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Original Issue



HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS: Year in and year out the enthusiastic fans of the SEC territory see some of the best football in the country. This is going to be the hardest year of all to pick the top teams, as the conference seems to have the best balance in years. Perhaps they should be rated in groups. Top group of championship caliber: Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Mississippi, Auburn and Kentucky. At least a couple of these teams could emerge as national powers the way Tennessee did last year. Tough middle group: Florida, LSU, Vanderbilt, and Georgia. Upset crew: Mississippi State, Tulane and Alabama.

Tennessee could be the big disappointment in the conference and will have to fight for every big game they win. The backfield is manned by experienced operators, but the memory of the missing Johnny Majors looms large—not so much for his physical ability as for his canny play-calling and direction. The Vols' line will be lighter but speedy. Defensive strength may not be up to the 1956 edition, but the punting of Tailback Bobby Gordon, particularly on his devastating quick kicks, will force opponents to go a long way for touchdowns.

If Georgia Tech is not beaten down in the early season it could come on to be another outstanding team. In picking Tech on my Eleven Elevens and placing it in the top SEC group, I am going against the advice of the coaches and some top experts around the country. Graduation losses were heavy, so this young squad will make a lot of mistakes. But I have a suspicion that many new horses are in the stables, and the jockeys have the winning habit.

Mississippi is always a good bet to win the conference championship because of its schedule. On paper the Rebs may be favored in all their games, except possibly the one with Tennessee, which they could lose and still take the title. Their conference games are well spaced. Another solid reason for their fine prospects is that they have an outstanding quarterback in Raymond Brown.

Auburn has the best material in the conference. The Tigers have two of the best running backs in the country in Hoppe and Lorino, and either one of them can beat you quickly. Morale will be a big factor with them. If Auburn gets by the Tennessee game, it will really be tough. Quarterbacking is the problem.

Kentucky is picked by many as the dark horse in the conference. With a good line, its hopes are pinned on four or five key sophomores. On the other hand, the Wildcats have the toughest conference schedule.

Florida has a well-balanced squad with outstanding offensive backs, but the team has a habit of losing the big ones. Nonetheless, the Gators will have a lot to say about who wins the conference title, and they can beat anybody on a good day.

Louisiana State has two of the best backs in the conference in its big fullback, Jimmy Taylor, who was the SEC scoring champion in 1956, and a much-heralded sophomore speedster with plenty of size named Billy Cannon. Losses were heavy in the line, and there may not be the depth to play the tough schedule facing LSU.

Vanderbilt is a good bet to finish higher than most polls are now figuring. There is a potential All-America back in Halfback Phil King and their conference schedule is pretty well arranged. This outfit could finish third or fourth and not surprise me.

Georgia has better offensive backs with more speed than last year. It is an improved team playing a tough schedule. The first three games will make or break the Bulldogs—Texas, Vanderbilt and Michigan in a row.

Mississippi State has the classiest quarterback in the conference in Billy Stacy, but doesn't look deep enough for its tough schedule.

Tulane is a sure bet to be well coached, getting every bit of mileage out of its material, and the Green Wave could cost Mississippi the championship with an upset. However, the team is not deep enough or good enough to win consistently in this conference.

Alabama had some good sophomores last year and played well for two quarters in every game. Still, the team wound up beating itself. Morale problems still exist, so 'Bama rates at the bottom spot in everybody's book. It seems strange to see the once-terrible Crimson Tide in this position.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

COLORS: Crimson and white
1956 RECORD: Won 2, lost 7, tied 1
WATCH FOR: Soph sensation Gary O'Steen, triple threat at left halfback

