SI Vault
John Underwood
October 01, 1973
That goes not only for USC, the national champion, but for Tailback Anthony Davis, the country's most electrifying running back
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October 01, 1973

Undefeated But Improving

That goes not only for USC, the national champion, but for Tailback Anthony Davis, the country's most electrifying running back

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Meanwhile, the USC offense stammered around for most of the first half trying to find its voice. It came full-throat in the person of Lynn Swann, the artful flanker back who McKay says is his version of a Johnny Rodgers. Swann is one-third of the three-man battery of Quarterback Pat Haden to receivers Jake McKay, the coach's son, and himself. Jake McKay is Haden's old high school buddy, and they kid Swann all the time that he will never make All-America because Haden will cut his third out of the limelight. Swann says he'll make it without 'em since he also returns punts.

Late in the first quarter of a scoreless game Swann fielded a punt at midfield. Against Arkansas he had two long touchdown runs called back, but obviously he had not forgotten how. He cut to his left, then angled back right, then back left again. Suddenly he was into an alley of bumps and nudges that served as blocks. He made six distinct swerves—not cuts, just angling turns—the way schooling fish advance, and the only man who hit him on his way to the end zone was a USC blocker who did not move fast enough.

Then, just before the half, Haden broke down and threw one to Swann, 15 yards into the end zone where Swann had beaten Tech's star safety, Randy Rhino, by half a step. That made it 14-3 and diminished the threat of an upset. The teams swapped field goals in the second half and finally Haden began taking a better look at Tech's gambling defense, getting the ball to Jake McKay behind the rotation. McKay caught one a hair beyond the end zone, which does not count, and then one that did count while floating 10 yards beyond the suckered Tech defense. That finished Tech.

But as with the Arkansas game, it was not a clean kill. The USC offense is still trying to find some consistency against the slugs of its own mistakes—holding, motion, offsides—and the inexperience of its linemen, and if it is still rounding into form it better do it quickly because this week Oklahoma comes to Los Angeles.

While winner McKay was parrying questions that sounded suspiciously like the why-aren't-you-winning-50-to-0 type, loser Fulcher was praising his own team's gutsy performance. He said he sought out Anthony Davis on the field when the game was over. "I told him how much I admired him," Fulcher said. "He's an amazing human being. A real thoroughbred."

McKay, meanwhile, accepted a thrust on the health and happiness of A.D.—"Aren't you worried about him after two weeks of having to settle for less than 100 yards?"

"No," said McKay. "Last year after two games he had a total of only 56 yards. Anthony Davis is the least of my worries."

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