You remember Kerry Jackson, the hotshot quarterback whose high school transcript was altered, resulting in Oklahoma being put on probation for two years and costing the Sooners three 1972 victories as well as (presumably) any chance to boom in the 1973 season. Well, Jackson is back, eligible again this year, although Oklahoma is still on probation. And in spring practice he was third string, which indicates the nature of Oklahoma's talent. Another clue is that the Sooners finished undefeated last season and were ranked third in the nation. In 1973, his rookie year as head coach, likable Barry Switzer, who had been building the formidable OU offense and recruiting program for five years as an assistant, was named Coach of the Year by at least one reputable nominator. That offense could be even more fearsome this season, if that is possible.
Eight starters return, including two backs, and one of the departed backs was primarily a blocker. Moving into his slot at right halfback will be either senior Grant Burget or freshman Elvis Peacock, and both are speed freaks. Burget actually was the fourth starter last September, but was injured in the opening game. In his junior year he gained 283 yards. Elvis Peacock, by all that's right and proper, should be a pop singer, but in this life he is one of Oklahoma's hardest-won triumphs of the recruiting wars. Assistant Gene Hochevar made six trips to Miami, and Switzer two, as did recruiting chief Jerry Pettibone. Actually, Peacock wanted to strut his stuff at Oklahoma all along, but his mother wanted him to play closer to home. Wooing Mom cost more than $2,000 in transportation alone. Quarterback will be safe with junior Steve Davis, an erstwhile redshirt fill-in for the maltranscripted Jackson; Davis passed for almost 1,000 yards and ran for almost 1,000 more. Fullback Waymon Clark rushed for 1,014 yards last year but in August Coach Switzer had to put him off the team for disciplinary reasons. Jim Littrell will take over the position. That leaves Left Halfback Joe Washington, advertised as "the most dangerous and exciting running back ever to play at Oklahoma." Washington lived up to his billing by rushing 1,173 yards and picking up 482 more on punt and kickoff returns.
The line is fine, with bottomless depth, and Split Ends Tinker Owens and Billy Brooks averaged 26 yards per reception. The defense, where seven starters are gone, is more problematic. Although Nose Guard Lucious Selmon has graduated, the Sooners can console themselves with his brothers, Tackles Dewey and LeRoy. All-America Linebacker Rod Shoate, who runs 40 yards in 4.5 seconds, brings other people to very sudden stops; Randy Hughes is thought to be the best safety in the Big Eight; and Tony Peters is a highly regarded corner-back. But, says defensive boss Larry Lacewell, "We had 10 really outstanding players on defense last year. This year we have four or five." However, Glen Comeaux at nose guard and Jimbo El rod at linebacker would please a lot of coaches. Look for OU's defense to be quicker but smaller.
It could be an 11-0 season for the folks who dwell in the land where toilet paper has an OU monogram and where football is bigger than a new oil well. But 11-0 isn't good enough. A 12-0 would be more like it, but that's impossible.
3 NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame's chances of repeating as national champion have suffered grievously since that giddy moment of triumph in the Sugar Bowl. Injury, accident and the firm hand of discipline have cut such a swath that another title seems unlikely.
The graduation losses were slight—one lineman, a linebacker and two defensive halfbacks—but the school's ninth national championship and 18th unbeaten team has been depleted by less agreeable events. Eric Penick, a two-year starter at running back, tore ankle ligaments in spring practice and will not be at full strength until midseason at the earliest. Non-football injuries eliminated probable starting Guard Steve Quehl and Punt Returner Tim Simon. And dormitory violations during summer school led to the expulsion of six rising sophomores. Among them were Defensive End Ross Browner, who led the pro-quality front four in tackles last year, Luther Bradley, who paced the secondary in interceptions; and speedy Al Hunter, who was slated to start for the recuperating Penick. So much for the luck of the Irish.
Before these unfortunate episodes, Ara Parseghian was hard pressed to find anything significant to fret about. He talked, instead, of the evils of complacency, the difficulties of repeating as national champion and the uncertainties of his kicking game. "People tend to overlook the role of the center in kicking situations," Ara said solemnly. Yes, someone answered, quite probably people do.
Now, with his depth and experience undermined. Ara does indeed have cause for concern. To comfort him, however, are eight offensive and six defensive starters from last year.
Unflappable Quarterback Tom Clements is the key to the Irish hopes. He was Notre Dame's total-offense leader last season, with 1,051 yards in the air (eight touchdowns, 54% accuracy) and 434 on the ground (four touchdowns, four yards per carry). Clements is so respected by his teammates that he will be their offensive captain this fall, an honor such Notre Dame quarterbacks as John Huarte, Terry Hanratty and Joe Theismann never enjoyed. And even though he is receiving the same kind of Heisman Trophy buildup, Clements is unaffected by being elevated to the Irish Pantheon. "Playing here is just a three-year experience," he says. "Notre Dame doesn't mean the same to me as to someone who's been around here a long time."
Clements' savvy execution of Notre Dame's wing T led the Irish to a school-record 3,502 rushing yards last year. Of course, said execution consisted in large measure of routine hand-offs to Fullback Wayne Bullock and Halfback Art Best, both of whom gained over 700 yards. And who is to minimize the kind of blocking that returnees Gerry DiNardo and Steve Sylvester provided at guard and tackle?
In a moment of graciousness, Split End Pete Demmerle once said that the real reason for last season's success was the Irish defense. While the offense ranked a modest fifth in the country, the defense stood second. Five of those defenders are gone, including three backs, but Tackles Mike Fanning and Steve Niehaus and Linebacker Greg Collins make for an imposing nucleus.
The only tough game is the traditional meeting with USC, this year to be played in Los Angeles, where the Irish have won only once since 1962.
Parseghian may have created a small, though lucrative, problem by accepting ABC's $200,000 offer to open against Georgia Tech in Atlanta this Monday night. That is almost two weeks before the previously scheduled start, two months before the original date with the Yellowjackets and two days after Parseghian's daughter is to be married. One would think that the father of the bride had enough on his mind.
Just before going under for the third time, one of the many coaches who saw his team inundated by the Crimson Tide last season is reputed, to have said, "I don't exactly know what Alabama has, but they sure do have a lot of it."
Call it depth, for one thing. Alabama had it in abundance, and this year the talent pool is nigh on fathomless. Bear Bryant is so well stocked that finding suitable replacements for 10 departed regulars involves little more than going eenie, meenie, mynie, mo. Hardly anyone on the playing fields of Tuscaloosa is wanting for experience. Last season Bryant employed 66 players a game, so 1973 was, in effect, just one long tryout for 1974.
So profusely proficient were the subs that Wilbur Jackson, the team's leading rusher and the No. 1 draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers, was lucky to average a scant nine carries a game. The impact of 'Bama's mass attack is deadly simple: hit by wave after wave of fresh troops, enemy resistance tends to gradually give way, as evidenced by the fact that last season the Tide outscored its rivals in the fourth quarter by the stunning margin of 141-23.
Of course, Alabamans know all too well that for some mysterious reason Bear's boys are winless in seven consecutive bowl games. Following a perfect 11-0 season and with the national championship so tantalizingly near, Alabama must count its 24-23 loss to Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl last New Year's Eve as its undisputed No. 1 frustration. That may be one reason why Bryant, now 61 and still given to retching before games, is hanging in there looking for one last campaign with a happy ending.
