Football's '55 tour de force takes the stage on Saturday, September 17. It will swagger to its full strength the following Saturday and refuse to be relegated to the background even for a moment until the last bowl game has been played. The swirl of a major league pennant race or a Marciano-Moore heavyweight championship fight—yes, even the World Series—will be only of passing interest in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Columbus, Atlanta, Miami and many more citadels of football.
Gone are the days when the football powers played only "breathers" until the second or third week of October. Take a glance at some of the openers on the 17th. A double-header in Atlanta pits Georgia Tech against the University of Miami in the afternoon and Mississippi against Georgia under the lights. Pittsburgh plays California, Texas takes on Texas Tech, Missouri meets Maryland, UCLA entertains Texas A&M (the night of the 16th) and Florida meets Mississippi State—to mention only a few of what used to be midseason attractions. Only the staid East and the solid Midwest wait for the 24th.
The changing times not only have brought on the demise of the "soft" schedules but, concurrently, the complete about-face of college football coaches' traditional pessimism. Gone are the Gloomy Gils who never had the material which was bestowed in such bounteous bundles on their opponents, yet always managed to win from that selfsame opposition, leaving the only and obvious conclusion that the coach's genius pulled it off. The 1955 version of the college coach shoots pretty straight with both press and public in evaluating his team's chances. This is, to say the least, refreshing.
So, once again, I have made my selection of the 11 best college football teams for the current season; in other words, my 11 All-America teams, by contrast with the usual 11 individual All-America players. For the most part they are perennial powerhouses. Seven of the 11 were on my 1954 list. Few will finish the season unbeaten. Many meet each other. The round robin starts with Maryland and UCLA on September 24 and ends with the Army-Navy clash on November 26. In the interim will be upsets, near upsets and glorious goal line stands; but when the smoke of battle is cleared by December's chilling winds I expect the 11 teams which I have chosen to be at or near the top.
September 11, 1955
The line of demarcation between these 11 teams and the rest of the field is difficult to draw. My old West Point coaching compatriot, Andy Gustafson, has his Miami Hurricanes confidently poised for the big blow. If they can win the opener from Georgia Tech and can beat such stalwarts as Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Texas Christian, Alabama and at the same time never forget their finale with hungry Florida, they will deserve to be on top of the heap. But the assignment is a staggering one. Auburn, which handed Miami its only defeat (14-13) last year, is loaded lor bear. The Tigers were slow to start in 1954, along with Maryland, but both were among the toughest teams extant at the season's end.
If Texas Tech can get by its opening duo of Texas and Texas Christian it can conceivably go clean the rest of the way. West Virginia, with the sensational southpaw quarterback Fred Wyant pitching passes, has a good chance of remaining unbeaten at the end of a not too difficult schedule. Likewise, Len Dawson could set the Big Ten on fire with his pinpoint passing to the giant Purdue ends. Minnesota, my dark horse of last year, could make all predictions look silly. And lest we forget, out on the Coast they are saying that this is a Trojan year, and it's not idle talk either. But why go on?
For the fans there is only one important rule change from last season. It adds up to this: a player, provided he started the quarter, may re-enter the game once during that same quarter. This is a slight concession to the free-substitution addicts. Last year, as you may remember, a player could re-enter the game in the same quarter only in the last four-minute segments of the second and fourth.
Offensively, the split T formation still dominates the field, with the regular or Bear T next in popularity. The variations used, however, make any resemblances to the originals purely coincidental. Quite a few colleges, such as Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Southern California use the so-called multiple offense, shifting from an unbalanced (four men on one side of the center, two on the other) single wing to a T or Split T. Red Sanders at UCLA and Bowden Wyatt, at Arkansas last season and now at Tennessee, are the only coaches of note using the Tennessee balanced-line single wing. It might be worthwhile noting that both won their conference championships.
Defensively, the swing has been to a box type of defense which is basically a 5-4-2, devised primarily to use against the split T. The scheme is so well masked that only the coach himself can tell the formation of the moment, and most of the time he doesn't know until he studies the pictures the next day. Sometimes the team lines up with nine men on the line of scrimmage when the ball is ready for play, but mentally four of them are ready to leap back into the secondary as linebackers. With all this going on, it's better not to try to figure out the defensive alignments at all.
So, despite the dire predictions of the two-platoonists a couple of years ago, Football is back again, bigger and better than ever. But enough of this. Let's take a look at the 11 best elevens. For better or for worse, I'm stuck with them.
WEST POINT, N.Y.
