Each summer the story, as predictable as a Rebel yell at Ole Miss, floats out of head coaches' offices all over the South. They are going to forget defensive football for a change and open up the attack. Each autumn, their debt to hard-working press agents fully paid off, the coaches get down to the bread-and-butter business they understand, winning games by defense.
"The passing team gets beat," says Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Dodd. "All that throwing and dashing about doesn't mean you have an offense," growls Alabama's Bear Bryant. "That's just for coaches who are about to get fired or are trying to impress the newspapers."
Impressive on defense
Southeastern Conference schools did have impressive statistics last fall, and they were all on the defense. Four of the nation's eight least-scored-upon teams were from the conference, six of the 14 best in total yardage defense, four of the 11 best punting teams and three of 1960's four best at intercepting passes. They will probably do just as well in the 1961 season, but this year, for the first time, the Southeastern's conservatism will not dominate the South. The rival Atlantic Coast Conference is actually ready to throw passes and put men in motion, and one of the main reasons for this is the serious-looking student at the left, who carries his books through an archway at his North Carolina State College campus with the same swinging assurance that characterizes him when he carries a football through enemy tacklers on Saturday afternoons. His name is Roman Gabriel, and although he is big enough to play tackle or fullback, he is a quarterback.
Until 1960, which was Gabriel's junior year, football in the Atlantic Coast Conference was known for its power plays, while football at North Carolina State wasn't known for much of anything—except, of course, the loss of more games than any other conference team save luckless Virginia.
Then Gabriel, who as a sophomore in 1959 had been the nation's most efficient passer with a completion average of 60.4%, really went to work. He led his team to a surprising six victories and one tie in 10 games by completing 105 of 186 passes for an average gain of more than 10 yards per completion, and he was one of four college players in the nation who were personally responsible for more than half of all the yards gained by their teams. With an unsouthern, uninhibited offense that Coach Earle Edwards specifically designed to take advantage of Gabriel's passing, N.C. State now, just two years after losing all six league games, seriously challenges champion Duke for the title.
The man for the role
Roman Gabriel is ideally suited for his pioneering role. Although he is not particularly fast, Gabriel has the rare ability to pass effectively while rolling out to his left as well as to his right. Because of sheer physical strength he can throw accurately from awkward positions, and he also has the poise to wait for a second man to break free if the first receiver is covered.
A North Carolina native on a Wolf-pack roster that could just as easily be known as Earle Edwards & His Pennsylvanians (there are 29 squad members from the Keystone State), Gabriel is the son of a 5-foot 9-inch, 150-pound Filipino who married an American girl of average size and now works for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Roman Jr., like many of today's college players, is married. His son, Roman III, will be a year old on October 30, two days after the big game against Duke. In that game Duke will be faced with two overwhelming problems—how to get enough tickets (State's stadium seats a mere 21,000) and how to squelch Gabriel, who may be even more valuable to State for his qualities of leadership than for his football skills. Last year, when N.C. State upset Maryland, Gabriel forced his team to win. Late in the game State was behind after Maryland blocked a punt and scored. Gabriel stormed from one man to the next, then proceeded to drive them 68 yards to a touchdown and a 13-10 victory.
"I try to get the confidence of the team," says Gabriel, who plans to play pro football after he graduates next spring. "I sometimes get mad if an argument starts in the huddle. I ask them if we are going to play football or walk off the field. That usually does it."
While Gabriel may influence other ACC teams to diversify their offenses, the rest of the South is likely to remain conservative. His opposite number at Alabama, for example, is a 6-foot 2-inch, 193-pound pre-medical senior named Pat Trammell, whose supreme self-confidence is understandable in one who has played but a single losing game in eight years. Trammell also can rely on help from the finest defense in the land. Given such ingredients, plus the softest schedule of any of the Southeastern Conference's seven (yes, seven) title contenders, Alabama is not likely to start toying with any far-out offensive ideas this year, especially when even middle-of-the-pile clubs like Georgia Tech have 227-pound guards like Rufus Guthrie.
