The play that put Utah in next Thursday's Freedom Bowl was an improbable kick at an improbable place by a kicker needing redemption, and called by a coach under the duress of unsolicited advice.
Situation: On Nov. 20, Utah was stalled inside the 40, facing fourth and long at Brigham Young, where the Utes hadn't won in 22 years.The score was 31-31 and 25 seconds remained. It was very cold, with a strong crosswind.
Utah Coach Ron McBride was undecided between a long pass and a 55-yard field-goal try by Chris Yergensen.
But standing behind McBride was Greg Hoffman, a tight end and self-appointed adviser to the coaching staff.
"Coach, let him kick it," Hoffman said. "He kicks 'em in practice all the time!"
In went Yergensen, who had missed two much shorter attempts earlier in the game. The kick cleared the crossbar dead-center, by five to eight yards.
Result: Utah finished 7-5 and wound up playing USC, also 7-5, at Anaheim Stadium.
USC Coach John Robinson, on quarterback Rob Johnson's disappointment at throwing the interception that enabled UCLA to beat USC, 27-21:
"Someone asked me if I felt sorry for Rob, and I said no. He'll play another 12 years, and that will happen again to him. But he'll also throw a lot of passes that win games. He had a great year this season--his interception rate was phenomenal (five in 405 passes). And he can improve upon that, have an even greater year next year and be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy."