The anticipation of an opportunity not to be missed may be well-nigh unbearable on the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge this fall. Possibly not for another five years will the Bengals see the prize of being ranked No. 1 college team in the country dangled at such close range. This year they will be 1-0 after the first Saturday, unlike the last two and likely the next two, when they open against Colorado. That is because the first opponent is Pacific. And by early November, when they confront their two toughest opponents, Ole Miss and Alabama, the Bengals should be a vote-grabbing 6-0.
Emerging from what Head Coach Charlie McClendon called "the best spring game we've had," LSU seemed to have enormous potential. Despite the loss of some real stars from last year, McClendon faces his 11th season with an overflow of football talent.
The offense is especially formidable, led by Quarterbacks Bert Jones and Paul Lyons. Jones, a nicely sized 6'3", is the passer. During the last six games of LSU's 9-3 season last year, which included a Sun Bowl victory over Iowa State, he completed 50 of 80 pass attempts for 838 yards, nine touchdowns and, remarkably, not a single interception. Lyons, a sturdy 5'11", 186 pounds, is a running quarterback and a fiery leader. He gained 394 yards on 101 carries from out behind center last year (a total which includes 106 yards lost through sacking) and scored six touchdowns. He also passed for 11 touchdowns and holds the school record of 17 touchdowns produced in a single season.
Veteran Bengal watchers think they see a super running back looming on the scene also. He is chunky sophomore Brad Davis, supposedly the best runner at LSU since Jim Taylor. The span of years since Taylor takes in Billy Cannon, which would indeed seem to make Davis something very special. Last year's leading ground-gainer, Tailback Art Cantrelle, is gone, but Chris Dantin, who averaged more than four yards a burst as Cantrelle's often visible backup, returns for his senior year. Up from the frosh, along with Davis, comes versatile Brad Bowman, who is fast and strong and can catch a pass as well, and Steve Rogers, a 6'3", 194-pound tailback. No single receiver seems capable of fully replacing Andy Hamilton (45 catches, nine touchdowns), but the lack of individual brilliance should be more than compensated for by quality en masse.
The loss of Halfback Tommy Casanova and Tackle Ron Estay has prompted some snipping and pasting in the defense, but it will be experienced and sound and certainly no disgrace to the long tradition of tenacious defenders that exists at LSU. The Bengals—and their chances for a national title—have seldom seemed better.
Nebraska has another in its unending series of football problems. This headache follows the standard UN pattern. After speaking with appropriate awe of unstoppable Middle Guard Rich Glover, all-slipperiest Slot-back Johnny Rodgers and pass-mashing Defensive End Willie Harper, a Cornhusker assistant said disconsolately, "There are eight other men we should nominate, but I guess there's no way we're going to get 11 All-Americas." There, there, Nebraska. Self-pity will get you nowhere. But we do grant the basic point. Joe Blahak could be the best cornerback in the country; monsterman Dave Mason got 135 yards in interceptions last year; Jerry List is the best tight end Coach Bob Devaney has ever had; Fullback Bill Olds averages seven yards per carry; Bill Janssen and 6'7" John Dutton have been making people, particularly quarterbacks, forget about Larry Jacobson at defensive tackle; Center Doug Dumler makes Glover hate spring practice and look forward to fall, when he draws easier matchups; and Tackle Daryl White was one of the country's outstanding sophomores. But most of these players will have to be content with trivial honors like All-Big Eight or All-South of the Niobrara. Adversity builds character. By that measure, Nebraska might be presumed to receive some toughening of moral fiber from reliance on two sophomore quarterbacks to replace Jerry Tagge. But blue-chip redshirt Humm's first name is David, not Ho, while Luck's real name is Terry, not Lotsa and both have promise and a juggernaut to work with. Gary Dixon—although good (515 yards rushing as a sub)—may not be quite a Kinney at I-back, but fullback is quarry-deep with Maury Damkroger and Jim Carstens behind Olds. Linebacker loses something, but Jim Branch, Bill Sloey and Johnny Pitts looked extremely bright in spring work and sophomores Bob Nelson and Tom Ruud showed strength. UN's secondary, after Blahak and Randy Borg, might be more of a question were it not for two local walk-ons, George Kyros and Ardell Johnson, who provide more speed at free safety than last year and make a man-to-man possible. Frosty Anderson and Bob Revelle seem good answers to one slight offensive question at split end. Nebraska, which last year annihilated 13 opponents by an average score of 39-8 and Osterized Alabama 38-6 in the Orange Bowl, could be as much of a shock this year. The entire team—backs and linemen, offense and defense—averages 4.77 in a 40-yard dash. "Our players haven't given up the thought that a third championship, while improbable, is not impossible," blandly says old fox Devaney. "Our coaches have not thrown up their hands at the idea. And the fans figure it's a certainty." They do indeed. But 11 more wins, plus a bowl game, may be one too many to ask.
3 OHIO STATE
Everyone in the Big Ten was looking forward to last year. After three seasons of getting kicked around by the team of Kern, Tatum, Stillwagon, Brockington and the rest, they were about to get even with Ohio State and Woody Hayes. Then the Buckeyes beat Iowa 52-21 in the opener and that was the hint that maybe only the names of the players had changed. Sure enough, after seven games the team was 6-1 and undefeated in the conference. Finally, with half the club in the hospital—altogether, 16 players underwent surgery—the Buckeyes dropped their last three games by the scores of 17-10, 14-10 and 10-7. So revenge was only partial and, it would seem, brief.
If everybody's stitching doesn't come undone, the Bucks should win the Big Ten title. Thirty-six lettermen, including 14 starters, and two letter winners from 1970 who missed last year with injuries, warmed the heart of Hayes during spring drills. "We've got a lot of good football players," concedes Hayes. 'Not too many great ones. We've got to make great ones out of what we've got."
