Coach Al Onofrio turned a 1971 Missouri disaster (10 losses) into a 6-6 Tiger in 1972, and his biggest weapon was Greg Hill's foot. Hill's seven field goals were instrumental in the upsets of Notre Dame, Colorado and Iowa State. Tommy Reamon and Ray Bybee, who were the one-two rushers last year, and Bill Ziegler, a strong 205-pound junior, will help Hill with the offense this year, while the defense will have to adapt to an odd-man alignment, plus zone coverage. Earle Bruce, just in from a 10-2 season at Tampa, will try to keep his winning record intact at his new headquarters at Iowa State, whose Cyclones were 5-6-1 last year. Mike Strachan, Keith Krepfle and Willie Jones are the big pluses. Strachan led the conference in rushing with 1,260 yards, Jones and Krepfle combined with Split End Ike Harris for a total of 90 catches, 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns. The big negative is little experience in the secondary and having to play in the Big Eight.
Out in the land of "Oz," Kansas University and Kansas State haven't yet found the end of their rainbow. Since Kansas went to the Orange Bowl in January of 1969, it has compiled a 14-29 record. Dave Jaynes, last year's leading passer in the Big Eight with a completion rate of .533%, will be throwing to Bruce Adams and handing off to Tailback Delvin Williams. Kansas State, on the other hand, has to oil its offense and give some courage to the defense. Coach Vince Gibson has said, "I built this program on toughness and discipline and that is the way I intend to bring it back."
But only the Wizard could do it this year.
Stanford Coach Jack Christiansen's intra-squad analysis ranges from "hopeful" to "outstanding," which like a palm reader, is a way of telling fans, "I've got some good news and some bad news." The good could be borderline-terrific, like Running Back John Winesberry, who was slowed down and sidelined with knee and ankle maladies last season and needs "only to remain healthy" to put his 9.7 sprint speed and sticky fingers to use. The man who uses it best is 6'4" Quarterback Mike Boryla, the fourth-ranked passer in the nation in 1972 with 183 of 350 completed for 2,284 yards and 14 touchdowns. When Boryla connects or comes close, Rod Garcia, who contributed 10 field goals and 25 PATs, will be standing by. But Boryla was dumped for 295 yards last year, and the offensive line lost eight lettermen. Maybe that's good news—Stanford also had the second-worst offensive rushing record in the conference—1,186 yards. The secondary, which led the conference in passing defense, welcomes back Randy Poltl and five other veterans. If Stanford's bad outweighs the good, California might shine with any of three quarterbacks, particularly sophomore Vince Ferragamo, who flashed a last-second touchdown in mud to beat Stanford 24-21. However, Cal's passing techniques gave up 32 interceptions, and the Bears are without Steve Sweeney's 52 catches for 13 touchdowns. Like so many in the PAC 8, Cal is counting on red-shirts and JC transfers to produce a winner. Oregon, with a potentially dynamite defense, could do it but probably will not. Despite the return of most of the Ducks' second-ranking passing defense, which yielded 118.9 yards per game, Oregon is lacking Quarterback Dan Fouts—and the Ducks finished 4-7 with him. Washington shows no signs of compensating for Sonny Sixkiller's graduation, although solid defensive performances, specifically from junior Tackle Dave Pear, should be in order. Oregon State, using the pro I, has no one to institute it, and a lone veteran safety is all that remains of the 1972 defense.
Georgia returns with basically the same roster that went 7-4 last year, and the newcomers should be improvements over those departed. Even Coach Vince Dooley, the eternal pessimist, goes so far as to concede, "We will be a better football team." Much depends on whether Quarterback Andy Johnson, "the Unimpeachable," who was injured in last year's second game, will stay healthy to lead the offense.
Only Alabama beat LSU last year during the regular season, but this year Tiger Coach Charlie McClendon faces a monumental offensive rebuilding job. Most important, Bert Jones, LSU's first All-America quarterback, and Paul Lyons, his sidekick, must be replaced, and McClendon's only prospects are two juniors, Mike Miley and Billy Broussard, who have virtually no game experience.
Billy Kinard of Ole Miss is after the type of surprise season he had in 1971 (10-2) rather than the equally surprising one of last year (5-5), and he plans to rely on a lot of youngsters. He has one thing going for him: nobody expects Ole Miss to become Miss America this year. Mississippi State returns with 25 lettermen, but new Coach Bob Tyler is confronted with the major task of having to replace the entire Bulldog secondary. "I think we will be basically a passing team," says Tyler, "because we are just not strong enough to be a cloud of dust. We may need to throw two passes for every time we run the football." Tyler has an experienced quarterback in Rockey Felker plus Tailback Melvin Barkum, who shared the quarterback position last year.
