THE SKYLINE CONFERENCE

September 23, 1956

HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:

In the sparsely settled and widely-scattered environs of the Skyline Conference, football is booming. Greatest handicap has been the scarcity of high school football teams in many areas, making it necessary to recruit players from other sections. Now, however, more high schools are playing football, and the quality of young players entering college is improving every year.

Utah, under the guidance of veteran Coach Jack Curtice, is the unanimous pick of players, coaches and populace to regain the title taken, surprisingly, by Colorado A&M last year. Some critics even claim national consideration for the Redskins, whose caliber will be indicated by their opening-night bid on September 21 against the depleted forces of UCLA. Other nonconference opponents on the ambitious Utah schedule are Rice and Colorado.

Right behind Utah and in strong contention is Wyoming, which ended its 1955 season by taking Texas Tech 21-14 in the Sun Bowl. The Cowboys may present the best all-round play in the conference. Phil Dickens, former Tennessee tailback, has added a touch of T to his Tennessee single wing attack in order to increase the defensive problems of his opponents.

Denver should have an offense-minded team with the emphasis on running. There are enough good backs around to make Coach John Roning's split-T click, although the loss of Jimmy Bowen, who led the nation in touchdown pass output in 1955, will undoubtedly soften the aerial game. Denver must be classed as another contender.

The Colorado Aggies, 1955 champions, have a new coach this year in Don Mullison; Bob Davis retired to devote his full time to the athletic directorship. Gone from the scene is Gary Glick, one of the outstanding backs of 1955 and the pros' bonus draft pick. A&M claims to have another potential All-America player in Bob Weber at center, and other coaches substantiate the claim. The Aggie line should be better this year, but the backfield, big and strong, lacks speed.

Utah State has the best backfield it has fielded in recent years, with Halfbacks Jack Hill and John Whatcott, and should be improved if sophomores and transfers come through.

COLORADO A&M
FORT COLLINS, COL.

COLORS: Green and gold.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 8, lost 2.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 21 of 34.

WATCH FOR: Bob Weber, C; Larry Barnes, B; Charles Fisher, T.

THE DOPE: The Rams provided the pros with the bonus draft choice in 1955—Gary Glick, whose spirited efforts led Colorado A&M to its first conference title since 1927. The loss of a back of this stature leaves a tremendous hole in both offense and defense, but Coach Don Mullison has some consolation. He perked up after the spring practice performance of Wayne Walter, who has developed quickly into a very useful right halfback. By moving last year's Fullback Larry Barnes to left half, Mullison created an opening for a transfer, Jim Blackmon. This trio averages an even 200 pounds and has reasonable speed. Since three quarterbacks—topped by regulars Jerry Callahan and Poe Corn—have returned, the Ram attack may not miss Glick too much. The line will be built around Center Bob Weber.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—at Coll. of Pac, N (no game)
Sept. 29—Brigham Young, N (35-0)
Oct. 6—Wyoming, N (14-13)
Oct. 13—at Colorado (10-0)
Oct. 20—at Utah State (26-9)
Oct. 27—Montana (12-7)
Nov. 3—at Xavier (no game)
Nov. 10—Utah (6-27)
Nov. 22—at Denver (20-19)
Dec. 1—at New Mexico (25-0)

UTAH
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

COLORS: Crimson and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: T, wing T.

1955 RECORD: Won 6, lost 3.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 22 of 37.

WATCH FOR: Larry Amizich, T; Larry Fields, B; Stuart Vaughan, B; Chester Franklin, G; Jerry Liston, E.

THE DOPE: The Utes, aiming at football's big time, have taken on the toughest schedule in school history, with UCLA, Rice and Colorado the nonconference opponents. Coach Jack Curtice lost three backfield starters from the 1955 squad, but he has high hopes for a pair of sophomore quarterbacks—Pete Haun and Wally Suba—who will operate his new smorgasbord offense. Curtice says, "My smorgasbord offense is designed to confuse the fans, the opponents and maybe us." The smorgasbord offense is a little bit of everything. The loss of two top ends through scholastic ineligibility makes that position weak; only two tackles have experience and the guard position is only fair, but the Utes have three good centers. "Wait until next year" is the cry.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 21—at UCLA, N (no game)
Sept. 29—Montana, N (no game)
Oct. 6—at Brigham Young, N (41-9)
Oct. 13—Denver, N (27-7)
Oct. 20—at Wyoming (13-23)
Oct. 27—Idaho (20-13)
Nov. 3—at Rice (no game)
Nov. 10—at Colorado A&M (27-6)
Nov. 17—Colorado (7-37)
Nov. 22—Utah State (14-13)

DENVER
DENVER, COLO.

COLORS: Crimson and gold.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 8, lost 2.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 21 of 35.

WATCH FOR: Gene Gatewood, B; Ernie Pitts, E; Dick Gupton, B; Ed Stuart, T.