Modesty aside, Hayes will not hesitate to go with sophomores and he has a few good-great ones. Harold Henson covets the tailback position. He led the frosh in rushing and will fulfill a prophecy made by his father, who raised Harold on a farm 19 miles from Columbus, Ohio. "I used to take him up to the stadium each Saturday and tell him, 'If you do what I teach you, someday you can play here,' " recalls the elder Henson.
Another of the youngsters to draw the inevitable comparisons between himself and the fabled departed is Randy Gradishar, a junior linebacker. "He's not quite as vicious or fast as Tatum," offers Hayes. Even so, that is a compliment.
The Buckeyes will pick between Quarterbacks Greg Hare, a junior, and Dave Purdy, a sophomore. Hare started the last part of the 1971 season after regular Don Lamka joined the wounded list. But Hayes draws on memories of Rex Kern, a starter his sophomore year, when he speaks of Purdy. "He has an inner confidence that comes across," says Woody.
Among the linemen, John Hicks on offense and George Hasenohrl on defense are the blocks upon which the team is constructed. Each has a penchant for avoiding mistakes.
A history aficionado and ready dispenser of homiletic phrases, Hayes could be accused of living in the past by his steady stream of allusions to his 1968-69-70 teams that lost only twice. His office is decorated with favored references. Says one: THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT. A warning, Big Ten. In Columbus, the past is moving back to the present and again the Rose Bowl beckons.
4 PENN STATE
Overshadowed by the New Year's performances of Nebraska, Oklahoma and Stanford was that sweet piece of revenge that took place in the Cotton Bowl—Penn State's 30-6 humiliation of Texas. Surely you remember that 1969 business, Texas chosen No. 1 despite the fact that Penn State was also unbeaten. Well, last January the Nittany Lions made up for it, cracking Texas' Wishbone and limiting the Longhorns to two field goals, a strong defensive effort that should be repeated many times this fall. "We're almost as good physically on defense as we were in 1969," says Coach Joe Paterno. Seven starters return to handle Paterno's gambling defense, most notably Bruce Bannon, one of the country's best defensive ends. Geologist Bannon collects straight A's, rocks (he passed up every spring scrimmage in favor of field trips) and quarterbacks' heads, which are considerably shrunken after he gets through with them. Linebackers John Skorupan (who has 168 tackles in two seasons) and Tom Hull, End Jim Laslavic, Tackle Jim Heller and Deep Backs Buddy Ellis and Gregg Ducatte terrify sensible opponents. Linebacker Larry Ludwig and Defensive Halfback Steve Davis are pleasant new surprises.
The offense could be rugged, too, and a big reason is Quarterback John Hufnagel. "He is the best college quarterback in the country. Hufnagel can do it all—pass, run, handle the ball—and he is a leader," says Paterno, who has coached some pretty good quarterbacks in his years at Penn State. Running Backs Lydell Mitchell and Franco Harris are severe losses from an assemblage that produced 4,936 yards, but Fullback Tom Donchez, who started ahead of Harris in the Cotton Bowl and gained 5.7 yards per carry last fall, returns, as does Bob Nagle. John Cappelletti should be the starting halfback, and Walt Addie and Chuck Herd showed well in the spring. Paterno wants to keep the Cappelletti family happy. John's mother, Anne, brings the coach baskets of Italian food when she comes to home games. He sends her flowers in return.
An excellent set of receivers—Scott Skarzynski, Jimmy Scott, Joe Jackson, Dave Bland, Gary Debes and Gary Hayman—allows for an explosive, dramatic passing game. Guard Carl Schaukowitch, Tackle Craig Lyle and sophomore Tight Ends Dan Natale and Brian Masella give State something extra up front. If all else fails—and it isn't likely to—there is always Alberto Vitiello, the mustachioed, Naples-born, left-footed soccer-style kicker who broke all Penn State kicking records last year.
An index to the season will be the opening game next week against Tennessee, the only team to beat Penn State last year. The Lions will be out for revenge and we know what can happen when they want revenge.
A crowd of 30,400 people turned out in Little Rock last April to see the Arkansas Razorbacks play their spring practice game, which is about as many folks as had paid to see them in several regular-season Southwest Conference games the previous fall. One reason may have been that it was the last chance to observe Quarterback Joe Ferguson in action for only a dollar. Ferguson is something special, a tall (6'2"), serious perfectionist with a powerful arm that fires footballs as if they were darts. Last year Ferguson led his conference in total offense and passing yardage and this year will certainly be in the forefront of those hailed each week as Heisman Trophy candidates. "I'll never forget the first pass he threw to me when we were freshmen," says Ferguson's favorite target, senior Flanker Mike Reppond. "It went right through both my hands, hit me in the chest and knocked the wind out of me."
Reppond has since figured out how to hold Ferguson's projectiles. Last season he caught 56. Nor can Reppond be summarily double-teamed. He is ably supported by Wide Receivers Jim Hodge and Jack Ettinger.
Arkansas also has two excellent tailbacks to balance the passing and make both the two-back and the Wishbone formations function effectively. They are senior Jon Richardson, an elusive runner who was averaging more than 100 yards a game last year until he broke a leg in the fourth game, and Dickey Morton, a junior with sprinter's speed who replaced Richardson and led the club in rushing with 831 yards. No problems about the defense, either. Last year it mastered a new formation, the Tennessee 4-3-4, with surprising alacrity and this year all but two starters return.
Prospects as dynamic as these should cheer the heart of even the most morose head coach, but not that of Frank Broyles, starting his 15th season at Arkansas. What he craves now is a fullback who can crunch out short yardage up the middle, and the search is on. It may end with sophomore Marsh White, who is 6'2", weighs 220, gets off at the snap of the ball as if coming out of starting blocks, and who scored 10 touchdowns last year during the freshman team's five-game schedule. Or Broyles may settle on senior Mike Saint, who averaged five yards a carry in '71, scored eight touchdowns and was shifted to fullback for the last three games.