Graduation made its deepest dents on the offensive side by claiming Jackson, All-America Wide Receiver Wayne Wheeler and both tackles, All-America Buddy Brown and three-year starter Steve Sprayberry. Also among the missing is Punter Greg Gantt, whose 48.7-yard average would have led the nation except that, playing for a team that rarely arrived at a fourth-down while averaging 481 yards a game in total offense, he did not have the requisite number of kicks.
Alabama is twice blessed at quarterback with the return of Gary Rutledge, the slick-faking leader of the Wishbone attack, and Richard Todd, an irrepressible bootlegger who was the team's second-leading rusher last season with 560 yards. At running back, returning starter Randy Billingsley will be joined by sophomore Calvin Culliver and juniors Mike Stock, James Taylor and Willie Shelby, who for all their youth managed to total more than 1,000 yards rushing last fall.
Defensive End Mike Dubose, who tossed opponents for losses totaling 92 yards last year, is the ranking veteran in a new five-man front that makes up in potential what it lacks in playing time. The state of the rest of the defense may be judged from the fact that Linebacker Conley Duncan, the most valuable player in the spring game, is still trying to make second team. It is perhaps understandable, considering that he is playing behind All-America Woodrow Lowe, a virtuoso of the flying shoestring tackle. And with starters Mike Washington, Tyrone King and Ricky Davis back to patrol the secondary, 'Bama can afford to let Wayne Rhodes, who led the team with four interceptions last year, rest on the bench for a while.
With Maryland, a growing power, joining traditional bloodletting rivals Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn, this year's schedule is considerably tougher. But who knows? With a few breaks—if nothing else, the law of averages should be on Alabama's side in postseason play—1974 could again be the Year of the Bear.
Predicting that USC will rule the Pacific Eight is about as gutsy as saying that Trojan alumnus John Wayne will gun down the bad guys in his next epic. Washington State Coach Jim Sweeney, referring to USC's dominance of West Coast football and Coach John McKay's white hair, calls the Pacific Eight "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." USC has gone to the Rose Bowl six times in the last eight seasons and will likely make the short trip along the Pasadena Freeway once again come New Year's Day, perhaps to play Ohio State for the third straight year. There are at least two good reasons for picking Troy: an easier schedule and a lighter Anthony Davis.
Any season that has the traditional Notre Dame game in the Los Angeles Coliseum rather than in South Bend has got to look brighter. And Oklahoma and Georgia Tech have been replaced by a somewhat weaker pair, Iowa and Pittsburgh, although Pitt is no longer anyone's patsy. There are plenty of high hurdles left, namely trips to Arkansas, Washington State and Stanford and back-to-back backbreakers at season's end, UCLA and Notre Dame. Last year's 9-2-1 record could improve to 12-0, which would be McKay's fourth unbeaten season, but it won't be a cake-walk.
As for Davis, who was the regular, switch-hitting rightfielder for the NCAA-champion USC baseball team, McKay says he will play at about 185 pounds, 15 lighter than in 1973. Less Davis could mean more yardage and more points.
"Football players get a lot of advice," says McKay. "They told him he should play bigger. You want to eliminate as much advice as possible, but it's difficult.
"We showed him in film where a year before in a given situation he would have gone for a touchdown, and last year he made 10 yards. He still had a good year, made good yardage, but he is far better than he played."
That is a fairly scary statement, since A.D. scored five touchdowns against Cal and ran and passed for two in the Rose Bowl. He is best remembered, of course, for scoring six TDs against Notre Dame as a sophomore. He has the talent to become USC's third Heisman Trophy winner, following Mike Garrett in 1965 and O.J. Simpson in 1968. All Heisman voters should be in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28, because that is the day Davis will match fakes and footwork with the Panthers' talented sophomore, Tony Dorsett.
If Davis is not quite as durable at 185, it will not matter too much because McKay plans to give plenty of playing time to sub Tailbacks Allen Carter and Ron Jamerson (who played ahead of Davis in Pop Warner football in the San Fernando Valley). If that array is not enough to scare opponents, USC has Pat Haden, another in a long line of fine quarterbacks (Pete Beathard, Steve Sogge, Bill Nelsen) and a first-class student who McKay says is the best at his position in the country. Not only that, the best college quarterback McKay has ever seen (and he played with Norm Van Brocklin at Oregon).
"There is no one even close, regardless of what people say," says McKay. "I've had them all, and I've seen all the All-Star games, coached in a lot of them, and Pat's the best. Anything you want a quarterback to do."
What Haden did last season was break three USC records, tie two others, lead the Pacific Eight in total offense and passing percentage and make Academic All-America with a 3.74 grade average in English. As targets this season he has the coach's son, Johnny McKay (not a Jr. because he has a different middle name), sophomore Flanker Shelton Diggs and Tight End Jim Obradovich, who excelled last season when he wasn't jumping offside. Haden, Davis & Co. will have some good muscular protection en route to various end zones, notably senior Center Bob McCaffrey, whose older brother Mike played for the Minnesota Vikings, and a sophomore "foreigner," Marvin Powell from Fayetteville, N.C.
California produces a large crop of fine football players, and McKay does not go talent hunting elsewhere without good reason. In the case of the following four defenders there was evidently ample justification: Tackle Gary Jeter from Cleveland; two-time All-America Linebacker Richard (Batman) Wood from Elizabeth, N.J.; Nose Guard Otha Bradley from St. Joseph, La. (which is near Lake Bruin, of all places); and Tackle Art Riley from Phoenix, Ill., where he played football and basketball with Indiana's Quinn Buckner. The local kids are not bad either, including experienced Outside Linebackers Ed Powell and Dale Mitchell.
Three of the defensive backs were starters last year, the most interesting being Marvin Cobb, who started at shortstop on the championship baseball team and hit .329. He also plays pretty good classical piano and sports a high grade average, which, he says, "becomes even higher every time Coach McKay speaks at a banquet."
"Our primary goal every season is to go to the Rose Bowl," says McKay. He knows how to get there.
Some sports-minded universities would trade a physics lab, a homecoming queen and two vice-chancellors for the kind of football season Nebraska had last year. The Cornhuskers appeared twice on national television, averaged 76,000 in attendance for their home games (making Memorial Stadium, in effect, the third largest city in the state on those six Saturday afternoons), beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl to cap a 9-2-1 season and finished seventh in the final AP poll. Still, there was a bit of discontent in Lincoln, even a few scattered boos. A tie with Kansas for second place in the Big Eight and a 27-0 loss to Oklahoma were not as bad as a corn blight, but almost.
Second-year Head Coach Tom Osborne and his staff have made some changes to get more pep and punch in the offense. Tony Davis of Tecumseh, Neb. has been moved from I back, where he gained 1,134 yards in the regular season as a sophomore, to fullback. Normally, a Nebraska fullback is strictly a blocker, banging into charging linemen so many times that by season's end he is two inches shorter. Davis is a good blocker, but he will run from his new spot. He averaged more than 20 carries a game last year, and the coaching staff has no intention of shackling him. That means the opposition will have two runners to worry about now, not just the I back.
"He's happy at fullback," said Osborne. "I don't think he would want to return to back. Tony likes to hit people, and that's what our fullback does."
The replacement at I back will be either John O'Leary, who was impressive when he got to play, or Jeff Moran, who carried only 14 times in '73.