Big enough to play tackle, fast enough to play end, Guthrie typifies the ingredients necessary for a lineman in the SEC. He has the size and the speed, plus the wits and the muscle, to survive among equally well-equipped players. A native of Smyrna, Ga., a little village 15 miles from the Tech campus in Atlanta, Guthrie has an important motive for playing the game. "I thought it might help me in my future law practice if I made a name for myself now." It makes no difference to Guthrie that Tech is an engineering school. "I've wanted to play football for Tech ever since I was a little kid," he explains. "I'll play my football here, then get my law degree across town at Emory."
Another who always knew where he wanted to play is Miami End Bill Miller, a husky senior who has already caught 59 passes for 808 yards. Miller came all the way from McKeesport, Pa. simply because "Boys from McKeesport always did well at Miami." A diplomat, Miller insists on rooming with the reigning quarterback. "If you want 'em to throw to you, you gotta get to know 'em. That's when they start picking you out for passes."
Miller attributes his quick, sensitive hands to summers back home when he hired out as a cement worker. "You had to be quick," he says. "Those guys get kind of playful, always throwing bricks and hammers and things." A lot of other players in the South this year might wish they had been cement workers. The training is ideal for the erosive game they play there.
It took only three years for Paul Bryant, already one of the game's best-known itinerant capitalists, to rescue the football program at his alma mater. Last year was the Crimson Tide's best since 1945, and now The Bear and his 11 assistants have 19 lettermen, a big and fierce interior line, some strong runners and a fine passing combination. Bill Neighbors, one of the best linemen in the SEC, has moved permanently from guard to tackle, while Lee Roy Jordan remains at center. They will clear holes for Ray Abruzzese and Mike Fracchia, both of whom averaged four yards per carry last fall, as did Quarterback Pat Trammell, who will also make use of an accurate passing arm and receiver, Halfback Butch Wilson. The defense, which allowed opponents an average of only five points a game, is still strong but not as deep.
CONCLUSION: A juicy conference schedule includes neither LSU nor Ole Miss, the offense is better, the defense healthy—the title awaits.
Although five years of NCAA penalties (no TV boodle, no Bowl games) had little visible effect on Coach Shug Jordan's men, there is no telling what the Tigers may do once they taste that good, clean, probation-free air. They won 41 of 50 games while the ban was on. Plans are to loosen up the attack that spent 80% of last year on the ground by using more slot backs, flankers and passers. An all-senior line with Wayne Frazier at center will make a selfish defense even stingier now, but the offensive backfield must count on junior Jimmy Burson to steady three speedy sophomores, including Quarterback Mailon Kent, a fine passer. Dave Edwards leads an impressive group of ends, and Billy Wilson has lots of help at tackle. Punting is a serious problem—but a favorable conference schedule is ample compensation.
CONCLUSION: With its tough, experienced line, good pass defense and fast backfield, Auburn is front and center in the title picture.
The Bulldogs have lost four starting interior linemen, but they are stronger than they were a year ago. The backfield is fast and well stocked, featuring Halfbacks Earley Eastburn (he had a 5.4-yard average in 1960) and Tommy Edwards, and Quarterbacks Bill Whaley and Sid Mitchell, both fine passers. Four experienced ends, including starters Bill Gilgo and Jim Alexander, assure a strong aerial game and solid defense. Coach Eddie Teague's line, with the exception of Guard Ed Harrington, needs experience—but there is adequate size and lots of potential in Center Joe Buckner, Tackle Jim Reiney and Guards Joe Turbeville and Aubrey Reeves. Fullback Belton Dykes adds blocking and more strength to a generally sound defense, while Gilgo's place-kicking rounds out a versatile offense.
CONCLUSION: Fast, gifted with kickers and passers and with no serious defensive needs, The Citadel is as strong as its name implies.
With all but four of his top 33 men returning, Coach Frank Howard understandably is sanguine about this year's Tigers. His interior line, led by Center Ron Andreo, Guard Calvin West and 278-pound Ron Osborne, who paces an improved tackle corps, is big and moves quickly. While the backs could be faster, they also are impressively big. Fullback Bill McGuirt led the conference in scoring last year as a sophomore. Yet his job is threatened by Ron Scrudato, who doubles as a fine corner linebacker. All-conference End Gary Barnes brings his sure hands to right halfback, while quarterback, the only spot where an extra man would be appreciated, has a versatile starter in Joe Anderson. The attack will again emphasize running, but an exceptional number of talented ends assure plenty of passing, too. CONCLUSION: Bountifully staffed with everything but a breakaway back, the Tigers should chew up most of their opponents.
