THE DOPE: The Bearcats, on strength of 25 returning lettermen, a fast-moving offense and the best defense in the conference, should give Houston and Tulsa a tussle for top Missouri Valley honors. Coach George Blackburn's line, the same one that ranked ninth in the nation defensively in '57, returns virtually intact and is at least two deep at every position. Veteran Jack Lee, one of the finest passers in recent years at Cincinnati, will be No. 1 signal-caller and direct an effective, open aerial attack. Joe Morrison, starting quarterback the past two seasons, has been switched to halfback opposite Ed Kovac. Fullback Bob Del Rosa will be used mainly as a blocker. Lee has fine receivers in Ends Jim Leo and Don Reinhold, Morrison, and second-team Halfback Gene Johnson. The returnees on the line include Center Ben Blascovich, Guards Max Messner and John Giannandrea and Tackle Ed Denk. Blackburn's sophomore cup runneth over, and with such top prospects as End Larry Ellison, transfer Quarterback Lamar Switzer and 230-pound Tackle Jim Ross.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
COLORS: Blue and red
BASIC OFFENSE: Spread T
1957 RECORD: Won 6, lost 3, tied 1
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 13 of 26
WATCH FOR: The jolting line play of Tackle Emit Karas
THE DOPE: The Flyers completed their 1957 schedule with their first winning season in six years, but Coach Bud Kerr's pupils may lose some of their momentum due to a lack of experienced backs. The Flyers have a strong, mobile line with depth at all positions but end. The entire backfield is gone, however, including Quarterbacks Gerry Faust and Don Zimmerman. Mel Smolik, a long passer and good safety man, will try to take up where they left off. Short and stubby Frank Bongivengo and shifty Rob Narke will man the halfback posts while powerful but green Jerry Raiff will probably start at fullback. With the brilliant end, Fred Dugan, gone, the Flyers are thinking in the All-America terms of Tackle Emil Karas. Fullback Vince Palyan is being converted into Dugan's replacement on the line. If the receivers cooperate with Smolik, the Flyers will be effective in the air. So will their opponents, unless Dayton improves its pass defense. Watch for Tackle Ransom Piltz, a heralded sophomore who hails from Maui in Hawaii.
COLORS: Cardinal and white
BASIC OFFENSE: Wing T
1957 RECORD: Won 6, lost 3
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 18 of 32
WATCH FOR: The long, accurate passes of Captain Lou Faoro
THE DOPE: The Titans are short on experience, but Coach Wally Fromhart will field the biggest and fastest unit in his five years at Detroit. Quarterback Lou Faoro, who completed 48% of his passes last season, is back to captain the team, but missing are 1957's leading pass receiver and scorer, Halfback Al Korpak, and the leading rusher, Halfback Billy Russell. Dan Collins and Bruce Maher will try to fill their shoes and they will get help from Bill Dando. Jerry Leszczynski or Joe Pascuzzi will succeed Larry Strimas at fullback. The Titans have plenty of end replacements, most of them green, including Tom Chapman, Dennis Flynn and Jack Vance. The middle of the line will be strong with Tackles Emerson Dromgold and John Dingens, Guards Dick Kennedy and Art Brauer and Centers Joe Ivkovich and Ernie Fritsch. Offensive line play will be improved, as will running and passing. Pass receiving, what with the first four ends gone, is a question mark. All in all, however, it should be a year of misery for most of Detroit's opponents.
COLORS: Orange and blue
BASIC OFFENSE: T with variations
1957 RECORD: Won 4, lost 5
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 22 of 33
WATCH FOR: Pile-driving of Fullback Jack Delveaux