Larry Hickman, Traylor's powerful running mate at fullback, fairly bristled when it was suggested that the team might be overly protective of Doyle when he is in a game. "Shoot, he can take care of his seff better'n anyone on the squad," Hickman drawled. "Doyle's tough. He don't need no protection. Ever time he got hurt in practice, there weren't no way anybody could help gettin' hurt. Like one time I remember his cleats stuck just when he got tackled. Snapped his anklebone just like that. It woulda snapped anybody's ankle with the cleats stuck like that."
Against Villanova in the season opener a fortnight ago, Traylor's defensive play was outstanding, and he showed no signs of holding back for fear of injury. He recovered a Villanova fumble on his own 2-yard line early in the game to stave off a sure score—one that might have ended the game in a 7-7 tie instead of a 7-0 Baylor win. Midway in the third period he made a splendid running interception and returned the ball 40 yards down the sidelines to the Villanova 20. The interception pulled Baylor out of a hole and set up the team's lone score.
"I get a little annoyed when people hint that maybe I'm fragile," he says. "Last time I got hurt—when I broke my ankle—they had to operate and put a pin in it. I asked the doctor then if there was something constitutionally wrong with me. He took all sorts of tests and said I was as sound as anyone he ever examined."
Miami, despite its opening day loss to Houston, is a team Baylor will be pointing for. "You can't hold back and play for next week in this league," says Clyde Letbetter, the right guard who has been drafted by the Green Bay Packers. "You hold back on a team like Miami, and they're going to beat you. When this team gets beat, it gets depressed; and you don't play your best when you're depressed. I'd rather play every game like it was the Sugar Bowl; hard, tough. We'll be out to beat that line on Saturday. Miami's a ground-power team, nothing fancy, nothing tricky. They got two-three good quarterbacks all of them left-handed passers and we got to watch them. A lefty is tricky. They don't have to stop, turn and throw. They just throw...whiz...quick before you know what's happened. They'll stay on the ground mostly, and we feel that any team that stays on the ground, we're gonna stop them sometime."
Traylor, Letbetter, Bradshaw and Hickman are close friends, and though the latter three have accumulated far more playing time than Doyle, they would not think of questioning his judgment on the field.
"We try to make it a rule not to talk in the huddles," says Traylor. "The guys are pretty good about it, too. I'll call a wrong play every once in a while, and maybe they'll know it won't work, but they try like crazy to make it go."
DOYLE'S IN CHARGE
Letbetter chimed in:
"Now sometimes big Charley [Bradshaw] or me, we'll come back to the huddle and we'll say 'I can move my man pretty good' or 'I can trap this guy,' and old Doyle he'll call the play. But the rest of the time—Doyle, he's in charge and he does all the talking."
On offense, Baylor will be using the air lanes with much more frequency than last year, thanks to Traylor. Last week, for instance, Doyle completed 11 of 15 passes to aid Baylor's 14-6 win over Houston. During a recent practice he spent most of the afternoon throwing short button hooks and spots. "I'd rather throw short," he said, "because nowadays most defensemen won't let a receiver get behind them. They'll let you get the short yardage and play to stop the home run." He had worked up a head of steam under the hot Texas sun. Sweat ran in tiny rivers from under his helmet and converged at his chin to form a little waterfall which splashed down the front of his jersey.