Tiger Bowl Games – 1963 Bluebonnet Bowl


Pat Screen


Billy Truax


Don Trull


Lawrence Elkins



The fifth annual Bluebonnet Bowl pitted two 7-3 teams.
  • LSU had to win its last game to cement its invitation. Baylor just missed upsetting Texas to earn a spot in the Cotton Bowl.
  • The game would be a classic Pass vs. Run clash. The Tigers were forced to emphasize the ground game when their outstanding dual-threat QB was lost for the season while the Bears rode the coattails of the best passing combination in the nation.
LSU's Season

Beginning his second season as head coach, Charlie McClendon had an important decision to make because a new NCAA rule.

  • The Rules Committee, which had been tinkering with the substitution rules since 1953, continued the trend toward returning to unlimited substitutions and so-called "two-platoon football" - with important restrictions.
  • The 1963 regulation allowed unlimited substitution on second and third downs and on first down if possession of the ball hadn't changed on the previous play. In all these cases, the clock had to be stopped. At all other times - and these were precisely the times when unlimited substitutions could do the most good (punts and change of possession) - each team could send in only two men.
  • McClendon decided to stick with the three-team system he had inherited from its inventor, Paul Dietzel. The White team consisted of the eleven best two-way players. The Go team were the offensive specialists while the Chinese Bandits played defense.
  • Of the 34 players who would see action under that system, 16 would be sophomores (freshmen still being ineligible for varsity play).
  • Included among the sophs were three backs whose recruitment brought excitement to the LSU faithful a season after Heisman Trophy runner-up Jerry Stovall had departed for the NFL.
    --QB Pat Screen had led Jesuit High School in New Orleans to two state championships with his running and passing. The signal-caller position was his almost by default following the departure of two seniors, Jimmy Field and Lynn Amedee.
    --5'8" HB Joe LaBruzzo from Lockport LA had run the 100y dash in 9.6 wind-assisted seconds. He scampered for 50y or more at least 40 times during his last two high school seasons.
    Little Joe didn't wait long to have an impact. Flabbergasted to be listed with the White (first) team for the opening game against Texas A&M, Labruzzo ran a punt back 83y to send the crowd of 68,000 into a frenzy and the Tigers on their way to a 14-6 victory.
    --Labruzzo persuaded another "bayou boy," 5'9" FB Don Schwab, the pride of Thibodaux, to spurn Ole Miss and come to Baton Rouge.

An injury in the fourth game changed the trajectory of LSU's season.

  • After taking the opener against the Aggies, the Tigers lost to an experi­enced Rice team in Houston the following week.
  • Bobby Dodd, the coach of LSU's next opponent, Georgia Tech, sang the praises of the Tigers' young QB. Pat Screen is probably the best running QB we'll see this year. As long as he's healthy, LSU will be tough. Pat scored the game's only TD as the Tigers held on 7-6 in Tiger Stadium.
  • Disaster struck in Miami the next week. In the LSU offense, the QB often led the blocking after making a pitchout. With the Tigers clinging to a 3-0 lead in Q4, Screen pitched the ball to Danny LeBlanc for a power sweep around LE. When Pat blocked the Miami end, I felt a sharp pain and knew right away something was wrong. If I moved my arm just a little, my shoulder hurt. I took myself out of the game. X-rays revealed a separated shoulder that ended his season after four games, during which he amassed 401y of total offense.
  • Go Team QB Billy Ezell moved up to the White spot and led victories over Kentucky and Florida by a combined 35 points. Senior E Billy Truax won the "Lineman of the Week" award for his performance in Gainesville. He made a leaping INT, killed another Gator drive on the LSU 9 by blocking a pitchout and recovering it, and made key blocks on both of Schwab's 1y TDs.
  • The 5-1 Tigers now faced #3 Ole Miss on CBS-TV. Only a four-point underdog, the Tigers were overwhelmed by the Rebels 37-3.
    LSU's futility was summed up by a sequence of plays in Q3. Taking a punt on his 18, Labruzzo broke loose down the sidelines for what seemed like a sure TD. But Ole Miss lineman Stan Hindman chased down Joe from behind, tackling him on the 1. Four plays later, the Tigers turned over the ball on downs at the 6.

Could the Tigers regroup for the last three games?

