THE DOPE: The Gamecocks of 1958, says Coach Warren Giese, are "the most experienced team in my three years at South Carolina." But his hopes for the team to break even—or better—are dampened by the fact that the Gamecocks must start the season against Duke, Army, Georgia, North Carolina and Clemson in succession. Twenty-four lettermen are back, including star Halfbacks Alex Hawkins and King Dixon. Hawkins does every thing well, particularly on defense, and beat out Oklahoma's Clendon Thomas on Texas' all-opponents team last year. He and Dixon were 1-2 in passing and scoring at Columbia, with 65 points between them. Stan Spears, a good caller but weak passer, returns to quarterback, and bullish John Saunders completes the backfield. Giese needs more depth at halfback and adequate replacements for departed Guards Nelson Weston and Tommy Addison. Corky Gaines, Jack Ashton and Jimmy Merck will try to fill the bill at the guards. Jack Pitt, 215-pound sophomore end, is the fastest lineman on the squad. This is a dangerous second-division team.
COLORS: Orange and white
BASIC OFFENSE: Single wing
1957 RECORD: Won 8, lost 3
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 14 of 31
WATCH FOR: Carl Smith, powerful and elusive fullback
THE DOPE: The Volunteers have been decimated by graduation but will threaten, nonetheless, for the SEC crown. End Tommy Potts is the only starter back from a '57 squad which knocked off eight opponents, including Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl. The heavy toll took Backs Bobby Gordon, Tommy Bronson and Bill Anderson. Carl Smith, one of the most explosive ball carriers in years at Knoxville, heads an otherwise green backfield corps. The single wing needs a triple-threater at tailback, and Coach Bowden Wyatt must decide from among two juniors and four sophomores. George Wright is the only candidate with varsity experience but will be challenged strongly by Bill Majors, younger brother of former Tennessee All-America Johnny Majors. Bobby Sandlin is a question mark at wing-back because of a knee operation. Key linemen are Potts, Captain Bobby Urbano at guard and Bo Shafer at tackle. If the sophomores don't run for the hills after playing Auburn, Mississippi State and Georgia Tech the first three weeks, the Vols may mature into a real contender.
COLORS: Green and blue
BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T
1957 RECORD: Won 2, lost 8
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 17 of 28
WATCH FOR: A stepped-up aerial attack, featuring Richie Petilbon
THE DOPE: The Green Wave might inundate the opposition in almost any other league—but not in the Southwestern Conference this year. The Greenies are not yet ripe enough and the schedule is too tough to start talking championship. Coach Andy Pilney will have an improved club, however, and it might catch some favorites napping. There will be an improved passing game, a horde of strong running backs and more depth provided by an undefeated freshman team. The passing chores will fall to any one of four strong-armed quarterbacks—Richie Petitbon, Sophs Phil Nugent and Bob Wattigny and Junior Carlton Sweeney. Petitbon, brother of ex-Notre Darner John Petitbon, is also a fine runner and defender. Coach Pilney has good receivers in Ends Pete Abadie and Leo Young and Halfbacks Claude (Boo) Mason and Percy Colon. Shifty, 165-pound Mason is rated best of the backs. Connie Andrews is starting fullback, although Eddie Dunn and Tom Mason are both fine prospects. Watch center for Dave Painter, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound junior.
COLORS: Gold and black
BASIC OFFENSE: Multiple
1957 RECORD: Won 5, lost 3, tied 2
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 16 of 32
WATCH FOR: A varied attack directed by pass specialist Boyce Smith
THE DOPE: The Commodores are loaded with reserves, trick plays and optimism. They not only hope to navigate their way into the upper third of the SEC but also into a conspicuous place in the national rankings. Big reasons for all the cheerfulness at Nashville are Quarterback Boyce Smith, Guard George Deiderich and the best team depth in three years. The 165-pound Smith is a most deceptive director of Coach Art Guepe's multiple offense, and despite the lack of a strong arm, he led the SEC with 664 yards passing and eight touchdown throws. Deiderich is an outstanding tackier and the backbone of a starting line which is questionable at tackle and end. Guard Billy Grover and Center Ben Donnell are also top linemen. Smith's chief pass receivers are Ends Ron Miller and Lew Akin and Halfback Tom Moore. Mack Rolfe or Pete Thompson will replace Phil King, No. 1 draft choice of the New York Giants, at halfback, and Jim Butler is a big, fast man at fullback. Top sophomores include Backs Bobby Nay and John Fergusson, End Luther Boone and Tackle George Smith.