Quarterback Elvis Grbac, who led the NCAA in passing efficiency last fall, returns to see if there is life after Desmond Howard, his Heisman Trophy-winning wideout who left early for the NFL. Split end Derrick Alexander, who received a medical redshirt year after being knocked out for the season in the opener against Boston College, has the speed and ability to do a fairly decent Howard impersonation. Tailbacks Ricky Powers and Tyrone Wheatley will be used more often as receivers than they were last season.
Center Steve Everitt is the latest of many superb Wolverine offensive linemen, and Powers is one of the best backs in the nation.
Howard is gone.
The transition from the wishbone to a passing game has come in fits and starts. But in last season's 48-14 Gator Bowl win over Virginia, the Sooners finally got it right. Cale Gundy threw for two TDs against the Cavaliers and surpassed the school's single-game passing yardage record of 246 yards in the first half. Gundy, a junior, skipped spring practice to play baseball, and in his absence Doug Switzer, son of former Oklahoma coach Barry, made a strong bid for the backup spot.
Outside linebacker Reggie Barnes, who had nine sacks, five tackles for losses and 73 stops overall last season, is the Sooners' best player. Tight end Joey Mickey caught both of Gundy's TD passes in the Gator Bowl victory.
Only two starters are back on the offensive line, and one of them, Paul Moriarty, has switched positions.
Another team that has finally acknowledged the game of the '90s is Georgia, where last fall freshman Eric Zeier (SI, May 4) broke most of the school's single-season passing records. The new-look Dawgs will have to do a lot of scoring because their defense is suspect.
Besides Zeier, whose four interceptions in 286 attempts broke the SEC record for lowest interception percentage, the Bulldogs have two potential first-round draft picks in wideout Andre Hastings and tailback Garrison Hearst.