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Young, who was best man at Hudson's wedding, is only a shade over six feet and carries a well-muscled 198 pounds. He has curly black hair, a way with women and a certain Eastern swagger, as befits a kid from what he calls "the low-rent district of Greenwich, Conn."—if there is such a thing. He has a girl friend in California but says, "Put down that I'm free." O.K., he's free. Young has no marriage plans at this point, which bothers Hudson who thinks his buddy is much too cavalier about his female friends. Young chauffeurs his dates around in a beat-up '65 Oldsmobile with more than 200,000 miles on it, "not counting the times he's turned the odometer back," says Wide Receiver Mike Eddo.
Young was raised a Mormon, and he abides by the church's tenets on smoking and drinking, but he swears, though not obnoxiously. Unlike Hudson, he's an intense student. He almost graduated early, in seven semesters, despite a double major in finance and international relations. Last month the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame selected Young as one of its 11 Division I-A scholar-athletes for 1983. Law school lies somewhere in his future.
A more polite athlete than Young has yet to appear on the interview horizon, but he's by no means a vanilla personality. He's popular with the other players and has a quick wit, particularly when he's jousting with Hudson. No pair of teammates, in fact, has ever forged more achievement out of more bickering. Women, studies, sports, attitudes—you name it, they fight over it. "A nice conversation between us is an argument," says Young. When they roomed together as sophomores, they even fought over who would answer the phone. "We'd sit there yelling at each other until the damn thing stopped ringing," says Young.
In truth, though, the verbal gymnastics only mask their mutual affection. "We can get in a knockdown, drag-out argument and forget about it as soon as one of us convinces the other," says Hudson.
"Usually. I'm the one who lets myself be convinced." says Young. "He's a hundred times more stubborn than me. But he's right. We can forget about it. There's no tension between us at all afterward."
Which is fortunate, because much of BYU's success—the 8-1 Cougars are ranked No. 8 by SI and are steaming toward their eighth straight Western Athletic Conference title—has been carved out of off-the-field discussions between Young and Hudson. Hudson talks about feeling "connected" to Young during a game, almost as if "a line" existed between him and his quarterback. That feeling didn't just happen. "We do a lot of mental work together." says Hudson. "We'll go over what I should do if he scrambles a certain way. If I feel a guy will be on my inside, for example, I'll tell Steve that I'll do an inside pressure step, fake outside, then go back inside. Most everybody else would just stay outside. See, we don't do the usual thing."
Rarely does any BYU receiver "do the usual thing." Many of the patterns run by Hudson and wide receivers Kirk Pendleton (41 catches) and Eddo (21) are "option routes," that is, they have to read the defense before making their move. One basic pattern can be run three or four different ways, and Hudson, in particular, has become a master at making the right decision. "Gordie is unusual in his total knowledge of our offense," says Receiver Coach Norm Chow, who calls the plays on game days. "As a staff we are more than willing to listen to his suggestions."
The give-and-take on the Cougar practice field is unusual in college ball. During a recent workout, for example. Quarterback Coach Mike Holmgren asked Chow what pattern should be run against a certain type of man-to-man. "Comebacks," said Chow. "I think corners might work better," said Pendleton. "Make it corners then," said Chow. A few minutes later. Young and Hudson were working on a new quick route to the outside. Hudson caught the ball but told Young, "A little too fast. Slow it down just a count." They probably argued about it later, but Young slowed it down.
"The big difference with our offense is that so much is expected of the receivers here," says Young. "At other places they aren't called upon to make the decisions they have to make here. But I'll say this, too. If I don't know what I'm doing, we're beat. It's impossible for us to win if the quarterback has a real bad game. That's just a fact."
It is a fact. Just repeating one of Chow's pass plays in the huddle is an arduous mental exercise. A typical call: "Red, right, switch, zing, 62, z-comer, h-arrow and up." "Red" is BYU's basic formation, indicating two backs in a pro set. "Right" informs the tight end to line up on the right side. "Switch" tells the wide receivers their alignment. "Zing" is the motion call, in this case the flanker (the z man) going ("ing") toward the ball. (Had the call been "zack," the flanker would have gone in motion away from the ball, while "zorro," tells him to go away and then return.) "Sixty-two" is the basic play call, which gives all five eligible receivers their routes, but they can be changed, too. In this case "z," the flanker would run a corner, and "h," the halfback would run an arrow-and-up Get the picture?