The five top halfbacks who made Coach Dan Devine's power sweeps work so well last year have all gone, and with them five more starters from the Orange Bowl team. Mizzou will not go into eclipse as a result, but it is bound to be a place or two lower in the conference standings at season's end. The line again is strong, with all-conference Guard Paul Henley and Tackle Ed Blaine joined by an outstanding defensive end, 6-foot-3, 204-pound Con Hitchler. If 220-pound Tackle Bill Wegener is recovered from an injury that kept him out last season, the defense will be even better. Quarterback Ron Taylor will direct the wing T. He still has the option of pitching out to swift Halfbacks Norm Beal and Bill Tobin but now can also hand off to a line-gutting fullback, Andy Russell.
CONCLUSION: By midseason the thin halfback corps will be done in by the frantic pace of the sweeps—and so will MU's title chances.
Coach Bill Jennings always has problems, yet his team often upsets the favorites: Army, Texas and Oklahoma were the victims in 1960. "This season," says Jennings, "we're in the same position as a baseball team trying to tighten up the middle. This small task includes finding a center, quarterback and fullback, the vitals of the wing T." The quarterback will probably be sophomore Dennis Claridge, who will oust lettermen John Faiman and Ron Meade, who between them completed only 12 passes last year. After two years as a reserve Mick Tingelhoff moves in to make the center snap and, if he has recovered sufficiently from a knee operation, Noel Martin will be the fullback. This will free Nebraska's wild-horse runner with the wild-horse name, Thunder Thornton, to return to the halfback spot.
CONCLUSION: A bigger line and a freer-wheeling Thornton will make some Big Eight contenders wish they hadn't heard of Nebraska.
Coach Ara Parseghian has grown accustomed to disappointment. For three straight years his Wildcats, off to fast starts, faltered in mid-season when injuries exposed the team for what it was—brilliant but seriously undermanned. Now he must rebuild with only four returning starters, Halfback Al Kimbrough, defensive strongman Larry Onesti and two fine tackles, 250-pound Fate Echols and 227-pound Boyd Melvin. Fortunately, the resourceful Parseghian will be able to fill all but one position with game-tested men. Guards Chuck Urbanic, Jack Cvercko and Burt Petkus move into the starting lineup to insure Northwestern a tough middle, especially when defending. But the offense may not fare as well, with only Kimbrough and Quarterback Bob Eickoff capable of driving the wing T with flair.
CONCLUSION: Not strong enough to get ahead of the challengers, with good coaching the Wildcats will manage a .500 season.