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Texas' opponents might not. The ends, led by Knox Nunnally and Sandy Sands, are fast, big and they love contact. Royal has always had first-rate linebackers, and Guard Tommy Nobis (6 feet 2, 215) and specialist Timmy Doerr are perhaps his best ever. Army Coach Paul Dietzel, who must play Texas, says of Nobis: "He's the best linebacker I've ever seen in college. The Cotton Bowl film is all Nobis. He personally rendered Roger Staubach helpless."
There is one vacancy in the secondary, however, created by the shifting of Safety Jim Hudson to quarterback, where he began as a freshman. A Texas quarterback does not have to be a highly skilled thrower, which is lucky for Hudson. What he has to be is what Hudson is: smart, quick, tough-minded, coachable—and a senior. Royal has always won with senior quarterbacks. "If I'd left him at quarter all along," says Royal, "he might be pretty good. He might be anyway. He can get out of there faster than Duke Carlisle, he's got big, sure hands and he's an athlete."
What Hudson will do most of the time is hand off to and block for the finest stable of runners Royal has had. They include Ernie Koy (6 feet 3, 220), Phil Harris, Harold Philipp, Tom Stockton, Hix Green and Jimmy Helms, a blazing sophomore. Texas' offensive will remain the same—the option play, the fullback counter, the halfback sweeps and reverses, all done with errorless precision.
"We'll scratch and claw and give you fits with our first team," Royal says, "but I'm sure we don't have the depth to match the past."
If Royal is right, then RICE may be able to help Coach Jess Neely properly celebrate his silver anniversary in Houston. Rice has everything and if it just weren't for Texas' persistent success and a well-aged coaching staff that may lack vigor, Neely's Owls would be the SWC favorites. Among other things, Royal has never beaten Rice in Houston and that is where they play this time. Rice has a deep, experienced line, led by Center Mai Walker, and a batch of strong runners, the best of whom are seniors Paul Piper and Russell Wayt and junior Gene Walker. Most important of all, Rice has (now that Baylor's Don Trull is gone) the best quarterback in the league in senior Walter McReynolds. McReynolds has only lacked consistency, but not against LSU. For two straight years McReynolds has personally tied the Tigers (6-6) and beat them (21-12), both upsets. As a result, his name is respected in that bordering state. For example, McReynolds was driving to New Orleans one day last winter when he stopped to buy a tire at a service station. As he signed a credit voucher for the tire, the football-wise attendant gazed at it, shook his head and said, "Naw, you can't be the one. You're too small."
Like McReynolds, ARKANSAS' players are usually small. Still, they have a reputation for being able, in the words of Frank Broyles, "to sting people." Arkansas stung plenty of people last year with its swarming defense, but five teams beat the Razorbacks. The reason: Broyles had no backs who could turn a game around. He still does not. The Arkansas line is vicious again, especially when Ronnie Caveness is backing it, but Jerry Lamb, a superb end, is anxious for a quarterback who can get him the ball consistently, and runners Jackie Brasuell, Jim Lindsey and Bobby Nix may or may not have learned new moves. A year ago the quarterback lineup was Billy Gray, Jon Brittenum and Fred Marshall. The order is now reversed, and that could be the key to success.
No team can pass as often or as well as BAYLOR. Coach John Bridgers' all-or-nothing offense exemplifies the old traditions of the Southwest. Last year Bridgers put a stern defense with Trull, finished 7-3, scaring the burnt orange out of Texas but losing (7-0), then defeating LSU in the Bluebonnet Bowl. Trull is gone, but the line is big and determined, and Flanker Larry Elkins is the finest pass receiver the Southwest has ever seen. The thrower this time? A sophomore, Mike Marshall (see box), who should use this season as a springboard to becoming another brilliant Baylor passer.
Arriving faster by the day is TEXAS TECH. This is primarily because of Donny Anderson, the SWC's best running back. Anderson not only runs with bursting speed, balance and moves ("He's the next great back in the Southwest," says San Diego Scout Al LoCasale), he catches, kicks, blocks and tackles. Coach J T King needs more Andersons before Tech becomes a championship contender, but TCU's Abe Martin is not so sure. "That one great boy can sometimes ride you clear across the river," says Abe. Anderson's only problem is, as a teammate phrases it, "He tires real easy in workout." King, however, does not mind. "When they snap the ball, Donny has a lot of pride," he says.
SMU was coming even faster than Tech until last spring, when a two-year probation was smacked on Coach Hayden Fry for recruiting violations. Fry's enthusiasm caused a strain between himself and other SWC coaches, especially Darrell Royal. The two of them are persistently trying to jab each other in print. After upsetting Navy last season, for example, Fry paused to announce that SMU had "the best team in the country for its record." And Royal wryly commented, "That's right. They have the best personnel in the country to have won only two games." SMU's players this year just may be good enough to make the Mustangs the surprise team of the conference if the probation does not spoil morale. Quarterbacks Danny Thomas (who led the nation in punting in 1963 and was second in the conference in passing) and Mac White, a gifted runner, offer a balanced combination. The line is what SMU foes describe as "mean" and it is led by Tackle John Knee and Guard Jim Sitton. SMU's sophomores are the best in the territory, and one of them, Fullback Billy Bob Stewart, has already been labeled by Publicity Man Junior Eldredge as "the toughest son of a gun I've ever seen in my whole life."