  • LSU trailed TCU 14-7 at halftime the following week but rallied behind Labruzzo, playing despite multiple injuries, to win 28-14. Joe scored the last three TDs, including a 45y scamper that left his path strewn with horizontal Horned Frogs.
  • But the Lockport flash wasn't able to pull out the next game. The Tigers trailed Mississippi State in Jackson 7-0 when the Bulldogs scored with only 1:25 left in the game. But Ezell rallied the Tigers with a whirlwind 51y scoring drive. E Doug Moreau caught the 6y scoring pass with 0:14 on the clock. McClendon decided to go for two, but Ezell's pass to Truax went awry. Labruzzo had been kicked out of the game during the final drive for scuffling with a defensive lineman.

The Tigers needed to win their annual finale with Tulane to have a chance for a bowl game.

  • The day before the game, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. As the home team, LSU chose to play the game.
  • 55,000 spectators watched two uninspired teams play a lackluster game the Tigers won 20-0. LSU gained 314y rushing to the Green Wave's -1.
  • Afterward, AD Jim Corbett accepted an invitation to play Baylor in the Bluebonnet Bowl December 21 at Rice Stadium, where LSU had lost to the Owls the second game of the season.
    This would be LSU's first appearance in a bowl game that was not played on New Year's Day.
The Opponent

Baylor boasted one of the NCAA's finest passing offenses.

  • Senior QB Don Trull led the nation with 174 completions, 2157 passing yards, and 23 total TDs (13 passing). Trull's favorite target was junior All-America WR Lawrence Elkins, who received offseason lessons from the Baltimore Colts' great WR Raymond Berry.
    Both Trull and Elkins are members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Elkins resented the fact that his teammate didn't win the 1963 Heisman Trophy. I always thought that was a travesty. Roger Staubach won the Heisman Trophy, but Don had better numbers, and I thought Don Trull was the best QB in America that year.
  • A two-time Academic All-American, Trull audibled on at least half of Baylor's plays. Don entered the bowl game with a streak of 66 passes without an INT. He completed 40 of them for 437y.
    Texas QB Duke Carlisle recalled: You didn't see pro-style attacks with two split receivers so much back then. But Baylor did it well.
  • Elkins caught an NCAA-record 70 passes for 873y and eight TDs. The other wideout, James Ingram, snagged 40 for 537y and four TDs.
  • The pivotal game of the season for John Bridgers' Bears was the annual clash with Texas November 9 in Austin. With first place in the Southwest Conference at stake, the Longhorns prevailed 7-0 thanks to an INT in the EZ of a Trull pass for Elkins in the final minute.
    #1 Texas would defeat #2 Navy in the Cotton Bowl 28-6 to claim the National Championship.
  • John Bridgers followed the professional style of two-platoon football, with one eleven playing offense and the other unit entering the game on defense at the first opportunity. Trull and FB Dalton Hoffman played offense only, taking the field on first down. Bridgers: It has amazed us that we have been able to use these units pretty much as we pleased despite the new sub rule.
  • LSU and Baylor met three common opponents during the '63 season.
    --LSU lost to Rice by the same score by which the Bears beat the Owls: 21-12.
    --LSU beat Kentucky 28-7 while the Wildcats defeated Baylor 19-7 in a game that Elkins missed because of injury
    --Both teams beat TCU handily - LSU 28-14, Baylor 32-13.
LSU 1963
Opponent
Score
Texas A&M
14-6
@Rice
12-21
Georgia Tech
7-6
@Miami (FL)
3-0
Kentucky
28-7
@Florida
14-0
Ole Miss
3-37
TCU
28-14
@Mississippi State 6-7
Tulane
20-0

Charles McClendon

John Bridgers
Baylor 1963
Opponent
Score
Houston
27-0
@Oregon State
15-22
Arkansas 14-10
@Texas Tech 21-17
Texas A&M 34-7
TCU 32-13
@Texas
0-7
Kentucky
7-19
@Rice 21-12
SMU 20-6
Baylor entered the fray as a two-point favorite.
  • LSU, which had been hampered in its preparation by rains in the Baton Rouge area, flew to Houston Thursday, two days before the game only to be greeted by heavy rains all day Friday. The Tigers stayed indoors studying film and holding a skull session.
  • Rice officials covered the stadium turf for two days so the footing for the game would be excellent.
  • The weatherman promised clearing skies for Saturday with temperatures in the low 40s.

McClendon knew his team had a challenging task stopping the Bears.

