October 2, 1997 in Sports

Two Ducks Guide The Flock

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Clete Casper and Ricky Turner pulled it off at Washington State in 1981, codirecting the Cougars to an 8-2-1 season.

Some 10 years later, Brad Otton and Kyle Wacholtz were able to do it at USC, leading the Trojans to the Rose Bowl.

This season, Oscar Davenport and Chris Keldorf have also successfully split time at quarterback, leading North Carolina into the national-title picture.

Oregon’s Akili Smith and Jason Maas are enjoying more modest success, having guided the Ducks to a 3-0 start before last week’s 58-49 loss at Stanford.

How the junior QBs fare in Saturday’s Pacific-10 Conference game against 15th-ranked Washington State might go a long way in determining each man’s immediate football future in Eugene.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Maas has separated himself statistically over the last two weeks, but the Ducks have been reluctant to give up on one of their highest-profile recruits.

Smith, 6-3 and 226, was an All-American last season at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif. It was assumed he would step right in as the next great Oregon quarterback. But when Smith failed to beat out Maas last spring, the Ducks entered fall camp in somewhat of a quandary.

Oregon’s ability to win with both quarterbacks has kept tensions from boiling over.

Oregon coach Mike Bellotti has been hesitant to rule out either quarterback. Against Stanford, he went so far as to substitute in mid-series, a tactic that seemed more disruptive to the Cardinals than to the Ducks.

“Certainly, we have taken it to the extreme, more so than I would have thought,” Bellotti said this week. “But we felt we needed to do that to maximize each player’s contribution and utilize their strength.”

Maas has proven to be a better passer, having thrown for five touchdowns last week. Smith has a stronger arm - the 22-year-old junior was once an outfielder in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization - but his passes sometimes lack touch.

“Smith is a better scrambler, but I’ve seen them both run the option,” WSU defensive coordinator Bill Doba said. “I see the same plays run with either quarterback.”

Like Bellotti, Doba believes the quarterback dilemma is overrated.

The stats bear them out, to a degree. Through four games, Maas and Smith have combined to throw for 13 touchdowns and five interceptions - the same totals for WSU starter Ryan Leaf.

At Arizona, no such dilemma

While Oregon may have one too many quarterbacks, Arizona is running out.

Starter Keith Smith is expected to miss Saturday’s game against San Diego State after suffering a shoulder injury in last week’s 40-27 loss at UCLA. Ex-starter Brady Batten, who lost out to Smith last season, is injured.

That leaves freshman Ortege Jenkins as Arizona’s new starter.

What’s in a name?

When WSU coach Mike Price was introduced in a Pac-10 conference call this week, he followed Arizona’s Dick Tomey … and was welcomed onto the call by the moderator as “Dick … er, Mike.”

Price didn’t miss a beat: “I’ve been called that, too.”

UCLA tightens up defense

Since UCLA gave up 31 points in the first half of its season-opening loss to WSU, the Bruins have played much better defense.

“Opening the season, we tried to disguise our coverages and we ended up being out of position,” UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. “In the second half and on into the season, we’re lining up a little bit more in what we’re really going to do, so that we’re really able to execute the fundamentals of defensive-back play.”

Healthy Huard expected to start

Washington quarterback Brock Huard, who missed most of the Nebraska game two weeks ago after turning an ankle, returned to practice this week and is expected to start against Arizona State.

In other UW news, coach Jim Lambright threw the kicking job into competition after sophomore Randy Jones missed a 33-yard field goal against Nebraska to fall to 2 for 6 on the season.

Nick Lentz, a non-scholarship freshman from Tacoma, is the front-runner.

Around the conference

When Cal visits Louisiana Tech this week, the Bears will be facing more than the nation’s No. 1 passing offense. The Bulldogs also possess college football’s largest player. Offensive lineman Chris Crudup stands 6-10 and weighs 390 pounds… . Exact figures may not be tabulated for some time, but WSU estimates it sold up to 12,000 tickets as part of its $5 promotion for last week’s Boise State game. Attendance was 34,131, up from 26,000 for the opener against UCLA… . Sports Illustrated’s story on WSU linemen Jason McEndoo and Ryan McShane will be included in the Oct. 6 edition.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: DUCK QB COMPARISON Jason Maas Att./Comp. 59-95 Pct. 62.1% Yards 760 Touchdowns 9 Interceptions 4

Akili Smith Att./Comp. 23-41 Pct. 56.1 Yards 230 Touchdowns 4 Interceptions 1

This sidebar appeared with the story: DUCK QB COMPARISON Jason Maas Att./Comp. 59-95 Pct. 62.1% Yards 760 Touchdowns 9 Interceptions 4

Akili Smith Att./Comp. 23-41 Pct. 56.1 Yards 230 Touchdowns 4 Interceptions 1


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