BASIC OFFENSE: T, balanced line
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 15; STARS: Pat Uebel, F; Ralph Chesnauskas, T; Bob Kyasky, H; Don Holleder, Q; Art Johnson, E.
LETTERMEN LOST: 9
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Bill Saunders, E; Stan Slater, G.
1954 RECORD: Won 7, lost 2.
Sept. 24—Furman at home
Oct. 1—Penn State at home
Oct. 8—Michigan at Ann Arbor
Oct. 15—Syracuse at home
Oct. 22—Columbia at home
Oct. 29—Colgate at home
Nov. 5—Yale at New Haven
Nov. 12—Pennsylvania at Philadelphia
Nov. 26—Navy at Philadelphia
COACH RED BLAIK SAYS:
Personnel deficiences both in the line and backfield have forced many positional changes. To many of our followers it suggests a marked weakness. However, the Army squad has indicated, "You make the changes—we'll do the playing." What more could a coach wish?
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
Army teams, even before the great era of Colonel Blaik began 14 years ago, were trademarked by defensive stubbornness, and it's my guess this year's edition will have this phase of the game well in hand. Last year's weaknesses were primarily in the linebacker and tackle positions. Many experiments to improve these were conducted during spring practice and are being conducted now. Ralph Chesnauskas and Flay Goodwin, starting guards in '54, have been moved to tackle. Two yearlings, Guard Stan Slater and End Bill Saunders, will also bolster the line. But guards switching to tackle is nothing compared to taking Don Holleder, an All-America end, and making a quarterback out of him in order to fill the shoes of the departed Pete Vann. Bob Kyasky (9.9 for the hundred in track) can run like the wind at left half. Captain Pat Uebel at fullback has speed, strength, high knee action and a determined desire to run over somebody. Mike Zeigler played practically as much at right half last year as Bell. If Kyasky, injured again last week, can remain whole for the better part of the season the team that led the nation last year in total offense as well as rushing may be scarcely less potent than a year ago.
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
BASIC OFFENSE: Single wing, balanced line.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 23; STARS:
Bob Davenport, F; Jim Decker, H; Rommie Loudd, E; Hardiman Cureton, T.
LETTERMEN LOST: 12
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Jim Matheny, C; Esker Harris, G.
1954 RECORD: Won 9, lost 0. Pacific Coast Conference champions.
Sept. 16—Texas A&M at home (night)
Sept. 24—Maryland at College Park
Oct. 1—Washington State at Pullman
Oct. 7—Oregon State at home (night)
Oct. 15—Stanford at Palo Alto
Oct. 21—Iowa at home (night)
Oct. 29—California at home
Nov. 5—Col. Pacific at Stockton (night)
Nov. 12—Washington at home
Nov. 19—USC at Los Angeles
COACH RED SANDERS SAYS:
We have a large rebuilding job to do. With the entire starting line gone, we'll have some pretty inexperienced linemen. We are also undertaking the most difficult schedule we ever faced. We must face these clubs with the same spirit and determination that have characterized our past teams.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
Gone from the scene at UCLA is one of the great forward walls of collegiate football in recent years. The line is in a process of revolution. Hardiman Cureton, recently elected the first Negro captain in UCLA history, has been switched from guard to a tackle post, to the chagrin of many spring practice prognosticators who had long ago picked him as an All-America guard. The big switch also brought 220-pound Don Shin-nick, a third-string fullback last year, to a guard spot. Rommie Loudd, a 205-pound senior, looks safe as a starter at one end, and Johnny Hermann, a fine pass receiver switched from wingback, will probably be the other end.
Two great fullbacks, All-America Bob Davenport and Doug Peters, anchor the backfield. Veteran Jim Decker is a fixture at wingback. The tailback position has depth galore. Doug Bradley, a stocky 5-foot 7-inch 170-pounder who was an early season starter last year, will probably get the nod. The much publicized transfer, Ronnie Knox, has had his troubles, but he is big and rugged, a fine passer and punter. He could catch fire and become the starter.
BASIC OFFENSE: Spread T, belly series.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 21; STARS: Jimmy Morris, C; Wade Mitchell, Q; Franklin Brooks, G; Jimmy Thompson, H.
LETTERMEN LOST: 23
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Stan Flowers, H; W. A. Glazier, G.
