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ANOTHER MARVELOUS MARVIN
SI's Austin Murphy reports on last Friday's Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.:
The appellation Kickoff Classic proved to be a double misnomer. Southern Cal's sloppy 34-16 win over Syracuse didn't kick off the college football season—Tennessee and Colorado had played to a 31-31 tie five days earlier—and with its 10 dropped passes, seven fumbles and several imbecilic penalties, the game hardly ranked as a classic.
What shining moments it did have were provided by two young quarterbacks. As if to muzzle critics of his work ethic and desire, Todd Marinovich, USC's lefty signal caller (SI, Sept. 3), picked apart the Orangemen's highly regarded secondary like a tweezers-equipped bio major going after a laboratory frog. Marinovich, a sophomore, looked so good completing 25 of 35 passes for 337 yards that after the game he found himself having to assure reporters that he would not be entering next spring's NFL draft.
As hot as Marinovich was, posterity is more likely to recall Friday night as the coming out of Syracuse's Marvin Graves, a redshirt freshman who spent last fall quarterbacking the scout team. When projected starter Bill Scharr quit football last spring, the 6'1", 180-pound Graves moved up to second string, behind Mark McDonald. When McDonald suffered a thigh bruise three weeks ago, Graves took over the offense.
Graves, whose smarts, running ability and arm strength remind some of former Syracuse standout Don Mcpherson, picked up the Orangemen's complex offense "faster than any quarterback we've had," according to coach Dick MacPherson. Even after McDonald returned, MacPherson couldn't resist naming Graves as his starter.
Against USC, Graves completed 15 of 30 passes (five of the incompletions were balls dropped by his receivers) and rushed for a team-high 59 yards. "I kept looking at him, waiting for some sign of fear," said Trojan inside linebacker Scott Ross. "When I saw that, I was going to start talking to him, giving him a hard time. But he maintained his poise the whole game."
Perhaps the nicest compliment came from Marinovich, who asked simply, "Are they sure he's just a freshman?"