  • The game plan called for the SEC's top rushing team to control the ball to keep the Trull & Company off the field. We know we have to stop Trull, and we don't know whether we'll be able to or not. We've met good passers, but the Baylor passing combine is the best we'll face. Trull's ability is shown in the records he set. ... Baylor has few pass routes, but they execute the pass play as good as anyone. ... We will use varied defenses trying to halt Trull. We will rush sometimes, drop back and hope to double-team Elkins ... and will give Baylor a lot of looks.
  • Bridgers also praised his opponent. LSU is physically the strongest team we will meet this year. They have good athletes, are well coached. ... They have had the best defense that I know of for the past six years, and we believe that their running attack is the best they've had in a number of years, probably even better than in Cannon's final year. ... We will have to play our best defense to get the ball, and we have to have it to do the thing we do best, that is, passing. ... Those Tigers run over you and hurt you. Their big end, this Truax, and (T Ralph) Pere just blow in there and get bigger all the time. And down in the middle they are big and tough. Why, I was scared to let my boys eat with them at that barbecue. John also responded jokingly to Mac's comment about practicing indoors back in Baton Rouge. Coach McClendon asked if we wouldn't agree to play the game in the Rice gym instead of the stadium.
    Trull wouldn't be able to stop the clock the way he had during Southwest Conference games. The SWC allowed QBs to ground a pass intentionally to kill the clock. But it would be many years before the NCAA accepted that rule.
The game was nationally telecast by CBS at 3:30 PM CT.
The Game

A shivering crowd liberally estimated by bowl officials at 50,000 watched in damp 37° weather as the LSU defense shut out the Bears until wearing down in the final period.

First Quarter

  • The Tigers executed their game plan well in the first period, holding the ball for 18 plays to Baylor's 9.
    LSU returned the kickoff to the 39. After gaining a first down at midfield, the Tigers bogged down. So Danny Neumann punted to the 11.
    The Bengals held the Bears, and Eddie Whiddon punted to Joe Labruzzo at midfield. Joe returned to the 43. From there, the Tigers moved smartly to pay dirt. After running for 5y, QB Billy Ezell flipped to Truax on a swing pass down the sideline for 13y and a first down at the Baylor 25. No one could know that would be LSU's only completion of the afternoon. After Don Schwab gained 4 up the middle, Ezell slipped through RG for 11 to move the chains to the 10. Schwab gained two before Buddy Soefker took a reverse around the left side into the EZ. Doug Moreau ran his PAT record to 16-for-16. LSU 7 Baylor 0 (7:18)

    Don Schwab runs against Baylor.
    Starting from his 22, Don Trull completed his first pass, to Lawrence Elkins for 18 to the 40. After a 5y penalty against the Tigers and a run for 0y, Trull misfired on back to back throws. So Whiddon booted to the 15.
    LSU moved to the 32 on short dashes, gaining their final first down of the afternoon along the way before being forced to punt, Neumann kicking to the Baylor 39.
    Baylor started their first real threat with Tom Davies gaining 14 on a draw play to the LSU 46. FB Dalton Hoffman got 9, then 3 for another first down as the period ended.
    END Q1: LSU 7 BAYLOR 0
Second Quarter
  • The Bears dominated the period, running 26 plays to LSU's four but failing to score.
    Trull connected with Hoffman, who was dropped for a 2y loss. Then the pass rush dumped the QB for a 3y loss. Unperturbed, the Oklahoma City native found James Ingram at the sideline for 30y to the 21. But Remi Prudhomme broke through and tossed Trull for an 11y loss. After HB Henry Pickett gained 5, Milton Trosclair tackled Elkins for a loss of 7. So Whiddon punted to the 4 where Ingram caught the ball in the air, drawing a 15y penalty.
    Facing eight- and nine-man lines but refusing to pass, LSU went three-and-out. So Neumann punted to the Baylor 42.
    Trull led the Bears downfield against the Chinese Bandits, connecting with Pickett for 4, then Elkins for 14 to the LSU 40. After gaining 2, Hoffman picked up 12 but fumbled, and DB Dwight Robinson recovered at the 26.