THE DOPE: The Pioneers lack well-tested strength at two of the really essential positions in any T attack—center and quarterback. First, there is quarterback, where Coach John Roning has given top priority to finding an adequate passer to replace the graduated Jim Bowen. Senior Bob Wegelin knows how to handle the mechanics of the chore well, but his throwing leaves something to be desired. What looked like a difficult replacement task at tackle may be solved with the shift of Senior Ed Stuart from guard, since he was a starter there on the 1954 championship team. Sophomore Sal Cesario is regarded as mature beyond his years in the other tackle position, but the line is by no means as secure as in 1955. All things considered, Denver should mount a more effective running attack this year, with Drake transfer Gene Gatewood and ex-Fullback John Wilson adding speed at halfback and quick Dick Gupton backed by Bill Korn at fullback.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 15—Iowa State, N (19-7)
Sept. 22—at Utah State, N (39-6)
Sept. 29—at Wyoming (6-3)
Oct. 5—Montana, N (61-13)
Oct.13—at Utah, N (7-27)
Oct. 19—Colorado College, N (60-0)
Oct. 26—New Mexico, N (33-6)
Nov. 3—at San Jose State, N (no game)
Nov. 10—Brigham Young (33-0)
Nov. 22—Colorado A&M (19-20)

WYOMING
LARAMIE, WYO.

COLORS: Brown and yellow.

BASIC OFFENSE: Single wing, balanced line.

1955 RECORD: Won 7, lost 3.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 23 of 38.

WATCH FOR: Jim Crawford, B; Ova Stapleton, B; Larry Zowada, B; John Higgins, T; Buster Elder, E.

THE DOPE: The Cowboys have a brilliant first-string backfield built around Tailback Jim Crawford, experienced ends and guards and strong centers. But behind the starters in the backfield it is a long way to the first-line replacements, and the all-important tackle posts will be manned primarily by sophomores. The team, in general, will be light and lightning fast. Crawford runs well inside the tackles, and he will get able help in that department from Fullback Ova Stapleton. Larry Zowada is a capable passer and Wingback John Watts, the conference 440 champion, has all the necessary speed on reverses in Coach Phil Dickens' version of the Tennessee single wing. Sophomore Tackles Bob Houser and Dale Memmelaar must develop quickly to plug a defensive weakness; the backfield starters must last all season without injury; Dickens must come up with an adequate punter.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 15—Colorado Western (no game)
Sept. 22—at Arizona, N (no game)
Sept. 29—Denver (3-6)
Oct. 6—at Colorado A&M, N (13-14)
Oct. 13—New Mexico (20-0)
Oct. 20—Utah (23-13)
Oct. 27—Kansas State (30-20)
Nov. 3—at Utah State (21-13)
Nov. 10—Montana at Billings (35-6)
Nov. 17—at Brigham Young (14-6)

UTAH STATE
LOGAN, UTAH

COLORS: Navy blue and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: T.

1955 RECORD: Won 4, lost 6.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 19 of 29.

WATCH FOR: Jack Hill, B; Tom Ramage, T; John Whatcott, B; Dick Kimball, G; Joe Librizzi, C; Robert Wilson, E; Bob Winters, B.

THE DOPE: The Aggies may have the best back in the Skyline Conference in versatile Jack Hill, a 185-pounder who got a late start in 1955 and still managed to rate high in all offensive statistics. In fact, the whole Aggie backfield should be strong. Helping Hill at the running positions are Fullback Norm Prince and Halfback John Whatcott, and the trio comprises one of the best sets of runners in State history. The line will be strong at end, with experience on both sides. The biggest tackles in the conference were lost by graduation, but a couple of lettermen return for the starting jobs. The biggest loss from the 1955 squad was at guard, where Coach Everette Faunce has shifted a tackle—Dick Kimball—to help out. At center, Joe Librizzi has experience to offset a lack of size. The key to Aggie success lies in the rebuilding of the inside line.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 15—at Drake, N (no game)
Sept. 22—Denver, N (6-39)
Sept. 29—at New Mexico, N (18-0)
Oct. 6—at Arizona, N (no game)
Oct. 13—at Montana (32-6)
Oct. 20—Colorado A&M (9-26)
Oct. 27—Brigham Young (47-21)
Nov. 3—Wyoming (13-21)
Nov. 10—Idaho at Boise (no game)
Nov. 22—at Utah (13-14)

MONTANA
MISSOULA, MONT.

COLORS: Copper, silver and gold.

BASIC OFFENSE: Modified split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 3, lost 7.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 15 of 29.

WATCH FOR: Terry Hurley, E; Stan Renning, G; Ivory Jones, T.

