His appetite returned, too. "I had a rule," he says. "I ate everything slower than me." By last fall he weighed 250 and his skills had returned. Edwards had the luxury of alternating Matich and Anae at center most of last season.
Along with football, studies and church work, Matich has found time to be a founding director of QuestAmerica Corporation, a Fort Worth-based direct sales company. His mother, Carol, a noted nutritionist and home economist in northern California, is a founder of the company. He spent last summer training the sales force in his areas of responsibility: skin care, health and nutrition. Thus, the No. 1 woman in his life right now is Anita of Denmark, the name of the skin-care line. "Sounds like a pornographic movie," says Matich, "but I think that was Anita of Sweden." Once the Holiday Bowl is over, Matich will be coordinating QuestAmerica's sales force on a full-time basis while working toward his degree in speech and communication.
Matich's father, Tony, who sells burglar alarms, played football, baseball and basketball at the University of San Francisco. Tony was a starting defensive end and tight end in 1949 and '50, when Gino Marchetti and Ollie Matson were starring for the Dons. French's Legion doesn't block the way linemen did in those days. If Tony wanted a crash course on pass blocking in the '80s, he could view French's 30-minute instructional film called The Protectors, an excellent compilation of BYU's pass-blocking philosophies, techniques and drills. French estimates that 75% of the Division I-A schools have purchased it. Matich, the master of technique, is one of the main demonstrators in the film. Perhaps in an updated version French will include a shot of the candy man arranging and rearranging his M&Ms before the game.
The film stresses French's fundamentals: Don't be overaggressive; keep the head up and don't use it to butt; keep the chest up, the butt down and the feet moving in choppy steps; think and react, don't just act; retreat ("not by yards but by inches," says French) rather than go forward. In great detail he breaks down the "punch," a blocking technique perfected by the Pittsburgh Steelers to capitalize on liberalized holding rules. The punch is a quick, upward thrust of both arms, delivered with locked elbows to the top of the opponent's numbers. It stuns the defensive man and throws him off his pass-rush path. Matich is so enamored of it that he taught it to his team in the powder-puff game—"not really considering," he says, "the possible consequences."
Punch, punch, retreat, turn your man outside, jab, parry, punch, retreat. Sometimes the talk in French's office seems to be coming from a boxing gym. And a French technique called the "double rip-off punch"—in which the blocker knocks away the pass rusher's hands and quickly draws his own hands back inside onto the numbers—conjures up something worse. Pro wrestling, perhaps, or a Chuck Norris flick.
But that's how offensive lines protect their quarterbacks these days. And precious few have done it as well as French's Legion, even with a philosophy that's more M&M than S&M.