THE DOPE: The Crimson Tide is about to come on the prosperity that hit the rest of the New South long ago, and about time. In the last two years under Coach J. B. (Ears) Whitworth, Alabama has been able to buy but two wins and a tie while losing 17. This year the picture should change, and 'Bama should climb from the cellar. Nineteen lettermen return, and, though most of them are juniors, they received invaluable experience last year and have the lumps to prove it. "This is the best group I've had to work with since I took over the job in 1955," says Coach Whitworth. Much reliance will be placed on sophomores. The youngsters are an exceptionally talented group and several will probably earn starting roles. Top prospect among the newcomers is Gary O'Steen, 172-pound halfback who may see quarterback duty as well. Whitworth calls him "the best back to hit the 'Bama campus in years." Fullback Jim Loftin is expected to be another big gun in the 'Bama barrage. This 201-pound senior averaged 4.1 yards per carry last year and was the team's second best rusher even though hampered by injuries. Though the schedule is tough, Whitworth could have a winning season, with luck.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 28 at LSU, N (no game)
OCT. 5 at Vanderbilt, N (7-32)
OCT. 12 at Texas Christian, N (6-23)
OCT. 19 Tennessee at Birmingham (0-24)
OCT. 26 Miss. State (13-12)
NOV. 2 at Georgia (13-16)
NOV. 9 Tulane at Mobile (13-7)
NOV. 16 Georgia Tech at Birmingham (0-27)
NOV. 23 Miss. Southern (13-13)
NOV. 30 Auburn at Birmingham (7-34)

Auburn, Ala.

COLORS: Orange and blue
1956 RECORD: Won 7, lost 3
WATCH FOR: The running of halfbacks Tommy Lorino and Bobby Hoppe

THE DOPE: The Tigers are the conference giant, but unless Coach Ralph (Shug) Jordan can come up with a smart quarterback his giant may be slow-moving and dimwitted. The graduation of Howell Tubbs and the loss of second-stringer Jimmy Cook for "scholastic and disciplinary reasons" crippled Jordan's quarterback corps completely. He has been working on sophomores Johnny Kern and Bryant Harvard as replacements, but neither of the youngsters has any experience. "We'll have another good team, comparable to Auburn's teams of the past four years [29 wins, nine losses and two ties, plus three bowls]," says Jordan. "We have two of the finest halfbacks on any team in the Country in Tommy Lorino and Bobby Hoppe. Our offense will depend greatly on the development of sophomores at quarterback. Defensively, we should be strong." Auburn's line will be the toughest and heaviest in the conference. The ends, with Jimmy Phillips and Jerry Wilson, will be excellent, although Jordan may not be able to take full advantage of them due to poor passing. This team has championship material at every position except quarterback, and herein may lie Tennessee's claim to the SEC crown.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 28 at Tennessee (7-35)
OCT. 5 Chattanooga (no game)
OCT. 12 Kentucky (13-0)
OCT. 19 at Georgia Tech (7-28)
OCT. 26 at Houston, N (12-0)
NOV. 2 Florida (0-20)
NOV. 9 Miss. State at Birmingham (27-20)
NOV. 16 Georgia at Columbus, Ga. (20-0)
NOV. 23 at Florida State (13-7)
NOV. 30 Alabama at Birmingham (34-7)

Gainesville, Fla.

COLORS: Orange and blue
1956 RECORD: Won 6, lost 3, tied 1
WATCH FOR: Strong running attack featuring Halfback Jim Rountree

THE DOPE: The Gators have a strong first unit but no shock troops to throw in when the going gets rough; and in the SEC this is like a one-armed fighter mixing it with Floyd Patterson. Coach Bob Woodruff says he has less experience at guard than at any other position, while at quarterback, Jimmy Dunn, a 142-pounder, is the only player with game experience. Though the middle line will probably be weak, the Gators will have a powerful weapon in the running of Jim Rountree, the squad's best broken-field runner and best receiver, who can punt well and pass if necessary. And this year it will probably be necessary. Another strong point of the 1957 Gators will be the excellent tackle play of Charlie Mitchell, Vel Heckman and Ray Midden, while Dan Pelham at right end may be the most dependable defensive flanker in the conference. Fullback Ed Sears and Halfback Bernie Parrish round out the Gator backfield. Both are strong runners, though Sears is the more elusive. Of his 1957 chances, Woodruff has this to say: "Barring injuries to key personnel, the Gators will field a good, tough first team. But unless our inexperienced replacement unit develops fast, we may have a rough season."

