And that the Tar Heels did, in a manner that should have eased Bryant's fears about letting his team down. With 3:47 to go in the second quarter, Elkins faked beautifully to the left, kept the ball on a naked bootleg around right end and raced clear for 15 yards before ducking his head and bulling for four more, down to the Tech one. Following a penalty, Tyrone Anthony, the third-string tailback, blasted in from six yards out.
After the Yellow Jackets tied the score early in the third quarter, a pass-interference call again gave Carolina the ball on the Tech one, whence Elkins bolted in. And moments later, Tar Heel Strong Safety Bill Jackson pounced on a Tech fumble, and it took Elkins just two passes to cover the 31 yards for a score—the touchdown toss being hauled in by Anthony, who said, "I didn't really think I'd play today, but the coaches tell us always to be ready, so I was ready."
North Carolina got its final score midway in the fourth quarter when Elkins hit Burrus, who had drifted out to the left flat, with a pass. Burrus then streaked 34 yards down the sideline, juking by one potential tackier and breaking out of the grasp of another, as he barged to the one. On the next play, his substitute, James Jones, punched over for the TD.
It was fitting that Burrus, a junior who carried 18 times for 81 yards, got his moment in the sun, because he generally sacrifices his body to block for Bryant. He's good natured about his usual subordinate role, saying, "Oh, I have a choice—I can either block or not play. And I have a fear of not playing. What I like most about blocking for Kelvin is I can block poorly and he still makes me look good."
But Saturday, it fell to Burrus to look good all on his own. "Alan did a very good job in taking up the slack," said Crum. Further, Burrus was the leader in making sure the Tarheels didn't fall to pieces after Bryant's injury. That he was an unlikely hero made those accomplishments even more delightful.
Recruiters had not flocked to Burrus' Shelby, N.C. home, and even when former Tar Heel Coach Bill Dooley signed him up, Burrus knew that he wasn't exactly the No. 1 Tar Heel recruiting coup of 1978. Dooley said, "Congratulations, Chuck, you've made a wise decision." Then Dooley gave Chuck, er, Alan, the pen they had used to sign the letter of intent, but, says Burrus, "When I tried to use it to sign autographs, it ran out of ink." From this unprepossessing beginning, things got worse. Burrus was tackling fodder as a freshman. In North Carolina's 17-15 Gator Bowl win over Michigan at the end of his sophomore season, he broke his right thumb. Along the way he also sustained two stress fractures in his right foot and one in his left. Then he missed the 1980 season with a hamstring pull. Finally, last spring, Burrus tried to hoist 315 pounds in the weight room but dropped the bar on his head, breaking three neck vertebrae. Now he's fine—if you don't count the broken big toe on his left foot. Burrus doesn't.
All of which can make a guy a little weird. Which might explain why Burrus just up and took a wandering seven-week, 700-mile bicycle trip from Salt Lake City to Billings, Mont. this summer. "I got to thinking," says Burrus, "that 50 years from now, if I just worked, what would I remember about the summer of '81?" Now he has memories, and says, "I found out this country is a good place. People helped me; they cooked for me; they invited me to sleep in their backyards and living rooms." He plans a trip to Brazil this summer where he'll go hunting.
Which is what the North Carolina football team may feel like it's doing as it faces life without Bryant. On Sunday morning, orthopedist Timothy Taft operated on Bryant for 2� hours in Chapel Hill after finding knee cartilage torn in two places. That in itself might have kept Bryant down only a couple of weeks, but the more dire discovery was that there was ligament damage, too, which will slow his recovery. Taft considers it "unlikely" that Bryant will play again this year, but "maybe he'll fool me."
Ironically, in 1980, Crum had two superior, healthy tailbacks, Lawrence and Bryant. While the coach got high marks for his diplomatic handling of that situation, so, too, did Bryant, who played second fiddle with no squeaks. Lawrence rushed for 1,118 yards, but Bryant rushed for 1,039 yards on 52 fewer carries. His problem in getting headlines may have been that Kelvin rhymes only with Elvin, Delvin and Melvin.
Which may be a good omen, seeing as Burrus rhymes with nothing. He may have to become more famous than either Amos or Kelvin if North Carolina, which seems talented enough to finish in the Top 20 even without an outstanding runner, is to match its most successful season ever, 1948, when the Tar Heels finished third in the polls.