With Steve Sloan, the former Alabama quarterback as coach, and 34 lettermen, Vanderbilt is hoping to rise from the 3-8 hole it dug itself last season. Sloan is short of depth, but the first units are experienced. Lack of depth was also what plagued Kentucky last year, but Coach Fran Curci, just in from Miami, has been living up to his reputation as a great recruiter. He has brought in new talent this year to bolster a good corps of returning regulars, including Defensive Back Darryl Bishop. In addition, the Wildcats move into a new 52,000-seat stadium, and there is nothing like a new home to kindle the spirit.
With Ohio State and Michigan a smart quinella bet to Finish atop the conference standings for the fifth time in six years [and to produce a sixth straight Rose Bowl contestant], the other Big Ten schools have been forced to develop new traditions and rivalries of their own. One new tradition growing in popularity is replacing head coaches, and four more changes have been made in order to have a better go at Woody and Bo.
One change is at Michigan State, where Dennis Stolz takes over from Duffy Daugherty. The Spartans upset the Buckeyes a year ago, and their usual combative defense will be overseen by Safety Bill Simpson, a Bill Walton look-alike who scored on one of six interceptions, averaged 40.5 yards a punt and returned two enemy kicks for touchdowns.
Minnesota has brought in track man Rick Upchurch to run with Fullback John King (1,164 yards) and sophomore Doug Beaudoin, a pair that outgained Ohio State's Champ Henson and Archie Griffin last year. Upchurch scored five TDs and gained 214 yards in the spring game. Illinois excitement will emanate from Halfback Lonnie Perrin, who may be another Leroy Keyes. Perrin averaged 4.4 yards per carry as a sophomore, completed five passes for 226 yards and booted a 52-yard field goal. At Northwestern, new Coach John Pont will have Mitch Anderson, the only starting quarterback in the conference to complete 50% of his passes in 1972. Spring knee problems notwithstanding, he will sprint out this fall or hand off to 225-pound Tailback Greg Boykin.
Programs will get a workout at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium, where the conference mystery team will pray for the return of injured fifth-year stars Rick Schavietello and Steve Nurrenbern. However, the absence of proven talent should make Coach Alex Agase, just in from Northwestern, feel right at home. Fullback Mike Pruitt will help ease the loss of Otis Armstrong and 14 other starters, five of whom were taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
Indiana's Lee Corso may be a bigger attraction than his team. Fans will come out to see the Hoosier jerseys (formerly crimson) that Corso brightened, the new white shoes and Corso's pregame warmup spectacular. Sadly, for IU fans, Defensive Back Quinn Buckner is expected to spend the fall indoors dribbling a basketball. Iowa sophomore Andre Jackson may again lead the Big Ten in tackles, if the Hawkeye offense does not improve. Wisconsin was 12-18-2 with Rufus Ferguson. Without the Roadrunner the Badgers should seriously consider suiting up Athletic Director Elroy (Crazylegs) Hirsch.
All teams, as usual, fell into two categories last year—Texas and others. Can anyone prevent another Long-horn stampede?
Well, SMU might have an outside chance. Hayden Fry's successor, Dave Smith, has taken note of the team's exceptional running potential and junked the pro set for the Wishbone. Backs Alvin Maxson and Wayne Morris could make the offense devastating. In addition, the fine defense from last year's 7-4 team returns five starters. Texas Tech will play a lot of Utahs, New Mexicos and Arizonas out of conference and therefore anticipates improvement from 8-4. Quarterback Joe Barnes has mastered the option and has a knack for stunning defenses with the big play. Tight End Andre Tillman returns toting All-America credentials. So does Halfback George Smith, who scored three touchdowns and was the MVP in the '72 Sun Bowl. Unfortunately, the Raiders meet Texas in Austin in their SWC opener.
Freshmen gained more than half of Texas A&M's yardage and scored more than half of the touchdowns. Yet this year the Aggies must depend on still another novice. Lacking a running quarterback, Coach Emory Bellard modified the Wishbone in spring practice. The effectiveness of the new "T-bone" depends on the potential of 6'2" freshman David Shipman and soph transfer Mike Jay. Shipman scored 23 TDs and passed for five more in leading Odessa Permian to the state schoolboy title.
