Bill Smith, a 240-pound transfer, proved during spring drills he could handle All-League Dave Tobey's center position well enough so Tobey could be switched to linebacker. Smith and All-League Guard Mark Richards and 250-pound Tackle Pat Matson anchor a solid offensive line, and Halfback Les Palm and Linebacker Tim Casey are among the returnees on defense. Believe it or not, things could be worse at QB: two good ones are battling for Berry's job and, at the moment, even Casanova does not know who will win it. Tom Trovato, a transfer who sat out the 1964 season, appears to have the edge because of his splendid running ability. However, some observers feel junior Mike Brundage can throw the ball even better than Berry. End Ray Palm, Les's brother, is itching to find out; he caught 42 passes last year for 570 yards. The schedule is both bad and good. The Webfoots play only three games in Eugene—bad, according to Coach Casanova. But they probably will be able to concentrate on three big games—Stanford, Washington and Oregon State—and play it low key with the rest, which is good.
Utah, New Mexico and Arizona tied for the Western Athletic Conference title in 1964, and the way every team is scrambling for replacements a four-way tie would surprise no one this year. New Mexico must be rated as a contender, but the teams best prepared to sneak away with the championship are Wyoming and Utah.
At WYOMING, Quarterback Tom Wilkinson, who threw for 1,021 yards in 1964, and End Darryl Alleman, who caught 32 passes for 519 yards, are the foundation of Coach Lloyd Eaton's optimism. If Eaton can smooth over losses in both lines, a WAC title appears likely. "We are very optimistic despite the loss of quite a few interior linemen," says Eaton. "The back-field depth is the best it has been since I've been at Wyoming and so is the overall team speed. We've enough lettermen  to give us two deep at most positions, but beyond that we tail off sharply." Mike Davenport and Don Klacking provide the Cowboys with strong inside running, and wing-back is in good shape with Jerry Marion (also the WAC's leading punter with a 40-yard average), Garry McLean and Bob Grant. Tackle Pierre Desjardins will anchor the offensive line and Center Frank Windholz is also a fine linebacker.
Utah is favored as the most likely contender on the basis of its 25 returning lettermen, but Coach Ray Nagel wonders just how much the Redskins will suffer from inexperience in his backfields. Nagel's team will miss All-America End Roy Jefferson but it has size and speed in the line with Center Pat McKissick plus 223-pound John Stipech and 6-foot-6, 262-pound Greg Kent at the tackles. Rich Groth should fill in ably at quarterback. Halfback Ben Woodson, third on the team in rushing last year, has a calcium deposit in his thigh, and at the moment his status is doubtful. Fullback Allen Jacobs will be hard to replace. He carried for 752 yards and made the All-Conference team. Rounding out the starting backfield will be Jerry Pullman at right halfback and Roger Cline at full.
Coach Tony Knap lost 16 linemen at UTAH STATE, one of the rare independent western teams, but, with the backs he has left, he can afford to smile when he says, "We could have a team capable of beating anyone." The Utags were second nationally in scoring last year (294 points in 10 games), seventh in total offense (348.4 yards per game), and all the contributors to those statistics are ready to try again. They include Quarterback Ron Edwards (1,071 yards total offense) and Fullback Craig Murray. Tailback Roy Shivers (one of 28 Utags hurt last year) would like to play a full season; he had gained 330 yards in 27 carries (12.2 average) before he broke his ankle in the fourth game.
