In the Miami game the Magic Dragon started off poorly, throwing an interception that spotted the Hurricanes a quick 7-0 lead. Miami was in a combination man-for-man zone defense, another in the series of arcane, deceptive barriers opposition coaches devise for Huff. "People throw a lot of crazy defenses at us and try to confuse him," Coach Jones had said earlier in the week. "Until Gary gets adjusted to them, it throws him off."
He did not take long to adjust. The Hurricanes' defense forced a linebacker to cover Tight End Gary Parris, and Parris slipped into the seam of a zone to catch seven passes in the first half as Florida State took a 17-7 lead.
Sloan maintains that one of Huff's strengths lies in his concentration, which allows him to ignore charging linemen as well as the score. He recalls how last year South Carolina jumped off to a 10-0 lead against FSU. Huff eventually threw five touchdown passes in that game and State won 49-18.
In the second half Saturday night Miami tried a more conventional defense, but it was to little avail. With the lead, Huff could afford to be discriminate, so he threw only seven second-half passes and completed all of them. "It feels good, it feels good," he exulted on the bench after one touchdown pass.
"It's the pressure that's on you at quarterback that I like," Huff had said earlier. "When you win in football it's such a great, great feeling. You work all week for it." Actually all year. Huff spent last summer in Tallahassee throwing passes to Parris and Smith.
In the dressing room after State's 37-14 victory, a scout from the Houston Oilers stopped by to congratulate Huff on solving Miami's pass defense. "Using your tight end was exactly the right way to beat it," he said. Gary Huff appreciated that.