1954 RECORD: Won 7, lost 3. Beat Arkansas in Cotton Bowl 14-6.
Sept. 17—Miami (Fla.) at home
Sept. 24—Florida at Gainesville
Oct. 1—SMU at home
Oct. 8—LSU at Baton Rouge (night)
Oct. 15—Auburn at home
Oct. 22—Florida State at home
Oct. 29—Duke at home
Nov. 5—Tennessee at Knoxville
Nov. 12—Alabama at Birmingham
Nov. 26—Georgia at home
COACH BOBBY DODD SAYS:
We'll have a very colorful ball club in 1955. We'll be capable of scoring from anywhere. We lack experience at end and our tackles are weak. Center will be strong if Morris isn't injured.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
Despite the loss of 23 lettermen this will be a typical Tech team—explosive but never overpowering on the offense. "Smart" best describes their defensive play. Teams can control the ball for four or five yards per try against them (and that is just what Miami, with a driving, control type of offense, might do on September 17), but seldom does the defense permit long touchdown runs or passes. Pursuit and "defense in depth" have spelled much of Tech's success. The usual complement of breakaway backs are on hand, with Paul Rotenberry at left half and, always a fixture on a Tech squad, a rabbit back—this year, Jimmy Thompson, 148 pounds, at right half. Stan Flowers, a 190-pound sophomore, may make these backs move over. Few quarterbacks surpass Wade Mitchell as a field general, ball handler, passer and in flawless defensive play. Jimmy Morris at center and Franklin Brooks at guard are All-America candidates, although they are dwarfed by 6-foot 6-inch, 224-pound Tackle Carl Vereen. Tech may lose a couple of games, but, as usual, they will probably be in some bowl game come New Year's. And by the way, they have never lost one under the tutelage of Bobby Dodd.
IOWA CITY, IOWA
BASIC OFFENSE: Single wing, unbalanced T and split T. Multiple offense.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 19; STARS: Calvin Jones, G; Earl Smith, H; Frank Gilliam, E; Eddie Vincent, H.
LETTERMEN LOST: 11
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Alex Karras, G; Bill Van Buren, C; Collins Hagler, H; Jim Gibbons, E.
1954 RECORD: Won 5, lost 4.
Sept. 24—Kansas State at home
Oct. 1—Wisconsin at Madison
Oct. 8—Indiana at home
Oct. 15—Purdue at home
Oct. 22—UCLA at Los Angeles (night)
Oct. 29—Michigan at Ann Arbor
Nov. 5—Minnesota at home
Nov. 12—Ohio State at Columbus
Nov. 19—Notre Dame at South Bend
COACH FOREST EVASHEVSKI SAYS:
I believe that for the first time in my four years at Iowa we will not be outmanned, providing some of the new men come through. We have experienced men in most spots, our speed is adequate and we have veteran quarterbacks.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
The Hawkeyes, with seven starters returning, are loaded and confident. They had better be. Take a glance at their schedule: six conference games, which include the tough ones, and for extracurricular activities Notre Dame and UCLA—all this after opening with Kansas State. There may be a tougher schedule in 1955, but I'll stick with this one. To combat this "murderers' row," Iowa has veterans at all line positions. Led by All-America Captain Calvin Jones at guard, it will average 217 pounds from end to end. Eddie Vincent, No. 1 rusher in last year's Big Ten with an average 6.9 yards per try and a net of 566 yards, returns to the right half position. Speedster Earl Smith, who led the league in scoring with 48 points, will be at left half. Jerry Reichow is a competent quarterback who completed 46% of his passes last year. Coach Forest Evashevski's multiple offense is supposedly much improved, supported by a fine group of sophomores. But I repeat: he will need everything to get through that schedule. If Iowa goes undefeated I will vote them the No. 1 team of the nation.
COLLEGE PARK, MD.
BASIC FORMATION: Split T.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 19; STARS: Bob Pellegrini, C; Frank Tamburello, Q; Bill Walker, E; Ed Vereb, H.
LETTERMEN LOST: 14
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Fred Hamilton, H; Don Healy, T; Jack Healy, H; John McVicker, H.
