With BYU's victory over Colorado State wrapped up shortly after the national anthem Saturday, something was needed to keep the fans (and media's) attention for the rest of the afternoon. Something besides seeing how many different speeds 65,000 fans can do the wave at Cougar Stadium.
The big question in the 52-9 yawner was whether Ty Detmer could add another NCAA record by reaching 300 yards total offense for the 13th straight game and extending his career total for 300-yard passing games to 18.Things looked bleak for Heisman Ty for awhile because the Cougars' effective running game was piling up the yards and because good field position for BYU after punts meant shorter scoring drives.
Early in the third quarter, Detmer, who was coming off a hand sprain that kept him out of practice last week, still hadn't passed the 200-yard mark and the score was already 38-7. How long could the BYU coaches keep him in?
After his next series, which ended in his third interception of the day, the Detmer total was up to 244 yards. When BYU took over with 4:45 left in the third quarter, Detmer had what appeared to be his final chance. With the ball at the Y. 38, he'd need to pass all the way down the field just to sneak over the 300-yard mark.
He nearly did, completing three passes for 47 yards to move to 291. But when Brian Mitchell intercepted a CSU pass and went 49 yards for a touchdown to make it 52-7, few figured Detmer would still be in the game. Backup Joe Evans was warming up on the sidelines.
"We had already made a decision to put Joe in and someone called down from the press box and said Ty needed nine more yards," said BYU Coach Lavell Edwards. It turns out that BYU athletic director Glen Tuckett was the one who informed the BYU coaches in the press box of Detmer's numbers.
So with a 52-7 lead and 14:53 left, Detmer trotted back onto the field to the cheers of the Cougar faithful, who were apparently aware of his need for a few extra yards.
"They told me I was nine yards away from something and I wasn't sure what," said Detmer, who never seems to bother about statistics. "They didn't tell me until after the game what it was for. I could have ended up with only 200 yards today if it hadn't been for a couple of big plays."
On the other hand, he could have had 400 yards if his receivers hadn't dropped several passes.
Anyway, Detmer completed a 10-yard pass to Byron Rex to apparently get the mark, but it was called back because of holding. However, Detmer came back with a 25-yard pass to Eric Drage and then left the game for good with his string intact.
Three weeks ago Edwards had been questioned about leaving Detmer in the San Diego State too long and he responded by saying that he never leaves a player in to pile up yards after he feels the game has been won. This time it wasn't to pile up yards, but to keep a streak alive, he said.
"It had nothing to do with the Heisman," said Edwards." Five or six extra yards won't make one iota of difference with that. It's just that he has a unique thing going for him with the streak (of 300-yard games)."
Actually Edwards might have been thinking about the San Diego State game of last year when he was criticized for not giving Detmer the chance to break a record - Jim McMahon's single-season passing yardage record. The Cougars kept the ball on the ground at the end of that game and Detmer came up 11 yards short of the 4,571-yard mark (which was later broken by Andre Ware, anyway).
Edwards said he wouldn't have put Detmer back in the game Saturday if he had been 30 or 40 yards short, but figured one short pass would be all right. Although a few eyebrows were raised when Detmer came back in, it didn't cause any consternation among the visiting media or CSU Coach Earle Bruce.
Detmer's 316 passing yards turned out to be his lowest total since becoming a starter. But who's looking at numbers anyway? Not Detmer.
"All we're trying to do is win," he said.