TUNE IN TOMORROW
Don't trust anybody who claims to know what's going on at Arkansas or what might happen next in this, the Razor-backs' soap opera season. How can you figure a team that loses to The Citadel in Fayetteville but beats Tennessee in Knoxville? Does Arkansas's 25-24 upset of the Vols mean that interim coach Joe Kines, who replaced the deposed Jack Crowe a day after the season-opening Citadel debacle, will be back next season? Or is former Clemson coach Danny Ford, whom Kines brought in as an assistant three weeks ago, going to replace him? Or is Ford positioning himself to step in at another school—like, say, South Carolina?
Whatever, Kines and Ford are doing something right. Since Ford began working with the Arkansas special teams, Razorback punter Pete Raether has gone from having one punt per game blocked to having none snuffed and has raised his average from 41.0 before Ford's arrival to 51.1 afterward. And the decision to shake up the punchless Razorback offense by starting true freshman Barry Lunney at quarterback against Tennessee was inspired. Although the Vols sacked him six times and intercepted him once, Lunney completed 13 of 19 passes for 168 yards and never lost his poise. Late in the fourth quarter, with Arkansas trailing 24-22, Lunney faced a third-and-16 on the Razorback 42. He called an audible and found Tracy Caldwell with a 22-yard pass for a first down.
After moving to the Tennessee 24, Arkansas let the clock run down to :06 before calling a timeout so senior placekicker Todd Wright could line up to try the first game-winning kick of his career. Wright, who had already made field goals of 31, 48, and 46 yards in the game, kept this 41-yarder just inside the right upright. Said Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, "We are raised from the dead!"
While Tennessee must beat Alabama this week to keep alive its hopes for a spot in the SEC's postseason playoff, the 2-4 Razorbacks are on the road to...where? Maybe a winning season? Maybe a bright future under Kines? "We've got to keep winning for Coach Kines," said senior defensive lineman Owen Kelly. "I want to sit in the stands next year and watch him coach the next team of Razorbacks."
The players from Prairie View A&M and West Texas State had to be looking forward to this one. Both sides figured last Saturday's game at West Texas might be their only chance for a victory this year. Prairie View, which produced NFL greats Ken Houston and Otis Taylor, dropped football after the 1989 season and since resuming it in '91 as a nonscholarship sport has been 0-16. West Texas, the alma mater of former NFL stars Mercury Morris and Duane Thomas, didn't field a team last season, but upon reviving football this fall, also on a nonscholarship basis, continued a losing streak that had reached nine going into the Prairie View game.
Well, West Texas was the one to end its streak, winning 21-15. The game's biggest play was a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Duane Joubert, who had transferred to West Texas from, oh dear, Prairie View. "It's very disappointing to lose this one," said Panther coach Ron Beard. "It was realistically our only chance to win this season."
When Clemson got off to an 0-2 start in the ACC, a local television reporter said that coach Ken Hatfield's option offense was so conservative and predictable that the Tigers couldn't possibly come from behind to win a game. Uh, no. Trailing Virginia 28-0 with 3:54 left in the first half in Charlottesville, Clemson roared back for a 29-28 victory—the greatest comeback in Tiger history.
Clemson players attributed the turnaround to pride, saying they had too much of it to go 0-3 in a league they're accustomed to dominating. Hatfield, one of the more devout coaches in the land, gave credit elsewhere. "The Lord's still in the miracle business," he said.
Meanwhile, Virginia coach George Welsh said, "I can't account for it, but things like that happen in football." They especially happen to teams that play soft after getting way ahead, that lose their best runner (Terry Kirby) to an injury in the fourth quarter and that allow an opposing quarterback (Louis Solomon) to wring one big play after another out of the option: a 64-yard TD run by Solomon, a 53-yard TD run by Rodney Blunt and a 27-yard TD run by Rudy Harris. Those scores helped narrow Virginia's advantage to 28-26 and set up Nelson Welch's game-winning field goal, a 32-yarder with 55 seconds remaining.
Afterward, proving that even the most pious coach isn't above some wicked gloating, Hatfield eyed the reporter who had criticized him and said, "Option teams aren't supposed to come back like that, isn't that right?"
In winning five straight games after an opening loss, Gardner-Webb, an NAIA school in Boiling Springs, N.C., has run up scores of 56-0, 57-6, 65-16, 69-33 and 52-17. Quarterback John Craven, who pulls the trigger on the Bulldogs' run-and-shoot, has already thrown for 1,780 yards and 19 TDs with five games remaining....
Nobody would blame Oregon quarterback Danny O'Neil if he sued his offensive line for nonsupport. In the Ducks' 32-10 loss to Southern Cal, O'Neil was sacked 13 times....
In defending the Big Ten's embarrassing record against nonconference opponents, Minnesota coach Jim Wacker said, "Maybe we should play more games with Susquehanna U." Susquehanna athletic director Don Harnum accepted Wacker's challenge: "A game between the Gophers and the Crusaders should settle the issue of how competitive the Big Ten really is." Susquehanna is 5-0 and ranked No. 3 in Division III. Minnesota is 1-4, 0-3 in nonconference play....
Washington State has a 5-0 record, the nation's leading offense and a marvelous passer in junior Drew Bledsoe. "The feeling on our team is, and it may not be nice to say, the preseason is over," said Bledsoe after the Cougars routed Oregon State 35-10 last week. They play UCLA, Southern Cal, Stanford and Washington in the next six weeks....
Denison coach Keith Piper celebrated his 71st birthday with his 200th win at the school, a 29-24 victory over Earlham. Piper, bless his heart, still runs the single wing....
After Kansas beat rival Kansas State 31-7, Jayhawk coach Glen Mason accepted the Governor's Cup, emblematic of state gridiron supremacy, from Governor Joan Finney. "I'm going to do something I've never done before," said Mason, "kiss a governor."
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Northeast Louisiana quarterback Wendal Lowrey, a senior, completed 15 of 21 passes for 352 yards and five TDs to lead the Indians to a 52-35 win over McNeese State.
Ball State's Mark Parris, a senior linebacker, had 12 tackles and an interception as the Cardinals beat I astern Michigan 31-7. He also ran for a two-yard I'D at fullback.
Aldridge Jones, a junior defensive back at NAIA Westminster College in Pennsylvania, intercepted three passes and made 13 tackles in a 25-6 defeat of Georgetown (Ky.).