1954 RECORD: Won 7, lost 2, tied 1.
Sept. 17—Missouri at Columbia
Sept. 24—UCLA at home
Oct. 1—Baylor at Waco (night)
Oct. 8—Wake Forest at home
Oct. 15—North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Oct. 22—Syracuse at Syracuse
Oct. 29—South Carolina at home
Nov. 5—LSU at home
Nov. 12—Clemson at Clemson
Nov. 19—George Washington at home
COACH JIM TATUM SAYS:
Barring any injuries to key personnel, Maryland's 1955 team should be better than in 1954. We have a good line, one that could be the fastest in my tenure at Maryland. Center Bob Pellegrini is a great football player, maybe the best lineman in the country. Quarterback Frank Tamburello gives us outstanding confidence at the signal-calling position. He is a tremendous one-platoon football player.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
No team in the country last year displayed a more awesome offense than did the Terps toward the end of the season. I saw their spring practice finale against the alumni team composed for the most part of active professional players. Though they lost, the performance of the Maryland squad was most impressive. The big difference over last year lies in the line, especially the tackle position. I have talked with many opposing coaches, and they all agree that Bob Pellegrini is without peer as a linebacker, and his offensive blocking at the center position is plenty potent. I agree with Jim Tatum's hopeful estimate of Quarterback Frank Tamburello. As a sophomore last fall he was an excellent signal caller and ball handler, and on the defense he was a joy to behold. Red Sanders says, without hesitation, that Maryland was by far the best team his Bruins faced last fall. The battle of the titans takes place at College Park this year and I'm going to be there to see it on September 24.
ANN ARBOR, MICH.
BASIC FORMATION: Single wing, some T.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 24; STARS: Ron Kramer, E; Lou Baldacci, Q, F; Tony Branoff, H.
LETTERMEN LOST: 9.
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Jim Pace, H; Bill MacPhee, C.
1954 RECORD: Won 6, lost 3.
Sept. 24—Missouri at home
Oct. 1—Michigan State at home
Oct. 8—Army at home
Oct. 15—Northwestern at home
Oct. 22—Minnesota at Minneapolis
Oct. 29—Iowa at home
Nov. 5—Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
Nov. 12—Indiana at home
Nov. 19—Ohio State at home
COACH BENNIE OOSTERBAAN SAYS:
We should be better than last year, with a more experienced team, but we have definite problems at both tackles and fullback. We'd also like more strength at left half.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
A quiet confidence prevails. And why not? Twenty-four lettermen are returning from what was probably the surprise team of the Western Conference last fall, finishing in a tie with Wisconsin for second place. Bennie Oosterbaan believes that he has the best end squad in the country, headed by the incomparable Ron Kramer and his running mate Tom Maentz at the opposite flank and aided and abetted by capable reserves. The backfield will be the speediest in Wolverine history. Terry Barr, Tom Hendricks and Sophomore Jim Pace at left half are the fastest trio in one position in the country.
Tony Branoff seems sound after a successful knee operation last spring and should make the right half position another strong point of the offense. Depth is assured by his stocky understudy, Ed Shannon, who filled in so capably last season when he was injured. Probably the most valuable man on the squad next to Kramer is Louis Baldacci, who will be either the first-string quarterback or, more likely, the first-string fullback, a position where there is a real weakness. Junior Jim Maddock, who alternated with him at quarter last season, should competently handle the quarterback chores. The tackle positions, with only two reserve lettermen returning, still need fortifying. Barring the knee injury bugaboo the Wolverines should be in contention all the way.
BASIC FORMATION: Split T.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 9; STARS: George Welsh, Q; Ron Beagle, E; Wilson Whitmire, C; Earle Smith, E.
LETTERMEN LOST: 18.
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Ned Oldham, H; Tony Stremic, G.
1954 RECORD: Won 7, lost 2. Beat Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl 21-0.
Sept. 24—William & Mary at home
Oct. 1—South Carolina at Columbia
Oct. 8—Pittsburgh at home
Oct. 15—Penn State at University Park
Oct. 22—Pennsylvania at Philadelphia
Oct. 29—Notre Dame at South Bend
Nov. 5—Duke at home
Nov. 12—Columbia at New York
Nov. 26—Army at Philadelphia
COACH EDDIE ERDELATZ SAYS:
We lost 21 of the 38-man Sugar Bowl squad. The starting line returns intact except for guards Len Benzi and Alex Aronis. However, Quarterback George Welsh is the only holdover from the starting backfield. Our big problems are halfback and guard. We lost our top four men in each position. The enthusiasm and desire is still very much in evidence. I think we'll have a good season.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
Eddie Erdelatz climaxed his "five-year plan" at Annapolis last year with a brilliant win over Army for a 4-1 series record against Colonel Blaik's Cadets, plus an unexpectedly easy win over Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. This year's Navy team could be a disappointment. After watching them against the two aforementioned teams last season, however, I'm going to have to stick with them until I find out differently. If the same motivation still impels them and nothing happens to George Welsh, they can give anybody trouble—and will. Welsh captured my fancy more than any other player last season. Outwardly calm, cool and quick, with a flaming competitive spirit, he did everything well and at the right split second. Ron Beagle, All-America end, spearheads a mobile, aggressive and experienced line. Though not too large, this forward wall can best be described as "they hit and flit," and those are my quotations. Navy can repeat, but the road will be rougher.
