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The Toast of Greeley

Otherwise, UNC's offense (overseen by former CU, CSU and NFL offensive coordinator Kay Dalton) is a hell-bent mixture of flea-flickers and triple options, pro-set rushing and flashy passing. For instance, with less than two minutes remaining in the first half against stunned New Haven, McGuffey hit Micus (the M & M Connection reborn!) for 36 yards, and Holmes ran it into the end zone on an option pitch. That made it 27-0. With seven seconds left in the half, UNC faked a field goal, of all things, threw for a touchdown, then tacked on a two-point conversion. 35-zip. For all practical purposes, end of ballgame.

Just for fun, the UNC defense had eight sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries against a team Sports Illustrated picked to win this championship with ease.

"I'll steal a phrase from [ex-Michigan State coach] Duffy Dougherty," Joe Glenn said a couple of days before the game. "This is not a matter of life and death--it's more important than that."

Except that Glenn is chuckling when he says it. More often than not, you also find him grinning on the sidelines, joking and jiving with his players instead of standing there paralyzed by the 2,000-yard stare you find on the faces of most football coaches. For him, the game's still a pleasure. Life and death? Nah. More like fun and games.

"Having been there last year, we know how much fun the title game is," he said. "It's a great reward for the kids for having had another great season. There are parades and police escorts, banquets and barbecues, a tour of the Alabama Hall of Fame. It's a wonderful experience. And, yes, it's about as 'big-time' as you can get--you can't be treated any better than this."

Can it get any better than this? Well, maybe. A third straight national title next year is certainly not out of the realm for UNC. The undergraduate gypsies from Greeley will once more gas up, jump in their cars and follow their football heroes town to town, state to scattered state--9 hours of driving, 22 hours of driving, who cares?--on the road to glory.

And Joe Glenn will love it--right up until the moment some big-time football factory finally snatches him away. As he said at halftime Saturday: "Give us the dice. We got the Midas Touch right now."

And the look of a dynasty.

Go ahead, Broncos. Put your card on the table. Your wild card. Let's see what you've got left.

Your defensive weaknesses were exposed in Kansas City (bye-bye, 13-0 lead), your butterfingers showed up in Pittsburgh (see ya, 21-7), and your star running back was disabled in San Francisco (adios, 10-Zip). Now those Super Bowl dreams look like a five-car pileup.

Suddenly this is yesterday. Not the good old days, but yesterday. With Terrell Davis dinged up, the fortunes of the Denver Broncos once again ride with overburdened John Elway--and with a receiving corps that thinks the ball is made of ice. Rod Smith dropped three more passes Monday night (he and his mates dropped eleven against the Steelers), and a team that appeared to have everything going for it in mid-season will be lucky to squeak by in their only home playoff game--probably against their tormentors from last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The odds against the Broncos' winning two more playoff games on the road and returning to the Super Bowl are astronomical. Not impossible, just astronomical.

Meanwhile, there's the matter of dispatching the hapless San Diego Chargers Sunday at Mile High Stadium. If they lose that one, the Broncos will have blown the biggest lead of all and let self-respect slip through their fingers. Think it will be an easy win? I don't.

It's likely the club will have a card to play in the post-season. The wild card. Better play it to the hilt. And whatever you do, don't drop the damn thing!

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