Baylor was a surprising 5-6 last year, and "I think we'll be as good or better," says Coach Grant Teaff. So, too, is the list of Bear opponents, and .500 is optimistic. Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles must replace 14 starters from a Razorback edition that disappointed at 6-5, worst in Fayetteville in half a decade.
Rice's Al Conover threw a chair through a window, directed the band from his bench and even hired a hearse for players to symbolically bury their troubles. Amused or angered, the Owls awoke to 5-5-1. But Quarterback Bruce Gadd and the better part of both lines have departed. Rice fans can watch for more chairs, etc. At Texas Christian five new offensive linemen will be baptized by fire.
North Carolina has won 15 straight ACC games, and Coach Bill Dooley has no reason to hang down his head now. In fact, given their easier outside schedule, the Tar Heels are better able to concentrate on a third straight title than favored N.C. State. Dooley lost six All-ACC performers, but he was deeper than the Deep South in competent subs last year. Quarterback Nick Vidnovic, who would rather run but led the ACC with 10 touchdown passes anyway, returns with seven of nine top rushers and six of seven receivers, including long-ball threat Earle Bethea. The defense, while thin, will rally nicely around All-ACC Linebacker Jimmy DeRatt.
Maryland and Duke represent other challengers, with the Terps the more viable threat. The Terrapins are the league's most improved team, boasting a defense that went from last in 1971 to first in 1972, thanks largely to Guard Paul Vellano (6'3", 240 pounds). Kicking specialist Steve Mike-Mayer accounted for 55 points last year on the most prolific Terp offense since 1954. Duke will miss conference MVP Steve Jones at tailback, but the defense is a big Blue Devil.
The defense at Virginia returns nine starters, but the Cavs need a passing quarterback to complement the running of Kent Merritt. Harrison Davis or Scott Gardner are in line for the job.
Clemson's rookie Coach Red Parker plans to run more, but has a shortage of quality people to do so; while Wake Forest's new coach, Chuck Mills from Utah State, insists the Deacons will throw more, but lacks a Tony Adams-type passer to do that. Which is why both should finish at the bottom of the ACC.
Pass-happy San Diego State won 10 of 11 games and the conference championship last fall. Under new Coach Claude Gilbert, who succeeds Don Coryell (now of the St. Louis Cardinals), the goals are the same, but the methods will be modified. Quarterback Jesse Frietas will still have plenty of opportunity to throw—"about 25 times a game," says Gilbert—but the Houston Veer should make the attack more versatile.
University of the Pacific went to the Veer last year and finished 8-3, its best record since 1949. The offense rushed for 265 yards a game while shunning the pass almost entirely. Coach Chester Caddas must now choose between Bruce Keplinger, who guided the Veer, or Carlos Brown, who sat out last season with an injury after passing for 1,600 yards in 1971. Larry Bailey, a 6'6", 250-pound tackle, leads a defense that was fifth best in the country against the rush.
Long Beach State, slumped to 5-6 last fall, its worst record in four years. A lode of junior college transfers and red-shirts could make things more tolerable but the schedule has the 49ers prospecting on the road in eight of their games. San Jose State lost to Fresno State last season, but it avenged the defeat by luring the Bulldogs' coach, Darryl Rogers. The Spartans were only 4-7 in 1972 and, if nothing else, Rogers promises a wide-roaming running game to complement the passing of Quarterback Craig Kimball. J. R. Boone is the new coach at Fresno State which has been elevated to university-division status.
Stopping the Normal School for the Territory of Arizona—Arizona State—will be abnormally difficult. One of those having a go at it will be Utah, whose Quarterback Don Van Galder was the conference offensive MVP with 1,425 yards and 15 touchdown passes. The streak pursuing many of his passes will be Steve Odom, a 9.4 sprinter who averaged 22.1 yards on 30 receptions and 24 yards on 41 kickoff returns. Brigham Young seemed like a sure thing last season—a sure thing for seventh or eighth place. But the Cougars tied Utah for second. For his magic act this time, Coach La Vell Edwards must uncover three defensive backs, pull some receivers out of a canyon and turn someone into a tailback. On hand will be Quarterback Dave Terry (51% accuracy last year), pass-stealing Cornerback Dave Atkinson and Defensive Tackle Paul Linford.