Actually, there might be a third runner in the Cornhusker backfield—Quarterback David Humm, the lefthander from Las Vegas who heretofore has been known as an exceptionally good passer but a man even more reluctant to run than his predecessor, Jerry Tagge. Last season Humm buzzed home 109 of 196 passes in the regular season for a 55.6 percentage and 12 touchdowns. He added five of 13 for 75 yards in the Cotton Bowl. But he carried only 41 times in the 12 games for a net gain of 16 yards—most of those "carries" were quarterback sneaks or sacks. Yet in the spring game, while not exactly looking like another Johnny Rodgers, he did gain 44 yards in six carries. One run was good for 28 yards.
"Dave has found himself as a runner," said Osborne. "You're always torn at how much to run your quarterback, but he'll run for us."
As usual, Nebraska is solid almost everywhere. Wingback Rich Bahe returns to run reverses and nab passes, and the rest of the club is loaded with talent—a lot of it from far-off California, which used to be Osborne's recruiting territory when he was an assistant to Bob Devaney. Split End Dave Shamblin, Offensive Tackle Mark Doak, Tight End Larry Mushinskie, Defensive Tackle Ron Pruitt and Safety Mark Heydorff all figure to start and all come from the Golden State, which has been prime mining country for the Big Eight for years.
"There is so little difference between 11-0 or 10-1 and 7-4 or 6-5 in the Big Eight," says Osborne. "We will be good, but I don't know whether we'll be the former or the latter."
Houston is flashy. The versatile Veer, abetted by the Astrodome rug, was responsible for a whopping 363 points last year, including the 47-7 destruction of Tulane in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl. Houston, 11 and I in '73, will dazzle in '74, of course, but the Cougars' principal strength may be the defensive line. One of the front four, Gerald Hill, has been moved to middle linebacker, and a pro scout who saw him last spring marveled, "Nobody should be able to be a down lineman for two years and then move to linebacker and play like he does." The current four are Larry Keller, 6'8" Mack Mitchell and two returning sophomore starters, Lee Canalito and 285-pound Wilson Whitley. All are exceptional athletes—"The only thing that could deter them would be fat heads," says Coach Bill Yeoman—but ex-basketball player Mitchell might have the most pro promise. He runs the 40 in 4.6, not bad for a 250-pounder. "That is fast," says Yeoman, "whether you're a runner, a receiver or a cornerback.
"Canalito and Whitley are the best pair of defensive tackles on any team I've ever coached. I wouldn't trade them for any two in the country. They are just great now and are going to be super."
Elsewhere the defense looks solid, with such standouts as Cornerback Robert Giblin (five interceptions in '73) and Linebacker Bubba Broussard.
Yeoman has two serious problems. Four of the first five games are away, and Quarterback D.C. Nobles has graduated. The Cougars will be run by David Husmann, whose father Ed played defensive tackle in the NFL and AFL. His backup is Chuck Fairbanks Jr., son of the New England Patriot coach who once was on Yeoman's University of Houston staff. Husmann and Fairbanks played a total of 29 minutes behind Nobles last year.
At least they will have talented men to give the ball to. They can hand it to Donnie (Quick Draw) McGraw, who rushed for 556 yards and a 6.2 average; Reggie Cherry, who scored 12 TDs and averaged 5.9 per carry; or Marshall Johnson, who does the 40 in 4.3. Or the quarterbacks can fling it to one of the team's top eight receivers, all of whom return, and three of whom averaged better than 19 yards a catch last fall.
Helping the backfield veer in the right direction is an offensive line that returns intact save for one man. It is headed by Pulling Guard Val Belcher and a 280-pound sophomore, David Brooks. In fact, there are two 280-pounders up front, Brooks and Everett (Big) Little.
"Brooks, along with Little, could give us the physical strength that we haven't had in some time," says Line Coach Billy Willingham. "A spring of very hard work, a good conditioning program this summer and natural maturity made David a better prospect in '74."
Houston is still an independent, not being allowed to compete for the Southwest Conference title until 1976. And SWC schools do not seem anxious for '76 to arrive. Rice, the crosstown rival, is the only league school scheduling the Cougars this season. The rest of the schedule is not much tougher, with Arizona State this week, Miami and Georgia the major hurdles. Houston may not be 11-1 again, but it will not be much worse.
In the bayou country of Baton Rouge folks like to say that shambling, amiable Charles McClendon is "the kind of man who never meets a stranger." If so, then 1974, with 40 of his 58 lettermen returning, including every last running back who wore a purple and gold uniform last fall, looms as one big reunion of the friends of Cholly Mac.
That being the case, it would also be reasonable to assume that all McClendon has to do this time around is stick with a good thing, namely LSU's reliable old I formation, and watch it get better with a little help from his friends. But as McClendon is the first to admit, a lot of things can become outmoded twixt the hand-off and the hole. While en route to a 9-2 record last season LSU got burned often enough by new variations on the old formations as to be twice warned. In a game in which standing pat often means losing ground, McClendon has countered with his own variation on a theme: if you can't defense it, steal it. So when LSU debuts against Colorado at home next week, Tiger fans will get their first look at what McClendon calls "planned improvisation," more commonly known as the Veer.
A prime requirement for the Veer is good running backs, and LSU has a lot of them. Brad Davis, who needs but 404 yards to better Billy Cannon's alltime LSU career rushing record of 1,867 yards, and such classy costars as Steve Rogers, Lora Hinton, Terry Robiskie, Brian Zeringue and Ken Addy are being billed as the finest contingent of running backs to inhabit the Baton Rouge campus since the Bengals first began to play football in 1893.
But with so much talent returning, it was perhaps inevitable that the Tigers would suffer at least one crucial loss. That occurred in June, when senior Mike Miley, LSU's all-purpose quarterback, signed with the California Angels and went off to play shortstop for their El Paso farm team. Now LSU must find a replacement for Miley pronto. Top contenders are senior Billy Broussard, Mi-ley's alternate last season, and sophomores Don Griffin and Carl Otis Trimble. Trimble, a converted tailback who scored 10 touchdowns in five Baby Bengal games in 1973, is rated as just the kind of flashy, versatile threat the Veer needs.
The Veer also requires a big bully of a tight end, and LSU has a mean one in All-SEC Brad Boyd, the team's leading receiver last year. Wide Receivers Ben Jones and Richard Romain will also be back to haul in the long tosses. The offensive line, hurt by the loss of three starters, including All-America Guard Tyler Lafauci, should develop.
McClendon says of his defense that "we hope to be as tough as anybody in the country." Two good reasons for his confidence are Steve Cassidy and Adam Duhe, a pair of 240-pounders who accounted for 107 solo tackles and 38 assists last season. A junior, Cassidy has started 24 consecutive games since arriving at LSU, and Duhe, a sophomore, was a regular at the age of 17. Linebackers Bo Harris, Thielen Smith and Terry Hill should make up for the loss of Warren Capone while Safety Mike Williams anchors a strong secondary.
No team ever breezes through the rugged SEC, and LSU will have an even tougher time of it this season with the addition of Tennessee, a "jinx team" the Tigers have not defeated since 1933. Even so, Mac's pack has won nine games each of the last five seasons, and 1974 should be no different.
