When there's a Heisman Trophy candidate around, picking the Deseret News Athlete of the Month is easy.
Not that BYU quarterback Ty Detmer wouldn't be worthy of the honor even if he weren't a Heisman contender. The junior had a superb September, leading his team to a 4-1 record and a lofty ranking in the polls.Already the holder of 12 NCAA records, Detmer has moved closer to more passing honors. He has thrown for 300 yards 17 games in a row, an NCAA record, and has completed at least one TD pass in 16-straight games. He has passed for 8,009 career yards and needs just 392 to move ahead of Robbie Bosco and into second place on the Cougar career passing list.
If he throws for his average of 439 yards against Colorado State on Saturday, Detmer will break Andre Ware's NCAA record of 1,820 yards in four games.
And all this from a young man who looks about as much like a big-time quarterback as Cher looks like a nun. BYU Coach LaVell Edwards, asked by one writer for his first impression of Detmer, said: "I was expecting John Elway, and I got Pee Wee Herman." To the L.A. Times Edwards said: "His (Detmer's) Adam's apple was as big as his head and he looked like he was 14 years old."
At times, as he has led the Heisman Trophy race and broken records and gotten more media attention than Madonna, it seems that Detmer is aware of how unlikely a hero he appears. He's 22 but looks 18, and he weighs an unfootball-like 175 pounds. A genuinely unassuming guy, he reportedly told one writer that he was somewhat uncomfortable about all the Heisman talk because he isn't convinced he's that good.
But while he may not be convinced, the rest of the college football world is. As an example, here's a recap of what he did last month:
- Sept. 1: BYU plays a typically shaky season-opener against UTEP but prevails, 30-10. Detmer completes 72 percent of his passes (33 of 46) for 387 yards and scores two touchdowns rushing and one passing.
- Sept. 8: Detmer's 70-percent passing for 406 yards and three touchdowns leads BYU to a major upset of then No. 1-ranked Miami. Time after time, as it appears the Miami defense is on the verge of stopping BYU, it's Detmer who shakes a tackler or completes an off-balance pass to keep drives going. Afterward, some skeptics suggest that Miami isn't that good. Look what the Hurricanes have done since.
- Sept. 15: In an almost-expected post-Miami letdown, BYU falls behind to Washington State 29-7 at halftime. At the start of the fourth quarter, it's 29-14. Detmer throws three touchdown passes in the quarter while leading the offense to touchdowns on five straight possessions. In that final quarter, Detmer completes 11 of 16 passes for 192 yards - the kind of numbers that some Heisman-candidate QBs have posted for an entire game.
- Sept. 22: Detmer is near-perfect, blistering San Diego State for 514 yards and three touchdowns on 68-percent passing, with no interceptions.
- Sept. 29: Detmer's one "bad" game, in which he threw five interceptions against Oregon while racking up 442 yards on 33-of-57 passing. There were some extenuating circumstances, but those have been discussed before, and it would cheapen his other accomplishments to start making excuses for this defeat.
Let this suffice: Detmer's the real thing. His play didn't deserve Deseret News Athlete of the Month honors, it demanded it.