THE DOPE: The Utes suffered the heaviest losses of the Skyline Conference, and the 18 departed lettermen include Stuart Vaughan, the nation's leading pass receiver, and all-conference Fullback Merrill Douglas. But Utah still has Lee Grosscup, who completed 68.6% of his 137 passes for a national high of 1,398 yards (good for 10 touchdowns). However, Grosscup has had two right ribs cracked in practice. If new Coach Ray Nagel can rebuild the line, the Utes stand a good chance of repeating as Skyline champs. Nagel, ah assistant to Red Sanders at UCLA last year, will find only one starter returning to the line: End Jack Seul. Dick White, another end, and Guard Tony Polychronis will be key men on a forward wall which is notably poor in the middle, with not much help expected from a poor freshman team. The starting backfield will match the nation's best, if Grosscup can pitch and if last season's top rusher, Larry Wilson, now out with a broken hand, can mend quickly enough to aid Don McGivney, and Larry Fields in the running duties.
COLORS: Blue and white
BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T, wing T
1957 RECORD: Won 2, lost 7, tied 1
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 17 of 26
WATCH FOR: Triple-threat Back Overton Curtis
THE DOPE: The Aggies, with 10 lettermen returning to the line and seven to the backfield, hope they can make the jump from last place to first division in the Skyline Conference. Coach Ev Faunce's passing game has been weakened by the graduation of Quarterback Bob Winters, the No. 4 passer in the country in 1957. Merrill Johnson, his probable replacement, will find a splendid target in End Gary Kapp, who owns the second best pass-catching record in the land. However, the Aggies' strong ground game should offset any weakening in their passing. Behind Johnson in the split-T will be Halfbacks Overton Curtis and Jerry Pelovsky and Fullback Leo Ducharme. Curtis, a 63-point man last year, led the country in kickoff returns and ranked high in scoring, rushing and receiving. He is also a sharp passer, the Aggies' best defensive back and a solid All-America prospect. Ducharme is the hardest running back on the squad. Bob Steinke, converted from tackle to center, will be the mainstay of a line which also features End Ralph Brinton.
COLORS: Purple and gold
BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T
1957 RECORD: Won 3, lost 6, tied 1
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 20 of 34
WATCH FOR: A wide-open game with flankers and split ends
THE DOPE: The Huskies will open up their attack this season with improved passing provided by three green but promising quarterbacks. They are Bob Hivner, a transfer who quarterbacked Compton J.C. in the Little Rose Bowl game two years ago, and Bob Schloredt and Phil Borders, who alternated in '57 on an unbeaten freshman team. Coach Jim Owens' ground forces took a terrific pounding last season because the Huskies could complete a total of only 31 passes. The passing will be improved and should help offset a shortage of good running backs. Big loss among the seven graduated starters was Jim Jones, All-Coast fullback. But Owens still has his top ground-gainers, Halfback Mike McCluskey, and his prize breakaway back, Luther Carr. Washington has been stripped from tackle to tackle, and it will take time to rebuild the line. Top forward is probably Guard Don Armstrong. The Huskies managed only three victories last year but their victims included Pacific Coast co-champs Oregon and Oregon State. This is a better team than that one.
COLORS: Crimson and gray
BASIC OFFENSE: Slot T with flankers
1957 RECORD: Won 6, lost 4
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 25 of 32
WATCH FOR: A wide-open passing game featuring Bobby Newman
THE DOPE: The Cougars are expected to enjoy their best season since 1930, when they gained a Rose Bowl bid. Coach Jim Sutherland has lost only seven of his 32 lettermen and the only missing regular is Tackle Gene Baker. Best of the returning linemen are Center Merl Hitzel and End Don Ellingsen, a 5-foot-10 end who caught 45 passes last year to rank first in the Pacific Coast Conference and third in the nation. Also back is End Jack Fanning, who caught nine touchdown passes—more than anyone in the nation—and injured End Bill Steiger, Quarterback Bobby Newman and Halfback Carl Ketchie. Steiger's pass receiving in 1956 was second best in the nation. He sat out 1957 with a dislocated neck. Newman topped the Coast in passing. He also led the nation in total offense. Ketchie is a deceptive runner and the Cougars' leading rusher. Washington State scored at least twice in every game last season but opponents piled up 161 points against them. This club will be even stronger offensively and, if the defense is tightened, might even wind up in the Rose Bowl.