Barring the same rampant case of fumbleitis that seized them last fall (25 of 44 lost) the Razorbacks should encounter only two tough games this year. The first comes this weekend against USC, the next not until October 21st when they meet Texas in Austin. Win those two games and Arkansas should win them all, be headed for the Cotton Bowl and national glory.
The great Oklahoma land rush is not over yet. Halfbacks Greg Pruitt and Joe Wylie and Fullback Leon Crosswhite, who get to the front quicker than soonest, are back and better. Pruitt, a 5'9" consensus everything, skittered 1,665 yards last season, a Big Eight record. Wylie, who was expected to be even better than Pruitt before he was injured in the third game, went 984 yards in 1970 as a sophomore. Crosswhite averaged 4.9 yards per carry as a mainbolt of the attack. Together with the late lamented Jack Mildren, they outdid even the Sooner giants of 1956 in some areas, setting national records for most yards rushing, most first downs rushing and most total offense per game. The Sooners scored 55 points against Pitt, 48 against Texas, 45 against Colorado, 56 against Kansas, 58 against Oklahoma State, 75 against Kansas State and, in the Sugar Bowl, 40 against Auburn.
Anybody replacing Mildren is going to feel a lot like Andrew Johnson that April day in 1865, but Dave Robertson is a capable quarterback, good enough to plug straight into the supercharged OU offense without stalling it. '"The number-one thing I want is a quarterback who won't beat us," Coach Chuck Fairbanks says.
Up front will be a superior line from which only one man is lost. In a game last fall All-America Center Tom Brahaney kept his opponent from making more than a single play. Guard Ken Jones and Tackle Dean Unruh are graded almost as high. Ends Albert Chandler and John Carroll block tidily besides being scoring threats. National kicking-scoring leader as a sophomore with 53 PATs and nine field goals, the 6'5" Carroll doubles as a leaping, tackle-slipping wide receiver.
And now, the defense—which had things to be defensive about last year—asks you to believe that it is the best in years at Oklahoma. The Sooners have switched to a five-man front largely because Lucious Selmon makes such a perfect noseguard. Quiet Lucious may be the strongest man in Oklahoma, one reason being that the Selmons still use mules and hand plows on their farm in Eufaula. Sophomore Rod Shoate is already called the best linebacker ever to play at Oklahoma, and 6'5" soph Randy Hughes should be not only about the biggest safety in the country but one of the best.
Oklahoma will be O.K. In fact, Oklahoma could be downright cruel. Certifiably nice-guy Wylie was asked how he could stand being so mean on the field. "Football is just a game; you don't really have to hurt anyone," Wylie said. "I wouldn't do it out on the street, really run some guy down into the ground. But in a game, if I'm 50 points ahead, I'd just as soon roll it up to 100." Oklahoma is quite capable of doing just that.
Strange things are happening at Colorado. An eerie quiet, an odd lassitude prevails at "Berkeley East." The metabolic rate is low, perhaps because—students say—of a shared belief that government, environment, even their personal futures, are out of control; perhaps because priorities have changed. The new student-body president is an ex-marine elected on his promise to veto use of compulsory fees to subsidize antiwar activities. When he did just that, and radicals forced a recall election, he replied briefly, "Nuts to you all." He won again, by 800 votes. There seems to be a Greek revival. And, most unprecedentedly, football—which has always lost out to the mountains as recreation—has become a mania. "People are looking for something to lift them up," says Jon Key worth, CU's intellectual tight end. "Colleges have been turning out grim pessimists. Now people want to be happier, to enjoy society more." Inside Linebacker Bud Magrum, another ex-marine who won two Purple Hearts, agrees and says, "Something to pick people up? That's our team." He could be very right. What few losses Colorado suffered from a No. 3-ranked team are replaced twice over. Keyworth himself, injured all last season, was switched from wingback to tight end when J.V. Cain was declared ineligible for one semester. Called the "best athlete on the team," at 6'5", 230 pounds Keyworth has speed and fullback power. Worst losses were among receivers, but soph Split End Rich Ellwood and freshman Split End Dave Logan have extraordinary potential. Transfer Ozell Collier, a 9.4 sprinter, should be exciting at wingback. Quarterback Ken Johnson, who had a small fracture of the wrist, will be a better passer, too. And Bo Matthews provides a sufficient fill-in at fullback. A leader of the otherwise almost complete double set of champion-quality returnees is Charlie Davis, who scooted 1,386 yards last season.
That broke the Colorado single-season record and was the second-highest figure in NCAA history by a sophomore. He also set the one-game mark with 342 yards against Oklahoma State. Davis will be backed by Gary Campbell, who got a record 598 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman. Down in the pit, Jake Zumbach and Greg Horton are the best pair of offensive tackles anywhere, and Inside Linebacker Billie Drake and End Rick Kay pop-and-stop impressively in the new 4-4 defense installed by Coach Eddie Crowder's aide, Dan Radakovich, who came from the Pittsburgh Steelers. And Outside Linebackers Randy Geist and John Stavely will embarrass no one, except opponents.
Crowder still talks about "humble hunger," but now has a machine efficient enough that he can admit: "We're trying to build a consistent national powerhouse. We're acquiring the feeling we should be in that throne room."
Frank Merriwell, backed up by the nation's number-one second-string quarterback and assisted by the Sleek Greek Streak, made for a well-nigh immortal Georgia backfield last year. They will again this season if something can be done about the mortality in the offensive line.
There is nothing like an All-America guard and tackle and an all-conference guard and center for maintaining godlike backs. It is just such linemen that Coach Vince Dooley had last year and now has lost. He therefore is speaking pessimistically about the season; but not un Dooley so. He would talk that way if he had Mercury in the backfield and Zeus up front. The Olympian backs he does have are going to shine again even with less protection—and even though the two of them don't talk. "They're like two peas in a pod," says Dooley. "They've both got those big smiles, but neither one is going to say that much."
