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College Football Week 1 | In The Spotlight

Tee Time in Tennessee Could Be Fine

September 06, 1998

Tee Martin did some things Peyton Manning never would've done--like fumbling carelessly in the fourth quarter, or missing on 17 of his 26 pass attempts on the day.

And Tee Martin did some things Peyton Manning couldn't have done--like dance through the Syracuse defense for a crucial 51-yard gain and drag the Volunteers to a 34-33 victory in the first Tennessee game of the post-Peyton era.

Compared to Manning's glorious efficiency, Martin was predictably a little sloppy and sketchy, but he was always interesting.

All in all, not a bad way for the quarterback who played Manning's understudy the past two seasons to debut as the No. 1 man.

"I think he stepped out of the shadows of Peyton Manning," said wide receiver Peerless Price, who caught scoring passes of 12 and eight yards from Martin. "He put a lot of questions about his talents and skills away."

On his first play from scrimmage, Martin fired a 30-yard pass toward Price, but it fell incomplete.

The fumble was Martin's only turnover.

His confidence spilled over into the final possession of the game, when he drove Tennessee into position for Jeff Hall's game-winning 27-yard field goal with time expiring.

"I never was over-excited coming into the game," Martin said. "After the first snap I was fine."

RICKY WILLIAMS: 456 YARDS, 8 TDS

Ricky Williams was not cloned. He was not split in two.

But Ricky Williams had a really good game. And so did Ricky Williams.

Which is only confusing if you didn't know that there are two Ricky Williamses, both running the ball for Texas schools and evidently both quite talented at it.

Ricky No. 1 is the very famous senior Heisman Trophy candidate running back for Texas, who gained 215 yards in 36 carries and scored a school-record six touchdowns in a 66-36 victory over New Mexico State.

Ricky No. 2 is the not-so-famous sophomore back for Texas Tech, who gained 251 yards and scored two touchdowns in Tech's 35-3 victory over Texas El Paso.

"People know we are going to run the ball, and we are going to run it down their throat," Texas' Ricky Williams said. "It's a good start for the Heisman race."

But which Ricky W. will win it?

REMEMBERING THE ROUT

Not that they needed it, but the Longhorns' 66-point effort stirred memories for everybody in Austin, Texas.

Last season, UCLA crushed Texas, 66-10, in the Longhorns' worst-ever home loss. Next week, UCLA opens its season by hosting, of course, Texas.

"I'm sure UCLA saw a lot of things that they feel like they can expose with our defense," said Texas Coach Mack Brown, whose defense gave up 483 yards to New Mexico State.

SOONER HAS OPTION, WON'T REMAIN SILENT

No surprise that the option was back at Oklahoma, but the guy who ended up running it for the Sooners was a bit of a shocker.

Patrick Fletcher, a sophomore walk-on, replaced Brandon Daniels after Daniels hurt his shoulder, and Fletcher scored twice and threw a 34-yard touchdown pass in the Sooners' 37-9 victory over North Texas.

"I was more nervous last night at the hotel," said Fletcher, whose father, Ron, played for the Sooners in the 1960s. "When I got on that field, I was just so excited and hoping I was going to play.

"When I went out there, I just wanted to play like I practice, which was full speed."

Fletcher had been disparaged as "no Joe Namath" by new Sooner defensive coordinator Rex Ryan after leading the offense to a big day in a spring scrimmage. But against North Texas, he was five-of-five passing for 84 yards and added 37 yards rushing. Daniels, meanwhile, whose talents caused Oklahoma to go back to the option attack, did not complete his only pass and netted minus-13 yards on the ground.

GOING, GOING, GONE: COUCH GOES DEEP FOR 56!

No, it's not for the home run record. But Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch went deep a few times himself in the Wildcats' victory over Louisville, throwing for 498 yards and seven touchdown passes against the bedazzled Cardinals' secondary.

Couch, whose deepest touchdown toss went for 56 yards, finished ninth in last year's Heisman Trophy voting and threw for a national-best 3,884 yards, and here's a hint: He'll probably do a lot better this season in both categories.

"Tim, I think, has gotten better at throwing the deep ball and his checks at the line are better," Kentucky Coach Hal Mumme said. "His overall knowledge of the game is better."

A SON'S LOSS

Rosa Lee Adams, mother of Clemson running back Dymon Adams, collapsed Saturday in Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C., while watching her son play his first game and died of cardiac arrest.

Adams, 57, of Fletcher, N.C., collapsed in a restroom during halftime of Clemson's 33-0 victory over Furman. She was taken to Oconee Memorial Hospital in Seneca, where she was pronounced dead.

Adams, a reserve who had not played yet, was told about his mother's condition by coaches during the game and rushed out in the third quarter.

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