SOUTH BEND, IND.
BASIC OFFENSE: Split T.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 17; STARS: Ray Lemek, G; Don Schaefer, F; Wayne Edmonds, T; Paul Hornung, Q.
LETTERMEN LOST: 18.
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Dick Wilkins, H; Aubrey Lewis, H; Dick Prendergast, E.
1954 RECORD: Won 9, lost 1.
Sept. 24—SMU at home
Oct. 1—Indiana at home
Oct. 7—Miami (Fla.) at Miami (night)
Oct. 15—Michigan State at East Lansing
Oct. 22—Purdue at Lafayette
Oct. 29—Navy at home
Nov. 5—Pennsylvania at Philadelphia
Nov. 12—North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nov. 19—Iowa at home
Nov. 26—USC at Los Angeles
COACH TERRY BRENNAN SAYS:
We will have many problems as the season starts. We are going to have a fighting team, one that will never give up, but we face too many experienced clubs too early. Our chances for a good season depend on a scarcity of injuries and a few breaks during the early games. But the team spirit and the will to win will always be there.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
Last year at this time Terry Brennan was facing his first season as a college head coach. Gone from the undefeated squad of '53 were 16 lettermen including such greats as Johnny Lattner, Neil Worden, Jim Schrader and Menil Mavraides. This season the situation is about the same, with 18 lettermen lost, including all but one of the starting line. A glaring opening is left by the graduation of the great Ralph Guglielmi at quarterback and his understudy Tom Carey. Paul Hornung, long Gugie's heir apparent, has now been moved from fullback to take over the position. If Captain Ray Lemek's knee holds up after the operation he had this spring there will be few better guards around. Tackle Wayne Edmonds will also be heard from in the line. Don Schaefer, Jimmy Morse and Paul Reynolds are the leading veteran backs returning. Maybe I'm going away out on the limb but it has been a long, long time since I've seen a Notre Dame team that didn't finish the season close to the top. As old Patrick Henry said—I think: "The only way to judge the future is but by the past."
BASIC FORMATION: Split T and T.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 20; STARS: Howard Cassady, H; Frank Machinsky, T; Jim Parker, G; Ken Vargo, C; Jerry Harkrader, H.
LETTERMEN LOST: 16.
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Leo Brown, E; Aurelius Thomas, G.
1954 RECORD: Won 9, lost 0. Defeated USC in the Rose Bowl 20-7.
Sept. 24—Nebraska at home
Oct. 1—Stanford at Palo Alto
Oct. 8—Illinois at home
Oct. 15—Duke at home
Oct. 22—Wisconsin at Madison
Oct. 29—Northwestern at home
Nov. 5—Indiana at home
Nov. 12—Iowa at home
Nov. 19—Michigan at Ann Arbor
COACH WOODY HAYES SAYS:
We have on our squad eight proven Big Ten football players. Although we won't be nearly as big as last year, we should have a little more speed. All told, it should be one of our most colorful teams.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
I underrated the Buckeyes at the beginning of the season last year. They were a competent, well-coached squad which proved itself every time the chips were down and picked up momentum as the season progressed. Ohio still has the nucleus of a championship squad. The first team is solid and experienced, with the exception of the quarterback position. Bill Booth, who saw extremely little action last year, is expected to handle it. The team lacks a competent punter and, of course, Little Tad Weed's left-footed placements will be sorely missed. But on the positive side are the redoubtable Howard Cassady and Jerry Harkrader at halfbacks, possibly the best halfback combination in the country, with plenty of speed to the outside coupled with power to the inside. These brilliant stars are well fortified with substitutes of ability. The line is led by the great Ken Vargo at center and Jim Parker at guard. There are five lettermen available at tackle. Two lettermen ends, Bill Michael and Fred Kriss, will probably start. Rising sophomores have quality and quantity, so the "new look" at Columbus may continue.
BASIC FORMATION: Split T.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 23; STARS: Bo Bolinger, G; Jerry Tubbs, C; Jimmy Harris, Q; Bob Burris, H.
LETTERMEN LOST: 14.
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Dennit Morris, C; Benton Ladd, T; Clendon Thomas, H.