    Mike Vincent runs for the Chinese Bandits.
    Neumann shifted field position with a punt to the Baylor 18. Trull got his offense moving again, hitting Elkins for 8. On 3rd-and-1, Hoffman got the first down at the 33. After an incompletion, Ingram gathered in a pass to the midfield stripe. Two more completions, to Hodge for 7 and Ingram for 8, made it a 1st-and-10 at the 34. With the defense reeling from the aerial circus, Hoffman picked up 10 for another first down at the 24. After the FB took a short toss for 5, Trull ran down the middle for 11 to the 8. But again the Tigers rose up and repelled the threat, starting with an 8y sack. After an incompletion in the EZ, the Tigers chased the QB all over the field before he managed to drop a pass over the middle to Hoffman to restrict the damage to a 3y loss. Baylor lined up for a FG, but holder Trull instead got up and passed to Davies, who was dropped for another 3y loss with just four seconds left in the half.
    Trull had already broken Randy Kerboes' Bluebonnet Bowl record of 11 completions.
    END Q2: LSU 7 BAYLOR 0

Third Quarter

  • Baylor continued to wear down the valiant LSU defense, running 21 plays to just nine for the Bengals.
    After an exchange of punts, the Bears stormed upfield from their 16. Trull completed a pass for 14, but Elkins lost 6 on a pitchout. No problem as Trull found Ingram for 18y and a first down at the 41. Hoffman's 8y run and a sneak by Trull moved the chains into Tiger territory at the 48. With LSU double covering Elkins, Trull found Ingram for 11 on 3rd-and-7 to the 34. Davies bulled for 14 on a draw to the 20 before Trull hit Hodge with a 10y pass to the 10. Pickett brought the green and gold fans to their feet when he swept LE to paydirt, but the elation was short-lived as Baylor was penalized for holding to the 22. After an incompletion, Soefker stepped in front of a Trull heave at the 10 and returned it 7y to repel yet another onslaught.
    Unable to gain 10y, the Tigers had to punt, Neumann hanging one 44y to the 32.
    Trull led a march from there and this time, the Bears were not to be denied. Runs by Hoffman and Bobby Mitchell gained a first down. Then, on 3rd-and-14, Don kept the drive alive with a 31y completion to Ingram, who eluded E Kenny Vairin. Mitchell gained 7 to the 22.
    END Q3: LSU 7 BAYLOR 0

Fourth Quarter

  • After a run for a first down on the first play, Ingram took a throw to the 5. Trosclair registered his second sack of the afternoon to give Tiger fans hope for another goal line stand. But Trull took the next snap and pitched to Ingram for a 7y TD to culminate the 10-play drive. Davies' boot tied the game. Baylor 7 LSU 7 (13:10)
    Ingram: I had to use double fakes the entire game and hook back to get open. I also had to use delayed patterns. Trull really put the ball in my hands.
    After more offensive ineptitude, Neumann booted 39y to the 30.
    Trull moved his team from there for what would prove to be the winning TD. On 3rd-and-3, the Trull-Elkins connection gained a first down at the 43. Then Don slipped past a gang of defenders for 11 into LSU territory. Two runs made it 1st-and-10 at the 36. Two plays later, Trull flipped to Elkins for 15y to the 19. Then Don went to his other flanker, Ingram, for 9y. However, Mitchell lost 3. But that setback was only temporary. On the next play, Dandy Don threw to Ingram at the 1, and the elusive receiver squirmed over to give Baylor its first lead of the day. Baylor 14 LSU 7 (5:20)
    The Tigers needed a big play badly, and Labruzzo gave it to them. He took the kickoff on his 3 and broke down the middle and into the clear, then broke to the sideline to the Baylor 25 where the kicker, the speedy Elkins, pulled him down.
    Afterwards, Trull said, That kickoff return really scared me. I thought he was gone.
    Elkins: I literally ran out of my shoes to catch him. I don't think my legs have ever carried me as fast.
    Labruzzo: Willis Langley threw a good block to get me started. I saw daylight and just started running for it. When I cut toward the sideline, I didn't see anyone in front of me. I thought I was gone. But then I saw Elkins coming up out of the side of my eye. I actually felt like I was picking up speed when I broke clear. I wasn't a bit tired. He must be quite a runner. Now I know how our poor defensive backs felt all day covering that guy.
    After throwing only two passes the whole game, Ezell took to the air three times without success. After Danny LeBlanc gained 3 on first down, Truax was wide open at the goal line, but Billy overshot him. When the 4th down pass slipped off Schwab's fingertips, Tiger hopes went down the drain.
    Baylor had time to penetrate LSU territory yet again, reaching the 32. Running out the clock on the last play of the game, Trull came up off the cold ground flexing his right arm to throw a scare into the Baltimore Colts and Houston Oilers, both of whom had drafted him in the two competing pro leagues.
    Trull dismissed the concern. Just that old funnybone acting up ... It just tingles for a while - nothing serious. He added that the bitter chill wasn't so bad once we got warmed up. I didn't notice it much.
    FINAL SCORE: BAYLOR 14 LSU 7

