Texas A&M's defensive stars say there's no way BYU will score 50 points on them in Saturday's Sea World Holiday Bowl.
They don't even think the Cougars can score 30."I don't see them scoring 50, 40 or even 30 points on us," said Aggie defensive back Kevin Smith. "I don't see them marching up and down the field on us.
"I think the game will be lower scoring than people think."
To hear Smith and linebacker William Thomas talk, the Aggies have a simple plan for stopping the high-scoring Cougar offense: Thomas will blitz Detmer from his outside position, causing the BYU quarterback to throw bad passes which will then be picked off by Smith. That is, when Thomas doesn't sack Detmer before he even gets a chance to throw.
Now, that's roughly what Penn State's defense said before last year's Holiday Bowl, and that unit left San Diego victorious but a little shell-shocked after Detmer passed for 576 yards against them.
It's also what every BYU opponent this season has said but found more difficult to do.
Smith and Thomas, the only unanimous picks on the Southwest Conference all-defensive team this season, are aware of what Detmer has done and suitably impressed. But they're not in awe.
"I respect Detmer, but I just don't see him as some superhuman dude," Thomas said. "He's a lot smaller than I pictured him. I figured he had to be 6-4 or 6-5 with those awesome numbers he put up."
"I'm not afraid to say that we won't sit back and let Detmer pick us apart," Smith said.
Smith noted that holding Detmer down isn't just a matter of Aggie pride: It's a matter of survival.
"We can't let this turn into a track meet," he said. "We can't score as fast as they can."As mentioned, Thomas' blitzes will be the first hurdle in the Aggie defense. A 6-3, 205-pounder, Thomas has 14 sacks, more than a third of the A&M total. And as might be expected, he'd like to add a Heisman Trophy winner to his list of quarterbacks sacked.
"I want to see how many times I can get Ty Detmer," Thomas said. "I'm No. 11, and I'll be coming from the outside. I'm the one who is going to be blitzing the whole time.
"I know there's going to be a lot of people watching Detmer in this game, and if I get to him a lot, then perople will be watching me."
Besides gaining him a measure of glory, Thomas hopes the blitzing will force Detmer into mistakes.
"If I can't get him, I want to make him throw the ball away," the linebacker said. "I do believe I can give him some problems."
The "problems" he's referring to are interceptions, something that has led to virtually the only criticisms of Detmer. In BYU's last two games, Detmer was picked off nine times. And while Hawaii's five interceptions can be explained away, nobody is mistaking Utah State's defense for Texas A&M's.
Smith, the top interceptor in A&M history (having this season passed former Oakland Raider Lester Hayes) with 18, is aware of Detmer's occasional tendency to gamble with a throw into coverage. He thinks Detmer's gambling instinct will play right into his hands - literally.
"A lot of quarterbacks have avoided me and thrown away from me this year," Smith said. "Ty Detmer won't. He's cocky and he's good. He'll throw to whoever he wants, wherever they are on the field. I like his style."
If it seems like Thomas and Smith are looking forward to playing Detmer, then you've got the picture. Both players feel Detmer's style of offense suits their style of defense perfectly, and they are eager to face the challenge.
"Ty Detmer and those guys can generate a lot of points, but we think we have a pretty good defense," THomas said. "In a sense, BYU has just the right type of offense for our defense."