Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Flashback: The Steve and Gordon Show

The last two football seasons, the Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman has put on a show catching passes from quarterback Riley Nelson (and anyone else who has been under center). Thirty years ago, BYU had another offensive duo who put on a show worthy of a full blown article in Sports Illustrated.

The November 14, 1983, issue of Sports Illustrated had Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino on the cover, but BYU quarterback Steve Young and tight end Gordon Hudson were the subjects of the major college football story in the magazine. The piece was entitled: The Steve and Gordon Show (click here to read the complete article).

Author Jack McCallum praised Young as possibly the best quarterback the Cougars had put on the field up to that point in time. Hudson was the 1982 consensus All-American tight end, and would repeat that feat in '83. He and Young were heralded as the greatest QB-tight end combo in the history of college football.

The show that Young and Hudson put on in 1983 should have come as no surprise. When Young filled in for an injured Jim McMahon in 1981 against Colorado, his first touchdown pass was an 11-yard throw to Hudson. Young started the next two games and 13 of his 42 completions (nearly one-third) went to Hudson. On a trick play in the Holiday Bowl at the end of the 1981 season, Young completed a 26-yard pass to, you guessed it, Hudson. In 1982, Hudson easily led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions.

They didn't waste any time getting things rolling in 1983. In the season opener at Baylor, Young found Hudson four times for a team-high 97 yards. Against Air Force in game three, Hudson exploded for a season-highs 12 receptions, 172 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Young's 63-yard TD pass to Hudson in the second quarter gave BYU the lead for good. Young had a career-high 486 passing yards against the Falcons and completed nearly 80 percent of his passes (39 of 49).

The biggest game of the season was a road trip to UCLA. Hudson was, again, Young's favorite target. Hudson had seven receptions for 67 yards, and caught a key third quarter touchdown that helped BYU prevail 37-35. This win propelled Young to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy conversation. Playing well in one of the nation's media capitals helped Hudson finish the consensus All-American tight end for the second consecutive season, even though his season was cut short.

The Steve and Gordon Show abruptly ended before November. Hudson sprained ligaments in his left knee October 29. In eight games, Young and Hudson had teamed up for 44 receptions, 596 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Hudson would finish his career with NCAA record for most receptions and receiving yards by a tight end (178 and 2,484). He was five receptions, 64 yards, and three touchdowns shy of tying Phil Odle for the most receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns in BYU history.

Young picked up the slack after Hudson was sidelined. In the final game of the regular season against Utah, he set a school record completing 88 percent of his passes (22 of 25). He threw six touchdowns against the Utes and finished the game with a 257.3 pass efficiency rating.

That strong finish against Utah enabled Young to set an NCAA record for completion percentage for a season (71.3%). It was one of 13 NCAA records Young would set that season. His season ending stats of 3,902 yards, 33 passing touchdowns, 168.4 pass efficiency rating led the nation and were second highest in school history. Like Hudson, Young was named consensus All-American. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, which was the best any player from BYU had ever done.

Led by Young and Hudson, BYU averaged 584.2 yards per game. That was a new NCAA record. The Cougars finished 11-1 and ranked no. 7 in the final top 25. The 1983 season was quite a show.

Current BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae was an offensive lineman for the Cougars in 1983. From 2005-06, he gave BYU fans the John and Jonny Show. In 2008 it was the Austin and Max Show. Can he give Cougar fans an new show this year? Maybe 2013 will be remembered as the Hill and Hoff Show (QB Taysom Hill and WR Cody Hoffman) or the Hill and J Will Show (RB Jamaal Williams).

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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