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Not bad, huh, for a couple of young squirts? Good thing we taught them so well." The speaker was Jack Kemp, the former Buffalo Bills quarterback (1962-69) who is now a Republican Congressman from New York. The "we" consisted of Kemp, his wife Joanne and Dorothy Shula, wife of the Miami Dolphins' coach. There they were last Saturday afternoon, down on the 45-yard line at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H. just minutes after Dartmouth had closed out a 40-7 opening-game triumph over Pennsylvania.
Oh, yes. The young squirts Kemp mentioned are his 21-year-old son Jeff, the Dartmouth quarterback and the No. 1 Ivy League passer last season, and the Shulas' son Dave, also 21, a split end who holds just about every Big Green pass-receiving record. Playing only a bit more than a half against the Quakers, Jeff hit 18 of 25 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown. He also ran one yard for a score. Dave caught only two passes, for 30 yards. A third, good for 16, was called back because of holding. But with Shula double-teamed most of the time, Kemp was able to hit his secondary receivers, often in an area just vacated by Shula.
The result was Kemp's finest performance as a college player. He is a 6-foot, 206-pound senior who runs the 40 in 4.7. And his arm? Well, Dartmouth Coach Joe Yukica rates Kemp up there with the strongest throwers he has ever coached. That would include former Buffalo Bill Gary Marangi and Washington Redskin Mike Kruczek, whom Yukica coached at Boston College.
Unlike Shula, who was raised on the Dolphin sidelines, Kemp spent little time around pro players in his youth. When Jack Kemp led Buffalo to its second straight AFL championship in 1965, Jeff was six. By the time Jeff was 10, his father had retired. Oh, Jeff did sit in on a few Bills' practices, and he remembers Cookie Gilchrist, or Ed Rutkowski or somebody hoisting him up on a shoulder pad. "But Elbert Dubenion never asked me to play catch," he says. Mostly, Jeff watched from the stands, like everybody else. And not all his memories of his spectating days are bright. "One time there had to be 60,000 people in the stadium," he recalls. "And 59,998 of them were screaming, 'We want Lamonica!' "
At Winston Churchill High in Bethesda, Md., Jeff was a reserve until his senior year, when he led Churchill to the state AA championship. But the offense was a wishbone, and Kemp mainly ran with the ball. Small wonder he wasn't much of a passer when he arrived at Dartmouth. On the 1977 freshman team he was second-string behind a fellow named Joe McLaughlin. The next fall, on the varsity depth chart, he was listed behind Larry Margerum, and Margerum was behind Buddy Teevens, a marvelous thrower who ended up setting virtually all of Dartmouth's single-season passing records. So in 1978 Kemp didn't play a down. And even though he began last season as Dartmouth's No. 1 quarterback, it was partly because McLaughlin had wrenched an ankle and had missed a lot of practice.
Kemp wasn't an overnight sensation. Dartmouth scored 37 points in its first six 1979 games, of which the Big Green won one. In a 3-0 loss to Yale, Dartmouth gained all of 106 yards. Key linemen were injured. Kemp had trouble reading defenses. And Dartmouth's passing game was half drop-back and half sprint-out, and Kemp did miserably dropping back. His throwing style now is almost classic overhand, but last year he threw sidearm, which only compounded his difficulties. Gradually, Yukica drifted away from the drop-back. Soon 80% to 90% of Kemp's passes were sprint-outs. The line got healthy, Kemp came around, and Dartmouth won its last three games, including a 24-10 triumph over Brown that knocked the Bruins out of an Ivy co-championship.
"Jeff is now reading defenses well, picking out receivers well and setting up fine," Yukica says. "Everything he can do should surface this season. Believe me, he could do what Teevens did."
Unlike Kemp, Shula, also a senior, has been a starter since his sophomore year, when he caught 49 passes, a Dartmouth single-season record. Last season he set school career receiving marks for catches (81) and yards (1,064). He's 5'11" and 183 pounds, and as Yukica says, "When a ball hits his hands, all you hear is ffft." Dartmouth Tight End Mike Lempres says that in a recent practice Shula dropped a pass that was right in his grasp and a few players applauded, as if they had seen something special.
Shula grew up around the Dolphins, serving as ballboy, waterboy and all-around gofer. During games, he used to chart plays for an offensive coach. But what he liked most was running patterns alongside such receivers as Paul Warfield, Nat Moore and Howard Twilley and catching passes from Earl Morrall and Bob Griese.
Shula made himself a receiver. To help develop soft hands, he would palm a football, let it drop a few inches, snare it, drop it and snare it again. Then he'd close his eyes, drop it and snare it. Twilley taught him the subtleties of running patterns. For instance, there's the head fake. A split second before making a cut, the receiver should tilt back his head and thrust out his hands, leading the defender to think the ball's on its way. The defender looks up and the receiver cuts away from him. Shula wrote down that tip—and a lot of others. "Guys like Warfield are so fast they'd get open, but without knowing how," Shula says. "Twilley was slow, but he knew exactly how he did things."