Technically, Dawson is a good quarterback. He has a long range and throws accurately and he has that good peripheral vision which allows him to avoid rushers and pick up late-opening receivers or receivers in a broken pattern. He is not a good runner, but he manages to make yards when he docs decide to run.
"I don't have the speed," he says frankly. "I run to keep the defense honest. Sometimes I get good yardage running because the defense comes flying in there and I step around them. If you step around a guy and make 10 yards, he'll slow up next time."
Dawson does not seek the sanctuary of the sideline when he steps around the rushers and runs. By staying in the middle of the field he has averaged eight yards a try this season.
"The only reason a quarterback goes for the sidelines is to keep from getting hurt," he says. "I've been rapped a few times stepping out of bounds. My senior year against Notre Dame some guy hit me when I was already stopped and knocked me into the second row of the stands. If a guy is going to take a shot at me, I'd rather it happen in the fat part of the field where I can at least make a few yards."
Although Dawson is the big difference in the Dallas team this year, there are other contributing factors to its rise to the division title. A massive rookie fullback named Curtis McClinton has given the Texans a running attack. McClinton weighs 238 pounds and was fast enough to run the high hurdles at Kansas. Early in the season he tried to depend upon his size and strength to bowl over tacklers. But as the season went on, McClinton found that size was not enough and he has become a smarter runner recently. Abner Haynes, the other running back, is very much like the Baltimore Colts' Lennie Moore, both in speed and elusiveness. A backfield with McClinton and Haynes in it, plus a passer and sometimes a runner like Dawson, is very hard to defend against. Dawson, in addition, has good receivers to pass to in Haynes, Ends Fred Arbanas and Tommy Brooker and Flanker Back Frank Jackson.
Rock hard defense, too
The defense is the best in the AFL, principally because of the best set of linebackers in the league, E. J. Holub, Walt Corey and Sherrill Headrick. The secondary is quick and gaining in knowledge steadily. The Texans, too, are deep in defensive backs. In a recent game against the Denver Broncos, Stram put a rookie defender in the game in place of Safety Bobby Hunt, who leads the team in interceptions. The rookie, a quarterback from Baylor named Bobby Ply, responded to opportunity by intercepting three passes, and Hunt may find it difficult winning back his job.
This team, which probably has the best players in the league, was assembled by Hunt at very considerable expense. In the bidding war with the NFL for players, Hunt has earned the reputation for having the fastest checkbook in the West. He has also had, for three years, one of the best scouting systems in the league.
Much of the talent on the team was recruited by Will Walls, a man with a keen eye for future pro players. "If Walls could sec every player in the country in action, he could give you an absolutely accurate estimate of their pro potential," one club official said. "He was the best scout I have ever seen." When Walls left the Texans to scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was replaced by Don Klosterman, a former quarterback who had had much to do with selecting and signing the talent for the San Diego Chargers. Klosterman has kept up the standard set by Walls.
After the annual draft, Hunt gets the entire staff going in an effort to sign the team's top choices at once. He also uses a couple of lease hounds from his oil operations, who give up wheedling oil leases out of reluctant farmers long enough to gather signatures from reluctant football players. When Ed Budde, the big Michigan State tackle, was drafted by the Texans, one of the lease hounds, who knew he would be trying to sign Budde, sent the player's wife two dozen yellow roses of Texas. When he sat down to talk terms with Budde, he had a ready-made ally in Mrs. Budde. The Texans this year signed three high draft choices—Junious Buchanan of Grambling, Budde, and Bobby Bell of Minnesota—almost immediately. Oddly, Hunt himself is the least successful signer though he offers the fattest contracts.