Last week the Los Angeles Express stood stoically in the way of the U.S. Football League's one-man advertising campaign, Herschel Walker. Like a candle outshining a star, a rookie from Montana State named Tony Boddie outrushed Walker, 77 yards to 65, and the New Jersey Generals fell, 20-15.
This week, while ABC attempted to maintain its high ratings by continuing to track Walker, the Federals will play the Express in relative obscurity at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Monday night at 9 (WJLA-TV-7 and ESPN).
The Federals are trying for their first win after the Chicago Blitz easily defeated them last week in the opener, 28-7. Oddsmakers favor the Express over the Federals by as many as 11 points.
"Who really knows at this point who's best, but they tell me that Chicago and Los Angeles are two of the best teams in the league so far," said Federals Coach Ray Jauch. "I really don't mind starting off with the best teams. It shows everybody what we have to do."
If last week's performance was any indication, what the Federals have to do is block better. Behind a seemingly porous offensive line, running back Craig James could manage only 34 yards and quarterbacks Mike Hohensee and Kim McQuilken barely had sufficient time to call signals.
Hohensee, who will probably start, replaced McQuilken in the second quarter last week and had a strong second half, finishing the game with 16 completions in 28 attempts for 178 yards. If he can get better protection than he had last week, the Federals stand a chance. If he is left unguarded, this week's score may resemble last week's.
Los Angeles will depend on the consistency of its roster in order to win. Only quarterback Tom Ramsey, a rookie from UCLA, has any promise of stardom.
Against New Jersey, Ramsey shared the quarterback position with Mike Rae, who spent six years in the NFL and three in the Canadian Football League. Neither proved impressive and Campbell said he would use both quarterbacks against the Federals.
Line play in the USFL has so far proved to be lagging behind some of the highly paid and highly touted backs and receivers. But Los Angeles has proved unusually strong on the offensive line, led by guard Junior Filiaga of Brigham Young, and the defensive line, led by tackle Rich Dimler and end Dennis Edwards, both of USC.
Los Angeles Coach Hugh Campbell replaced Jauch as the head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL in 1977. In his first year as coach, with Jauch working as Edmonton's director of football operations, Campbell led the Eskimos to a Western Division title.
The following year, Jauch took the head coaching job in Winnipeg. Since 1978, Campbell has led Edmonton to five straight Grey Cups, the Canadian championship. Campbell is 13-4 against Jauch, including victories over Jauch in the last three Western Division championship games.
"I had a lot to do with bringing Hugh to Edmonton and I guess sometimes I'm sorry about it. Especially when he beats me," said Jauch.
The two men have similar coaching styles. Both run practices that are long on compliments and short on hysteria.
"I guess that's our personality," said Campbell. "If every person was smart, he'd be just like he is. I've played for marine types and I've played for people who might be considered less than tough, and I've enjoyed both. Consistency is the best trademark of a coach. As long as you don't confuse your team you can do a good job."
Campbell, though, maintains that the task of trying to coach in a new league is confusing.
"I'm finally glad to get some game film to watch but it's still an unknown. We still don't know much about anyone," he said.
The Federals have signed their second ex-CFL receiver in a week: Mike Holmes. The 6-2, 195-pound Holmes, 32, played six years in Winnipeg, the last five under Jauch, and led all Blue Bomber receivers in 1979 and 1980.