New Mexico Coach Rudy Feldman is as excited as a kid who has found the cookie jar. The reason: Don Woods of New Mexico Highlands led the NAIA in total offense and when that school dropped football, he was immediately eligible to play elsewhere. Because Woods is both a nimble runner and nifty passer, Feldman is pulling apart his Wishbone and putting together an offense he has labeled the Halfbone. Feldman also has Fullback Rich Diller, a two-year 4.9-yard rusher. Arizona has a new image: fresh out of a package are Coach Jim Young, the uniforms and the option-oriented offense. Young should age considerably, though he will delight in Linebacker Ransom Terrell and "T" Bell, a quick flanker.
Colorado State's Sark Arslanian was Armenian coach of the year in 1965 and 1969 and, sequentially, is due in 1973. At best, he is a long shot. He insists, "We put some new wrinkles in our offense which the kids picked up real well." That's nice. But the defense is still wrinkled from yielding 37.5 points a game. Those were euphemisms that new Texas-El Paso Coach Tommy Hudspeth uttered about his boys' "good attitude" and their willingness "to work, hustle and hit people." All he must do is replace his quarterback, his five leading running backs and plug up a defense that gave up 419 yards a game. Only two starters are back from Wyoming's offensive line, so Quarterback Steve Cockreham and Tailback Charlie Shaw will have to do a lot of ducking and scrambling.
West Texas State, Louisville and Drake shared first place last season, and chances are these three will scramble for the top again. West Texas returns a herd of rushers, its two leading passers and its five best receivers, and if the Buffaloes can bolster their defense they could be by themselves. In recent years the team has had some thumping runners—Mercury Morris, Duane Thomas and Rocky Thompson. But none combined the size and speed of Billy Pritchett, who is 6'4", 245 pounds and has 9.8 speed. Drake will be no cupcake, not with runners like Jerry Heston (2,647 yards and 44 touchdowns in three years) and Jim O'Connor (742 yards at a 4.7-yard clip last season). But to go all the way the Bulldogs will need improved passing. Having lost Howard Stevens, the only collegian to rush for 5,000 yards, is merely part of Louisville's woes. Almost all the receivers and backs are newcomers, and so is Coach T. W. Alley. But the offensive line is excellent, and the defense, built around superior Tackles Richard Bishop and Marty Smith, is sturdy.
Says Memphis State Coach Fred Pancoast, "Rebuild? As long as I'm head coach, I'll never use that word." Using that word he added, "A coach is not paid to rebuild. He is paid to build." Aiding him in his nonrebuilding are 39 lettermen, 16 of them starters. There will be crunching runs by Dornell Harris, Clifton Taylor and Dan Darby, and if David Fowler's tosses find waiting hands the Tigers could well nudge aside last year's top three. Adversity, it is felt at Wichita State, has helped mold a fine team and will make this the Golden Season. There is no denying the Shockers' progress—they were 6-5 last year after having been 3-8 and 0-9. Among the finest are Rick Dvorak, 235 pounds of walloping tackle, and Johnny Potts, who won four games last year with field goals.
New Mexico State will be led by Joe Pisarcik, who according to NCAA figures is the second leading passer returning to college. Last season his 182 completions netted 2,179 yards. Defensive Back Danny Colbert is Tulsa's pride, but unless the offense adds some zip there will be little joy. After losing five of six games last fall, Tulsa installed Athletic Director F. A. Dry as coach. Displaying the Dry Look, the Hurricanes won three of their final four outings, even handing Louisville its lone loss. Dry will be back, but it is likely this year's team may have a High and Dry Look. North Texas State will have the Fry Look, having hired former SMU Coach Hayden Fry to retool a 1-10 squad.
Old Ivy is the Master of the Last Weekend, and Dartmouth its champion. In 1972 Yale, Penn and Dartmouth entered the final Saturday with a shot at the title, but when it was over there was Dartmouth again, beating Penn 31-17 for a fourth straight championship. But graduation has cost the Indians 15 starters, and All-Ivy Halfback Rick Klupchak is the only Big Green gamebreaker.
No wonder then that Cornell, Penn and Yale anticipate this autumn with delight. Cornell possesses what would normally be considered Dartmouthian experience and balance, but must overcome a lack of explosiveness as well as put to rest the minor racial problems that plagued its athletic winter. Yale and Penn have two of the league's most exciting players. Eli Quarterback Tom Doyle showed heart and speed in the 45-14 humiliation of Dartmouth a year ago. And Penn's Adolph (Beep Beep) Bellizeare raced for 849 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first varsity season.