9 PENN STATE
When it comes to poor-mouthing, Joe Paterno is not a perennial pessimist. In fact, he has been known on occasion to be a glowing optimist. Imagine then the consternation of Nittany Lion fans when Joe came away from spring drills muttering about the possibility of a "disastrous year." Lest anyone doubt the depths of his gloom, he went even further: "This is the worst spring practice I've seen in 25 years."
For sure, Paterno's cup does not runneth over with vintage talent; in fact, it is more than half empty. No fewer than 13 starters from last year's undefeated, No. 5-ranked team, including 10 National Football League draftees and three All-Americas headed by Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti, have graduated. And considering that last season Paterno did not start a single sophomore—much less a freshman—there is not exactly a surfeit of surefire replacements on hand.
Indeed, the Blue-While intrasquad game last spring might more appropriately have been called the Black-and-Blue Bowl. Not only did 27 players miss the affair due mainly to injuries, but the best the survivors could do was run up a measly total of 10 points. "Frankly," said a dour Paterno, "I don't think this is a very good football team now. We don't have any leadership. A lot of our people made no effort to get better this spring. The intensity is not there."
But none of his rivals is about to be fooled by, much less feel compassion for, a man who sports a 75-13-1 career record and the best winning percentage (.848) among active college coaches. Still, any close assessment of the 1974 Nittany Lions must conclude that this is a team being rebuilt on imponderables.
Offensively, the good news in the Pennsylvania hills is that Quarterback Tom Shuman, named the outstanding offensive player in Penn State's 16-7 victory over LSU in the Orange Bowl, will be back. "The only difference between the situation we faced in 1970 [the only season in the past seven that Penn State did not finish in the Top Ten] and this year," says Paterno. "is that we have a fine quarterback." Though Penn State went to the air only 183 times in 11 games last fall, Shuman should be firing more often now that Cappelletti is gone. "Sure, we're going to have to throw the ball a lot more," concedes Paterno. "Just how much will depend on proficiency."
Shuman can throw, all right (1,375 yards and 13 touchdowns last year), but Tight End Dan Natale and Flankers Jim Eaise and Dick Barvinchak, a converted quarterback, will be hard pressed to make up for the loss of three top receivers. "I think leadership is what this team is going to need the most," says Shuman, all but declaring his candidacy.
What Penn State's depleted offensive line needs is a good menacing tackle, and 6'4", 249-pound Jeff Bleamer, one of the few bright spots in Paterno's dim spring, should more than suffice. He will be blocking for Tailback Walt Addie, who averaged a crunching 7.2 yards a carry last season as Cappelletti's backup, and Fullback Tom Donchez, who replaces the departed Bob Nagle.
Like Shuman, the opposition figures to do a lot more passing, since Jim Bradley is the only experienced defender in the deep secondary. Though the loss of a pair of All-Americas like Tackle Randy Crowder and Linebacker Ed O'Neil is not suffered easily, the return of Tackle Mike Hartenstine and Ends Dave Graf and Greg Murphy to the starting lineup should make the Nittany Lion defense almost as uncompromising as ever.
Summing up, Paterno says that since "we showed in the spring that we couldn't move the ball, we're considering some drastic changes to get more versatility. Every position needs a lot of work. Nothing is really solid except the kicking game, and even there we lose the man who snapped the ball for two years and our best return man."
Though they host a tough, nationally televised opener against Stanford next week, the Nittany Lions are thankful that four of their first six games are at home, where they have lost only twice in the past seven seasons. "Yeah," says Paterno, "that's a break—if we can play football." That question should be conclusively decided in the second half of the season in confrontations with Maryland, North Carolina State and Pitt, the three other teams along with Stanford that possess the potential to defeat Penn State. Anything worse than a 9-2 season would qualify as a "disastrous year."
Darrell Royal is worried about Leaks, not in his defensive line but in his offensive backfield. Roosevelt Leaks, who had become the second-leading rusher in Texas history by gaining 1,415 yards (and averaging 6.2 yards per carry) last year, tore most of the ligaments in his right knee during spring practice. A few weeks later Royal spoke at a Texas Medical Association dinner and admitted that the trauma had caused him to reverse field on spring training. "I think we have too much contact," said Royal, obviously a shaken man. "I'd cancel the whole spring to have that one fullback. Practice wasn't that important."
A number of Longhorn-watchers think that if Leaks cannot play, a freshman, Earl Campbell of Tyler, Texas, will wind up with the job. Campbell was one of the most pursued high school stars ever, and his admirers say that he will eventually surpass Leaks' records, but Royal keeps mumbling about junior letterman David Bartek and sophomore Pat Kennedy. Other people believe that Leaks' knee will be the subject of a faith healing sometime before next week, when Texas opens against Boston College, and that Royal's next medical speaking date will be at an Aimee Semple McPherson memorial luncheon.
In either event, the backfield should be better than the Longhorns presently admit. Marty Akins, the highly competent quarterback, returns, and so does No. 2 man Mike Presley, who ain't no hound-dog neither. Raymond Clayborn, who averaged 7.8 yards per carry last season, could be a sleeper to wake up the crowds. If Bartek does not move there, Joe Aboussie and Jimmy Walker are at least adequate at the other halfback spot.
Assistant Head Coach Mike Campbell demurs partially from Royal's new aversion to spring scrimmages. "I don't think you can teach a person to play the piano without having him hit the keyboard," he says. Stalwarts like Defensive Tackles Doug English (6'5", 250 pounds) and Fred Currin (6'4", 240 pounds), Linebacker Wade Johnston and Defensive Halfback Terry Melancon will again be reading enemy keys. Admittedly, Back Jay Arnold and Rover Gary Yeoman will be difficult to replace, but Linebacker Dave Nelson, Defensive End Rick Burleson and Tackle Cornell Reese looked sharp in spring practice and should help shore up the front fences.
On offense, consensus All-America Center Bill Wyman, who was responsible for many of the thruways Leaks traveled last year, will be sorely missed, as will Tight End Parker Alford, who was killed in an auto accident last month. But Wyman's younger brother Jim is a 6'2", 230-pound center and there is a striking family resemblance on the field. In any case, there are not many coaches around the country who would kick tackles like Rick Thurman and Bob Simmons or guards like Bruce Hebert and Will Wilcox off their teams.
Actually, if you can believe some of the talk around Austin, the Longhorns' successes are getting a little boring. "Texas clobbers everyone," one sports watcher says. "The few times they don't, they get clobbered. Maybe 40% of the students are into the game. The rest worry more about their dates than whether Texas wins or loses." In fact, after last year's 52-13 thrashing by Oklahoma, the sports editor of the Daily Texan boycotted football, filling his columns with cross-country results and stories on the prospects of the wrestling team.
Rank ingratitude, some might say. Unnecessary, says Darrell Royal, because "there is going to be a drop-off; I don't think we'll be as good as we have been in the past." However, he also ominously says, "We aren't sacking up the bats before the ball game starts." When football coaches start using baseball metaphors, expect something sneaky.
Which is the only team to have been ranked in the final Top Ten each of the last five years? If you said Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama or Penn State, you're dead wrong. The answer is Michigan. Under Bo Schembechler the Wolverines have gone 48-6-1 over the last half decade. In Bo's "worst" season, 1969, Michigan won eight of 11 and upset Ohio State, while Schembechler was named Coach of the Year.