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 28 Wake Forest (no game)
OCT. 5 at Kentucky, N (8-17)
OCT. 19 Miss. State (26-0)
OCT. 26 LSU (21-6)
NOV. 2 at Auburn (20-0)
NOV. 9 Georgia at Jacksonville (28-0)
NOV. 16 Vanderbilt (21-7)
NOV. 23 at Georgia Tech (0-28)
NOV. 30 Miami (Fla.), N (7-20)

Athens, Ga.

COLORS: Red and black
1956 RECORD: Won 3, lost 6, tied 1
WATCH FOR: Strong pass attack led by Quarterbacks Charley Britt, Tom Lewis

THE DOPE: The Bulldogs have sharp teeth in the backfield, but a pathetic lack of muscle up front may make Georgia all bark, no bite. Coach Wally Butts, who will be starting his 19th season at Athens, evaluates his squad this way: "We should develop into a dangerous passing team, with fine sophomore passers Charley Britt and Tommy Lewis, but the line does not have the depth to face our tough 10-game schedule. We have nothing that can be rated first class at end, tackle or fullback." The backfield, with 14 lettermen returning, is, according to Butts, the strongest offensive corps in his tenure at Georgia. The line, however, with a scant eight letterman returnees (only one a starter), is the weakest. Tackle Riley Gunnels is the only lineman who played regularly last season. The rest of the forward wall will have to be molded from a crew of raw sophomores and a sprinkling of transfer students. Without a strong line to count on to open the holes for short yardage, Georgia will have to play a wide-open game: look for the long scoring play, the spectacular pass. The Bulldogs should be fun to watch on offense, but first they will have to get their hands on the ball.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT 21. Texas at Atlanta (no game)
SEPT 28. Vanderbilt (0-14)
OCT. 5 at Michigan (no game)
OCT. 11 at Tulane, N (no game)
OCT. 19 Navy at Norfolk (no game)
OCT. 26 at Kentucky, N (7-14)
NOV. 2 Alabama (16-13)
NOV. 9 Florida at Jacksonville (0-28)
NOV. 16 Auburn at Columbus, Ga. (0-20)
NOV. 30 at Georgia Tech (0-35)

Atlanta, Ga.

COLORS: White and gold
1956 RECORD: Won 9, lost 1
WATCH FOR: More passing, frequent use of flankers and spread ends

THE DOPE: The Yellowjackets will be rebuilding this year, but never count out a team coached by Bobby Dodd. Graduation slashed through the backfield like an Alabama tornado, leaving Halfback Stan Flowers the only probable starter with any experience. Up front, End Jerry Nabors, Center Don Stephenson and Guard Leon Askew return with the only real experience in the line. Dodd feels the Yellowjackets will be stronger at end and center than they were last year because of outstanding starters and added reserve strength. However, at the tackles, guards (with the exception of Askew) and at all backfield positions (except Flowers), Georgia Tech will go into the season with youngsters who appear to have talent but lack all-important experience against major competition. Just how fast they develop will be the key to the success or failure of this team. Among the newcomers stepping into the lineup will be Quarterback Fred Braselton and Halfback Cal James. Braselton is an excellent passer and will undoubtedly do much toward getting Tech off the ground. Though Coach Dodd's offense will feature the famous Tech belly series, look for more wide-open offensive play. Inexperience up front, however, will make for poorer defensive play than last year. No conference winner here, but they will finish in the first division.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 21 Kentucky (14-6)
SEPT. 28 SMU (9-7)
OCT. 12 at LSU, N (39-7)
OCT. 19 Auburn (28-7)
OCT. 26 at Tulane, N (40-0)
NOV. 2 Duke (7-0)
NOV. 9 at Tennessee (0-6)
NOV. 16 Alabama at Birmingham (27-0)
NOV. 23 Florida (28-0)
NOV. 30 Georgia (35-0)

Lexington, Ky.

