Cuozzo in many ways is the opposite of his predecessor at Minnesota, Joe
Kapp. Off the field, Cuozzo is a quiet, scholarly type. On the field,
he's not an exciting figure, but a smooth operator with a strong grasp
of the situation.
Bounced about as a back-up quarterback at Baltimore and New Orleans, the
29-year-old 8-year veteran finally found himself in the right place at
the right time in 70. Kapp left the Vikings in a contract dispute, and
Cuozzo at last had an opportunity to prove himself over the long haul.
His own background was not without its spectacular moments. At Baltimore
in '65, he replaced injured Johnny Unitas against the Vikings, of all
people, and threw five touchdown passes. The next day Minnesota coach
Norm Van Brocklin said he was quitting.
Cuozzo was a Phi Beta Kappa at Virginia and later ranked No. 1 in his
graduating class at the University of Tennessee dental school. Since
becoming the Vikings' No. 1 quarterback, he's proved he's smart enough
to capitalize on a good situation when he sees one.
"Cuozzo is an accurate passer and very smart," a scout said. "His
intelligence and accuracy are going to get him by. He doesn't have the
greatest talent as far as throwing the ball but he's aware of what he
can do best. He avoids taking a chance on something where he doesn't
like his chances of succeeding. He's like Len Dawson in that respect.
He's a great believer in doing his thing."
A veteran corner back noted, "Cuozzo is cool as far as running the team
and taking charge. He's a good passer but he doesn't pass that much.
Minnesota has such a good ground game that he doesn't have to put the
ball in the air a lot. He's a smart guy who stays within his
capabilities. He's not spectacular, but he won't spoil his chances
Another defender noted, "Cuozzo has the ability to really pick a
defense. You realize it once you get across the line from him."
At 6-1 and 195, Cuozzo isn't the lusty physical specimen that Kapp is.
He won't dazzle you often, but he'll rarely disappoint you either.
"He is a good field general," a scout said. "He will use what is going
for him. If his running game is going well, he will continue to rely on
it, along with his percentage passes. His theory is ball control.
"Cuozzo is very accurate on his throws and he throws the soft pass, one
that is very easy to catch. He can throw long and has a good touch on
his long passes. He will throw all types of passes: pocket, roll-out,
bootleg. He has the ability to be very high in completion percentage,
but he will not attempt as many passes as most quarterbacks."
Cuozzo is smart enough to know that he doesn't need to as long as things
are going right with the Vikings.