That brings us to the end-of-the-sea-son record—and here poor Bo is bidding to be the Tom Landry of college football. Four of his six losses, and the tie, have come in season finales, three in scheduled games, two in the Rose Bowl. And even the tie was a loss, one might almost say. Last year Michigan lost its finale not on the scoreboard but to the Big Ten athletic directors. After Michigan managed to tie mighty Ohio State 10-10, the Big Ten still picked the Buckeyes as its Rose Bowl representative.
According to nasty rumor, the major consideration was the injury suffered by Wolverine Quarterback Dennis Franklin in that game. Ironically, Franklin's shoulder mended so rapidly that he was able to throw again before New Year's Day. Which was doubly bad news for the athletic directors. Besides destroying their reputation for omniscience, it meant that Franklin was going to be very healthy for 1974. In '73 "healthy" meant 959 yards of total offense.
Fullback Ed Shuttlesworth, third leading rusher in Michigan history, and Wingback Clint Haslerig have graduated. To compensate, last year's trio of tailbacks—who together ran for 1,672 yards—will be scattered to three positions. Gil Chapman moves to wingback, Chuck Heater (only 205 pounds) goes to fullback and Gordon Bell remains at tailback. That gives Michigan its alltime fastest backfield. Which is good. Franklin can throw 60-yard lightning bolts, but Michigan's excellent receivers sometimes drop them—occasionally from sheer surprise that Bo allowed the team to pass.
The front line has great size and depth, most particularly on defense. In the last four years Michigan has yielded only 6.62 points per game. That makes winning easier. Behind the line, enemy passers stand in such awe of Safety Dave Brown that most of his 76 tackles last year came on running plays. Linebacker Steve Strinko was in on 137 tackles, a record, and Carl Russ had 94 stops. Altogether, Michigan should do very well in its conference, the Big Two plus Medium-Sized Eight. Stanford and Colorado, tough outside foes, should fall. That would carry Michigan to another epic struggle at Columbus.
Despite having a student body that is the farthest to the left in the Big Ten, Michigan takes football just about as seriously as any Columbus Rotarian. While Tom Hayden was editing the Michigan Daily and founding Students for a Democratic Society in the '60s, mobs of students still poured through Hoover Street on Saturdays to march on Michigan Stadium. Two months before the Black Action Movement strike paralyzed the university in 1970, many of the same people had sunned themselves in the Rose Bowl. Does so much victory cloy the students of Ann Arbor? Not on your (Henry) Wallace button. During the dull moments they risk the town's celebrated $5 pay-by-mail marijuana fine. When the third quarter ends they follow tradition and pass the empty Stroh's beer bottles 90 rows to the stadium's outer wall. When Michigan goes ahead by three touchdowns, 90 rows of lecherous young men pass assorted coeds up to the same wall. This will happen often in 1974.
Over the years, with only a few exceptions, this has been Missouri: run into the line, run wide, third down and eight, draw play, punt. Field position, tough defense, pass only when you're behind and time is short. Last year the Tigers scored 13 points against Nebraska, unbeaten at the time. Nothing so amazing about that. Wisconsin, North Carolina State, Colorado all scored more. But Missouri won the game, holding Nebraska to 12. That's Missouri for you. Trouble is, 13 doesn't always do it. The Tigers scored 13 against Colorado and Kansas and came away a loser both times, by four points and one point. The Missouri defense was the second best in the Big Eight, giving up only 12.1 points a game, but the offense was next to last, producing 16.8. The team won its first six games, then staggered in with four losses in its last six. Only a 34-17 romp over Auburn in the Sun Bowl made the end of the year worth remembering.
Now Coach Al Onofrio hopes the offense will have more zip without sacrificing any Big D. Passing may become a part of the Tiger attack. Ray Smith took over as starting quarterback at the end of last season and threw for two touchdowns in the Sun Bowl. But the major cause for excitement is Steve Pisarkiewicz, known to teammates as Zark, a red-shirt sophomore who, Onofrio insists, has "the strongest arm of any passer we've had at Missouri since I came here in 1958." He can throw both long and short and has an exceptionally quick release.
The hub of the Tiger running attack will be Ray Bybee, who was chosen as the outstanding player in the Sun Bowl. Bill Ziegler, who played slotback last season mostly a blocking and pass receiving (pass receiving?) position, has been shifted to tailback. Onofrio, recalling that Ziegler averaged 125 yards a game as a freshman, wants to take more advantage of his power.
But who will open the holes for the runners to run through, and who will give Smith and Zark time to pass? "Our big question mark is our offensive line," says Onofrio. "It will have to grow up in a hurry." Only three starters return, the best of whom is Steve Sadich, a guard.
The Tigers should be as tough as ever on defense, with nine starters back. Tackle Mark Johnson and Linebacker Scott Pickens are standouts. A sleeper at middle guard, one of the vacancies, may be 270-pound Danny Smith, who transferred from always powerful Fort Scott (Kans.) Community College.
Perhaps Missouri's most serious loss is Greg Hill, who for three years gave the Tigers the best field-goal and extra-point kicker in the Big Eight, perhaps the country. He will be replaced by Tim Gibbons, a soccer-style sophomore who can kick the ball farther than Hill, but not as accurately.
The Tigers must play Oklahoma and Nebraska away, but otherwise the schedule is reasonable, if any Big Eight schedule can be called that. If the Tiger defense is as strong as last year, three touchdowns a game should give the team a 9-2 season and a bowl trip.
Motivation. Desire. Will to win. All those hoary locker-room bywords seemed freshly minted in Pittsburgh last year. And for good reason. Coming off a woeful 1-10 season, the worst in Pitt's long history, returning lettermen were ready to listen to any encouraging words. So when Johnny Majors arrived toting his copy of Norman Vincent Peale's Enthusiasm Makes the Difference, the Panthers were instant believers in his sermon that winning was not just a case of saving face but a test of manhood.
Majors' assistants were devout disciples, especially Jackie Sherrill who all but camped out in Aliquippa, Pa. for six months to land Tony Dorsett, the most coveted schoolboy prospect in the East if not the Western Hemisphere. As for Majors, who came to Pitt from Iowa State as a kind of patron saint of lost causes, he, too, had motivation aplenty: "It's a matter of survival. Either we go up or I got out."
Pitt, needless to say, went up, up and almost away with a turnaround 6-4-1 record, the Panthers' first winning season in the past decade. Dorsett, the 175-pound teen-age flash, was the big difference. He gained 1,586 yards rushing—second only to Mark (Cellar among NCAA schools—and became the first bona fide freshman All-America back since the turn of the century. Majors, hip deep in all that will to win, was named Coach of the Year.
All of which introduces a new set of difficulties. While the Panthers were bent on living down their past year, they now face the equally formidable task of living up to their press clippings. Though any team that carried as many as 24 freshmen on its 52-man traveling squad could hardly be hurting for returning talent, it is true that Pitt's key losses were concentrated on the offensive line. Guard Reynold Stoner and Center Mike Carry should help to plug the gaps, but Majors insists that "I don't know what this year's kids will do. I'm not overawed by our offensive line by a long shot."
If not Majors, a lot of other people are impressed by the fact that along with Dorsett the Pitt backfield will again feature Quarterback Billy Daniels, a master scrambler who ran for 440 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall, and Fullback Dave Janasek, a punishing blocker who is proud to be called "GG," short for glorified guard. "If the best thing I can do for the team is block for Tony," says the 210-pound Janasek, "then I'll do it. I like blocking. It's nice to knock down a guy who's 30 pounds heavier and see him limping back to his huddle."