COLORS: Blue and white
1956 RECORD: Won 6, lost 4
WATCH FOR: All-America Lou Michaels, best all-round tackle in the nation

THE DOPE: The Wildcats are another team of sophomores but—watch out—these youngsters mature rapidly in warm climates. Coach Blanton Collier has consensus All-America Tackle Lou Michaels to anchor his line and one of the most talented crop of sophomores ever to bless Kentucky with which to fill in the rough spots. In the backfield, Bobby Cravens, team's leading ground-gainer last year, will be back at right half, while Jerry Eisaman, a Pennsylvania sophomore, seems a sure bet for quarterback. Eisaman is a superb passer who is waking echoes of Vito (Babe) Parilli around the Lexington campus. Another outstanding sophomore back is Glenn Shaw, fast, shifty and a fine long passer. Other coaches in the SEC rate Kentucky among those to beat for the conference title, and Collier seems inclined to go along with them. He says: "General inexperience may be costly to us early in the season, but I have a lot of faith in these boys, raw as they may be. The leadership of the Southeastern Conference this season should be among Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Auburn and Mississippi. I think our team can also be in that top echelon." With just a little luck, Collier may prove himself a prophet.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 21 at Georgia Tech (6-14)
SEPT. 28 Mississippi, N (7-37)
OCT. 5 Florida, N (17-8)
OCT. 12 at Auburn (0-13)
OCT. 19 at LSU, N (14-0)
OCT. 26 Georgia, N (14-7)
NOV. 2 Memphis State (no game)
NOV. 9 at Vanderbilt (7-6)
NOV. 16 Xavier (Ohio) (33-0)
NOV. 23 Tennessee (7-20)

Baton Rouge

COLORS: Purple and gold
1956 RECORD: Won 3, lost 7
WATCH FOR: Power running of Fullback Jimmy Taylor

THE DOPE: The Bengals had one of the best lines in the conference last year and finished 11th out of 12. They have one of the worst lines this year and may finish a notch or two higher. If this happens, credit goes to rock-'em backfield running, led by Jimmy Taylor, and the dangerous spot passes of sophomore Warren Rabb. Taylor led the SEC in scoring last season. He runs with crippling force, usually up the middle, and is one of the team's best pass receivers. He'll also be counted on for extra points and field goals. The halfbacks add depth to the backfield picture, with veteran rough-runner Red Brodnax and sophomore Bill Cannon. Quarterback Rabb, up from an unbeaten frosh team, is looked on as the best passer at Baton Rouge since Y. A. Tittle. Though inexperienced, he's a great threat, especially on the long pass. Veterans M. C. Reynolds and Win Turner round out a dandy quarterback crew. Up front, the line is poor. Only three good linemen return—End Red Hendrix, Guard Ed Cassidy and Tackle Al Aucoin. These are three fine chunks of meat, but when Coach Paul F. Dietzel adds them to a gumbo of green sophomores and medium-grade upperclassmen, he'll come out with a pretty thin stew.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 21 Rice, N (14-23)
SEPT. 28 Alabama (no game)
OCT. 5 at Texas Tech, N (no game)
OCT. 12 Georgia Tech, N (7-39)
OCT. 19 Kentucky, N (0-14)
OCT. 26 at Florida (6-21)
NOV. 2 at Vanderbilt (no game)
NOV. 9 at Mississippi (17-46)
NOV. 16 Miss. State, N (13-32)
NOV. 30 Tulane (7-6)

University, Miss.

