The fact that he is starting his 13th season as head coach is not likely to bother Thad Vann, who has never had a losing team—nor very often a better one than this year's Southerners. They are packed straight up the middle, with alternate starters Wendell Campbell and Dan Pugh at fullback, Don Fuell and Morris Mead-or at quarterback and Harold Hays at center. The team's main worry, the graduation of the top four guards, was allayed when two strong starters, Dan Salmon and converted Fullback Tony DeFranco, emerged from spring practice. Starters George Hultz and Jim Payne return at tackle and Leon Akins and Charley Dedwylder at end. Johnny Sklopan (he had a six-yard rushing average in 1960) leads the running attack. Except at guard and halfback, there are plenty of players behind the starters.
CONCLUSION: With a well-balanced attack and no serious defensive needs anywhere, Vann can look forward to a pleasant year.
With nothing better than one tie in their last 19 Southeastern Conference games, the Bulldogs would seem sure, by the law of averages alone, to do better in 1961—if it were not for the unhappy fact that they play the toughest league schedule of any SEC team. However, the fine spring-practice showing of John Correro, a third-string quarterback for two seasons, has Coach Wade Walker smiling. Correro will start ahead of Billy Hill, the team's best runner, and Charlie Furlow, who set a school passing record last year, at the quarterback spot. Six of 26 returning lettermen are at end, including David Kelley and John Baker, while Bob Shaw and Ben Stacy lead five small but experienced guards. Fullback Mackie Weaver, a good runner, versatile Halfback Lee Welch and 17 redshirts add to the optimism.
CONCLUSION: State is improved. But so is the entire SEC and, unlike some of its opponents, it plays most everybody else. A pity.
The Tar Heels worked hard during spring practice on smoothing out the many wrinkles that mussed up last year's performances. The result is a nice, stylish offense that lacks only one thing—a scoring punch. Quarterback Ray Farris has gained poise and he passes better. Unfortunately, nobody receives him any better. And while Halfback Gib Carson is a strong, deceptive runner, Coach Jim Hickey is still looking for a comparable balance from among four other quick but unproved halfbacks. At fullback, with the fine rushers Bob Elliott and Joe Davies on hand, Hickey is set. There is a serious need for ends, and Guard Jim Le-Compte, the team's best lineman, must have help or he will never be rested. Tony Hennessey and Steve Serenko pace five strong tackles, and Center Joe Craver is a solid two-way player.
CONCLUSION: There are too many good backs for last year's dormant offense to stay that way. The Tar Heels will improve.
N. CAROLINA STATE
Last year was only the third time in 13 years that the Wolfpack fielded a winner. Now Coach Earle Edwards, unaccustomed to the sight of returning riches, clings to a wait-and-see attitude that seems overly cautious. The backfield, in addition to brilliant Quarterback Roman Gabriel, includes AI Taylor, the team's leading rusher who also caught 16 passes last year, and a little sophomore, Carson Bosher, who scored 44 points with the freshmen. Fullback Jim D'Antonio, a strong runner and linebacker, has solid backing from Roger Moore. Almost 50% of the linemen are Pennsylvanians. They help compose a big forward wall, featuring Guard Graham Singleton and Tackles Nick Maravich and Bert Wilder, one of the area's finest. Center and defensive halfback problems may be cured by a favorable early schedule.