Against Arizona State, for instance, Sheide suffered five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, but he persevered and finished with 24 completions in 41 attempts, two touchdowns and an unexpected 21-18 victory.
"He's got a lot of confidence," Edwards says. "Even against Arizona State, it never entered his mind, or ours, to do anything different. Most people don't realize he hasn't played much. He played about 5� games in junior college, and he was injured here, too. Maybe that's why he improves every game."
Besides embarrassing some Arizona partisans who had suggested earlier in the year that the WAC was too minor a league for their state's two well-regarded teams (BYU beat Arizona 37-13), BYU's win over the conference favorite Sun Devils should have generated a worry-free week of preparation for New Mexico, considering that team's 3-5-1 record. In truth, it was the most nerve-racking period of the season for Edwards and several of his players, none of whom were charmed by the idea of playing a night game on the road.
But the game could have been played at dawn, for any real chance New Mexico had was lost four games earlier when Quarterback Steve Myer, who might have given Sheide a contest for passing laurels, was sidelined with a knee injury. In his stead, Coach Bill Mondt was forced to use Ken Bryant, a converted defensive back who spent a miserable night being tackled for 71 yards in losses when he did not fumble (three times) or get intercepted (twice).
Strangely, Sheide himself came up with a performance he rated "my worst of the year," even though he scored two touchdowns, passed for another and finished with a WAC career record for completions. His total of 347, in only 20 games, erased the mark of 345 set by Arizona State's Danny White in 32 games.
Sheide was off target early and seemed rattled by the Lobos' blitz and coverage until he threw his fifth pass, a 51-yarder to Tailback Jeff Blanc, who ran one of those hot routes through the entire secondary for a touchdown.
The Cougar defense was superb from start to finish as it held the Lobos to 59 yards rushing and 126 in total offense. A fumble recovery by Carr, whom Edwards calls "the most underrated player on the team," set up Sheide's second touchdown run from six yards out, and substitute Linebacker Frank Linford (no relation to Paul) scored the game's last touchdown when he returned an interception 24 yards. "I saw the end zone and I wanted it," said Linford. Mark Uselman, the only New Mexico native on the BYU roster, hung it on the home folks by kicking three field goals and three PATs.
BYU will be favored to knock off Utah for the conference title, and Blanc already is looking ahead toward Fiesta time. "I think we're going to kill Oklahoma Slate," he says. "Our defense is just perfect to stop their Wishbone. I know we'll kill Utah next week. It's gonna be nice to spend Christmas in Arizona with the team."