With 24 of 30 lettermen returning, the Wildcat camp is awash in optimism. Coach Bill Dole has two separate units which he will keep as intact as the substitution rules permit. The offense will be directed by sophomore Quarterback Ben Coxton, who will run with three 5-foot 9-inch halfbacks and pass to two taller, fleeter ends, converted Halfback Jerry Sheffield and Lou Zirkle. The offensive line has been strengthened by moving Mike Owen from end to tackle, where he joins the coach's 235-pound sophomore son, Bill. The team's defense, built around its best lineman, Tackle Bill Salzer, and best halfback, Duncan Morton, is stronger, too. Booker Clark and Jennings Snider are good defensive ends, Russell Walls joins 220-pound Bill Bankhead at guard, Ed Crutchfield gets the whole business at tackle.
CONCLUSION: The Wildcats have improved and they have some ambitious sophomores to challenge the old hands.
Eight starters graduated, but most of the second unit returns from the team that won in the Cotton Bowl. After sorting out the best of his 89-man roster, Coach Bill Murray has found: 1) that he has a mob of spectacular halfbacks, including Mark Leggett, Joel Arrington, Dean Wright and Jack Wilson, and 2) he has a very light line. Fortunately, he also has a great deal of speed, which he will utilize in a wide-open split-T with both a "sweep" and "swing" series. Ready for duty are Lonely Ends Pete Widener and Ed Chesnutt, favorite targets of last year's No. 2 quarterback, Walt Rappold, who connected 54% of the time. Guard Jean Berry, 215 pounds, is the big man in the little line, while Center Paul Bengel had an encouraging spring. Although 26 lettermen return, the line lacks experience, and Duke requires that. CONCLUSION: This fall in Blue Devil country should be fun. Having converted to razzle-dazzle, Murray has the backs to make it work.
Coach Ray Graves again has the fast-stepping backs and high-jumping ends to execute his Most Multiple Offense. His chief concern is the middle of the line, which lost nine regulars. Last year was the Gators' best since 1929, and morale is up in the heavens after a fine spring practice during which 138-pound Quarterback Larry Libertore, already a dangerous runner, improved markedly as a passer. He has excellent support from another junior, Bobby Dodd, the team's No. 1 passer last year. Their three favorite targets—Halfbacks Dick Skelly, a fine runner, Lindy Infante and Bruce Starling—return and Ends Sam Holland, Tom Smith and Russ Brown can also pull them in. Fullback Don Goodman, place kicker Bill Cash (47-yard field goal) and punter Don Ringgold add to the team's versatility.
CONCLUSION: High-spirited and smart, the Gators are thin in spots but they may well get away with their little deficiencies.
Although they have had two straight undefeated freshmen teams, the Seminoles still haven't come up with the breakaway halfbacks who win varsity games. This means another pass-happy fall for Coach Bill Peterson, who has a smart quarterback in 5-foot-7 Eddie Feely (he completed 56 of 98 aerials in 1960) and capable replacements in Ed Trancygier and sophomore Charlie Calhoun, who is a 40-yard punter. Their favorite target will be End Fred Grimes, but Halfback Tom Hillabrand (18 catches) and tall End Jim Daniel (10) will also do their share. The only running threat is supplied by two sophomore fullbacks, Gene and Marion Roberts (not related). Sophomore Center Charlie Keneipp supplies 260 pounds more to an ailing offensive line which, like its defensive brother wall, is slow.
CONCLUSION: While the Seminoles have improved, the team's lack of speed will slow any rush to regional honors.
A fast, proved backfield with lots of sophomore support and quantities of light linemen practically guarantee more of Coach Bob King's wide-open offensive displays. All-Southern Conference Fullback Tom Campbell, who piled up 616 yards for a 4.8 average last fall, is as sound as ever, and the passing is in the capable hands of Quarterback Bill Canty, who completed 74 of 135 for l0 TDs in 1960. His favorite receiver, Halfback Tony Carmignani, who also holds a 5.6 rushing average, returns with Canty. The all-veteran backfield is completed by Halfback Brad Fowler, who led team scoring with 36 points. Sophomores Bill Chastain and Sam Pickens add reserve halfback speed. The line pivots around its one heavy starter, 235-pound Center Larry Jepson, and Co-captain John Tew, who has moved from guard to tackle.
