Florida State Quarterback Wally Woodham was jogging one night last April when an oncoming car suddenly veered straight at him. Woodham escaped with a minor knee injury, but now understands how most Florida State rivals must have felt last year when the surprising Seminoles, after five straight losing seasons, ran over 10 opponents and ran off with the Tangerine Bowl and No. 14 ranking in the nation.
Once again Woodham will alternate calling signals with Jimmy Jordan. Last year they passed for 2,409 yards and 18 touchdowns. But in losing Receivers Mike Shumann and Roger Overby and Fullback Larry Key, the Seminoles also lose 2,700 yards of their offense. Moreover, as Coach Bobby Bowden says, "We have gone from being the hunter to the hunted."
So, too, has Colgate (10-1), the national leader in total offense last year and a Cinderella 10-0 until beaten by Delaware in the last week of the season. End Dick Slenker is the Red Raiders' only returnee on offense.
The Florida State of 1978 might be East Carolina. In an 8-3 season, the 36 Pirate touchdowns were scored on plays that covered an average of 25 yards, and the explosive backfield of Theodore Sutton, Leander Green and Eddie Hicks is intact. "We're looking seriously toward a bowl bid," says Coach Pat Dye.
Last year South Carolina outrushed, outpassed and outpunted its 12 opponents—and outscored them, too, though only by 215-202—and lost seven games, which illustrates what Woody Hayes says about statistics, "They don't mean much for the guy who drowns in two feet of water." Backs Spencer Clark, Steve Dorsey, George Rogers and Johnnie Wright will push hard to surpass the 2,189 yards they piled up, and Coach Jim Carlen will be looking for the little bit of luck that eluded him in '77.
The same can be said for Tulane (3-8), which three times last season lost games it could have won—because of a fumble (Stanford), an interception that was run back 100 yards (SMU) and a 60-yard punt return (LSU). Eighteen Tulane starters return, including Quarterback Roch Hontas, the nation's most accurate passer (63%). For a postseason bid to be a possibility, however, the defense, which allowed a whopping 5.7 yards a carry, must get stingier.
At Georgia Tech, Coach Pepper Rodgers has souped up the offense by unloading his wishbone and installing an I formation. Eddie Lee Ivery and Rodney Lee are superb at running back, and if Ted Peeples or Gary Hardie completes half of the numerous passes he will throw, Tech opponents are in for trouble.
Memphis State is loaded, but the schedule is tough. Quarterback Lloyd Patterson already holds virtually all the Tiger passing records, and Split End Ernest Gray set an NCAA record last year for yards per catch (29.5). Unfortunately, the heaviest part of the schedule—Mississippi, Houston, Mississippi State and Texas A&M—is right at the top.
North Texas State (10-1) landed a prize freshman in Running Back Milton Collins, and has put Texas and Oklahoma State back on the schedule—further evidence that Coach Hayden Fry expects to have a juggernaut in Denton. The Mean Green's main strength will be its defense, especially in Linebacker Burks Washington.
Bill Dooley abandoned the ACC co-champ at North Carolina to coach Virginia Tech, which says two things. One, Dooley wanted an athletic director's post, which Virginia Tech was happy to provide. And, two, as Dooley knows, "The whole state is dedicated to building a winner here." The building now is around 242-pound Fullback Mickey Fitzgerald, known as the Incredible Hulk. But the schedule includes Alabama, Clemson and Kentucky, so success will not arrive overnight.
Villanova, Rutgers and West Virginia must look to individuals for national recognition; there is little likelihood of triumphant seasons. In the Wildcats' case, the player is Running Back Vince Thompson, who blasted for 977 yards last year. Rutgers has senior Glen Kehler, the leading Scarlet Knight runner since his sophomore year. West Virginia's headliner is sophomore Robert Alexander, who, after recovering from a series of injuries last year, led the Mountaineers in rushing the final two games. Boston College's new coach, Ed Chlebek, inherited a seasoned backfield and an all-everything guard in John Schmeding. Chlebek's immediate goal is to promote Eagle aggressiveness. "People who play us this year better bring their helmets," he warns.
If anybody can challenge Penn State and Pitt in the East, it is Syracuse. The main reason is Quarterback Bill Hurley, a savvy runner who also passes well. Another double threat is Art Monk, a 566-yard rusher who also hauled in 41 passes. And Coach Frank Maloney has called Tackle Craig Wolfley the best offensive lineman he has ever had. But the Orangemen face a schedule that lists five 1977 bowl winners.
Against Top 20 teams, Army, Navy and the Air Force endured some humiliating defeats. The Air Force has a new coach in Bill Parcells and one of the country's leading passers in Dave Ziebart, but the defense is spotty. Army has Clennie Brundidge, a star at tight end, but with Quarterback Leamon Hall commissioned, who will get the ball to him? Navy's defense is young and promising. That and the passing of Bob Leszczynski to Phil McConkey and Larry Klawinski's rushing give the Midshipmen the edge among the services.
Year after year Miami (Fla.) has faced the toughest schedule in college ball, but Alabama, Penn State and Ohio State are off it now, the freshmen are said to be the best in Miami history, and even Coach Lou Saban, not normally an optimist, is saying that good things will happen in time. Improvement is all but certain in a defense that has a recognized star in Tackle Don Smith and a potential superstar in freshman Lester Williams, a 6'5", 250-pound prep school All-America. If a couple of freshmen fit right in on offense, the time could be sooner than Saban anticipates.