It would also be nice, says Majors, to have another good receiver to complement Todd Toerpar, and "I'd love to have one more defensive back fall from out of the clouds." In the defensive trenches Majors already has the answer to a coach's prayer in Gary Burley, a 250-pound middle guard who led the team in tackles last season.
Burley & Co. will need all the muscle they can muster this season to stave off Southern Cal, Notre Dame and Penn State, not to mention the upset-minded likes of Temple, Boston and West Virginia. If nothing else, the Panthers are delighted that no longer are people saying sniggering things like the turning point in a Pitt game is the opening kickoff.
Vince Dooley has not had a losing season in 10 years at Georgia, but the cartoon showing him walking on water while carrying Bear Bryant has not been seen much lately. The Bulldogs had a 7-4-1 record in '73, including a victory over Maryland in the Peach Bowl, yet the perfectionists were not satisfied. Georgia fans booed the team on a number of occasions, critics made fun of the "three yards and a cloud of disgust" offense and there were even a few DUMP DOOLEY bumper stickers around Atlanta after midseason back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Dooley's teams have won two Southeastern Conference titles (1966 and 1968) and played in seven bowl games, but apparently he was not satisfied either. He put Offensive Coach Frank Inman in charge of recruiting and replaced him with ex-Vandy Head Coach Bill Pace, who was an assistant last year at Georgia Tech, of all places. Object: to install the Veer—"We hope to emulate Houston and North Carolina State," admitted Dooley.
It is a good time to retool an offense, for Georgia has a relatively easy 1974 schedule (Alabama is missing, and that is almost like winning a game). In addition, there will have to be a new quarterback, since Andy Johnson has departed. There are four candidates: junior Ralph Page, who bailed Johnson out a couple of times last year; Dickie Clark, up from the frosh; Matt Robinson, who played mostly safety on the freshman team; and another sophomore, Ray Goff, who hurt his knee in spring practice but appears to be the best prospect of them all.
Elsewhere Georgia is talented and experienced. Horace King, who grew up in Athens not far from the football stadium (a la Fran Tarkenton), will do most of the running from tailback. He can pass and catch, too. Split End Gene Washington (at least the third fellow with that name to catch passes in big-time football) is one of the fastest Georgia players ever—he ran the 100 in 9.3 in high school. Last year Washington led the SEC in kickoff returns even though he broke his ankle in the fourth game and missed the rest of the season.
The offensive line is one of the biggest in Bulldog history, with such specimens as Craig Hertwig (6'8", 260 pounds) and Barry Collier (6'6", 275 pounds), but the bruiser most talked about plays defense: sophomore Linebacker Sylvester Boler, the outstanding defensive player in the one-point Peach Bowl win over Maryland. After the game a Maryland player commented, "It's hard to score on 13 people. They had the official on their side, and Boler counts as two."
Dooley and the Bulldogs really had nothing to be ashamed of last year. They lost by one point to Florida, by four to Vanderbilt and by five to Kentucky; Alabama came from behind to win after trailing with three minutes to play. This year, if the Veer gets in gear and Boler bowls over runners in the manner expected, Georgia could be back to its record of three seasons ago, 11-1.
Those high-stepping Tennessee walking horses have had plenty of reason to prance in their nine years on the Neyland Stadium sidelines. Every year since 1965 the Volunteers have won at least eight games, played in a bowl and finished in the Top 20. No other team can make that claim.
But what about this year? The horses will strut and, odds are, the team will, too. Tipsters whisper, however, that the old orange mare ain't what she used to be. Bill Battle's fourth Tennessee team limped down the stretch last season, finishing out of the Top 10 and losing a bowl game for the first time. The breakdown occurred in the second half of an 8-4 season as the Vols dropped four of their last seven games. The blame was laid on the most porous defense since 1893. Just one season after the Volunteers were third in the nation against scoring, they ballooned to a 20-point-per-game yield.
Battle believes the defense will be much improved this fall, and he says it will stiffen because of changes in the offense. "We went to the Veer in spring practice as much to toughen our defense as to help the offense," the 32-year-old coach explains. "Essentially, the Veer comes right at you, and that's the kind of football we want our defense to play, too."
The Veer, with its scattershot triple options, will be executed by senior Quarterback Condredge Holloway. When the offense was introduced last spring Holloway was playing varsity baseball. But on the few occasions he wandered over to football practice to try his hand, his performance drew smiles. "We thought we had been doing pretty good with it until we saw Condredge," says Battle.
Holloway brandishes one of the most effective passing arms in Tennessee history, having suffered only seven interceptions in two years while completing 59% of his attempts. Nevertheless, he seems perfectly suited to the run-oriented Veer. "He has more moves and is harder to get hold of than any back I ever saw," Bear Bryant once drawled. Holloway will work behind a talented line led by Guard Mickey Marvin and Tackle Phil Clabo. Marvin, a 270-pound sophomore, has already been compared to Tennessee All-America Chip Kell.
Although inexperienced, Running Backs Paul Careathers and Mike Gayles have lots of potential. And when Holloway is not handing the ball off or running it himself, he can look to Larry Seivers and Stanley Morgan to catch it. Seivers has the moves, Morgan the speed.
A primary objective for new defensive coordinator Larry Jones, who came to Knoxville from Florida State, is improved end play. Ronnie McCartney, who won a starting job late last season, could be a bulwark at that position. Another solid performer is Tackle Robert Pulliam.
The pride of the Volunteer defense in recent years has been its linebackers. Early last season Hank Walter seemed to be cast in the classic mold, winning National Lineman of the Week honors against Auburn. But two games later he was out for the season with a knee injury. Now he is back, fully mended.
The secondary, which has also produced a fair share of talent lately (Jim Weatherford, Bobby Majors, Conrad Graham), now offers Jim Watts.
Tennessee's kicking game is unsurpassed. Neil Clabo averaged 43.6 yards a punt last year, fourth best in the country. And Ricky Townsend, the Vols' barefoot boy and two-time All-America, returns to kick placements, though this season he will be shod. "My foot got banged around so much last year," he says, "that I decided I had to learn to kick with a shoe on." Townsend now wears a shoe with laces on the side. Last year his two fourth-quarter field goals beat Vanderbilt, and he accounted for 45 of the NCAA-record 105 consecutive extra-point conversions Tennessee made over the past four seasons.
The Volunteers get a bit of a break in the schedule. They don't play Florida and Georgia, and their two toughest non-conference opponents, UCLA and Kansas, are not as strong as usual.
All the more reason for that Tennessee walking horse to keep on trucking.
A little quiz, football fans, to ease the shock of finding Maryland, a celebrated basketball and lacrosse power, in this year's Top 20:
1. Name the losing team in the first college football game ever televised (Oct. 5, 1940).
2. Where did Bear Bryant begin his collegiate head-coaching career?
3. Where did Tom Nugent, who invented the I formation, end his?
4. Who won the national championship in 1953?
5. Where did Big Mo and Little Mo, Dick Nolan, Mike Sandusky and Gary Collins play college ball? Not to mention the legendary King Corcoran of the Philadelphia Bell?