CONCLUSION: The Purple defensive line may be too light, but Furman is one of the few improved teams with an easier schedule.
Jim Camp starts his first year as head coach with only 14 lettermen, but they form a sound nucleus. Andy Guida is sure to repeat as All-Southern Conference end, Steve Bartnicki is a mainstay at tackle and Dick Drummond, a halfback transfer from Iowa, will provide the running threat the Colonials lacked in 1960. There is good depth at halfback and, defensively, at end, but a potentially dangerous shortage of guards. A 230-pound sophomore, Dick Myers, is expected to do wonders at tackle, while his classmate Jim Johnson will start at fullback. The middle of the line is light but good, particularly on defense. Drummond's running mate, Halfback Tony Fredicine, gained 4.6 yards per try last year, assuring a dependable rushing game, but a scarcity of receivers is bound to affect the passing.
CONCLUSION: There is something a little diabolical about a schedule in which almost every game seems a tossup.
New Coach Johnny Griffith picked a bad year to succeed that old Georgia Bulldog, Wally Butts. He will start minus the services of two All-Americas—Quarterback Francis Tarkenton and Guard Pat Dye—and a pair of all-conference halfbacks. But Griffith can balance his losses against the return of 10 of last year's top 14 linemen, including Tackles Pete Case (6 feet 3, 223 pounds) and Leonard Vella (6 feet 5, 230 pounds), bull-like junior Guard Wally Williamson and five good ends, led by tall Clyde Childers. The backfield, of course, is untried. Fullback Bill Godfrey is the only returning starter, but the offense gets a boost from Durward Pennington, who has kicked 44 of 48 extra points and 10 field goals in the last two years. Also back is Halfback Bill McKenny, who caught 22 passes during the 1960 season.
CONCLUSION: An experienced line, excellent on defense and generally deep, will have to hold the score down if the Bulldogs are to win.
Coach Bobby Dodd is no fool. When the new college rules were voted last year, he saw the toe marks on the wall and produced field-goal kicker Tommy Wells, who won two games for Tech, which lost four more by a combined total of five points. This year Dodd has two place kickers to replace the departed Wells, Billy Lothridge and Jorge Enderica, and will be angling for more three-point plays. To get Tech into position, Dodd has 15 of his 22 best Yellow Jackets back, including 227-pound Guard Rufus Guthrie, and a fine set of senior halfbacks, Chick Graning and Billy Williamson. Graning led the team in rushing and pass catching in 1960, Williamson in punt and kickoff returns, and both excel in the open field. Stan Gann, the schoolboy sensation three years ago, will be back at quarterback.
CONCLUSION: Even without so many returning players, it is inconceivable that Dodd would have two so-so years in a row. He won't.
Steadily building to the level of their Bowl teams of the early '50s, the Wildcats are one year away from being a truly powerful team. A sparkling all-junior aerial unit includes Jerry Woolum, who completed 63 passes for a .504 average last year, End Dave Gash, who caught 19, and one of the nation's best receivers, Tom Hutchinson, a fast, agile 6-foot-1 end who gathered 30 more. Coach Blanton Collier, who likes to alternate squads, must include at least seven sophomores on the second shift, and both squads need help at guard. Pro scouts like 6-foot-5 Center Irv Goode, opponents dislike the mean defensive line and a secondary that may equal last year's, which gave up a meager 52 yards per game. Fullback Gary Cochran (he had a 5.5-yard rushing average last year) had a good spring, as did sophomore kicker Darrell Cox.
CONCLUSION: The weakness in this Wildcat team is its ground attack, which is just a step too slow to outdistance more than half its foes.
Last year's youngsters, who lost three in a row on field goals, then tied Ole Miss with two of their own, have grown up. At least seven juniors will start, most notably the ubiquitous Jerry Stovall, who led the team in rushing and receiving while averaging 42.1 yards on 64 punts. Coach Paul Dietzel's imaginative defenses help compensate for a line which, strong offensively, is shy of reserve strength. Guard Roy Winston, a mobile 225-pound senior who shifts to tackle on defense, leads an improved running game that is four-deep at fullback and has Stovall (4.5-yard average last year) and Wendell Harris (4.2) at halfbacks. Lynn Amedee's quarterbacking is improved and he now has the experience to run a decidedly better offense. The Tigers could use more ends and a center, where defensive losses were heaviest.
