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Offensive Line Receives Nice Pass From Frerotte

By Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 28, 1996; Page C5

Gus Frerotte likes to pass the football around, and the credit, too. Frerotte is just 25, young enough still to collect baseball and football cards. But yesterday at RFK Stadium, Frerotte he showed again why he was Coach Norv Turner’s choice to lead the Redskins. He stood tall in the pocket, kept order in the huddle and fired darts down field that stung his receivers’ hands as he has done week after week this season.

When it was over, the ever-im proving Frerotte had completed passes to eight different receiv ers—even two major third-down throws to Michael Westbrook—and insisted on giving all the glory to a shuffled offensive line. They gave him time to throw, and also opened enough holes for running back Terry Allen to gain 124 yards among the team’s 215 rushing yards in all.

"I give the credit to the offensive line," he said. "The Colts were fourth in the league against the run and we gained [215] against them. I may have gotten hit once today with all the passes I threw."

But his coach, Norv Turner, who developed Troy Aikman in Dallas and now has another sparkling gem to polish, knew that Frerotte deserved plenty of pats on the back, as well.

"It’s so hard to absolutely describe," Turner said when asked about his quarterback’s season-long progression. "It shows up in one, two or three plays a game. . . . It comes from confidence and anticipation. . . . It’s reacting to what doesn’t happen when you’re expecting something else."

In fact, Turner blamed himself for Frerotte’s only interception, a pass in the 20-yard range intended for Henry Ellard that hit the veteran wide receiver just as he was whacked from behind by Colts safety Jason Belser. The ball ricocheted into the hands of linebacker Steve Morrison and was returned 20 yards, but the Colts didn’t capitalize and punted after three downs.

"I probably got greedy on that interception," Turner said. Then he dropped the probably, with a smile. "I got greedy."

Who could blame him? Just about everything else he asked his offense to do was accomplished with great e»lan and greater gobs of yardage. The Redskins were using screens, play action, misdirection, fake reverses, and handed the ball to fullback Marc Logan an unheard of five times (for 43 yards) to befuddle their foes.

The Redskins also knew the Colts would be tough against the run, so when the inside lanes clogged, they sent Allen wide, using their two-tight end set to spring him. Turner even threw in a few of Joe Gibbs’s bread-and-butter counter trey runs to keep the Colts honest.

And when Turner asked Frerotte to throw down field, the quarterback was deadly accurate—18 completions in 25 attempts for 178 yards and a touchdown—save for one slightly overthrown pass to wide open tight end Jamie Asher.

"At the beginning of the game, things worked well for us," Frer otte said. "We were able to drive the ball. . . . We were completing some passes. . . . Everybody knew that going into the second half, we had to be as pumped up as we were in the first half. "We learned a valuable lesson against the Giants" last week when New York scored 21 straight second-half points. "You can’t come out flat in the second half, and nobody on our team did that [yesterday]. They got a little bit of a drive and we got a drive of our own and kept the momentum going. When you play at RFK and you keep that momentum, that’s a big factor. Because the fans are so loud, it’s hard for the other offense to get anything going."

The Redskins had little difficulty getting Allen going. In his team’s last two games, against the Patriots and Giants, he’s seen plenty of eight-man fronts, and occasionally a nine. The Colts are big and burly up the middle, and their linebackers are adept at plugging holes off tackle. So Allen went elsewhere, with the men up front leading the way.

"It goes to show what kind of guys we have up there," Allen said. "That we could shuffle guys around and still do that, it shows what kind of people we’ve got."

The shuffling was brought about by the knee injury left guard Tre Johnson suffered against the Giants. He’s expected to return on Sunday for the game in Buffalo. Veteran Joe Patton moved from his normal left tackle spot to replace Johnson yesterday, and inexperienced Shar Pourdanish got another chance at left tackle.

In the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, Pourdanish played like a scared rookie and hasn’t played much since. Yesterday, he played as if he belonged, with plenty of help from offensive line coach Jim Hanifan.

"In general it turned out well," Pourdanish said. "It was an opportunity for me to redeem myself. . . . Mentally, I was a lot better prepared. I wasn’t going to psyche myself out like I did against Philadelphia."

It didn’t hurt to be run-blocking for Allen, either.

"One play, I hit [defensive end Tony] Bennett to the outside," Pourdanish said. "I just nudged him a little bit and Terry got in there and just took off. Give him a little crease and he’s there and then he’s gone. He makes you look good."

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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