"He has a terrific attitude," says Engle. "A lot of boys with big high school reputations might have become discouraged by not winning the quarterback job, but not Dick. He will do anything that is needed to win."
Gingrich had a chance to prove Engle's estimate of him in the Houston game last year. With the team's regular place-kicker injured, someone remembered that Gingrich used to do the kicking at Chief Logan. After a quick sideline briefing, he kicked three straight extra points and a 22-yard field goal. Penn State won 24-7.
Like any reformed quarterback Gingrich would like another shot at the position but admits, "It's obvious that defense is my strong point. I'm satisfied now."
So are the Penn State coaches. Dick Gingrich may not be an All-America like Bob Higgins but he has a similar knack for winning.
On a recent afternoon at PENN STATE Engle was talking about his favorite subject: eastern football. "One thing most of the major teams have in common this year," Engle said with only a faint choke in his voice, "is that we have all lost our quarterbacks. I guess maybe now we'll just have to do things differently."
Engle is right. All the really good quarterbacks—Navy's Roger Staubach, Pitt's Fred Mazurek, Army's Rollie Stichweh, Columbia's Archie Roberts, as well as respectable second-liners like Syracuse's Walley Mahle and Penn State's Gary Wydman—are gone. What is more, there is no one with a trace of their abilities in sight anywhere. What will make up for the lack? Look for new offensives, look particularly for variations on the I formation, the newest panacea for impressionable coaches, and look especially for Penn State and Syracuse. They are the teams with the most good players.
To be sure, Engle, a professional worrier, does not see it that way. He never does, even in years—such as three of the last four—when he should, and does, win the Lambert Trophy. What hasn't Engle got in 1965? He hasn't got 22 lettermen, an experienced defense or a seasoned quarterback. What has he got? Just the men to make even Engle forget his losses—five of the seven offensive linemen who stomped all over enemy defenses last November, a clutch of fine running backs and a pride of mammoth-size tackles who go up to 260 pounds. "Aw, that's all baby fat," Engle says.
Maybe so, but most teams will think twice about running at sophomore Mike McBath (235 pounds) and Ed Stewart (225), who flank Dave Rowe (255) in the middle of the Penn State defensive line. And behind them are sophomore Rich Buzin (250) and Joe Vierzbicki (245). The only thing wrong with this bulky group is that, except for Stewart, they have not played very much. But Penn Staters usually show a knack for learning quickly, and the linebackers, John Runnells, Bob Kane and Gary Eberle, a 240-pounder, do know their way around. So does Safety Gingrich.
Penn State's quarterbacking should be handled ably enough by Jack White, who runs much better than he passes—which means State will run more and throw less, relying on options and roll-outs to spread the defenses. Engle also plans to sprinkle his T with more I to take full advantage of the quick, determined running of Halfbacks Don Kunit, Dirk. Nye and Mike Irwin. Dave McNaughton, last year's No. 2 fullback, is returning, too, and has looked so good that Engle has switched sophomore Roger Grimes (see box page 55) to left half to take advantage of his speed.