the running of Greg Jones and Mickey Cureton—strong, strong running—and Prothro's usual swarm 'em defense will be the reason. Last week on a pleasant fresh-air day in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Dennis Dummit, with marvelous poise and confidence, hit five of the first eight passes he threw, two for touchdowns. The UCLA defense permitted Cal only one first down during the first two quarters and there was nothing much left to decide.
Dummit, who saw UCLA play only one game in the two years he was at Long Beach, ran the offense as if he had installed it instead of the coach. Mixing his passes to Gwen Cooper with the inside traps and counters of Jones and Cureton, the Bruins moved at their own pleasure and leisure. The game lolled along at 18-0 for most of the afternoon, with the suspense limited to whether both Jones and Cureton would gain over 100 yards. In the last few minutes, however, another guy got in the act. He was Bill Bolden, who was once Beban's sub at quarterback but has since become a runner. His modest feat was to break through the Cal defense for touchdown runs of 65 and 41 yards and wind up with more than 100 himself.
Other teams have their Steve Owenses, like Oklahoma, and their Clarence Davises, like USC—these being ballcarriers who are making assaults on yardage records—but one has to wonder whether a combination of them isn't the best thing. Jones, a rangy and powerful senior, and Cureton, a zippy, medium-sized junior, give UCLA a ground attack. In six games now Jones has piled up 542 yards, and Cureton has shot into the secondaries for 496 yards. Combined, they have ripped off 1,000 yards, and there are two of them to look out for instead of just one.
Put this running with Dummit's splendid passing performances, and what you've got is surely the most high-powered offense on the West Coast. Dummit hit on nine of 13 against Cal for 202 yards, and in his six games he has thrown for 61 completions out of 107 tries for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns. Equally important, he has thrown only three interceptions.
Dummit is no Gary Beban. He may well have a more accurate arm and just as thorough an understanding of Prothro's offense, but he is about as much of a threat as a runner as Prothro himself. But his accuracy is devastating, and he runs the offense the way his coach wants it run, and the team follows him.