- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The missing ingredient in Houston's offense is a backup quarterback of Elston's '79 caliber. If he's injured—a real possibility considering how often quarterbacks run off the veer—the Cougars will be in big trouble. None of his replacements has even a minute of playing experience. And, of course, Elston will be under a great deal more pressure as a starter than he was as a reliever. Says Yeoman, "In my first year at West Point, when I knew I wasn't going to start, I worried more about my postgame date than the game itself. But in our opener at UCLA last fall, Brown became ill and Elston had to replace him. Now Terry's learning what Brown went through. There are no more laughs for Terry because of the pressure. He realizes the job he has to do. We expect him to come through...and he'd better."
Because of problems beyond the control of Coach John Robinson, the next episode of The Trojans Invade Pasadena has been postponed by the Pac-10. Certainly not by USC itself, despite the fact that long-running star Charles White and 10 members of the cast that finished No. 2 in the nation last year in both AP and UPI polls are now in the NFL. You will recall the closing scene of last season's show, White vaulting over the Ohio State line for a 17-16 victory in the Rose Bowl. This year look for similar performances from his replacement, 6'2", 202-pound Marcus Allen. A former fullback, he rushed for 649 yards in '79 when he was not blocking for White, and Robinson says Allen "is going to be one of the great backs in the nation." Succeeding Quarterback Paul McDonald, who has moved on to the Cleveland Browns with White, is a fifth-year senior, Gordon Adams. He wasn't recruited; Adams simply walked in and allowed that he'd like to be a quarterback. Although he hasn't started a game since high school or thrown a pass at USC, he won the assignment in spring practice. Already he can match McDonald in one area. Adams has a 3.70-grade-point average in business administration ( McDonald graduated with a 3.25 in the same field).
If the backfield is loaded with former understudies, they at least share the field with established performers. Strong-side Tackle Keith Van Home and Guard Roy Foster were All- Pac-10, and Weak-side Tackle Don Mosebar was a standout throughout his freshman year. Adams also will have Flanker Kevin (Bug) Williams back to catch passes. Last year Williams pulled in 25 for a 19.6 average gain and eight touchdowns.
At tight end, Robinson is considering three players. Hoby Brenner is the best receiver and James Hunter (6'4", 235 pounds) the best blocker, while Vic Rakhshani will probably line up at flanker. Defense should be this team's strength. Of seven returning starters, three are All-America candidates: Riki Gray, who will start at inside linebacker for the third season, and safeties Ronnie Lott and Dennis Smith; Robinson says he wouldn't trade Lott or Smith for any in the nation.
Several times last season the Trojan pass rush broke down. During one of those lapses, Stanford's Turk Schonert put 21 points on the board in the second half and gave USC the only blemish on its record—a tie. Four players will be used at the three inside line positions: Nose-guard George Achica, tackles Ty Sperling and Dennis Edwards and Charles Ussery, a 6'4", 240-pound pass-rush specialist.
Coach Lou Holtz is doing his poor-little-ol'-me routine again. Last year he said he didn't have any football players—then produced a Sugar Bowl team. What does Holtz say the Razorbacks can't possibly do this year? Well, win the Southwest Conference, for one thing. "In any other conference we would be the team they'd all have to beat," he moans. "In the SWC we're a contender, and there are only eight others."
Most people think Holtz' best bit of sleight of hand was winning 10 of 12 games last year despite so many injuries that only Free Safety Kevin Evans started all 12. All told, 41 different people started at the 22 positions. Still, Arkansas would have been undefeated in the regular season if 5'7" Ish Ordonez hadn't had a field-goal attempt blocked on the last play of the Houston game. "Ish can't get down about things like that," says Holtz. "He's too short."