“Think about that. We are leading the nation in every offensive category with Gifford as quarterback and this is a great offensive coordinator and I’m a nobody going into this game. He was willing to throw out everything we had been doing and design a set of plays for a nobody, a backup quarterback who hadn’t done anything and was going to play his first game.”
Wilson was a little stunned, but also gained some comfort knowing he didn’t have to repeat what Nielsen had been doing at the rate and precision he’d been doing it.
“That was Doug Scovil and that’s why Scovil was great with Roger Staubach, Gifford and me, Jim McMahon and everybody because Doug was willing to do that.”
Wilson said going into that game, CSU didn’t expect BYU to roll out in a million years, and was totally unprepared. He admits that had to be part of his success that day.
The Ram defense featured Al “Bubba” Baker, Mike Bell and a linebacker that were all drafted. “Their defensive ends were both first-round picks and that linebacker was a third-round pick,” said Wilson.
Wilson said CSU was probably looking forward to playing against Nielsen and probably didn’t practice like they would have if Nielsen had been there. They didn’t expect to have any problem with the backup nobody.
“For them, it was a whole different deal. We did some things they never expected and it was kind of an avalanche.”
That day Wilson completed 15 of 25 passes for 332 yards. He was named Sports Illustrated’s Offensive Player of the week. He threw seven TD passes. He was on fire. The Rams were cross-eyed as mice in a cheese factory from start to finish and the Cougars walked out of Hughes Stadium with a 63-17 victory.
To this day, Wilson credits Scovil more than his own skill and acumen for that day in Colorado and for the fame and fortune that came his way. Wilson ended his BYU career a consensus All-American, third in the Heisman Trophy voting, winner of the Sammy Baugh Trophy, first in the NCAA in total offense and set 19 NCAA records en route to being 1979 Senior Bowl MVP and the first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders.
Credit the guy in the safari helmet?
He should. The BYU quarterbacks he coached passed for more than 15,500 yards and all became All-Americans and NFL starters.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at email@example.com.
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