Road to 1991 Perfection: Tormey Remembers Head-Hunting Bowl Practice

The great Steve Emtman saw something he didn't like at a postseason practice and let his feelings known. Message received.
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Bowl games can be hard to navigate mentally for some players. 

They want to win the big postseason outing, sure, but these guys get invited to all-you-can-eat dinners, amusement parks of the highest order and all kinds of outside activities.

If they're in a New Year's Day bowl, such as the Rose, Orange or Sugar, these postseason games are held in warm-weather climates, making it problematic not to feel like it's a well-deserved vacation.

One way to take everything serious on these sojourns is show up with a guy named Steve Emtman on your roster.

In 1991, before he got sick with the flu and shook it off to play in the Rose Bowl and demoralize Michigan, Emtman kept everyone on their toes at practice in the bright sunshine of Southern California.

Ask D'Marco Farr about that.

The Huskies were practicing a line stunt, which required the defensive end to come inside and Farr, a back-up defensive tackle to Emtman, to loop outside and make the play.

On one such play, Farr gave up on it and didn't finish. Emtman saw this 

"Steve Emtman comes running on the field and he clotheslines D'Marco," former linebacker coach Chris Tormey recalled. "He says if you ever do that again I'm going to ..." finishing the sentence with a bunch of expletives.

This is another in series of vignettes about the UW's 1991 national championship team, supplementing the conversation for the pandemic delayed and shortened season. We're dealing with game 12 of this throwback series, the Rose Bowl against Michigan and the preparation for it.

Emtman was a beauty. He was always a man on a mission, and expected no less from his teammates. He was determined to keep the intensity up. 

Not only did he demand everyone's best in bowl preparation, he did it way back in spring practice. More than once in April, Emtman came off the field at Husky Stadium, slammed a metal equipment container and screamed for his No. 1 defense to surround him while he laid out the expectations. This would happen whenever the top offense was able move down the field against the All-American defensive tackle and company on a prolonged drive.

In California with a national title on the line, Emtman was even more driven as Farr found out, with the other guy lucky he didn't get decapitated.

"That was a moment of leadership from Steve that kind of set the tone for our football team and that game," Tormey said.

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