COLORS: Red and blue
1956 RECORD: Won 7, lost 3
WATCH FOR: Right Halfback Bill Lott, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year

THE DOPE: The Rebels have one experienced team with 10 lettermen in starting roles but Coach Johnny Vaught has no spare tires to slap on his machine in the event of a blowout. The 14 returning lettermen represent the smallest group of experienced players since 1946 when the Rebs won but two of nine games. Vaught says the over-all squad ability "matches that of Ole Miss teams of recent years, but the squad is below par in background. We'll call on our sophomores early and often.... They are essential to the success of the team this season." Up front, Mississippi will be anchored by two fine linemen: Right Tackle Gene Hiekerson and Left Guard Jackie Simpson. Hiekerson was termed by Kentucky All-America Lou Michaels as the best lineman he played against all last year, while Simpson is one of the finest blockers and linebackers in the conference. Much of the team's chances will hinge on the health of Halfback Billy Lott. Lott was crippled twice last season. Quarterback Ray Brown, a fine passer, and Fullback Bill Hurst, Paige Cothren's understudy last year, will also be worth watching. Vaught may be hard-pressed to equal last year's 7-3 record, much less win the SEC title.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 21 at Trinity, N (no game)
SEPT. 28 at Kentucky, N (37-7)
OCT. 5 Hardin-Simmons (no game)
OCT. 12 at Vanderbilt, N (16-0)
OCT. 18 at Tulane, N (3-10)
OCT. 26 Arkansas at Memphis (0-14)
NOV. 2 Houston at Jackson, N (14-0)
NOV. 9 LSU (46-17)
NOV. 16 Tennessee at Memphis (7-27)
NOV. 30 at Miss. State (13-7)

State College, Miss.

COLORS: Maroon and white
1956 RECORD: Won 4, lost 6
WATCH FOR: Quarterback Billy Stacy, triple-threat standout

THE DOPE: The Maroons are the conference dark horse. Almost without exception, the rest of the coaches in the SEC feel that this team could sneak home a winner. Coach Wade Walker will build his split-T attack around Quarterback Bill Stacy, who made the all-conference first team as a sophomore last year and led the conference in total offense. "We should show improvement over last year," says Walker. "The team has better over-all depth and more speed. And I've never seen a team with so much desire and spirit." Added depth might have given Walker an 8-2 record in 1956. Four games were lost in the last five minutes by one touchdown or less. Walker is satisfied with his middle line and terms his center, Jimmy Dodd, "the best in the SEC, bar none." Four lettermen return at guard, headed by Benton White and Wylie Drayton. Three lettermen tackles include holdover starter Sam Latham. The end position might cause trouble. Both starting flankers, Ron Bennett and Levaine Hollingshead, graduated, along with lettermen Jim Vincent and Jim Ross, leaving only two experienced candidates. Walker will have to get help from his sophomores here.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 28 Memphis State (no game)
OCT. 5 at Tennessee (no game)
OCT. 12 Arkansas State (19-9)
OCT. 19 at Florida (0-26)
OCT. 26 at Alabama (12-13)
NOV. 2 Tulane at Jackson (14-20)
NOV. 9 Auburn at Birmingham (20-27)
NOV. 16 at LSU (32-13)
NOV. 30 Mississippi (7-13)

Knoxville, Tenn.

COLORS: Orange and white
BASIC OFFENSE: Single wing
1956 RECORD: Won 10, lost 0
WATCH FOR: Fullback Tommy Bronson and Tailback Bobby Gordon

THE DOPE: The Volunteers are the consensus choice of opposing coaches to sweep the SEC championship for the second year in a row. Though Coach Bowden Wyatt lost one of Tennessee's alltime great tailbacks in Johnny Majors and several starting linemen, he has a flock of replacements coming up who ought to keep Tennessee at the top of the Southern football heap. Wyatt has two good units, although the talent gets a little thin at ends and center on his third team. Guards will be fast and experienced and should make the middle line one of the toughest in the country. Tennessee, which made flagrant and effective use of the quick kick last year, will be up to its same old tricks in 1957, thanks to Tailback Bobby Gordon. Gordon averaged 47.1 yards per boot last year and had a better than 50-yard average on quick kicks. Backing up Gordon is Al Carter, who has seven touchdowns during 1956 as his recommendation. Fullback Tommy Bronson will again be a major cog in the Vol backfield. He netted 562 yards rushing last year, for an average of 5.4 yards per carry. Stockton Adkins will be blocking back for his third straight year, while Bill Anderson, an excellent receiver, returns at wingback. The Vols probably will not duplicate last year's 10-0 record, but they will not be far off.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 28 Auburn (35-7)
OCT. 5 Miss. State (no game)
OCT. 12 Chattanooga (42-20)
OCT. 19 Alabama at Birmingham (24-0)
OCT. 26 at Maryland (34-7)
NOV. 2 at North Carolina (20-0)
NOV. 9 Georgia Tech (6-0)
NOV. 16 Mississippi at Memphis (27-7)
NOV. 23 at Kentucky (20-7)
NOV. 30 Vanderbilt (27-7)

