Generally T quarterbacks today are bigger than Albert, and stronger and faster, which can probably be attributed as much to modern pre-adolescent nutrition as anything else. Although Duncan is no ball of fire as a runner and Kremblas, Toncic and Tranchini do not exactly excel in that department, quite a few quarterbacks these days can really move with a football. Petitbon and Kapp, for example, are very fine ball carriers, and Hackbart, at times, can be sensational. All are good passers, since this is the quarterback's basic offensive function in the T, with Duncan and Toncic and Petitbon and Tranchini among the best in the land, just behind a small group of exceptionally gifted throwers like Meredith, Newman and Grosscup.
But running and passing and even defensive play—Tranchini, Petitbon, Toncic and Kapp stand out here, too—are physical actions, and good halfbacks can do all of these. What most halfbacks cannot do is take over a ball club, steady it by poise and confidence, inspire it by leadership, confound the opposition with some old-fashioned slickery and then move the team with imaginative play selection toward the goal.
There isn't too much room these days for the Albertian sleight-of-hand sort of thing—defensive linemen are no longer so easily fooled; they just sit right where they are, not daring to move until they can count the laces on the ball—but anyone who has seen Kapp or Duncan in action knows how deceptive a quarterback can still be. Duncan is perhaps the closest to Albert here, a master faker who keeps the opposition in doubt for that split second it takes a play to develop. As for Kapp, his judgment on whether to keep or pitch out on the split-T option is almost uncanny; the way in which he works the maneuver is a thing of beauty to see. Utah's coach, Ray Nagel, said after the game with Cal: "I couldn't keep my eyes off him."
Of even more importance, however, is the ability to call the right play. "The most important six inches on a football field," says Andy Pilney, "is the distance between a quarterback's ears." Since Pilney has the pleasure of coaching Petitbon he figures Tulane is rather fortunate here. Of Tranchini, who runs the injury-riddled Navy attack with such icy calm that he seems to be alone on the field, Coach Eddie Erdelatz says, "I haven't disagreed with a play Joe has called this year." And of Toncic, a gambler with a flair for the unexpected, Pitt Coach John Michelosen says, "He has a good head and can think ahead, too...that don't-give-a-damn attitude keeps him poised when things go wrong."
Most important of all is the quality of leadership. Kremblas, steady and experienced but seldom so spectacular as some of the others, might be accused of benefiting unduly from a quarterback's greatest asset—seven good linemen and three other good backs—were it not for the fact that even Ohio State frequently stalls when he is out of the game. "He's the kind of a boy," says Woody Hayes, "that makes a team go."
As a junior, Kapp seemed to have a theory that leading meant making more noise than anyone else, which left California a bit uncertain whether it wanted to follow or not. Now, more mature and self-confident, Kapp exudes a quiet magnetism that he transmits to his teammates without raising his voice. As a result, they follow. Navy players have great respect for Tranchini, who came up from the third string to take over the team as if it had belonged to him for years, and there is a noticeable lift at Iowa when Duncan comes on the field. And the same might be true at Wisconsin were Hackbart not backed up by Sidney Williams.
In a position where leadership and personal acceptance by the team is of such paramount importance, Williams is that rarity in big-time college football, a Negro T-formation quarterback. Were it-not for Hackbart's brilliance, he would be No. 1 on one of the best teams in the land. As a matter of fact, this is exactly the position Williams held through most of the 1957 season until the gifted sophomore moved him to second string.
Williams is, in some ways, the most typical of all, for in addition to being a good football player—he can pass and run and excels on defense—he is a leader on the campus as well. Serious and intelligent, he is vice-president of his fraternity, a good student in the tough school of chemical engineering and popular with his classmates. Williams came to Wisconsin four years ago after graduating with honors from high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Wisconsin is happy to have him. "Someone's loss is Wisconsin's gain," figures Coach Bruhn, who had the foresight to see that Williams was the kind of man who could handle the job. "Quarterback is one position," Bruhn says, "where we are pretty well fixed."
It is a good place to be pretty well fixed in. The T is not dead, after all, and good T quarterbacks, like good pitchers in baseball, are handy to have around. To borrow a phrase from Casey Stengel, "Nobody ever had too many of 'em."