Top 10 Ty Detmer Moments: #6—First Career Start

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The saying goes “there is a first time for everything.” Ty Detmer’s first start at quarterback for the Brigham Young Cougars came earlier than anyone expected. The outcome of the game was better than anyone expected.

Ty Detmer’s first start was earlier than any previous Cougar signal caller. No BYU quarterback had ever started a game as a freshman. Detmer didn’t look to be the one to break this trend. However, when Sean Covey went down with a knee injury against Hawaii midway through the 1988 season, LaVell Edwards was left with few options but to start his freshman from San Antonio, Texas.

The New Mexico Lobos were ready to feast on fresh meat. Detmer, a skilled hunter, picked off the Lobos from a safe distance. With Detmer at the helm, BYU built an early lead. He threw two touchdowns in the first quarter. Fred Whittingham added a touchdown on the ground to give the Cougars a 21-0 advantage after one quarter of play.

Changing directions for the new quarter didn’t change Detmer’s play. He threw his third touchdown of the game 1:03 into the second quarter. His fourth touchdown pass came seven minutes later. At the half, Detmer had extended the lead to a comfortable 35-0.

Detmer threw his fifth, and final, touchdown pass in the third quarter. When the smoke cleared, BYU was the big winner, 65-0. Detmer’s numbers were very impressive: 24-35 (68.6%), 333 yards, 5 TD. He had played with the poise of a veteran. Detmer completed passes to 10 different receivers, and four different receivers caught touchdown passes.

Marc Wilson and Robbie Bosco are the only other BYU quarterbacks who could argue their first start was more impressive.

A quarterback’s first start is always a big deal. Of course, the game needed to be a win for it to make the top 10 list. The 65 points, the shutout, and the big stats moved the game up the chart one or two notches. The true significance of this game, however, was how it foreshadowed what Ty Detmer’s career at BYU would bring.

This milestone for Detmer was also a milestone for the BYU football program (first freshman to start). From this day in 1988 to the end of the 1991 season, if Detmer did something for the first time, it was usually the first time it had been done at BYU—or anywhere for that matter. Here is a small sample of unique firsts:

• He threw for over 5,000 yards in a single season (5,188);
• He threw over 100 touchdown passes in his career (121);
• He threw for over 12,000 yards in his career (15,031);
• He threw for over 300 yards in 24 straight games (old NCAA record was 12);
• He was MVP of a bowl game three times;
• He was voted team captain as a sophomore (three years overall);
• He was named All-American three times;
• He won the Davey O’Brien award twice.

Several other firsts and milestones are mentioned in every other moment on this Top 10 list.

Firsts and milestones are special because they either cannot be repeated or they don’t happen very often. Unless you are Ty Detmer. While he played at BYU, they happened all the time. Just one more reason why Detmer was such a special player.

Ty’s Take
I remember being really nervous going in. I had come in and played in the second half of some games, and won a couple of games. I had some experience, but it is different when you are preparing that week and knowing that you are going to start. I might have even started out a little shaky. I don’t think I threw an interception, but we punted the first series or two. Then I kind of started settling in and hitting some passes, and kind of got going. I just remember being pretty nervous going in, and wanted to play well and do the best I could.

10. The Essence of Ty Detmer
9. BYU Retires Ty Detmer's Jersey
8. Down, But Never Out
7. Unstoppable and Unprecedented
6. First Career Start
5. Final Home Game
4. Winning The Starting Quarterback Job
3. Joining the BYU Quarterback Club
2. Beating the Best--#1 Miami
1. Winning the Heisman Trophy

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