The peas, Merriwell and the Greek, are Andy Johnson and Jimmy Poulos, quarterback and runner. As sophomores last year they produced 21 touchdowns, 1,603 yards of offense and no quotations. Poulos is spoken for by his moves, which, says Dooley, "are fantastic, better even than Greg Pruitt's."
Johnson modestly lets his superheroic legend talk. He led Athens High School to the Georgia state co-championship by running 67 yards for a touchdown with no time left in the half and moving the team 75 yards with two tackle-eligible passes during the game's last minute and a half, then passing for a two-point conversion.
Last year against Georgia Tech, Johnson Merriwelled up again: with 1:29 left he ran 22 yards, then passed for 18, nine, seven and 12, then handed off to Poulos for the winning touchdown with 14 seconds to spare. Last spring, switching sports, he hit the first collegiate pitch ever thrown to him for a ninth-inning, game-winning home run. Johnson, says Dooley, "is the most relaxed athlete I've ever seen. In fact sometimes I think he's too relaxed."
Senior James Ray is less relaxed than Johnson, because he doesn't get to start, but he is a picture-book passer who started in as a sophomore, filled in ably when Johnson was hurt last year and "has enough stuff to rise above human feelings" (i.e., envy), says Dooley. The Bulldogs' generally sound defense will be led by Leman L. (Buz) Rosenberg. Buz, also known as Super Frog because he jumps so high, was only 5'8" last year. Even so, he was able to run back punts for an NCAA-record 202 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon State. Recently Dooley made the official announcement that Rosenberg actually had grown an inch. No telling what heights he can ascend to now.
Inside Heritage Hall, USC's giant-sized display case for the truckloads of bric-a-brac won since 1880, John McKay commutes between the athletic director's office in the north end and the football coach's office in the south end, boasting two desks as well as two hats. If he sometimes appears to be talking to himself as he rushes past Heisman statuettes, 50 NCAA championship trophies and other goodies, it is no doubt just Coach McKay giving Athletic Director McKay an oral progress report. One might suppose two McKays would be enough for any one school, but this season USC has a third, sophomore J.K. McKay, son of John. A wide receiver who is not very fast or big, he can't do much at all except shake loose and catch passes.
Young J.K. is part of what could be the best sophomore group in Trojan history. His high school batterymate, Pat Haden, who lived for a while with the McKay family, a move that must have been discouraging to rival recruiters, is a good enough passer and runner to share quarterback time with senior Mike Rae, the team's leading scorer last season. Tailback Allen Carter is "the fastest big man we've ever had," and Linebacker Richard Wood could be the best of all.
Yes, the Trojans are loaded again, anxious to redeem themselves after two disappointing 6-4-1 seasons and hoping to cram a few more baubles into Heritage Hall. The schedule is, as usual, brutal: Arkansas, fast improving Illinois, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Washington and Stanford. Getting through that minefield safely is unlikely, but USC does have the muscle to get to the Rose Bowl.
Rae and Haden will be passing to a flock of fine receivers headed by McKay, sprinter Edesel Garrison (who ruined Notre Dame last season) and Lynn Swann. Fullback Sam (Bam) Cunningham is back after knee surgery and Tailback Rod McNeill is supposedly recovered from a badly broken right hip. If he isn't, Carter and two other excellent prospects will be waiting to join Sam Bam in McKay's I formation. All starters but one return in the offensive line. "Very impressive," admitted McNeill, "but our defense will be young and the offense will have to win at least the first three or four games. That's what the coaches have told us."
That was indeed the coaching staffs opinion going into spring practice, but Linebacker Wood and several other sophomores proved themselves ready, and Defensive Tackle John Grant, a senior from Idaho, continued to show McKay that he's "one of the most consistent linemen I've had in my 12 years at USC." Midway through spring drills, McKay was so pleased that he said, "We've got a real hard-hitting team, and I think the tackling could be as good as we've ever had." And he wasn't just talking to his athletic director, either.
"I don't know what kind of football team we'll have," says Bear Bryant. "You used to be able to tell, but you can't anymore. Times have changed." That is an interesting admission to be made by the only football coach primal enough to have an animal named after him.
This year, chances are Alabama will intimidate opponents, which is the fitting thing for a Bryant team to do, and in fact the only thing for his players to do if they know what is good for them. Johnny Musso, the Italian Stallion, is gone, but the Wishbone will be back with the same quarterback, Terry Davis, directing it, and there will be a number of new hooves to nail Musso's shoes onto. Furthermore, if it is true that an army travels on its stomach, then the Crimson attack will be in good shape, because Alabama may have the strongest offensive midsection in the country.
First consider the runners. Joe (Cat) LaBue, who started at halfback last year, led the SEC in average gain per rush. Ellis Beck and Steve (Grapes) Bisceglia are, respectively, an A-student and the scion of a fine old winemaking family from Fresno, Calif. Neither of those distinctions may be worth a whole lot to a running back, but Beck and Bisceglia can also run good; they shared fullback last year. At least five other backs, two of whom are black and one of whom, Paul Spivey, hit three home runs in one game for the baseball team last spring (for what that may be worth to a running back), appear qualified to gain significant numbers of SEC yards.
Knocking folks down in front of this wealth of ballcarriers will be John Hannah and Buddy Brown at guards and Jim Krapf at center. Hannah is down to 264 from the 298 he weighed last spring when he won the SEC shotput and discus. When he heard that Bryant's coaching tower had been blown over by a strong wind, Hannah said, '"I hope they get it fixed before fall practice. I don't want him down there on the field." The fact is that John could probably throw The Bear a good distance, but then again times have not changed to the point that he would try it.
Krapf and Brown are themselves large and strong enough that they won't need to cry '"Help me, Hannah!" Krapf is three-time SEC heavyweight wrestling champion and his father is a millionaire Delaware construction tycoon, for what that may be worth to a center.