CONCLUSION: As fanatical as ever, LSU is fully capable of redeeming last year's narrow defeats with a better ground game.
The Cardinals, who have been making steady progress in their long-range move toward a major-college schedule, have 10 lettermen in the starting lineup and should have another big winner. Two good reasons are the giant tackles, 255-pound John Finn (6 feet 6) and 315-pound Ken Kortas (6 feet 4). Charles Stitch brings in 235 pounds at guard, while husky Ends Tom Montgomery and Jack Reid are an outstanding defensive pair who also provide strong blocking. The backfield has two runners, Halfback Lee Calland and Fullback Ernie Green, who should be able to take smart advantage of all that power up front. Quarterback John Giles is competent enough passing, and has Montgomery as a proved receiver. Coach Frank Camp has two experienced players at every position except right halfback.
CONCLUSION: There's just too much size for most of the opposition, but a few teams may make the Cardinals see red.
State pride in what should be the best Terrapin team since 1955 hasn't been dampened a whit by the fact that not a single starter comes from Maryland. Coach Tom Nugent is pleased with the unusual size and depth of his refugee squad, particularly the interior line, the pass catching of End Gary Collins and the quarterbacking of sophomore Dick Shiner, whose accurate arm gives him the edge over senior Dick Novak. Nugent, however, has some nagging doubts about the backfield, where Dennis Condie is the only proved ball carrier, but with Ends Dick Barlund and Hank Poniatowski to help Collins receive, he will have plenty of good passing. Guards Tom Sankovich and Bill Kirchiro are the pith of a rough line that includes a fine center, senior Bob Hacker and four tackles, headed by 240-pound Roger Shoals.
CONCLUSION: The Terrapins will fly—yes, fly—over the opposition and meet returning sorties with a hard-shelled defense.
Coach Bill Murphy's building program resulted in the school being recognized last year as a place where major football is played. With at least two lettermen returning at every position, the Tigers are confident they will remain worthy of their new status. The offense is solid on the ground, where the team moves three yards for every one gained through the air. The key to last fall's overwhelming scores was, indeed, the astounding rushing of regulars like Russell Vollmer (8.8 yards per carry), Jack Carter (7.3), John Griffin (5.1) and Jerry Reese (5.1), but particularly Quarterback Jim Wright, who led the squad with 5.2 yards on 109 tries while also completing 40 of 82 passes. Two big tackles, 245-pound Bill Hudson and 230-pound Dick Lucas, are solid foundations for a line with small guards and strong defensive ends.
CONCLUSION: The harder schedule won't strain a team of State's deep resources unduly, not when it also has a solid kicking game.
The Hurricanes might be blowhards, but this season they have reason to be. Their backfield has four men who averaged over four yards a try last fall—Fullback Jim Vollenweider and Halfbacks Nick Ryder, Ron Fritzsche and Eddie Johns. Johns completed 54 of 91 passes as the 1960 quarterback, but starts at left half now since sophomore George Mira throws better. The school's finest quarterback prospect in years, Mira hails from, of all places, the state of Florida (as do only 20% of his mates). With passers like Mira and Johns in the same backfield, Coach Andy Gustafson is doubly fortunate in having Ends Bill Miller (26 catches) and Larry Wilson (14). The line, led by Guard Bill Diamond and Center Bob Dentel and standout defensive End Frank Reinhart, is made of superior stuff, too.
CONCLUSION: The schedule is as challenging as any in the country, but Gustafson's Miamians should be able to handle it handsomely.
This flower of the Deep South shows no sign of wilting. Ole Miss lost eight starters from the team that repeated as Sugar Bowl champions, yet has two lettermen ready at every position. Coach Johnny Vaught is the proudest of his big, fast line, which features Guards Billy Ray Jones and Bookie Bolin, 240-pound Tackle Jim Dunaway, End Ralph Smith, who caught 11 foes for 97 yards in losses last year, and Center Fred Lentjes, fully recovered from a broken arm. Last year's starting backfield is gone, but this is not the calamity it would be at some other schools. Paced by senior Fullback Billy Ray Adams, who has yet to lose an inch running, players who gained more than 1,000 yards last season are ready to step in. Art Doty is the only proved receiver for Doug Elmore and Perry Lee Dunn, but others will learn.