If you answered "Maryland" to all (or any) of the above, treat yourself to a crab cake and read on.
Two years ago, when Jerry Claiborne arrived at College Park, the glory days of Maryland football were a fading memory. Following Jim Tatum's departure in 1955 a succession of five coaches and 16 teams produced but three winning records. There were no bowl teams and only one All-America. Claiborne, a Bryant protégé who assisted the Bear at Kentucky, Texas A & M and Alabama, resuscitated the Terrapins.
Maryland finished 5-5-1 in 1972. Last year it was 8-4, with a Peach Bowl appearance, a berth in the final Top 20 and an All-America in Defensive Tackle Randy White. Not coincidentally, the Terrapins established a home-attendance record that has led to the expansion of Byrd Stadium's seating capacity. A few spoilsports suggest that the gate soared because of the curvaceous coed who cooed on television commercials, "Maryland football turns me on."
What in fact turned Maryland football on is the 45-year-old Claiborne, whose record at Virginia Tech from 1961 to 1970 (61-39-2) put him among the top 25 coaches in the country. "He has so much confidence in himself that he makes a believer out of you," says Wide Receiver Frank Russell. "He's built that winning confidence in us. We've always had the physical ability. He's changed our mental outlook."
Claiborne is a strict disciplinarian, but his players approve of his "Yes, sir, no, sir" and 11 p.m. curfew dicta. "We had some talent before," says one former Terp, "but we needed tightening up."
Randy White is a good example of the new breed. When the All-America lineman was a freshman he weighed 212 pounds and covered 40 yards in a Terrapin-like 4.9 seconds. Last spring he was a solid 248, ran the 40 in 4.65 time and could bench-press 430 pounds. Last season White and Defensive Back Bob Smith keyed a defense that led the Atlantic Coast Conference for the second straight year and was in the top 10 nationally in both points and rushing yards allowed. That defense returns eight starters; the offense 10.
With the starters having an additional year's experience, Maryland should eliminate the mistakes that cost it three ball games last season. West Virginia won on a 68-yard punt return with eight seconds left. Against North Carolina State the Terps blew a 17-0 lead and missed a late field goal to lose by two points. Georgia won the Peach Bowl 17-16.
"For the first time," says Claiborne, the 1973 ACC Coach of the Year, "we've got a great group to build on. Our front line will be all right."
Claiborne has a reputation as a defense-minded coach, but he has a penchant for razzle-dazzle on offense: crossfield laterals, halfback passes, end arounds. Tailback Louis Carter rushed for 927 yards last year and completed eight of 11 passes—six for touchdowns. There is a little dandy in the Maryland playbook that has the quarterback lateraling to the flanker, who flips the ball back to the quarterback, who then passes downfield.
Claiborne can call on two quarterbacks, Ben Kinard, a versatile runner and passer, and Bob Avellini, a strong-armed thrower. They helped direct a balanced attack that averaged 351 yards and 28 points per game last year. Receiver Frank Russell is only three catches away from Gary Collins' school career record of 74. Additional punch is provided by Hungarian Placekicker Steve Mike-Mayer, whose brother Nick swats three-pointers for the Atlanta Falcons.
If the Terrapins have a problem this season it will be the upgraded schedule that starts off with Alabama and Florida and includes N.C. State and Penn State back to back. But Claiborne is unconcerned. "Whether or not our record proves it," he says, "we will be a stronger team than we were last year."
17 TEXAS TECH
Texas Tech's outlook for the 1974 season is as high as the top row of Jones Stadium, or as low as the bottom row. It all depends on what level redshirted sophomore Quarterback Tommy Duniven has reached in his 20 daily runs up and down the stadium steps—after working eight hours on a nearby construction project. Duniven has the kind of arm that makes pro scouts whistle, but running the option in the manner of Joe Barnes, who graduated last spring, is something else. Barnes led the Red Raiders both in total carries and in yards rushing, and he personally accounted for most of the big plays that kept Tech drives alive.
Coach Jim Carlen will also miss Tight End Andre Tillman, but he admits that he really is not alarmed about his receiving corps. "Our outside receivers are good," he says. "Lawrence Williams is All-Conference for sure. Jeff Jobe is good, and we have depth behind them." Carlen does question how much protection the passer will get, as well he might, because Texas Tech lost the whole strong side of the offensive line. However, an eager but inexperienced group should coalesce around quick Guard Floyd Keeney and Center Jim Frasure.
The defensive line presents no problems, with Tackle Ecomet Burley bulwarking it. Burley was named Most Valuable Lineman in the Sun Bowl as a freshman in 1972, and he made 102 tackles and caused five fumbles in 1973. End Tommy Cones, a salty type whose hobbies are eating oysters, fishing and surfing, plus Middle Guard David Knaus, Linebacker Charlie Beery and Defensive Back Curtis Jordan—who can backpedal 20 yards in 3.1 seconds and was named the team's MVP last year—are other causes for optimism.
The backfield seems equally formidable. Tailback Larry Isaac rushed for 526 yards and led Tech in scoring with 10 touchdowns as a freshman, although he was not a starter until very late in the season. John Garner and Cliff Hoskins are two good ones at fullback.
The Raiders could be even better than last year's bunch, which ranked 11th in the nation, defeated Tennessee in the Gator Bowl and lost only to Texas in an early-season game. Tech does not beat many teams by enormous scores, but its cautious style, always probing for the big breakthrough, wears folks down. The Raiders had only 12 turnovers last year, one per game. Carlen firmly believes that it is silly to drive 80 yards and not score and, worse yet, to cough up the ball in your own territory. The only coughing done in West Texas this year will be by opponents.
Its proper name is the University of Arizona, but it might just as well be called the University of Michigan at Tucson. The athletic director, the basketball coach, the tennis coach and even the president's wife have Ann Arbor backgrounds, and the influence carries over into football. Head Coach Jim Young and his top aide, Larry Smith, guided Arizona to an 8-3 record and the co-championship of the Western Athletic Conference last year. Both had served apprenticeships under Michigan's Bo Schembechler, and when Bo suffered a heart attack at the end of 1969 it was Young who took over as temporary head man for the Rose Bowl game.
What do you get when you cross a Wolverine with a Wildcat? Something fairly fierce, if 1973 was a good sample. It was Young's first season in cactus country, and he managed to take a bit of the play away from Arizona State's Frank Kush, who, as it happens, played at Michigan State. However, at season's end Rush's Sun Devils won the intrastate war 55-19. They meet again Nov. 30 at Tucson, and most experts think that this time the result will be reversed. Arizona has 17 starters returning, including the entire offensive backfield, and did an excellent job of recruiting.
Young and his assistants corralled 5% of the 100-man Scholastic Coach high school All-America team (plus some honorable mentions) from as far away as Pennsylvania and—you guessed it—Michigan. It is doubtful that any of the freshmen or JC transfers will dislodge the members of the 1-2-3 backfield. Quarterback Bruce Hill, who wears the number 1 on his uniform, was WAC rookie of the year last season, completing 104 of 216 passes for 1,529 yards and nine touchdowns. He also ran for 386 yards. He is out of Fremont High in Los Angeles, the school that produced ASU's Tony Lorick and Arizona's Rickie Harris, two backs who went on to the pros. No. 2 is Halfback Willie Hamilton, the team's second leading rusher last year. No. 3 is Fullback Jim Upchurch, a senior from Vallejo, Calif., who was the 16th best rusher in the nation last year with 1,184 yards and 10 touchdowns on 210 carries. The fourth back, Flanker Theopolis (T) Bell, has wow-ee statistics, too, but he wears 18.
