Easy Does It
Oklahoma's new quarterback, ever-patient Nate Hybl, isn't taking
Nate Hybl made his first start as Oklahoma quarterback last
Saturday, and if Sooners offensive coordinator Mark Mangino had
brought him along any more slowly, the junior passer would have
been penalized for delay of game. With eight starters returning
from a defense that shut out Florida State in the Orange Bowl
last season, the Oklahoma coaches weren't expecting Hybl to beat
North Carolina single-handedly--and he didn't come close.
In the first half alone the Sooners' defense scored two
touchdowns and forced two turnovers inside the Tar Heels' 20-yard
line, helping Oklahoma to a 41-27 victory in Norman. On the other
hand, the offensive game plan was so conservative it could have
come from the White House. Hybl completed 20 of 29 passes for a
mere 152 yards and tried to throw downfield only five times. He
also made a huge mistake, short-arming a swing pass that North
Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers intercepted and returned 29
yards for a touchdown.
Hybl wasn't discouraged by his slow start; after three years at
two schools the 22-year-old from Colbert, Ga., understands how to
be patient. "I have been waiting awhile," he says. "It made me
mature awfully fast."
In January 1998, Hybl graduated early from Jefferson Davis High
to enroll for the spring semester at Georgia, where coach Jim
Donnan envisioned him as the Bulldogs' quarterback for the
following fall. Hybl lost the job the following August, however,
to freshman Quincy Carter, who graduated high school in 1996 but
signed with the Chicago Cubs and spent two seasons in the minor
leagues before opting to play football at Georgia.
"Quincy came in over that summer, and Nate hurt his shoulder and
didn't have a very good fall camp," says Donnan, who was fired
after last season. Carter played so well as a freshman that Hybl
transferred to Oklahoma, where he sat out last season. Mangino
says that the 6'3", 215-pound Hybl has a stronger arm than Josh
Heupel, the quarterback who led the Sooners to the 2000 national
championship. However, anyone who saw the drunken mallards that
Heupel threw last year knows that he won games with his head, not
his arm. "I learned from Josh's work ethic," Hybl says. "He
worked his feet every day. He did continuous film study. You
really can't overdo it."
Hybl won the starting job over sophomore Jason White because he
read defenses so well in preseason workouts. "He threw one
interception in all of camp--seven-on-seven, scrimmages and other
drills," Mangino says of Hybl. "That's over 500 throws."
Mangino says he will give Hybl more rope each week. The
quarterback is confident and hopes to wind up as something more
than the answer to a trivia question: Who is the only current
football player to have been on national championship teams in
two sports at two Division I schools? A three-time all-state
golfer in high school, Hybl was a redshirt freshman on Georgia's
1999 NCAA-champion golf team. "If Nate had concentrated solely on
golf, he absolutely could have played at [the Division I] level,"
says Bulldogs golf coach Chris Haack, who has Nate's younger
brother, Ryan, on his team.
Hybl showed last Saturday night that he has a deft short game.
The question that remains is, How good is he from a long way out?
Georgia Tech's Kelly Campbell
Goofing-off Days Are Over
A few years ago the thought of Kelly Campbell's eventually
becoming one of Georgia Tech's leading performers would've
brought snickers, even from Campbell himself. "I had no idea what
it took to be a Division I player," says the Yellow Jackets'
senior wide receiver. "I just wanted to go out there and mess
around. I didn't see myself at all as a top receiver."
Five school records later Campbell has become one of the best
wideouts in the nation. A two-time All-ACC receiver, he averaged
64 catches, 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last two
seasons and enters this fall as a leading contender for the
Biletnikoff Award. Last year his average of 18.9 yards every time
he touched the ball led the nation. In Georgia Tech's season
opener, the Kickoff Classic in Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday,
Campbell caught 10 passes for 193 yards in a 13-7 victory over
Not bad for an undersized (5'11", 170-pound) player who arrived
in 1998 as a cat-quick, cocky freshman. Despite 4.29 speed in the
40 and soft hands, Campbell struggled during his first season, in
part because he didn't grasp the disciplined routes in Tech's
complex schemes. He caught just 11 passes. "Kelly always had the
speed to be a great one," says O'Leary. "He just had to grow up a
That happened the following season--just in time for him to team
with quarterback Joe Hamilton and lead the Yellow Jackets with
69 catches. Last year one of Campbell's closest friends on the
team, George Godsey, succeeded Hamilton, and that pairing was
nearly as fruitful; Campbell made 59 receptions, again the most
on the team. "Having a threat like Kelly makes my job easy,"
says Godsey, who threw for 2,906 yards and 23 touchdowns last
year and opened the season on Sunday by completing 15 of 26
passes for 224 yards. "He stretches the field just by being out
there." --Josh Elliott
Florida State Regroups
Seminoles Go On Defensive
After Florida State lost its most experienced receiver, senior
Robert Morgan, to torn left knee ligaments on Aug. 14, junior
Anquan Boldin volunteered to return to wideout from quarterback,
where he was in a battle with redshirt freshman Chris Rix to
become the new starter. Three days later Boldin, the team's best
athlete, tore his left ACL. He's also gone for the year, and the
Seminoles are down to three wideouts who have made a catch in a
college game. Add to that Rix's mediocre showing in a scrimmage
last week, and it's no wonder the team is talking about emulating
the Baltimore Ravens, who en route to winning last January's
Super Bowl relied on a dominant defense to overcome a sputtering
Without Morgan and Boldin, Florida State will employ more
two-back, two-receiver sets, if only because it doesn't have
enough depth to use four receivers on most downs and keep them
fresh. In fact, whenever the Seminoles want to use a fourth
receiver, they will shift the tailback in the slot--a wrinkle that
coach Bobby Bowden installed for this season.
Bowden is also encouraged by the emergence of freshman Xavier
Beitia, who is expected to improve a kicking game that was
inconsistent last season. In one scrimmage last week Beitia made
eight of eight field goals. Though he's concerned about the
offense, Bowden likes the idea of mimicking the Ravens. "Defense
and the kicking game aren't a bad way to go," he says.
Head to Head
WISCONSIN AT OREGON
Ducks coach Mike Bellotti delayed last Saturday's practice until
after his players had watched the Badgers' 26-17 victory over
Virginia. The reason: Wisconsin won't be sending a tape of that
game to Eugene. Traditionally, before they play, schools swap a
like number of tapes from previously played games that season,
but Oregon doesn't have one to give Wisconsin. That leaves Ducks
defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti--who must prepare for the
Badgers' new offense, which has added a spread component to its
traditional power game--at a disadvantage. Maybe Aliotti should
call Bill Musgrave, Virginia's new offensive coordinator.
Musgrave is Oregon's alltime leading passer, having thrown for
8,343 yards from 1987 through '90.