The defense will not be as imposing as the offense, but it should be quick and rangy enough to do fine. The best defender may be End John Mitchell, who last year became the team's first black starter, is a classical-music buff and is nicknamed "Shaft." That lends something of a new tone to the Crimson Tide, but the philosophy remains the same—win. Alabama will do a lot of it.
11 NOTRE DAME
Even at the school that manufactures it, tradition suddenly may dissolve into a transient quality. Thus this fall a pair of traditions crumble at Notre Dame. Females, predictably, have joined the student body. And for the first time in the Era of Ara—that wonderful period of football restoration—the Fighting Irish are struggling to regain a lofty national ranking. It may not be easy.
Last year's 8-2 season prevented Notre Dame from finishing among the top 10 for the first time since Ara Parseghian appeared on the South Bend practice field eight seasons and 66 victories ago. Pride suffered, especially since the 1971 team included eight players eventually taken in the opening rounds of last year's pro draft and was favored by many to win the national championship. "We are in the middle of a tremendous rebuilding job," Parseghian cautions for 1972. "You can't buy experience. It has to be earned."
It certainly will have to be earned on the defensive line, which is unusual for a Parseghian team. Under Ara, the Irish have allowed but 86.4 yards rushing per game. Now only Defensive Tackle Greg Marx returns from the front four of Walt Patulski, Fred Swendsen, Mike Kadish and Marx, best in the nation last year. As a matter of fact, the entire Irish defense has an air of the unknown. Only four lettermen return.
It is hoped that Cliff Brown will assume leadership of the offense, although he will have stiff competition from Tom Clements, who looked good in the spring game. Brown is a unique player: a black starting quarterback, the first in Notre Dame's history. Last season he was thrust into the role because of injuries to others. When he was good, the Irish were impressive. But when Brown was bad, as he was in the losses to Southern California and LSU, Notre Dame floundered. "Our whole offense last year was one big fumble on the five," growls Tackle John Damped". "We could have scored 40 points a game if we had held onto the ball."
Brown is working on improved balance and peripheral vision to help his passing, but the best way to take pressure off a quarterback is to have a runner who can lake the ball from him and do something positive with it. Notre Dame may have such a scatback in sophomore Eric Penick. "We finally got someone who can run a 9.5 hundred," says Tight End Mike Creaney. "He's like O. J. Simpson," adds Guard Frank Pomarico. "You just watch him and wait for something to happen."
The rest of the country will be watching Notre Dame. If the Irish can survive their first three games—Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan State—the youngsters may be seasoned enough to put the team back near the top.
12 ARIZONA STATE
Frank Kush has three major goals this season: to direct his Sun Devils to their fourth straight Western Athletic Conference championship, to win his third straight bowl game, and to keep Woody Green eligible—not necessarily in order of difficulty. Halfback Green was the ninth leading rusher in the country last season and one of only two unanimous All-WAC picks, but he was not a classroom whiz. Early last year he left the team and went home to Portland, Ore., citing family problems. Kush is not one to let a key player off the hook without at least an attempt to reel him back. He made a hurry-up trip to Portland and changed Green's mind. Today there is a chalkboard timetable in the ASU football office assigning various people to guide the star through the scholastic maze.
On the field he needs less help. Green (6'1", 196 pounds), a slashing-type runner, scored nine touchdowns and averaged 121 yards per game last season. He also has good outside speed.
Kush probably will accomplish his other goals, too. He usually does. He has a .780 winning percentage as a head coach (third behind Joe Paterno and Bob Devaney) and his ASU teams have posted a 22-1 record over the past two years. The one defeat was to Oregon State, which has beaten the Sun Devils five out of the six times they have met in Kush's era. They battle again this fall in Sun Devil Stadium. The first major challenge, however, is the nationally televised opener at Houston next week, and what the viewers see will be typical Kush, the multiple offense and the Oklahoma 5-2-4 defense. "We aren't going to make any changes," he says. "We've been using the multiple offense 17 years, and we just move it around to fit the needs of personnel. We are altering a bit in that we've always gone for the small, quick lineman. Now we're on a weight training program and this year will have the biggest line we ever have fielded."
Green is the main running threat, but the rest of the backfield starters return, too. Fullback Ben Malone, younger brother of ASU All-America Art, missed three games but still gained 863 yards and scored four TDs. Wingback Steve Holden scored a touchdown every seventh time he handled the ball. The attack will be directed by junior Quarterback Dan White, who took over the first-string job last year.
Many of the other starters will be new. Kush needs offensive tackles and some depth at center, and on defense he has lost the entire front wall except for End Larry Shorty (who happens to be 6'5") and all but one starting back. Kush isn't worried because he will use the younger players in the defensive line.
"Those Young Turks can go charging in with reckless abandon—and not get in the way of our ball carrier."
In the old days at Tennessee, under General Bob Neyland, September was a month for knocking down blocking dummies and running the off-tackle play 100 times a day. Neyland's teams generally played only one game in September, against someone amenable like Mercer. How times have changed. Under Bill Battle this month the Vols will play four games and three of the opponents are definite non-Mercers, 'it won't take us very long to find out what kind of team we're going to have," says Battle.
Should be a good one. With the graduation of Bobby, Tennessee finally has come to the end of a generation of Majorses; his runs with punts and interceptions will be missed. So will the great, big-play line-backing for which the Vols have become justly famous. But in a less spectacular way the defense looks traditionally strong.
Speaking of tradition, Tennessee was the first to go against the Southeastern one of neglecting the region's black talent. That progressivism is paying off. This year's Vols will have a slashing black quarterback-plaguer in Defensive End Ken Lambert, and the strongest man on the squad may be black Defensive Tackle Robert Pulliam.
