TD has run the 40-yard dash in 4.4. AD was timed in 4.5 in his freshman year but has not had an official clocking since. "I could be faster, who knows?" he said. "The guy chasing me on the kickoff return in Arkansas was a 9.5 man and I pulled away from him."
"Both of them run the way you'd like to teach your kids to run," said Jones. "They both do things you'd want your running backs to do. Of course they say running's natural, and in their cases I guess it is. Whoever coaches these backs doesn't have to say much to them."
Talking about them is another matter. Pitt Head Coach Johnny Majors, once an All-America runner himself at Tennessee, entertained the Los Angeles and Pittsburgh reporters Friday night in a restaurant on a hill high above the city lights. If TD had been there, Majors might have slapped him on the fender and invited one of the guests to kick his tires. Gently.
" Dorsett accelerates faster than anyone I've ever seen," said the coach. "Faster than Greg Pruitt or Johnny Rodgers."
Majors is a good coach and good recruiter, in only his second year of rebuilding the sport at Pitt, and Dorsett is not only his best weapon on the field but the best peg on which to hang a sales talk. Syracuse had Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Jim Nance and Larry Csonka. USC had Jon Arnett, Mike Garrett, O. J. Simpson and now has Davis. Majors hopes Dorsett can win the Heisman Trophy and be only the first of a long line of All-America runners at Pitt. He figures the state has enough room, and talent, for him and Penn State's Joe Paterno, although he is not sure how Paterno feels about that.
McKay has not been known to keep quiet about the fact that he has a nimble runner, but he was somewhat subdued in talking about Davis before the game. He was more concerned with his offensive line. Injuries and inconsistencies have forced him to move people around; 268-pound Bill Bain has played at three positions already this season. The group's performance in USC's opening loss to Arkansas had McKay in a snit.
"Our offensive line is a bunch of real nice people," he said sarcastically. " Davis is fine. Davis is going to play real well if we will just block for him."
Davis and Dorsett took all this calmly. Dressed in a bright-yellow jump suit on the charter flight to Pittsburgh, Davis made a brilliant broken-field run down a crowded aisle to grab some chocolate-chip cookies from a stewardess. Dorsett, when told that the confrontation of the ages was coming up on Saturday, did not change expression as he said, "Well, you could call it that if you like." After a little urging, he said, "And you tell AD that Pitt is waiting for him and so am I. I want to show him what I can do and I hope it will be enough."
It was not. But when he glided up the middle for 23 yards on the last play of the first quarter, he brought his career total to 1,964 yards, good enough to surpass by seven Marshall Goldberg's Pitt career record set 36 years ago. The Panthers scored on a Bill Daniels to Karl Farmer pass soon after to take a 7-3 lead. At that point it seemed entirely possible that Pitt might win its third straight game and send USC home with an 0-2 record, something that has not occurred since McKay has had white hair.
Not much good happened to the Panthers after that. They stopped USC drives at their 15 and 14 to keep the lead at the half, and Trojan Quarterback Pat Haden suffered a mild concussion and had to leave the game. But from the third quarter on Pitt just seemed to be valiantly trying to hold off the inevitable, helped by three fumbles by Haden's substitute, Vince Evans, one of them as he hurtled into the end zone. Between long, time-consuming USC drives, Pitt usually would struggle for three downs and punt, forcing the Panther defenders to drag their tongues back on the field again.