New Orleans

COLORS: Green and blue
1956 RECORD: Won 6, lost 4
WATCH FOR: Quarterback Gene Newton, fine ball handler, excellent on option play

THE DOPE: The Green Wave will field a light, fast squad whose major strength will lie in its running game. The key to the attack is little (5 feet 10, 160 pounds) Gene Newton, whose jitterbug style at quarterback keeps players and fans alike guessing. Biggest question mark is at the halfback slots. Letterman Tommy Warner missed all of last season due to injury after great years in 1954 and '55, while Gene Tarzetti was hurt in mid-1956 and never came back. Unless these two are sound this season, backfield depth will be a serious problem. Coach Andy Pilney feels the season should be "interesting," if nothing else. "The losses of boys like Dalton Truax and Ronnie Quillian hurt," says Pilney, "but our boys are fast, full of desire and what veterans we have returning should form a good nucleus on which to build. Newton, End Will Billon, Center Ben Tyler, Halfback Claude (Boo) Mason and Warner, if he is ready, will give us a group of fine ballplayers with experience. We can go." Keep an eye on Richie Petitbon, a 6-foot-3, 197-pound sophomore who worked as No. 2 quarterback during spring drills. He also may see action as a halfback, since Pilney feels he is "too good to keep on the bench."

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 20 Virginia Tech, N (21-14)
SEPT. 28 at Texas, N (6-7)
OCT. 5 at Marquette (no game)
OCT. 11 Georgia, N (no game)
OCT. 18 Mississippi, N (10-3)
OCT. 26 Georgia Tech, N (0-40)
NOV. 2 Miss. State at Jackson (20-14)
NOV. 9 Alabama at Mobile (7-13)
NOV. 16 Army (no game)
NOV. 30 at LSU (6-7)


COLORS: Gold and black
1956 RECORD: Won 5, lost 5
WATCH FOR: Halfback Phil King, explosive runner, team's high scorer

THE DOPE: The Commodores retain five of last year's starters, and a sixth man, Quarterback Boyce Smith, started five games in the injured Don Orr's place. Add to this nucleus nine returning lettermen and a crop of above-average sophomores, and watch Vandy go. Coach Art Guepe is frankly optimistic about 1957. "The spirit of this squad reminds me of our 1955 team," he says. "We do not have nearly as many polished players as then, but we have a depth of prospects who are above our average for the past several seasons. When these young men acquire the game-time experience so valuable to competition in the Southeastern Conference, I believe they will form one of our better teams." Strongest backfield position will be left half held down by Phil King, the amazing Cherokee Indian who was second rusher in the conference last year. Guepe will employ a multiple offense this year and says the team will run "the buck lateral, the drive series, the spread passes, the draw, the trap, the run-or-pass, as well as our dives, counters, sweeps and option plays from every formation we employ." If the sophs develop early, Vandy could be more trouble than anyone reckoned.

1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):

SEPT. 21 Missouri, N (no game)
SEPT. 28 at Georgia (14-0)
OCT. 5 Alabama, N (32-7)
OCT. 12 Mississippi, N (0-16)
OCT. 19 at Penn State (no game)
NOV 2 LSU (no game)
NOV. 9 Kentucky (6-7)
NOV. 16 at Florida (7-21)
NOV. 23 The Citadel (no game)
NOV. 30 at Tennessee (7-27)