The ball was on Wisconsin's 13-yard line, but it did not really matter to most Southern California partisans in the Rose Bowl whether the team scored again or not. Quarterback Pete Beathard already had given USC a deliriously comfortable lead. But Beathard was not done. He took the snap and raced out to the left, as he had done all day from USC's I formation, and then, turning, he fired a pass back to the right and down the middle. End Fred Hill caught the ball for the touchdown that eventually won the game from the Big Ten champions, 42-37. It was Pete Beathard's fourth scoring pass of the day, a Rose Bowl record.
"Running left and throwing right, or straight ahead, is one of the most difficult things a passer has to do," says Don Klosterman, talent director of the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs. "And nobody in college football can do it like Pete Beathard."
Klosterman is the most vocal of all Beathard admirers, of whom there are many, including a large sampling of pro scouts. Klosterman, admittedly, has known Beathard since the 6-foot-1, 191-pound Trojan star was in grade school. "When he was a high school freshman, while most kids in his town [El Segundo, Calif.] were learning how to be surfers, Pete was asking how you set up and got the ball away as a pro quarterback," Klosterman says.
September 22, 1963
Beathard did so many things so well a year ago that USC went unbeaten and untied and was the country's unanimous champion. Among his many accomplishments were these: he hit 54 (with only one intercepted) of 107 passes for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns, ran for 290 yards and five more touchdowns and intercepted three passes on defense.
Pete Beathard is a quiet, calculating senior who, despite the success that both he and USC enjoyed in 1962, has worked all summer on his passing. "I think I'm throwing 40% better than I did in my first year," says Beathard. "Mainly I've been interested in trying to get the ball away quicker."
In the annual spring game against the alumni—a glittering squad that included Jon Arnett, Ron Mix and Marlin McKeever, among other pros—Beathard showed that he had lost nothing since his Rose Bowl performance. He completed nine of 14 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown, ran six times for 60 yards and another score, played more than 50% on defense, and the varsity won by the staggering count of 44-6.
In the Far West, Beathard's biggest competition for quarterback awards will come from California's rangy junior Craig Morton, who may be too good to be true. After missing the first five games because of a knee injury, Morton, a 6-foot-4 210-pounder, stepped in against Penn State and put Coach Marv Levy in shock. Morton calmly completed 20 of 28 passes for three touchdowns. He was just as good for the rest of the season. Playing in only half his team's games, Morton connected on 69 of 126 passes for 905 yards and nine touchdowns.
"If his knee holds up, he'll prove he's the greatest," says Levy in this year of superlatives about college quarterbacks. "He's got the darndest arm I've ever seen, he's the toughest kid on the team and the handsomest."
Even use football enthusiasts, who had lived so long with their memories of better days, watched in wonder last year when the Trojans got past 10 straight opponents to win the national championship. Another national title is too much to expect but, with many of the same players returning, USC again will be the best in the West.
Coach Johnny McKay, true to the tradition of his profession, is not so sure. Although he admits that "we're faster than last year and our passing will be as good if not better," McKay complains about a lack of depth. Additionally, he is apprehensive about his schedule. Before they even get to a Big Six rival, the Trojans must play Oklahoma, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State. "Why," says McKay, "we're liable to put a guy in motion and he'll drop dead—from sheer fright."
This USC team is not likely to be scared by anyone. It will be too busy prodding opponents off balance with McKay's shifting T, which is really the I formation jiggered up with precisely timed movement. Pete Beathard is a constant threat at quarterback with his roll-outs and sharpshooting passes to Hal Bedsole, the 6-foot-5 end who moves with astonishing swiftness for a big man, and goes after a pass with the zeal of an octopus. Then there is Willie Brown, the free-swinging halfback. Brown can slither through a line or skip brazenly around it, and he catches passes too. His running mate will be Mike Garrett, a smallish sophomore with major moves.
Good as the backfield is, it is the line that makes USC so formidable. Not big, comparatively, it blocks fiercely and defends with the stubbornness of a Dutch dike. Guard Damon Bame, although only 187 pounds, is a linebacker who delights in smashing ballcarriers head on. The best of all may be Gary Kirner, a 200-pound tackle with the strength to penetrate opposing defenses.
McKay pretends to be unimpressed by these obvious riches. Says he, "I'm picking Stanford to win in the Big Six." Privately, McKay frets about WASHINGTON. The Huskies have suffered critical losses at halfback and center—Charlie Mitchell and Ray Mansfield have left—and Fullback Junior Coffey is out with a broken foot. Only 13 lettermen are back, but all are top-grade players and Coach Jim Owens has a delectable crop of sophomores.
Washington and USC will meet in Seattle on November 2, and the weapon will be the I formation, variations of which are used by both. Retaining the hurried but organized confusion that bewilders almost everybody, the Huskies will peel out of the huddle in two waves, then come back with their blinking I with the end split 15 yards, one halfback set out 10 yards and the other posted behind the fullback. Sometimes all will move on the first signal, other times the deep halfback will go into motion.
Washington will be quick and deft but without Coffey's brutal running power it may not be so damaging. Charlie Browning, who hits hard, is not another Coffey and Washington may have to rely more upon Quarterback Bill Douglas' little passes and the wide sweeps of Halfbacks Dave Kopay and Ron Medved, a slick sophomore runner. But the Huskies have a lively line to help, including Rick Redmond and Rick Sortun, a pair of aggressive 210-pound guards.
"We'll be exciting," predicts Owens, "and capable, I hope, of beating any team we play." He means USC.
