Is a 21-point lead with five-plus minutes left a safe lead?
BYU Coach LaVell Edwards doesn't think so.In that situation last week against San Diego State, Edwards left quarterback Ty Detmer in the game instead of assuming it was over and sending in backup QB Joe Evans. Up in the pressbox, out-of-town writers were moaning and groaning about BYU running up the score and trying to make Detmer's stats look better (as if he needed that one last drive, during which he passed twice for 28 total yards, to make it a big day).
Told at the Big Five Huddle meeting this week that there had been some criticism of that non-move, Edwards seemed irritated.
"As soon as we feel that we have a game won, we pull a guy out," the coach said. "What somebody else's perceptions are, that's their business."
Edwards may feel less secure with a 21-point lead than a lot of coaches precisely because he's been on the successful end of so many big comebacks. Or maybe because the Aztecs scored 24 points in nine-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter.
Edwards did say after Saturday's game that he didn't feel secure until BYU scored on that last Detmer-led drive.
DETMERMANIA: BYU's quarterback may be the only player in the country who has to hold a weekly press conference by phone for the national media. Each Wednesday he answers questions from reporters who meet with him via conference call, seeking his utterances on such topics as how BYU will perform against that week's opponent, how he is handling the pressure of being the Heisman Trophy front-runner, and how the U.S. can resolve the Mideast crisis. Well, almost.
This week a special guest sat at Detmer's side during the phone conference - none other than Brent Musburger, looking casually dapper in a blue ensemble topped by a Cougar-blue sweater. The one-time king of TV sports dropped in from his ranch in Montana to meet with the reigning king of college football, before he takes the lead in the ABC broadcast of Saturday's BYU-Oregon game.
It was Musburger who first alerted many TV viewers to Detmer. Before the BYU-Air Force game last year, the broadcaster called the Cougar QB "the best-kept secret in America."
MORE DETMER: Here's a remarkable statistic: If he continues at his current pace, Detmer will pass for 5,265 yards this season. That would completely obliterate the NCAA Div. I record of 4,699 set by Andre Ware of Houston last season. It would also give him 11,077 yards for his BYU career, wiping out Jim McMahon's Y. record of 9,536 yards. And it would leave him just 348 yards shy of the NCAA career record, held by San Diego State's Todd Santos. And with his senior season still to play.
Detmer is in fifth place on the all-time BYU passing list. He needs just 71 yards to pass Marc Wilson and 167 to pass Steve Young. He's 833 yards behind Robbie Bosco.
DEFENSIVE DATA: Linebacker Alema Fitisemanu continues to lead the Cougars in defensive scoring, with 82 points. The next closest is Brian Mitchell with a relatively distant 68. Mitchell is easily the leader in unassisted tackles, with 24. That's twice as many as the next-closest player. Fitisemanu is the leader in sacks, with four; tackle Rich Kaufusi leads in quarterback hurries, with nine; cornerback Tony Crutchfield is tops in passes defensed, with six.
BYU is third in the WAC in rushing defense, fourth in pass-efficiency defense and seventh in scoring defense, but only eighth in total defense. San Diego State is last in total defense.
SHORT STUFF: BYU's average score against its four opponents this season has been 42-25. In the first halves of games, the Cougs are getting outscored by an average of 19-18. It's fourth quarters where BYU takes over, pounding foes by an average of 24-6.
Matt Bellini needs just four more catches to become the Cougars' No. 1 all-time receiver. He's also in fifth place on the WAC all-time list, and with eight more catches will move into second place. Forget about first place. It's owned by New Mexico's Terance Mathis, who finished his career with 283 catches.