BYU's most prolific season made another head-on assault on the record book here Saturday. Did the Cougars set any more records in their 45-10 win over Utah State? Have you got an hour? Do the bookbinders have an hour?
They're doing a regular Florence Griffith-Joyner in Provo this season, led by quarterback Ty Detmer, who picked up another three NCAA records Saturday, giving him 25 for the season, and counting. Detmer is in the passing lane. Every time he cocks his arm some great QB name of the past ducks.Saturday he moved past Doug Flutie and Kevin Sweeney into second place on the all-time NCAA career passing leadership list. His 560 yards against the Aggies brings his career total to 10,681 yards - in back of only Todd Santos, who played at San Diego State. Since Santos' total of 11,425 is 744 yards in front of Detmer, it's unlikely he'll catch him this season. But he'll have all next year.
Detmer also passed Andre Ware yesterday. Ware threw for 4,699 yards a year ago at Houston to set an NCAA single-season record. Detmer's 1990 season now stands at 4,869 yards, with the Hawaii defensive backfield still to go.
All kinds of other BYU players are setting records of some kind or another, or climbing onto career lists. Derwin Gray had another interception Saturday, giving him six for the season - within one of tying for fourth on the all-time school list. Andy Boyce caught seven passes, giving him 72 for the season - No. 3 on the all-time school list and within five of No. 2. Too, with 1,135 yards, he is within 46 yards of Jay Miller's school record 1,181-yard season in 1973.
Matt Bellini, who sat out yesterday with an injury, is already the most prolific career pass-catcher in BYU history. Tight end Chris Smith is No. 3 on that all-time list. Linebacker Alema Fitisemanu, with 11 sacks, is fifth on the all-time sack list, still with a game to play.
With all these numbers, the natural question is just how good is this BYU team? How does it compare, for instance, with the 1984 BYU team that went undefeated and set the ultimate record - by winning the national championship? Fitisemanu is a good person to ask that question, since he also played on that 1984 team. He is the only living letterman from that championship season still in uniform for the Cougars. Two other members ofthe current team, Boyce and reserve wide receiver Kirk Holle, were with the Cougars in '84, but played for the junior varsity only.
Fitisemanu played for the varsity. He didn't play much. A first-year recruit fresh from Western Samoa, he played behind Leon White and Kurt Gouveia, a pair of linebackers who have gone on to successful NFL carers (White at Cincinnati and Gouveia at Washington).
But he played, and he remembers that 13-0 team well.
So who would win if you took Robbie Bosco and the 1984 team and put it on the field against Ty Detmer and the 1990 team?
"Well," said Fitisemanu, addressing that question in the locker room after yesterday's win, "As far as consistency goes, this team probably does that better than anyone. And as far as talent goes, I'd say our skill positions overall might be a little better this year. But the thing I've noticed is that both teams have the same unity and work ethic. And that team in '84, no one was going to come between us and our goals."
So does that mean 1984 was better?
"That's really not a fair question," he went on. "Times have changed in six years. Offenses have gone more high-power; defenses have changed to try to answer that. I know this, Robbie was the best of his era, and Detmer is the best of his."
What Fitisemanu does know is that one big similarity between 1984 and 1990 is the fact that both teams have been marked teams in November.
"Everybody knows who they're playing," he said. "And they play out of their minds. It doesn't get easier."
Nonetheless, he sees an advantage going to Honolulu this week, to meet a Rainbow Warrior team that beat BYU 56-14 last season.
"We've been playing them one game at a time all season long," he said. "Now we don't have to any more. Now we can let loose."
If BYU hasn't let loose yet, the scary part may be still to come. Maybe Santos isn't safe until 1991. It ain't over till the charter flight returns from Honolulu. Until then, the only sure thing is that the record book should be kept in pencil.