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Peete's Play Not the Only Thing That Stopped UCLA

November 28, 1987

How to account for the Bruins' sorry Saturday?

First, let it be said that Rodney Peete was magnificent. Put an S on his chest, mark him down as the favorite for next year's Heisman Trophy. He looked like Joe Montana in the Cotton Bowl. He crushed Troy Aikman.

Despite his talents as a tackler, Rodney doesn't play defense. So what stopped the Bruin offense?

Did UCLA look just a tad slower last Saturday? Something like figures moving underwater, men stepping on eggs? Did their offense look tentative, hesitant, mechanical? Did you get the feeling, as the drama unfolded, that one team was confidently letting it all hang out, having fun, while the other was just slowly waiting to see how the ax would fall?

There are all kinds of words to describe it: Tight, tense, off day, flat are some of the nicer ones. The more malicious would use choke or no heart. The old psychologizer, Terry Donahue, said: "You get to the point where you're trying so hard that you're fighting yourself." You choose your words according to your style, but we all understand.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter: Personal style.

Larry Smith is obviously the right man for the job. He is in the USC tradition. Smashmouth, decleaters and the myth that Trojans are tougher and will somehow find a way to whip you. It's ferociously simple, almost primal, but historically effective.

Terry Donahue, on the other hand--all together now, kids--worries. Unlike your average poor-mouther, Terry really believes what he says. And in certain games, when the chemistry is just right, his teams demonstrate it. He doesn't have Ted Tollner to kick around anymore, so he's got to learn to stop worrying and love the game. Just play, baby! Winning will take care of itself.


West Hollywood

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