Brown has a new coach, John Anderson, 32 lettermen and Halfback Hubie Morgan, up from the undefeated freshmen. Harvard plans a ball-control offense to accommodate graduation losses, but the defense remains unaccommodated. Princeton is coming to grips with mediocrity and could challenge Columbia for the cellar.
Cornell meets Penn Nov. 24, and that should establish this year's King of the Last Weekend. That is, unless both teams have already been Greened.
Having done an Avis the past two seasons, Bowling Green is now ready to put itself in the driver's seat. In their opening game a year ago the Falcons took the steam out of Purdue's Boilermakers 17-14. One reason the Falcons seldom reached such heights again was because 5'11" Quarterbacks Reid Lamport and Joe Babies had trouble seeing over tall defensive linemen. Falcon quarterbacks completed a mere 35% of their tosses last year, but Coach Don Nehlen has tried to improve their down-field vision, if not their height. Most of the considerable offensive thrust, however, will come from Tailback Paul Miles (second in the MAC in rushing with 1,024 yards) and Fullback Phil Polak (third with 783 yards). Further solidity will be obtained from a defense that ranked 10th in the nation. The main blocks in that wall will be Linebackers John Villapiano and Joe Russell, Tackle Tom Hall, End Tom Fisher (he sacked runners for 17 losses and eight fumbles) and a reliable secondary.
Kent State, winner of its first MAC title last year, will be hard to unseat if its offensive line can be rebuilt with quality. Capable Greg Kokal will throw frequently to Gary Pinkel, Eddie Woodard and Gerald Tinker, Olympic 400-meter relay gold medalist. Tinker led the conference by averaging 14 yards on 19 punt returns. Also on hand will be the MAC'S outstanding defensive player, Middle Linebacker Jack Lambert.
Perched on the perimeter of the race will be Ohio, possessor of some bright and twinkling talent that could lead the Bobcats into contention. Quarterback Rich Bevly will steer an offense that could be vibrant if Tailbacks Bill Gary and Tim Worner remain healthy. Miami's go-power will come from 5'10", 205-pound Bob Hitchens, who last year led the country in rushes (326) and was second in yardage (1,370). Western Michigan's front four last year averaged 239 pounds and helped the Broncos build the second-best rushing defense in the land. The new front four, however, weighs in at just 212. Since winning 35 in a row from 1969 through 1971, Toledo's Rockets have fizzled. They could move up this time if they find a passer who can ring up some points for the experienced defense to protect. Trouble is, there is no letterman available at quarterback, so Toledo may end up Rocketless.
To defend its title, East Carolina will rely on Wild Dogs and Carlester Crumpler. There will be others to help out, but the most notorious of the Pirates will be their defensive unit—the Wild Dogs—and Crumpler, a tailback who does to tacklers just what his name implies. Crumpler, the conference's athlete of the year, is 6'5" and 220 pounds of locomotion who last season gained 1,330 yards and scored 17 times. The Pirates of a year ago averaged nearly 400 yards a game on offense and will again be quarterbacked by Carl Summerell. As for those Wild Dogs, they will be led by Danny Kepley, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior linebacker.
Should the Pirates be chained, William and Mary lurks in the background. Well, at least William does—Quarterback William Deery, that is. There is no Mary, not even in these days of fern lib. There are some nifty players though: Doug Gerhart and Terry Regan (they combined for 1,032 yards last season) and Center Joe Montgomery. Richmond Coach Frank Jones may have caused a few heads to spin when he referred to his team as "probably the most physical I've had here." Opposing coaches were much happier to hear Jones return to form by adding, "I'm particularly worried about the offensive line, strengthening the defensive secondary and our depth at all positions." One player Jones won't have to worry about is Barty Smith, a 6'3", 235-pound fullback who was the league's top blocker last year.
VMI's faint hopes rest on the passing combination of Quarterback Tom Schultze (120 completions for 1,728 yards) and Ronnie Moore (40 catches for 673 yards). An even more proficient catcher was Walt Walker of Davidson, who latched onto 62 throws for 1,031 yards. At Furman the offense will be built around the running of Donny Griffin, who picked up an average of 4.9 yards a try in 1972, and the defense will count heavily on Linebackers Keith Downey, Bill Anderson and Bayless Biles. Coach Bob Ross of The Citadel may have said it all when he surveyed his troops and stated that his offensive line "doesn't have any real size," his offensive backs are "very inexperienced," his defensive ends are "a real question mark" and his kicking game "could be our biggest question mark." The defensive line, at least, has the experience to help answer some questions.