It is in the backfield, however, where blacks will be most evident. There will be potentially sensational breakaway threats Haskel (Snap Back With) Stanback and Paul Careathers, and most importantly there will be Condredge Holloway, a cinch to become the SEC's first regular black quarterback. Interestingly enough, the season's TV opener pits Holloway against Georgia Tech's Eddie McAshan, who two years ago became the first of his race to play quarterback—or any position—at that school.
"Condredge can do some things quicknesswise and speedwise for us that we haven't been able to do for the last few years," says Battle. Translated from Standard Coaching English, that means Holloway can gain sudden amounts of yardage cutting and running, not to mention throwing. His best play is the busted drop-back pass call, where he scrambles out of trouble and disappears off into the distance. Another way he differs from run-of-the-mill signal-callers is that he enjoys lowering his head and running into people—enjoys it so much, in fact, that Battle says, "We are going to have to teach Condredge that discretion is the better part of valor."
Reportedly Holloway passed up a $100,000 bonus offer from the Montreal Expos—probably the most money ever forgone by any citizen of Huntsville, Ala., black, white or missile-worker—in favor of an education. Three years from now he may be on his way to a big-league shortstopping career, but in the meantime he will be doing some long going for the Vols.
Prospects in Austin cannot possibly be as meager as they seem, but for a Texas team they seem poor. Which means the Longhorns may lose two or three games, finish second in the Southwest Conference behind Arkansas and struggle to be ranked among the top 20. And yet, despite an occasional gloomy forecast, Coach Darrell (Daddy D) Royal usually manages to patch something workable together. In fact, the Texans will be trying to hook onto their fifth straight conference title, but to accomplish this Royal may have to recruit a few four-legged Longhorns. Gone are both Eddie Phillips and Donnie Wigginton, the running-passing quarterbacks so vital to Royal's Wishbone offense. Gone is the splendid halfback, Jim Bertelsen, an outside threat. Gone are...well, a whole bunch of key personnel. The only really outstanding returning player is giant All-America Offensive Tackle Jerry Sisemore, and even Sisemore, who is 6'4", 260 pounds, can't knock down more than two or three would-be tacklers per play. To field some sort of effective combination, Royal has had to juggle his forces like Bobby Fischer. All-conference Defensive Halfback Alan Lowry will start at quarterback; Bill Wyman, Sisemore's opposite at left tackle, will shift to center; Defensive Back Tommy Landry will attempt to replace Bertelsen as a running back; and Offensive Tackle Julius Whittier moves to tight end. Royal attempted to work Linebacker Glenn Gaspard into the fullback spot, but Gaspard was injured during spring drills and will stay where he belongs.
"We're just as average as everyday's wash," Royal declared of this mélange at the end of spring training, "and I don't see much hope for us jumping out and being anything else. We're going to have to fight for everything we get."
Despite the loss of Lowry to the offense, the defense will be at least solid enough to keep Texas alive until the offense begins to work out the inevitable swarm of bugs. Gaspard will be joined at linebacker by all-conference Randy Braband. The deep secondary will be weakened, but the defensive ends look stronger than last year.
Aided by the blocking of Sisemore and veteran Guards Don Crosslin (6', 242) and Travis Roach (6'3", 251), Lowry may put some surprising muscle into the Wishbone. He and the rest of the inexperienced Longhorns have just three games to acquire the necessary seasoning before the real toughies, Oklahoma and Arkansas, come rolling around on consecutive Saturdays in October. Chances are good the Texans will lose both these games, though not by the 48-27 and 31-7 whompings they suffered last year; drop possibly one more, to Texas Tech or resurgent Texas A&M; and finish the season with their horns held respectably high.
15 FLORIDA STATE
Exciting pass-catch combinations are as much a tradition at Florida State as the nickname "Seminoles." Invariably the coming of autumn produces such lively pairings as Steve Tensi throwing to Fred Biletnikoff, Kim Hammond to Ron Sellers or, as last year, Gary Huff to Rhett Dawson. In 1971 Huff, with Dawson catching 62 passes and a quintet of other fine receivers gathering in 110 more, led the nation in total offense with 241 yards per game and in touchdown passes with 23. That all added up to an 8-3 record and then a 45-38 loss to Arizona State in a Fiesta Bowl that had all the excitement its title indicates. This year Dawson and four other top receivers are gone, but Huff will be back for his senior year and in all likelihood the other half of the tradition will be upheld by Wide Receiver Barry Smith, who warmed up for the role last year by averaging 22 yards gained on 33 receptions, one for 88 yards. Tradition will be severely taxed, however, by the fact that Florida State will be short of zap in its kicking game, short of experienced running backs and short of depth at key positions. If the Seminoles are to rank with the top teams in the country again, Huff-to-Smith may have to become one of the more memorable passing combinations ever seen on the Tallahassee campus.
What will make life difficult for Huff-to-Smith is that there are no receivers likely to complement Smith, as Smith and the others complemented Dawson, and so defensive double-teaming could seriously muffle all that explosive potential. Which is doubly a shame because Coach Larry Jones may not have much of a running threat to relieve defensive pressure on Huff-to-Smith. His three top running backs from last year are gone and Jones must count on transfers Mack Brown, from Vanderbilt, and Hodges Mitchell, from TCU, to provide that punch. Nor did spring practice yield any reliable kickers to fill the void left by Punter Duane Carrel and Placekicker Frank Fontes. A weak bench will also be a problem. "To equal last year we're going to have to find depth," says Jones, "and be lucky enough to stay healthy."
The cheerful news is a sturdy defense, one of the best in the country, and a far from awesome schedule. The Seminoles have six defenders who, like Huff and Smith, will certainly go high in this winter's pro draft. They are James Thomas, a sure tackier and alert pass defender who will play rover after two years at cornerback; big, tough Defensive Ends Charlie Hunt and Bert Cooper; speedy Cornerback Eddie McMillan and Linebackers Dan Whitehurst and Larry Strickland. If State can stay healthy; if weaknesses can be alleviated; if it can get by perennially tough Houston, Auburn and Florida at midseason, then it could finish undefeated. But that is probably one or two ifs too many.