CONCLUSION: The Rebs' one worry is that they will become jaded by success. With good sophs coming up, that isn't likely to happen.
The fact that he is starting his 13th season as head coach is not likely to bother Thad Vann, who has never had a losing team—nor very often a better one than this year's Southerners. They are packed straight up the middle, with alternate starters Wendell Campbell and Dan Pugh at fullback, Don Fuell and Morris Mead-or at quarterback and Harold Hays at center. The team's main worry, the graduation of the top four guards, was allayed when two strong starters, Dan Salmon and converted Fullback Tony DeFranco, emerged from spring practice. Starters George Hultz and Jim Payne return at tackle and Leon Akins and Charley Dedwylder at end. Johnny Sklopan (he had a six-yard rushing average in 1960) leads the running attack. Except at guard and halfback, there are plenty of players behind the starters.
CONCLUSION: With a well-balanced attack and no serious defensive needs anywhere, Vann can look forward to a pleasant year.
With nothing better than one tie in their last 19 Southeastern Conference games, the Bulldogs would seem sure, by the law of averages alone, to do better in 1961—if it were not for the unhappy fact that they play the toughest league schedule of any SEC team. However, the fine spring-practice showing of John Correro, a third-string quarterback for two seasons, has Coach Wade Walker smiling. Correro will start ahead of Billy Hill, the team's best runner, and Charlie Furlow, who set a school passing record last year, at the quarterback spot. Six of 26 returning lettermen are at end, including David Kelley and John Baker, while Bob Shaw and Ben Stacy lead five small but experienced guards. Fullback Mackie Weaver, a good runner, versatile Halfback Lee Welch and 17 redshirts add to the optimism.
CONCLUSION: State is improved. But so is the entire SEC and, unlike some of its opponents, it plays most everybody else. A pity.
The Tar Heels worked hard during spring practice on smoothing out the many wrinkles that mussed up last year's performances. The result is a nice, stylish offense that lacks only one thing—a scoring punch. Quarterback Ray Farris has gained poise and he passes better. Unfortunately, nobody receives him any better. And while Halfback Gib Carson is a strong, deceptive runner, Coach Jim Hickey is still looking for a comparable balance from among four other quick but unproved halfbacks. At fullback, with the fine rushers Bob Elliott and Joe Davies on hand, Hickey is set. There is a serious need for ends, and Guard Jim Le-Compte, the team's best lineman, must have help or he will never be rested. Tony Hennessey and Steve Serenko pace five strong tackles, and Center Joe Craver is a solid two-way player.
CONCLUSION: There are too many good backs for last year's dormant offense to stay that way. The Tar Heels will improve.
N. CAROLINA STATE
Last year was only the third time in 13 years that the Wolfpack fielded a winner. Now Coach Earle Edwards, unaccustomed to the sight of returning riches, clings to a wait-and-see attitude that seems overly cautious. The backfield, in addition to brilliant Quarterback Roman Gabriel, includes AI Taylor, the team's leading rusher who also caught 16 passes last year, and a little sophomore, Carson Bosher, who scored 44 points with the freshmen. Fullback Jim D'Antonio, a strong runner and linebacker, has solid backing from Roger Moore. Almost 50% of the linemen are Pennsylvanians. They help compose a big forward wall, featuring Guard Graham Singleton and Tackles Nick Maravich and Bert Wilder, one of the area's finest. Center and defensive halfback problems may be cured by a favorable early schedule.
CONCLUSION: Excellent offensively, only nagging defensive weak spots keep this essentially strong team from ranking with the best.
The Spiders finished the 1960 season with only 18 substitutes on the bench. There are now 60 men on the roster, and in numbers alone the team is stronger. But Coach Ed Merrick has more than numbers. He has seven returning starters, including a dandy little halfback, Earl Stoudt, who catches passes and gains 4.5 yards a try. He also has a strong offensive line that pivots on Center Don Christman and Guard Ben Davis. Quarterback Mel Rideout completed 85 passes last year and should do even better with the return of End Art McGee and, best of all, the arrival of 6-foot-5 sophomore John Hilton. This combination gives Richmond a dangerous passing attack to go with the running of Stoudt and sophomore Fullback Larry Deco. The tackles had a sluggish spring but are likely to be prodded by sophomores, who supply depth.
