The first time Ty Detmer entered a game this year for Brigham Young University, he had to. Starter Sean Covey was out with a concussion. Detmer and the Cougars sputtered and lost to Wyoming.
Saturday at Cougar Stadium, the redshirt freshman from San Antonio was inserted again, late in the third quarter. It wasn't because of injury this time but because BYU wasn't moving the ball. His mission was to rescue the offense.The Cougars were trailing UTEP 27-17 in a critical WAC encounter. Another conference loss would make them 0-2 and virtually eliminate any chance of a WAC title and the accompanying trip to San Diego in December for the Holiday Bowl.
Detmer and his teammates rallied to remain in contention for the conference crown, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns to top the Miners, 31-27.
For awhile it looked like a repeat of Sept. 1 in Laramie. On Detmer's first play he was sacked for a five-yard loss. And then Jeff Frandsen dropped a first-down pass at the UTEP 30-yard line.
Did that bother him? "It did. I started thinking back to that game."
But whereas against Wyoming he never recovered, he did so nicely against the Miners.
"I felt really comfortable this time."
Detmer got the Cougars close with an early fourth-quarter drive set up by a nice punt return by Rodney Rice to the UTEP 27-yard line. The key plays in the drive were passes of nine and 11 yards to Chuck Cutler. Mike O'Brien dived in from the 1 to make it 27-24 for UTEP with 10:44 to play.
The winning drive started at the UTEP 49 and was the result of Troy Long's pass interception. Detmer completed three third-down passes in the drive, including a third and 15 situation at the UTEP 27. He found Matt Bellini cutting across the field to the right sideline for a 16-yard gain.
Two plays later came the touchdown on third and nine at the 10. Freddie Whittingham circled out of the backfield and when the linebackers failed to pursue him, he was open at the back of the end zone.
Detmer found him. And victory.
"I really needed that one. It was a big one," Detmer said of the game and his performance. He finished with eight completions in 14 attempts for 82 yards, the touchdown pass to Whittingham and no interceptions.
Coach LaVell Edwards indicated after the game that Covey will start the next game Sept. 30 against Utah State.
"I have a lot of confidence . . . in both Ty and Sean. I don't see any change in our quarterback alignment."
When asked if he was comfortable with the quarterback situation, serving as a backup to Covey, Detmer said, "I am. I've played in the last three games. I'm getting a lot of experience."
Covey said he understood why the change was made. "I wasn't getting things done. Ty came in and did a good job."
Of his two interceptions, the first of which was returned for a touchdown that helped UTEP on a 24-0 scoring run, Covey said he didn't make the proper reads.
The important thing, he said, was the outcome of the game.
"It would have been an absolute tragedy to lose this game."