Here he is, about as tall as Joe Paterno, and Doug Flutie throws for 520 yards against Penn State.
You are not supposed to do that against Penn State.
"You're not supposed to throw for 520 yards against anyone," Boston College Coach Jack Bicknell noted.
Even as the Nittany Lions were splattering Boston College's football militia all over sold-out Alumni Stadium in a 52-17 victory Saturday, they just never seemed to catch up with Flutie, the quarterback who lives his football life on the run.
"We were ahead, 38-17, with about 13 minutes left and I didn't know whether or not I could even play the second team," said Paterno, the Penn State coach. "Their quarterback was just getting 20-yard plays all over the place. He's almost a one-man team."
Because the Penn State lead had swelled to 45-17 with 11 minutes left, the reserves got to play after all. And former Illinois quarterback Dave Wilson's NCAA single-game passing record of 621 yards got a respite, too, because Flutie did not play the final seven minutes, so bad was the rout.
So his stat sheet held firm at 26 of 44, one touchdown pass and two interceptions.
And he is only a sophomore.
"But I'm not everyone's classic quarterback," Flutie said.
Maybe not. But he is compiling a lot of classic efforts. This season, he has completed 134 of 276 (49 percent) for 2,197 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Most importantly, he is the ignition, the generator and the accelerator of the Eagles' 5-2-1 record. It is a record that has bowl scouts making Saturday visits.
This is Flutie's self-analysis: "A free-lancing type. Explosive. Unpredictable. I'm the type that makes the big plays, but is not always consistent."
But the arm is strong, the feet are fast, the comparison usually with Fran Tarkenton.
There is, however, the constant question about Flutie's size. Last year, he was measured at 5 feet 10 1/2. This year, the measurement was 5 feet 9 1/8.
"I think either the tape on the wall in the football office is messed up," Flutie said, "or I've shrunk."
Statistically, Flutie has not shrunk at all. Last year, he played in seven games and completed 105 of 192 (55 percent) for 1,652 yards and 10 touchdowns; only eight passes were intercepted.
His first assignment came in the fourth quarter of a 38-7 loss at Penn State. Flutie recalled of that game, "I was just trying to remember the plays."
He did remember and soon enough people forgot about Dennis Scala and John Loughery, the former starting quarterbacks. Flutie threw for 135 yards in that fourth quarter, leading his team to its one touchdown and leading Bicknell to consider this: "Everybody said, 'It was only against Penn State's second team.' But I could just tell that when Doug came in, the tempo picked up."
So it was here that the star and the starter were born. They have been living, for the most part, happily ever after.
Flutie finished ninth in the nation in passing efficiency last year. And he was only a freshman.
"But I didn't know what to think about that," Flutie said. "Was it a fluke?"
Hardly. In the 1982 opener at Jackie Sherrill's Texas A&M, Flutie passed for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-16 victory that was mistakenly called an upset. Three weeks later, he threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-0 victory at Navy.
Thusly done, "fluke" left the Flutie vocabulary.
But Flutie is not perfect. In a 20-17 loss at West Virginia three weeks ago, he completed just nine of 33 for 122 yards and had four interceptions. The following week, Boston College beat Rutgers, 14-13, even though Flutie was just 15 of 40 for 239 yards and had four interceptions.
These were the bad weeks for the quarterback from nearby Natick, Mass., the days when, he said, "The game seemed like a job or a working situation, not an opportunity."
"Sometimes, Doug gets a bit out of control," Bicknell said. "He does some things on his own, which has its pluses and minuses. But he is so unique and he can do so many things. We don't want to turn him into a robot."
Certainly, no robot could have turned what appeared about to become a sack into a 27-yard pass play, as Flutie did in the first quarter Saturday. Penn State defensive end Walker Lee Ashley--a player given three names, it is said, because he is as omnipresent as three players -- had his arms locked around Flutie's waist at midfield.
This time, Fay Wray escaped from King Kong. Flutie spun out of Ashley's grasp, rolled left and passed to flanker Gerald Phelan, who took the ball to the Penn State 18. The next play, Flutie threw a touchdown pass and Boston College had its only lead, 7-0.
Oh, can this kid scramble. The strategy is simple. "If I see an opposing shirt in my face," Flutie said, "I take off."
Earlier this season, Flutie met former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Pat Haden, who, looking eye to eye with Flutie, told him he was not too small at all.
All of this is nothing new. Flutie has been darting around the backfield, playing peekaboo over his offensive linemen, since he was a 4-11, 10-year-old Pop Warner quarterback. "I just kept throwing the ball to my best friend back then," he said.
As he sat in an office near the stadium where he threw for a school record 520 yards, the computer science major admitted his sense of mathematics was not functioning properly Saturday. It was the only thing that wasn't.
"Truthfully, I figured I only had about 400 yards," Flutie said. "I was shocked to hear it was 520."
And he is only a sophomore.