Tommy Prothro has moved south to UCLA, and taking over for him at OREGON STATE is Dee Andros, an ex-marine who doesn't scare easily. This is fortunate, for the situation at Corvallis offers abundant opportunity for a man to prove his courage. There are 19 lettermen missing from last year's Rose Bowl squad, and the schedule includes Illinois, Iowa, USC, Syracuse, Washington and Oregon. "I still think we're in their league," says Andros, basing almost everything on the fact that Paul Brothers (1,487 yards total offense) remains at quarterback and Jack (Mad Dog) O'Billovich is one of the linebackers. Among the other 23 lettermen returning are Halfbacks Cliff Watkins, who was second to Brothers in team rushing with 340 yards, and Bob Grim. Pete Pifer is a hard-hitting junior fullback. In the line there is as much size as is found in the conference. There is, however, not much speed—and this could be serious. The tackles will be Bill Stellmacher and Jeff Hardrath. Joel Heacock and Skip Diaz will be the guards and Al Frei the center. The defense is in much better shape. The front line is comprised of lettermen Ends Greg Hartman and Al East, Tackles Dennis Rozario and George Carr and Guards Dave Gould and Doug John. Russ Kuhns, a 205-pound junior, will play alongside O'Billovich. Conceivably Oregon State could overcome the line's slowness and make a second straight trip to Pasadena—but don't bet on it.
UCLA, California and Washington State all are moaning about manpower losses from 1964—a year when their combined records totaled 10 wins, 19 defeats and a tie. UCLA is without Quarterback Larry Zeno (1,688 yards total offense), California has lost Quarterback Craig Morton (185 completions in 308 attempts for 2,121 yards and 13 touchdowns), and Washington State is minus 16 lettermen—who were not particularly impressive in the first place. Also the schedules awaiting these three are as conducive to winning football as four-letter-word parades are to peace on the Cal campus. But as Darrell Royal of Texas once said, "If you're going to get beat you may as well get $60,000 or $70,000 for it."
Coach Prothro compiled a 63-36-2 record at Oregon State by punting on third down, watching games from the press box and calling the plays for his quarterbacks. He will do the same at UCLA but, for the time being, patiently. With Zeno, Halfback Mike Haffner and All-Coast Tackle Kent Francisco gone, it might be safer for Prothro to follow the progress of his Uclans against Michigan State, Penn State, Syracuse, Missouri, Stanford, USC and Tennessee from outside the stadium. John Richardson, 6 feet 2, 216 pounds, is perhaps one of the finest tackles in the West, but he cannot be expected to tackle everybody. Gary Be-ban takes over at quarterback and he has no experience whatsoever. Halfback Cornell Champion finished third in team rushing—but since Zeno was the Bruin offense, Champion picked up only 222 yards last year. Dick Witcher, at right half, is a fine receiver (15 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns) and Fullback Paul Horgan is a good blocker. The Bruins are probably strongest at end, where Kurt Altenberg and Byron Nelson are well established.
California, even with Craig Morton, still finished 3-7 last year and, with the loss of his big man, Coach Ray Willsey has made some changes: Cal quarterbacks (whoever they may be) will roll out instead of dropping back, and the Bears will operate from a slot formation to pep up their running. A sudden change in opponents, however, would help more than anything. Notre Dame, Michigan, Washington, Penn State, USC, Oregon and Stanford are just too good, plus the fact that 6-foot-5, 248-pound Stan Dzura, an All-America tackle candidate, broke his leg and is out for the season. But Willsey promises the Bears will be "mentally tougher" than before. "The price to play football at California has gone up," he warns. Jim Hunt, a letterman who completed five of six passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, is battling Dan Berry, a junior-college All-America, for the quarterback job. "We spent as much time as we could with these men during spring practice," says Willsey. "This is the key to our offense." Also missing from the backfield are Halfbacks Tom Blanchfield and Jim Blakeney, who combined for 465 yards on the ground last year (not bad when you consider that Morton was throwing the ball most of the time). Fullback Tom Relles will play wingback in the new formation, and he was the Bears' top rusher with 519 yards. Willsey expects big things from the 5-foot-9 185-pounder—especially since the attack will feature more runs than it did before. Hunt and Berry, however, will have a couple of pretty good receivers to look for when they feel so inclined—Jerry Mosher (37 receptions for 427 yards and five touchdowns) and Relles (30 catches for 233 yards).