As a reward for consistently giving 110% effort, top defensive players at Washington—few of whom are math majors—get their helmets painted purple to match their bruises. The offensive men are less ostentatious. When singled out by the coaches for uncommon hustle, they slick little Husky-head decals on their helmets. Some people think such motivational gimmicks are childish, but Defensive Back Phil Andre says, "Let 'em scoff. They don't really understand what it means—to set out to do something and be told you've done it well."
Andre and that celebrated Cherokee quarterback, Sonny Sixkiller, are part of a cadre of seniors who have helped bring the Huskies back to respectability: 6-4 as sophomores, 8-3 last year when two of the losses were by a frustrating total of three points, and a solid chance for the Rose Bowl this season. Washington has 19 starters back and the enthusiasm in Seattle has been raging like the fire that destroyed most of the business district in 1889.
The featured attraction is Sixkiller, the strong-armed, quick-releasing passer from Ashland, Ore. who led the nation in his specialty in 1970, then was overshadowed in his own league by Stanford's Don Bunce in 1971. Dropped passes and interceptions contributed to his statistical slippage. His favorite target again will be Split End Tom Scott, so small at 5'10" and 170 pounds that Sixkiller, no giant himself, must search through the crowd for the most-decorated helmet. Scott not only caught 35 passes last year but gained nearly a quarter of a football field on each reception, an average of 23.4 yards. Sixkiller has a tough, veteran line blocking for him all the way across. The defensive line, led by Tackle Gordy Guinn, and the defensive back-field, led by two-time All-League Cornerback Calvin Jones, are exceptionally strong. Jones left school after the 1970 season when the team was torn by racial problems, and had actually enrolled at Long Beach City College before being lured back to Washington. The school has since hired a black assistant coach and a black assistant athletic director in hopes of preventing a recurrence.
But before the Huskies accept their Rose Bowl bid, there are problems. One is having to play their two strongest rivals, Stanford and USC, on the road on successive weekends. Another is the apparent lack of a good running attack. Jim Owens, starting his 16th season as head coach, has no breakaway threats but hopes he has at least enough first-down threats in Darrell Downey, Luther Sligh and others to give Sixkiller an occasional breather. In other areas, Owens is preparing carefully. He is replacing Husky Stadium's old AstroTurf with a new, improved rug from the same company and he is buying an ample supply of purple paint.
The State of Mississippi has not had a Miss America or a championship football team in several years, and Ole Miss has not had a quarterback with a great name for longer than that. Back in 1953-55 there was a perfect quarterback name in Eagle Day, but consider what Mississippi has had to get by with in recent years: "Jake Gibbs" sounds like a prospector, "Glynn Griffin" should be a Hollywood set designer and "Archie Manning" could be that freckled-faced kid you went to high school with.
Names aside, however, the Rebels have had some pretty impressive figures in the quarterback slot. This year they have two. "Norris Weese" sounds like a minor, disagreeable Faulkner character, perhaps a querulous druggist, and "Kenny Lyons" might be the male lead in a Methodist Youth Fellowship film, but they came through for Coach Billy Kinard last year.
As sophomores both Weese and Lyons starred, Lyons less so only because he was hurt most of the year. Because they, instead of Manning, were around this time last year it was expected that Ole Miss would not be a power, but in Kinard's first season as head coach the Rebels went 10-2, including an easy win in their 15th straight bowl appearance (the Peach).
"Kinard"—a fine old name. Billy, 38, is the youngest of four brothers who played for Ole Miss, and his big brother Frank (Bruiser) is athletic director. When on successive weekends Alabama and Georgia beat Ole Miss resoundingly there was open talk that perhaps Billy was too young and inexperienced to be a coach. But that turned out to be a canard. Both Kinards hung in there, went the rest of the season undefeated and beat LSU in particular. Now it is clear once again that Kinards can do it. This year they're back with Kenny and Norris what's-their-names and all the other offensive starters of '71 except one.
The brightest returnees include senior Tailback Greg Ainsworth, who led the team in rushing last year; junior Tight End Butch (Make It Look Eazey) Veazey, who can do everything a tight end is supposed to do and can also get extremely loose, long, all of a sudden; 6'3½" pass-catching Wingback Bill Barry; junior Offensive Linemen Chuck Wood and Art Bressler; and senior Defensive End Reggie Bill, who scooped up so many fumbles last year that there was some danger he might become known as "Spoon" Bill.
The Rebel defense lags behind the offense, but in his years as a defensive backfield coach at such schools as Georgia and Arkansas, Kinard's units became known for their stinginess. So he is unlikely to neglect that part of the game.
Prospects look good, in fact, if Mississippi can only produce another Miss America. Now there is a name.
When his Big Ten coaching peers heard that Bo Schembechler had left for a vacation in Denmark and Norway late last spring, several of them suggested sarcastically that Bo probably was off looking for a Scandinavian placekicker. Not really. Bo has a 25-year-old ex-GI, Mike Lantry, to do the placekicking this year, and he did not have to go out of the states, just out-of-state to come up with a big parcel of new talent for Michigan's team.
Schembechler always seems to be coming up with something. In his three seasons as coach at Michigan, the Wolverines have been to the Rose Bowl twice and have lost only three regular-season games. And considering imported talent like Gil Chapman, a wingback from Elizabeth City, N.J., the people around Ann Arbor expect Schembechler's success to continue. Chapman is only a sophomore, but after he scored on a 60-yard pass play in the Michigan spring game coaches and alumni were seen jubilantly patting each other on the back. "He's the fastest player I've ever had at Michigan," says Bo, adding that Chapman scored more than 300 points in high school despite having 22 touchdowns called back.
Another newcomer likely to help replace the 13 graduated starters from last year is sophomore Dennis Franklin, a quarterback from that football-rich town, Massillon, Ohio. Schembechler probably will start by alternating the three junior quarterbacks he has returning but by the end of the season, just about the time that Purdue and Ohio State roll around, Franklin to Chapman could be a familiar—and winning—play.
