Monday, September 2, 2013

The Subject Is Quarterbacks

Winning the Heisman Trophy is no guarantee that the recipient is destined to have as equally a productive career in professional football as the one he had in college. Every decade has examples of players who win the award, then turn into busts in the NFL. Two quarterbacks from the 1960s easily come immediately to mind--Terry Baker from Oregon State and Gary Beban from UCLA. Both Baker and Beban were drafted, Baker by the Los Angeles Rams. Beban was under contract with the Rams and later the Washington Redskins before saying goodbye to pro football.
Paul Hornung, who won the Heisman in 1956 as a senior at Notre Dame, had the good fortune of being drafted by the Green Bay Packers. Vince Lombardi took Hornung from under center and put him at halfback, a position where he was a star for nearly 10 seasons.
Now come two more Heisman winners and one runner-up who have bombed out--Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow and Vince Young.
Leinart's professional career had been a mish-mash of injuries and trades with several teams, that lead up to the Buffalo Bills saying farewell last week. Tebow has been cut by three teams in a little more than a year, the latest being by the New England Patriots. And Young recently lost his backup job with the Packers.


add Leinart: The left-hander from USC, who won the Heisman in 2005, was signed by the Buffalo Bills during the last week of the exhibition season and started the Bills' final game in August. He had a poor performance and was let go the next day. If Leinart had made the team, he would have been the second USC quarterback to play in Buffalo. The first was Rob Johnson, who had a fairly productive stay, leading the Bills one season as a competitive playoff team.


add USC quarterbacks: In the Trojans' season opener last week at  Hawaii, Cody Kessler started the game but was less than stellar. Max Wittek saw some action too in the second half but  was also ineffective, although both were stymied by receivers dropping passes in a rather dull contest that saw the USC defense dominate  the Rainbow Warriors.
Coach Lane Kiffin is expected to play both Kessler and Wittek  this Saturday night in USC's Pac-12 opener against Washington State at the Coliseum.


last add USC quarterbacks: In 1967, USC's starting quarterback was Steve Sogge, who was backed up by Toby Page. Coach John McKay once quipped that his wife Corky could throw a pass better than Toby Page. Also on the depth chart were Mike Holmgren and freshman Jimmy Jones. In the Trojans' showdown with UCLA in what was arguably the biggest and most important game in the history of the two schools--at stake were a national championship, a berth in the Rose Bowl and the  Heisman Trophy--McKay pulled Sogge, who had been ineffective, out of the game and replaced him with Page. It was Page who called the audible from a pass to "23-Blast," a running play that saw O.J. Simpson  weave through the UCLA defense and break away for 64 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

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