Statistics

  • First downs: Baylor 27 LSU 4
  • Yards rushing: Baylor 43-175 LSU 32-103
  • Passing: Baylor 37-26-1/255 LSU 5-1-0/13
  • Return yardage: Baylor 3-42 LSU 6-138
  • Fumbles-Lost: Baylor 1-1 LSU 1-0
  • Penalties: Baylor 2-30 LSU 2-10
  • Punting average: Baylor 34.0 LSU 37.3

Trull, completing a personal best 26 passes, won the game's outstanding back award without much opposition while his mate Ingram took home the most valuable lineman trophy after setting two Bluebonnet Bowl records with 11 receptions for 163y.


Joe Labruzzo


Billy Ezell


Danny Neumann


Don Schwab


Doug Moreau


Remi Prudhomme


Milton Trosclair


Dwight Robinson


Danny LeBlanc

Post-Game

LSU Locker Room

  • McClendon: Baylor just had the football too much. They did a real fine job of executing their plays. We didn't play our game at all, and Baylor's defense was excellent. They controlled the ball and probably had it more than twice as much as we did. (80 plays to 37.) Baylor didn't have to depend on the pass alone. Their running game in key situations gave us as many problems as the pass. I wouldn't have cared about the yards Baylor gained passing if we could have just kept them out of the end zone. You have to give Baylor a lot of credit They played their game, controlled the ball and did a good job of defensing us.
  • Labruzzo on Trull: He's the greatest passer I've played against or seen for that matter. I've never seen anyone like him - not even in movies.
    As Joe thumbed through the game program and spotted Trull's picture, he probably spoke for most of his teammates when he said, I'd sure like to get that guy's autograph.
  • Robinson spoke for the exhausted defense. I feel like I've been chasing rabbits in a wide open field for the past two hours. I won't have any trouble sleeping tonight. I've played against some great passers in my LSU career, but the best came in my last game - Don Trull.

Baylor Locker Room

  • Bridgers was carried into the locker room on his players' shoulders "with a grin as wide as the goal stripe." I don't think I've ever been as proud of a bunch of boys. He described his team's performance as the finest football game that I have ever seen a Baylor team play. Everything went good for us both offensively and defensively. Trull showed why he is great. LSU is one of the finest teams we have played, but we got them off balance. It took a great game for us to beat LSU. ... And that Ingram - he just amazes me. He makes the big play for you. He's a clutch player. And nobody was ever guarded any better than Elkins today. ... We did some ball control of our own today with our throwing. This wasn't our game plan the way we had to pull it out, though. Our game plan was to get ahead and stay there.
  • McClendon shouldered his way into the locker room to congratulate his opposite number. John, our boys are all saying what a great bunch of boys you have, as players and as persons. It hurts to lose, but it's not quite as hard when it's to a team like Baylor. I've told my sophomores they'll never have to worry any more in their whole lives about seeing any more or better passes.
  • Trull modestly praised his teammates. Our entire team played a great game. The wind or wetness didn't bother us at all. We sure wanted this one. Ingram really played a great game. I've never seen anybody guarded as closely as Lawrence(Elkins) was today. They double-teamed Elkins the entire game ... and sometimes had three and four men on him it looked like. ... I think it ought to be pointed out that our defense today did the greatest job it's ever done. They had to give us the chances to save the game. LSU is tough, about as we expected. Don made a comment that revealed something that had been stuck in his craw. They can't talk any more about passing teams being soft after today.
    Trull would play six years in the AFL for the Houston Oilers but never start more than five games in a season.
  • Elkins praised the LSU secondary. Those LSU defenders played a lot of cat and mouse with me all day. They're a fine bunch of people. ... They were really covering us on those pass patterns, but Trull still hit us. Trull had a great game and so did Ingram. Our defense sure played tough.
  • Hoffman, who led Baylor in rushing with 70y: I knew we were going to win all the time. Our line sure did block well. LSU hit as hard as any team we've played.
  • G Ronnie Rogers said LSU's line couldn't be rated with that of Texas. But he added, It sure is going to be tough on down the line though. I think inexperience is the only problem it had this year.

 

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