1954 RECORD: Won 10, lost 0.
Sept. 24—No. Carolina at Chapel Hill
Oct. 1—Pittsburgh at home
Oct. 8—Texas at Dallas
Oct. 15—Kansas at home
Oct. 22—Colorado at home
Oct. 29—Kansas State at Manhattan
Nov. 5—Missouri at Columbia
Nov. 12—Iowa State at home
Nov. 19—Nebraska at Lincoln
Nov. 26—Oklahoma A&M at home
COACH BUD WILKINSON SAYS:
We should be reasonably solid from tackle to tackle, but our coaching staff faces a real challenge in developing adequate strength at both ends, all four backfield positions and in front line reserves for all positions. We must try to solve these problems quickly; our toughest games come up in the first half of our schedule.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
The Sooners have the best chance of any of the 11 elevens to go through the season undefeated. Probably through no fault of their own the schedule is not too exacting. Some great stars graduated from last season's undefeated team, but Bud Wilkinson's organizational ability plus excellent coaching will remedy the situation to the satisfaction of all Oklahoma supporters. Guard Bo Bolinger is a shoo-in for All-American if he doesn't break a leg. He is a rugged Marciano-type linebacker and an explosive blocker. Center Jerry Tubbs was the Sooner's No. 1 fullback last year as a sophomore, netting 387 yards rushing and averaging 6.1 yards per try. The backfield prospects must not be too bleak because he has been shifted back to center, his original position. Quarterback Jimmy Harris, a "raw sophomore," stepped into the breach last year when Gene Calame was injured, and drove the team to victory over unexpected tough opposition against TCU and Texas. Always excepting an upset, the Sooners can scarcely miss another undefeated season.
BASIC FORMATION: T.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 16; STARS: Eddie Rayburn, T; Marshall Crawford, E; Jerry Hall, F; Jay Riviere, G.
LETTERMEN LOST: 10.
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: King Hill, Q; Frank Ryan, Q; Virgil Mutschink, H; Charles Thompson, T.
1954 RECORD: Won 7, lost 3.
Sept. 24—Alabama at home (night)
Oct. 1—LSU at home (night)
Oct. 8—Clemson at home (night)
Oct. 15—SMU at Dallas (night)
Oct. 22—Texas at Austin Oct.
Oct. 29—Kentucky at Lexington
Nov. 5—Arkansas at home
Nov. 12—Texas A&M at home
Nov. 19—TCU at Fort Worth
Nov. 26—Baylor at home
COACH JESS NEELY SAYS:
We have 16 lettermen returning this year. We have a pretty good first team line. No doubt they will do a good job. The big problem is replacements. Most of them are sophomores, and while some look very good they have yet to be proven. Our passing will depend on how the offense comes along. However, I definitely think we'll throw much more this year than we did last season.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
How much Dickie Moegle will be missed is the big question mark at Rice as Coach Jess Neely starts his 16th year with the Owls. Other losses were All-SWC Guard Kenny Paul and Don Costa, his running mate, along with Lamoine Holland at end and Morris Stone at halfback. There is depth and talent at quarterback. Pinky Nisbet led the league last year with a .597 average for completions, although he didn't throw but 62 times. Two rising sophomores are after his job, and don't be surprised if they get it; King Hill and Frank Ryan were sensations in freshman football. Virgil Mutschink, another sophomore, is a likely replacement for Moegle at left half. Not quite as fast in the open field, he has the unteachable knack of picking his holes and going all the way. Jerry Hall and Jack Throckmorton are a pair of powerful fullbacks with plenty of speed. The capable line is led by Tackle Eddie Rayburn. If some of the sophomores come through in expected style Jess Neely's 25th anniversary as a big-time coach will be a happy one.
HOW HERMAN PICKED 'EM
Ripened and confident after a year among the pundits, Herman Hickman this season sets forth on his annual tour of the football fields with a solid record behind him. Of his 11 top elevens in 1954, only Illinois, Texas and Iowa failed to live up to his preseason expectations. The final score of HICKMAN'S HUNCHES, the weekly predictions which he will again begin for SI next week, showed a healthy .727 average. Herman's choice for the 11 top teams of 1955 is not, however, based merely on past records. To pick them out he visited and talked during the past fortnight with coaches, assistant coaches, players and other major and minor prophets in colleges from one end of the country to the other. Sifting and evaluating all opinions and weighing them against his own personal observations, SI's expert, an All-America football player and formerly a big-time coach, has now come up with his list. "My neck's on the block now," says he. "The rest is up to history."