Arizona's football heritage is not quite a match for Michigan's. In the 10 years before Young arrived the Wildcat records were, going backward, 4-7, 5-6, 4-6, 3-7, 8-3 (oh joy!), 3-6-1, 3-7, 3-7, 6-3-1 and 5-5. Arizona has beaten Arizona State only once in 11 seasons. The school has produced only two first-team All-Americas, Linebacker Mark Arneson in 1971 and Cornerback Jackie Wallace in '72, and neither was anywhere near a consensus choice.
Young, naturally, plans to change all that. Average attendance at Arizona Stadium, which seats 40,000, was more than 38,000 for Wildcats games last year and the alumni are clamoring for more seats. What does Young predict for this time around? "Another banner year," he says. "We've got depth, savvy, confidence. We can live up to the objective of '8-3 in '73, more in '74.' "
A Wolverine-Wildcat is an optimist at least.
19 NORTH CAROLINA ST.
In the two-year reign of that cheery rascal Lou Holtz, North Carolina State has never lost at home, never lost at night and never lost while wearing red. The Wolfpack's recent 17-6-1 record is the best in the school's history and explains why Holtz, who was named for the old-time nightclub comic, is always smiling. Never mind that he looks more like a double-knit CPA than an expert on offensive football. And do not question how a 155-pound Kent State linebacker and, later, Woody Hayes' assistant coach, ever came to advocate throwing the football. Just accept the facts for what they are. Last year the Wolfpack was unbeaten in the Atlantic Coast Conference, zapped Kansas 31-18 in the Liberty Bowl for its second straight postseason victory and spent the rest of the winter enjoying its 9-3 record and watching David Thompson conduct basketball clinics.
Because the Wolfpack had two regular quarterbacks last year, the departure of Bruce Shaw is minimized by the return of Dave Buckey. A full-time Buckey means more and better passing, with many of the tosses being aimed at twin brother Don, the team's leading receiver. "I am very high on Dave," Holtz says, "but I want to be careful about what I say because I don't want to put undue pressure on him."
The top performer in last year's Liberty Bowl was Fullback Stan Fritts, a two-time Academic All-America who already holds the school career scoring record with 214 points. Five of his touchdowns came against Wake Forest last year, one of three games in which the Wolfpack topped 50 points.
The other starting backs will be returning Flanker John Gargano, a long-distance threat, and Tailback Roland Hooks, whose skills were eclipsed in the past by now-departed Willie Burden.
Four starting positions up front need replacements, and Holtz says the candidates are so young that "if I run the him projector backward they still giggle a bit." Justus Everett at center. Bob Blanchard at guard and Pat Hovance at tight end provide maturity.
The defense will be better if only for its experience. "It could be the strong point of our season," Holtz says, fully aware that last year it was the weak point. In 1973 the N.C. State defenders surrendered nearly 21 points per game with conspicuous breakdowns in the fourth quarter, in which they allowed 105 points, compared to only 17 in the first. This lapse was precisely the shortcoming in losses to Nebraska and Penn State.
The top returnees are Tackles Frank Haywood and Sam Senneca. Defensive Backs Mike Devine and Bob Divens and Linebacker Mike Daley. Devine's eight interceptions last season tied a school record, and an assistant coach has called Daley "one of the best defensemen in State's history."
The Wolfpack schedule could lull the unwary into a false sense of security. Even a good team might survive the first six games, only to be blanked after that. The testing begins in mid-October with road games against conference challengers North Carolina and Maryland. Then South Carolina and Penn State come to Raleigh, followed finally by Arizona State out yonder under the lights.
"These last two games are the real keys to getting another bowl bid," says Holtz. ""We'll have to win at least one of them, and I think maybe we can. I'm hoping confidence and ability will build as we move into the second half of the schedule. It's difficult, no question about it."
Of course, if precedents hold, neither the Nittany Lions nor the Sun Devils have a chance. N.C. State, as you recall, does not lose at home or at night.
20 ARIZONA ST.
Matched against Bobby Riggs in an exhibition tennis match, any self-respecting duffer would enter into the gate-building fun of it all and just hope that his backhand would not look too bad. Not Arizona State Coach Frank Kush. ""If that guy tries anything funny," he said shortly before his match with Riggs at a tournament in Tempe, Ariz. this spring, "I'll knock him silly."
The point is, as everyone west of the Pecos already knows, little Frank Kush is a fighter. And so are his Sun Devil teams—or else. This year Kush and his youthful players will have to battle as never before if they hope to match last season's 11-1 performance, including a 28-7 victory over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Sun Devils, to put it mildly, have a flair for scoring. But the nucleus of the team that averaged 45 points a game and seven yards every time the ball was snapped has left with the kind of laurels that are just about irreproducible. Quarterback Danny White, second in the nation last season with 2,862 yards in total offense, exited with seven individual NCAA records to his credit. Both All-America Woody Green, the NCAA's fourth-leading alltime rusher, and Ben Malone departed after running for 1,000-plus yards in 1973—only the third time in NCAA history that two players in the same backfield have achieved that feat.
"It's a whole new ball game," says Kush. "Quarterback is the major concern, and we've lost the best one-two rushing punch in the country." Add to that the loss of six of the front seven from the defensive unit and, as Kush says, "our problems are obvious."
Still, the boys at Frank's Friendly Tavern, a huddle of knowledgeable football heads hard by the ASU campus, remain confident. Having placed their hopes—not to mention a few discreet wagers—on Kush through 16 consecutive winning seasons, they feel that ASU's strongest returning asset is the "punishing Polack" himself. "This year you might say poor old Frank Kush," says Moon Mullins, one of the stalwarts at Frank's Friendly, "but whoever does will more than likely end up in intensive care."
Junior Ray Alexander and sophomore Bill Kenney are the leading contenders for White's vacated slot—and Kush's fire. Freshmen Bruce Hardy, Utah's No. 1 schoolboy hero (SI, April 29), and Dennis Sproul could see action at quarterback, too.
Kush also has a way of turning out whole herds of galloping "pony backs." This year's stampede is led by Ron Cuie, Mark Lovett, Freddie Williams, Garland Evans and Stan Robinson. As for receivers, Split End Greg Hudson (54 catches. 788 yards and seven touchdowns last year) and Wingback Morris Owens (50 receptions, 1,076 yards, nine TDs) have already proved that they can gather in most everything within reach.
Defensively, 235-pound Linebacker Bob Breunig figures to plug more than a few of the gaps up front. Last season against archrival Arizona, for instance, Big Bad Bob did things like make 13 tackles, block a kick, intercept one pass and deflect another to help the Sun Devils win 55-19 and gain a share of the Western Athletic Conference title with the Wildcats. The ASU secondary is solid this season with the return of starters Bo Warren and Mike Haynes at the corners and Kory Schuknecht at weak safety.
The schedule affords ASU little time to regroup its forces. "We get Houston and Texas Christian at home right off the bat," says Kush, "and then go to Missouri. That's a pretty good boot camp. I'll be a lot smarter about our club after those first three games." Which is just another way of saying somebody is going to get knocked silly.