THE DOPE: The Grizzlies enter their second season under an old pro, Coach Jerry Williams, who was one of those lightning-quick halfbacks with both the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles. Up at Missoula, Jerry is optimistic. "We should be much improved," he says, but mindful of his card in the coaches' union, he adds: "We are playing in a conference which is also greatly improved. The success or failure of our season will depend largely on the performance of our sophomores." The key question for the Grizzlies lies at quarterback, where lack of experience is most damaging. Junior Bray, who spelled last year's starter, will probably be the first choice. The ends are numerous and tested, the tackles are big and Williams has three good centers. At guard, those sophomores will have to carry the load. The Grizzlies will throw often, use their running principally to set up the passing game. This puts a heavy blocking load on the young guards and considerable responsibility on the quarterback. The veteran ends should offer good targets for Bray and his replacements.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 15—Arizona at Phoenix (0-29)
Sept. 29—at Utah, N (no game)
Oct. 5—at Denver, N (13-61)
Oct. 13—Utah State (6-32)
Oct. 20—Brigham Young (27-13)
Oct. 27—at Colorado A&M (7-12)
Nov. 3—Montana State (19-0)
Nov. 10—Wyoming at Billings (6-35)
Nov. 17—at New Mexico (19-14)
Nov. 22—Idaho (0-31)

NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N. MEX.

COLORS: Cherry and silver.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 2, lost 8.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 17 of 28.

WATCH FOR: Jerry Apodaca, B; Jerry Nesbitt, G; Glen Hakes, T; Jamie Koch, G.

THE DOPE: The Lobos lack size, depth and experience—in other words, about everything a contender needs. Coach Dick Clausen, in his first year at New Mexico, will install an Oklahoma-style split-T but with none of the ingredients which make it effective. This attack places a premium on continuous all-out effort and needs two essentially equal teams to make it go. Clausen has enough running backs, but he is very thin at tackle and center. At quarterback, the crux of the split-T, he has no one who has proved himself capable of handling the job. For line depth, Clausen must depend on sophomores, the best of whom is Jamie Koch, a 204-pound guard. The most dangerous running backs on the team are small—Jerry Apodaca (167 pounds) and Tony Gray (170 pounds). Says Clausen: "We are a ball club of question marks. It would be foolish to say we have a chance to take conference honors. And depth—well, it's too shallow to wade. We've been picked to finish in the cellar. I'll say we have at least enough bright spots to show us the steps leading out of the cellar."

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—at New Mexico A&M, N (14-7)
Sept. 29—Utah State, N (0-18)
Oct. 6—at Texas Western, N (0-34)
Oct. 13—at Wyoming (0-20)
Oct. 20—Arizona, N (6-27)
Oct. 26—at Denver, N (6-33)
Nov. 3—at Brigham Young (21-16)
Nov. 17—Montana (14-19)
Nov. 24—San Diego State (no game)
Dec. 1—Colorado A&M (0-25)

BRIGHAM YOUNG
PROVO, UTAH

COLORS: Royal blue and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 1, lost 9.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 16 of 33.

WATCH FOR: Ray Neel, E; Ron Jacobson, B; Weldon Jackson, B; Paul Eckel, G.

THE DOPE: The Cougars, long the football patsy of the conference, are aiming for better things. Harold Kopp, the new coach, was New England's coach of the year at Rhode Island University in 1955, and he is the first non-Mormon ever to head the BYU team. Yet it may be a while before he is named coach of the year in this area. He will depend on a wide-open game, hoping to build up the score by out-maneuvering the opposition with a variety of trick plays. Defensively, his team is weak at center and tackle and should offer little resistance. Kopp faces a special problem at BYU in that each year he can expect to lose a certain amount of talent to the Mormon mission field. Eight of 1955's better prospects, including four promising sophomores, will be away this year on mission activity. From what is left, the top hands should be veteran Quarterback Don Dixon; Ron Jacobson, a 190-pound halfback who transferred from Compton Junior College and a fast sophomore halfback, Weldon Jackson. Ray Neel, a senior end, and Jay Weenig, a senior guard, give the line a little ballast.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 15—at Wichita, N (no game)
Sept. 22—Fresno State, N (no game)
Sept. 29—at Colorado A&M, N (0-35)
Oct. 6—Utah, N (9-41)
Oct. 20—at Montana (13-27)
Oct. 27—at Utah State (21-47)
Nov. 3—New Mexico (16-21)
Nov. 10—at Denver (0-33)
Nov. 17—Wyoming (6-14)
Nov. 24—Air Force at Denver (no game)

PHOTOA&M'S BOB WEBER MAY BE ALL-AMERICA PHOTOUTAH COACH CURTICE LIKES SMORGASBORD PHOTODENVER'S ED STUART SWITCHES TO TACKLE PHOTOJIM CRAWFORD, WYOMING OFF-TACKLE RAM PHOTOUTAH STATE'S JACK HILL CARRIES OFFENSE PHOTOMONTANA END TERRY HURLEY, KEY VETERAN PHOTOGUARD JAMIE KOCH HEADS NEW MEXICO LINE PHOTOBYU BACK RON JACOBSON PROVIDES POWER

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)