Michigan does have some good veterans left from last year's 11-1 team. Ed Shuttlesworth gained 875 yards at fullback in 1971—even though he started only two games. This season he should do even better.
With Chapman and Shuttlesworth, and a herd of other winged feet, Michigan will have decidedly more speed, but the success of the season may well rest on the broad shoulders of two tackles, Fred Grambau on defense and Paul Seymour on offense. Both are fifth-year men, having been red shirted because of injuries, and Seymour, at least, will have a new and difficult chore. He is a converted tight end who stood out as a blocker for two seasons before Schembechler decided his 6'5", 231 pounds could be put to even better use. Seymour's replacement, 6'6", 225-pound Paul Seal, is no less impressive physically.
The Wolverines have one other thing in their favor. For each of their home games at Michigan's stadium, 101,000 fans turn out to offer enthusiastic support. Thus bolstered, the Wolverine teams have not lost at home to a Big Ten team since 1967. Since they play Ohio State in Columbus, that record should continue.
After Stanford decided to drop the nickname "Indians," leaving the warpaint routines to William & Mary, the Ripon Redmen, the Central Michigan Chippewas and innumerable others, some of the suggestions for a replacement were awful. "Cardinals" and "Thunder-chickens" were two temporary choices. "I thought they would come up with something better, but Thunder-chickens isn't that bad an idea," said new Head Coach Jack Christiansen. "Look at some other suggestions: Pinkos, Cockroaches and Warmongers."
Whatever Stanfordites decide to call themselves by the time of their opener versus San Jose State, the team is going to be quite different from the one that beat Michigan 13-12 in that Rose Bowl thriller last season. Coach John Ralston left to join the Denver Broncos and was replaced by Christiansen, who coached the San Francisco 49ers for five years before joining Ralston's staff in 1968. Thirteen Rose Bowl starters are gone, including Quarterback Don Bunce and Linebacker Jeff Siemon, but Christiansen has enough good material left on The Farm to make a run for a third consecutive Pacific Eight championship. Much depends on Quarterback Mike Boryla, son of ex-pro basketball player Vince (now president of the Utah Stars). He hopes to fill Bunce's shoes the way Bunce filled Jim Plunkett's and it should help that he inherits Bunce's three best receivers. Boryla did well in the spring game but was outplayed by JC transfer Dave Ottmar, who completed 18 of 24 passes and nearly punted the ball out of the Palo Alto city limits. Junior John Winesberry from Oklahoma is moving from wide receiver to running back because, Christiansen says, "We'll have a better percentage handing it to him than passing to him. He's got to be the key to the offense this year. He doesn't know where he's going, so I don't know how the hell anybody else does." Back also is Rod Garcia, who kicked the two field goals against Michigan.
With numerous painful losses on defense, Stanford can't be anything but easier to attack this year. The backfield will be good, with Charles McCloud, a Texan who has not allowed a completion over his head in two years, and Randy Poltl, who had 14 tackles against Michigan. Christiansen must find replacements in the line to aid Pierre Perreault and Roger Cowan. Those two helped make last year's team the best in the league against the rush and in total defense. The newcomers in the middle are a pair of 220-pounders, Pete Hanson and Barry Reynolds. There's experience at linebacker with Jim Merlo and Pat Moore but neither is equal to departed All-America Jeff Siemon. Still, Christiansen is confident, at least outwardly.
"They say these things run in cycles," he said. "If that's true, no one here feels our cycle is over."
20 IOWA STATE
Williams Field in Ames. Iowa relegates one-third of its Saturday patrons to end-zone seats. This is unconventional architecture but until last season it was ideally suited, since the opposition spent its afternoons hanging around the goalposts, too. The ancient facility seats only 35,000, but the team residing there, Iowa State, has seldom deserved better.
Last season, however, there unexpectedly occurred an 8-3-0 regular season, which represented the most wins in 65 years and produced the team's first bowl invitation (the Sun) and top 20 recognition. There was even a sellout, only the second since Williams Field was enlarged in 1964.
The run of success should continue in 1972 because there are 14 returning starters and just enough non-conference lightweights on the schedule. Iowa State will not be a Nebraska, an Oklahoma or a Colorado but the Camp Dodges, Oklahoma Centrals and Ottum-was that plagued its past are no longer a threat. The average score of the team's eight victories last year was a thumping 37-14 and, as all those corn farmers can tell you, that's no bad yield.
"Iowa State was 50 years behind times when I came here [in 1968]," says Coach John Majors. "There were poor facilities, no alumni support, a defeatist attitude and very little tradition. We've still got a way to go but we've caught up by about 10 years."
Graduation losses were heaviest on offense, especially in the interior line, where three sophomores start. Quarterback falls to George Amundson, who set a school rushing record as a tailback last season by gaining more than 1,300 yards. Amundson actually began his collegiate career as a quarterback but his speed and durability oriented him toward the run. He does his best flinging with the discus—his throw of 177 feet is a school track mark—but he will also take advantage of a fine trio of receivers headed by Tight End Keith Krepfle. This seems to suggest a series of quarterback options, but Tailback Jerry Moses must also be considered. He was a sensation as a prepster but missed his first collegiate season with a broken foot. Fully mended, Moses commands respect.
The veteran defense has eight returning starters headed by Tackle Lawrence (Big Daddy) Hunt and Linebacker Matt Blair. Big Daddy is fearsome but inconsistent, Blair only fearsome.
Iowa State's sudden rise from the frequent last-place Big Eight finish was widely noticed last year. Majors heard from five college and professional teams who had similar rebuilding jobs to offer. He chose to remain in Ames, influenced perhaps by the prospect of a new stadium, for which supporters have already pledged $6.2 million. "Our image," says Majors, "is changing."