Oregon, stripped almost bare in the line, nevertheless figures to be the most dangerous independent in the West. The reason? A rat-tat-tat offense led by Mel Renfro, one of the best runners in college this year. Renfro runs with the easy grace of a hurdler—which he is—and can also bull for short yardage. Should the defense stack against him, it will discover Larry Hill, the other halfback, who can run, too.
Mindful of his team's defensive shortcomings, Coach Len Casanova knows that Oregon will have to score a lot to win. So, with Quarterback Bob Berry, an expert passer, and good split ends like letterman Paul Burleson and sophomore Ray Palm, the Webfoots will pass more.
Oregon State, even without all-everything Terry Baker, will be strong again. The Beavers have 27 lettermen, their line is bigger and deeper and, like almost everybody else, Coach Tommy Prothro will open up his wing T. His gimmick is a floater back to pair off with Vern Burke, the lanky end who was the nation's No. 1 pass receiver last year. There will be another change. Gordon Queen, the new quarterback, will not roll out as Baker did. He will pass from the pocket, mostly to Burke, naturally, and leave the running to Leroy Whittle and Booker Washington.
Arizona State, which led the country in scoring (304 points) and total offense (384.4 yards per game) in 1962, has another racy backfield, with seven men who do the 100 in 10 flat or better (and one of them is Henry Carr, the world record holder in the 220). Halfbacks Charley Taylor and Gene Foster and Fullback Tony Lorick, a halfback last year, ran for 1,509 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. Quarterback John Jacobs completed 77 passes for 14 scores.
Except for Sam Fanelli and Pat Appulese, 230-pound tackles, and Herman Harrison, a 210-pound end, the Sun Devil line is light and fast. It has to be to get out of the way of those backs. Take it from Joe Kush, younger brother of Coach Frank Kush and the pulling guard who leads the sweeps: "You've got to hurry or you'll get run over."
The pity of it all is that ASU cannot win the Western Athletic Conference title; it does not play enough league games. ARIZONA is the most likely choice to win. Coach Jim LaRue has 27 players back. Big, sturdy linemen like Jerry Zeman, a 216-pound tackle, and John Briscoe, a 215-pound guard, will set up a stiff defense while Fullback Ted Christy and Halfback Tom Phillips give the Wildcats a strong inside-outside game.
Despite Arizona's apparent strength, just about everybody in the WAC will have a say in deciding the title, NEW MEXICO, the defending champion, has a solid interior line, led by Eddie Stokes, the all-conference center. However, the Lobos miss the offense they had last year. WYOMING also has a surplus of good linemen but Coach Lloyd Eaton is so desperate for running halfbacks that he moved Rick Desmarais, the team's leading rusher, over from fullback. The move just might put the Cowboys in the race. UTAH will frighten some teams with Quarterback Gary Hertzfeldt's passing and Fullback Doug Wasko's inside power lunges. Unfortunately the Utes yield too readily on defense, BRIGHAM YOUNG could be the real spoiler. The Cougars have 31 experienced players, and the defense, Coach Hal Mitchell's biggest worry in 1962, is stauncher. Although Tailback Eldon Fortie is gone, BYU will be sprightly with Phil Brady and Ron Stewart, a fast sophomore, running out of Mitchell's variable single wing.
On the Coast the emphasis will be on changing offenses. STANFORD fired Coach Jack Curtice and now John Ralston, who did so well at Utah State, has injected life into the Indians with the wing T. He moved two quarterbacks to halfback and gave the quarterback job to Clark Weaver, who throws short passes well. Stanford's first line averages 226 pounds from tackle to tackle and Marv Harris, shifted from guard to center, is as good as any lineman in the West. But the Indians are slow.
At UCLA, Coach Bill Barnes retooled his T for more flexibility. He also has a passer in Steve Sindell, a Junior College All-America from Santa Monica City College. But Sindell is no runner and the Bruins may have to go with Larry Zeno at quarterback, who runs better than he throws. UCLA, happily, has Mike Haffner, the shifty tailback who sat out last year with a knee injury, and Mel Profit, the 6-foot-5 end, an outstanding pass receiver, blocker and tackier. The player to watch, though, is Russ Banducci, a 215-pound sophomore guard, who may one day be better than his father, Bruno, the old pro lineman.
Just about the only enjoyable moments CALIFORNIA'S Marv Levy had last fall came when Craig Morton was throwing the ball. His other backs had trouble getting to the line of scrimmage and the defense had more holes than a swordfish net. It was almost enough to make Levy turn in his Phi Beta Kappa key. Instead he brought in three new assistants, switched to the flanker T and discarded the monster defense for a wide tackle six. Morton will still pass a lot but the running will be more spirited and the line more respectable. The Bears will not win too often but at least they will have a snappier look.
Washington State will be hard to beat. Its interior line is bursting with holdovers, and Quarterback Dave Mathieson will be throwing to Split End Gerry Shaw. The Cougars also will run more.
Utah State is one of the West's lustier independents. Tony Knap, who moved up from line coach to replace John Ralston, put in the I formation in the spring and blithely announced, "We expect to pass 50% of the time." Knap just happens to have an exciting, exacting passer in Quarterback Bill Munson and a superb receiver in Jim McNaughton, a 225-pound 6-foot-2 end. He also has some nifty runners. But the Aggies' interior line is spotty. The lack will cost them some games.
New Mexico State will be improved. The Aggies still have Preacher Pilot, the powerful tailback who led the nation in rushing in 1961 and 1962. Coach Warren Woodson also has two mammoth-sized transfers, 230-pound Tackle Willie Adams and 220-pound End Verna Green, and Earnest Johnson, a fast 200-pound sophomore guard.
The other teams in the region will have to settle for small favors.
Beathard does everything
A strong line will see USC through
Accent on speed at Arizona State