CONCLUSION: With Army and Alabama replacing old rivals on the schedule, the defense won't learn fast enough this year.
Marvin Bass, taking over as new head coach, has shifted the offense from a split-T to a slot T, and would like to alternate three units, although he will probably have to settle for two. The light, fast Gamecocks cannot go too far—or too far awry. They have two good lines, especially on defense, and will use the wildcard rule to replace their short halfbacks with taller men in the secondary. But with no punter, no field-goal kicker, questionable passing and new plays to learn, this young team will have early-season troubles. Senior Quarterbacks Jim Costen and Dave Sowell played most of last year, along with flashy, erratic Billy Gambrell, leader in a free-for-all battle for the halfback positions. Nimble Tackle Jim Moss, the Jones boys, Guards Harold and John, and Center Dick Lomas compose much of a sound line.
CONCLUSION: Inexperience and lack of heft are too much of a handicap for Coach Bass to overcome in his first year.
Playing virtually the same schedule against uniformly improved teams, the Volunteers must develop a passing attack to better their Southeastern Conference ranking. Coach Bowden Wyatt's single-wing offense is ideal for the explosive talents of his red-haired senior tailback, Glenn Glass, one of the South's best broken-field runners, but Glass is no passer and none emerged from spring practice. To make matters worse, the top four ends graduated. The line also will be weak at guard, but an outstanding group of tackles, led by soph Dick Evey, plus a rich lode of centers means a solid ground game. The backfield is experienced and deep, and a fine sophomore, Mallon Faircloth, is ready to spell Glass at tailback. George Canale's 42-yard average makes him potentially the best punter in the kick-conscious SEC.
CONCLUSION: It will be difficult to improve on last year, especially that win over Alabama, even with the excellent running.
For the fifth straight year the Green Wave will try to ride over the .500 mark, but chances are the broad sea walls of the Southeast Conference will contain it again. Although 18 lettermen return, they do not include the right quarterback or halfbacks, and the schedule unhappily lists meetings with five of the best teams in the conference. In an effort to spread around what talent is available, Coach Andy Pilney has moved two centers, Larry Thompson and Nat Kiefer, to tackle and guard, leaving John Chaisson, a fine linebacker, as the only tested center. Gus Gonzales, the strongman of the line, is a tough middle guard and an accurate blocker. The ends have speed, but lack experience as receivers, so the offense will again focus on ball carriers Bill Ary (6.3-yard average last year), Gordon Rush (4.2) and Adrian Colon (4.0).
CONCLUSION: The team is strong defensively but its crushing schedule will prove too much for it, as it has in the past.
Spring practice in Nashville was eminently worthwhile. It produced a fine pass-receiving. corps, a strong defense and some first-class sophomores. All are needed, for last season was the first ever in which the Commodores failed to win one Southeastern Conference game Coach Art Guepe and his twin Al now have five good ends, led by Dan Boone, whose injured knee kept him out last fall, and Bruce Hammer, as well as a proved quarterback, Hank Lesesne. Lesesne stole the job as a sophomore and finished fifth in total offense in the SEC Mike Reese and Bill Corbin moved from guard to help Bill Thomas reinforce a shaky tackle squad, while Center Cody Binkley will again be one of the South's finest. Fullback Jim Johnson has lots of experienced running mates, and sophomore Sam Sullins is a booming punter.
CONCLUSION: A rebounding team with 24 lettermen, Vandy has good sophomores, a balanced offense and oodles of incentive.
A loss to William and Mary in their first game will make the Cavaliers the losingest team in college football (29 in a row), but young Coach Bill Elias, fresh from a year at George Washington (where he was Southern Conference Coach of the Year), has other goals. During a fruitful spring practice, 27 returning lettermen scrambled for positions and only three seniors made it—Quarterback Stan Fischer and Tackles Ron Gassert (6 feet 3, 235 pounds) and Bill Kanto. So did two sophomores, Fullback Bruce Perry and End Myron McWilliams, and four juniors, End Joe Kehoe, who caught 34 passes good for 378 yards last year, and good running Halfbacks Carl Kuhn, Tony Ulehla and Ted Rzempoluch, who, working together, could develop a fair running attack behind Guard Bob Rowley.
