Having just returned from a West Coast football weekend, let me offer some impressions. These are not happy days for the Pacific Coast Conference, where the internal strife has reached unpleasant proportions. Nullification and secession is the slogan of the Southland. If either or both is averted by the powers-that-be, then the reconstruction period is certain to be one of prolonged bitterness.
I saw USC and Oregon State play Friday night in the Coliseum at Los Angeles. At times the entire Trojan backfield of Frank Hall, Jon Arnett, C. R. Roberts and Don Hickman threatened to tear the game apart, but then the offense would sputter and revert to mediocrity. The Beavers presented a more cohesive offensive effort than USC over the 60-minute route. Their Tennessee-UCLA single-wing balanced-line attack was most effective, especially to the weak side on the wingback reverses. Two sophomores, Tailback Paul Lowe and Wingback Earnel Durden, presage better times for OSC. The defense, led by heralded tackle John Witte, was strong straight ahead and quick to the flanks.
Stanford has one of the most interesting teams to watch in college football. They are pass-minded from start to finish. Their favorite alignment (see diagram) causes the defensive secondary to spread into a man-for-man pass coverage. Basic requirements for this setup are two ends and a halfback who can catch the ball and a pin-point throwing quarterback. The two remaining backs must be able to protect the passer against onrushing ends, keep the interior linemen "honest" by the threat of the run, and catch the ball on delayed passes or quick swings. The Indians have the necessary ingredients. John Brodie is an extraordinary performer at quarterback, and four fine receivers at end complement his throwing, but his prime target is the flanking halfback, Paul Camera, to whom he will throw continuously if not covered closely. It was evident that the maze of Stanford pass patterns, coupled with the poise and faking by Brodie, made an airtight defense impossible.
Defensively, Coach Chuck Taylor's team are gamblers too. They will play four-man lines, five-man lines, seven-man lines, shoot linebackers and also "loop" right or left. I was much interested in watching the performance of Tackle Paul Wiggin and can report that he was the best lineman on the field. It was my good fortune to watch what might well be the country's two outstanding tackles, Witte of Oregon State and Wiggin, both against superior opposition.
Just a word about Chuck Taylor. His approach to football is most refreshing, and its effect can be seen on the play of his teams in his six-year tenure at Palo Alto. Often the opposition has been overpowering, but he has never been heard to say that he didn't have a good chance to win. Even the most blatant optimist could be excused for being a little pessimistic with MSU and Ohio State scheduled on two successive weekends.
One bit of Michigan State trickery upset the Stanford defensive scheme no little. Instead of lining up unbalanced to the right, as usual, on the T, wing T and single wing, they varied their alignment by using an unbalanced T to the left (see diagram). This unexpected move threw the Indians completely out of kilter, and confusion resulted every time it was used.
Before closing I must apologize for not picking Clemson to tie Florida last week. No good prognosticator should miss such an obvious pick and wind up with only 24 wins and one tie out of 25 selections. I promise to do better this week.
STANFORD spread opposing defense with pro-type flanker T, right half and left end split wide. Primarily for passing, it requires top quarterback and three fine receivers.
MICHIGAN STATE put the Stanford defenses askew with an unbalanced T to left instead of customary unbalanced line to right. It forced the defense to crisscross hurriedly.
For Games Of Saturday, Oct. 6
•Michigan vs. Michigan State. Wolverines pack wallop. Spartans 1-2 punch powerful, with Peaks and Kowalczyk, but Kowal's ankle ailing. Could mean the difference. Nonetheless, MIGHIGAN STATE.
•Duke vs. Tennessee. Split-T against single wing. Jurgensen vs. Majors. Defense will predominate and breaks will decide. One vote for Vols to get the breaks. TENNESSEE.
•TCU vs. Arkansas. Razorbacks rugged, could be spoiler in TV game of the week. Still, if you stick with the champion you can only be wrong once. TEXAS CHRISTIAN.
•Army vs. Penn State. Circumstances replica of last year. Cadets ragged in opener. Nittany Lions lashed Quakers. Closer, but ARMY.
•Minnesota vs. Purdue. Suspect this is Gopher year, but Boilermakers' Len Dawson's aerials must be controlled. MINNESOTA.
•Ohio state vs. Stanford. Contrasts here. Indians play most open game in the country. Buckeyes most conservative. Power over passes. OHIO STATE.
•Wisconsin vs. Southern California. Badgers beat Marquette easily in opener but USC is loaded with fast backs and large linemen. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.
•Yale vs. Brown. Bulldog awakened after last Saturday's close call. Bruins showed class in Columbia win. However, YALE.
•Notre Dame vs. Indiana. Hoosiers beset by injuries, sickness and lack of depth. Guess is young Irish team has matured since SMU surprise. Easily, NOTRE DAME.
•Maryland vs. Baylor. Terps have been early-season disappointment. Bears are unbeaten and better than 1955 edition. Maryland definitely not. BAYLOR.
Vanderbilt over Alabama
Pittsburgh over California
Navy over Cornell
Colgate over Holy Cross
Iowa over Oregon State
SMU over Missouri
Clemson over NC State
Oklahoma over Kansas State
Dartmouth over Penn
Princeton over Columbia
South Carolina over North Carolina
Texas A&M over Texas Tech
LSU over Rice
Miami over Boston College (Oct. 5)
Oregon over UCLA (Oct. 5)
Last week's hunches:
24 right, 0 wrong, 1 tie,
Record to date: 42-7-1