CONCLUSION: The Cavaliers can set a record without trying, but this team will try—and may not set a record at all.
The defending Southern Conference champions may repeat despite some crushing losses by graduation in the interior line. While the Keydets are likely to get pushed around on defense, they can break away with long gainers to balance that deficit, and their horde of fast, hard backs are adept on defense, coming up quickly to make tackles. Coach John McKenna's plum is Halfback Stinson Jones, a superior defender who also caught 26 passes in 1960 and is an excellent broken-field runner. Quarterback Bob Mitchell has other sure-handed receivers in Halfbacks John Traynham and Ken Reeder and End Dick Willard. Tackle John Candler is the only starter returning to the interior line, where Fred Shirley and Bill Hoehl, injured last year, add vital depth. The team, however, could use an effective kicker.
CONCLUSION: VMI lacks the strength needed for sustained drives or steady defense, but it has enough passing to trade TDs all day.
The Gobblers are in serious trouble. Only 13 lettermen return, the starting line averages a measly 196 pounds and team speed is mediocre. New Coach Jerry Claiborne pins his hopes for a .500 season on the defense, which will have to hold the gates while Terry Strock adjusts to the move from halfback to quarterback. Fullback Art Pruett and sophomore Halfback Tom Walker provide some offensive élan, but more is so urgently needed that defensive Halfback Ray Massie may start carrying the ball, too. The defensive line looks to End Leon Tomblin and sophomore Tackle Gene Breen to see it through the early season but the only adequately manned position is at center, where Charlie Hines is backed by two promising sophomores. Unless sophomore Pete Cartwright proves a late blossomer, there is no promise of a passing threat.
CONCLUSION: Shy of good replacements, light, slow and without a good passer, Tech will look, but not hopefully, to its defenses.
The graduation of Norman Snead, who led the nation in total passing yardage, has caused Coach Billy Hildebrand to change his offense. The Deacons will abandon their spread formation with its Lonely Ends and will emphasize the rushing of speedy Halfbacks Donnie Frederick, and Winston Futch (who was ineligible last year but averaged 5.9 yards in 1959). End Bill Hull caught 21 passes last year and did a fine defensive job, but the line as a whole is thin and untried. Paul Martineau and Kent Martin have moved from guard and center to tackle to help Jim Williams, while two ends have shifted to center, where Larry Coker was alone. Quarterback Chuck Reiley will get help from sophomore passer Ron Smith, whose classmates, Gerald Rudelitsch and Dennis Revell, add untested but promising depth at fullback and end.
CONCLUSION: A more diversified attack may confuse some opponents, but over-all lack of reserves means an underdog role in 1961.
Even the governor is doing his best to boost Mountaineer recruiting these days. The state wants a powerhouse to help it celebrate its centennial in 1963. Looking ahead, Coach Gene Corum substituted by the numbers last fall and managed 1) not to win any games but 2) to train 24 men, the highest total of returning lettermen in a decade. This wealth of experienced hands includes a fine offensive line built around Tackle Bill Winter and two pass-catching ends, Bob Timmerman and Gene Heeter. The backfield retains speedy Halfback Roger Holdinsky and, best of all, acquires two exceptional sophomores—Quarterback Fred Colvard and Fullback Glenn Holton. Another first-year player, Center Pete Goimarac, solves the line's most serious problem, leaving guard the one remaining weakness.
CONCLUSION: Still overscheduled but vastly superior to last year's team, the Mountaineers are launched on their patriotic way.
WILLIAM & MARY
A successful spring practice indicates that there will be no repetition of the 1960 collapse, when the Indians scored only twice in their last six games. Biggest improvement is in the line, where two fast guards, Eric Erdossy and Bob Soleau, complement a pair of 230-pound tackles, Martin Nosal and sophomore John Sapinsky. Starting Center John Gravely returns, and there is, finally, some depth at end, where three lettermen are back. Coach Milt Drewer has a running quarterback in Dan Barton (five yards a try last year) and passing ability in Dan Henning and Cal Cox, but needs to find one man who can do both. The best speed and pass receiving are at halfback, where Roger Hale has excelled and so should sophomore Charlie Weaver. H. C. Thaxton brings a 5.3 rushing average in at fullback.
CONCLUSION: The Indians are much improved but without an all-round quarterback they are not ready for Army or Navy.