Washington state's Bert Clark has prepared himself—and the alumni—for the worst at Pullman. "We're not kidding ourselves," he says. "We certainly need more physical strength and more maturity." Youngsters like Dave Middendorf, a sophomore linebacker, and sophomore Halfback Ted Gerela will make life interesting, but a .500 season is at least a year away. Halfback Clancy Williams will be missed the most. He picked up 783 yards and led the Cougars in scoring with 36 points. He will be replaced either by Ammon McWashington or Huarleen Bain. Both have enough speed and moves to be starters. Larry Eilmes, one of the most capable short-yardage fullbacks in the league, was second to Williams in team rushing last year with 491 yards. End Rich Sheron will be the man Quarterbacks Tom Roth and Dave Petersen will have to look for in third and nine or second and 11 situations that, unfortunately for State, could arise all too often.
When the first-year players reported for spring practice at the AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Freshman Coach Jim Bowman greeted them with the stimulating word that "never have so many frosh players had the opportunity to step in and show what they can do." The cribbing scandal of last January plus graduation losses stripped the Falcons of 29 lettermen. "Our experience level is at the lowest it's ever been and we have always been struggling," shudders Coach Ben Martin.
The Falcons have nine experienced players to start with, and all won letters for the first time last year. There is not an experienced end nor an experienced center hovering about, and there is only one letterman at tackle, at quarterback and at fullback, respectively. The four top scorers are gone. Air Force will regroup around Quarterback Paul Stein, Halfbacks Jeff Jarvis and Bill Manning and Fullback John Ondrejko, and hope for the best against Nebraska, Stanford, Army, etc.
Stan Quintana, the WAC's Player of the Year and perhaps the best unknown player in the country this year, returns for another season at NEW MEXICO after accounting for 1,249 yards in total offense and averaging 5.4 yards per carry in the Wolfpack's pass-shy offense. The defenses will be geared against Quintana's bootlegs this time, however, and the Lobos may have to throw more. If so, Coach Bill Weeks must find a replacement for Gary Plumlee, the team's leading pass catcher in 1964. With only 16 lettermen returning, and All-Conference linemen like Guard Jack Abendschan and Tackle Wayne Tvrdik among the missing, it is fortunate last year's freshman team was one of New Mexico's best. "Our biggest problem will be to get that game experience for the newcomers without getting our brains beaten out at the same time," says Weeks. Tackle Dave Hettema, a 6-foot-4, 227-pound draftee of the San Francisco 49ers, is the best of the interior linemen. The offense, however, will depend upon the guards, John Anderson and Cal Jeter, who was shifted from end during the spring. End Woody Dame caught 13 passes for 231 yards last year, and the man who will play opposite him, Emilo Vallez, was the top player on the good freshman team. If too many opponents key on Quintana, junior Carl Bradford could be in for a big year at tailback. Bradford was third on the team in rushing in 1964 with 300 yards, and he gives the Lobos strong inside running in support of Quintana's roll-outs and bootlegs. A powerful transfer, Carl Jackson, should start at fullback, and Albert O'Neal appears to be set at wingback.
Arizona state's Frank Kush cannot be blamed for being upset. It was enough to lose Quarterback John Torok (2,226 yards total offense, second nationally, in 1964), but when junior Halfbacks Larry Todd and Henry Carr decided to sign pro contracts, Kush was almost speechless. At least Halfback Ben Hawkins is still around, and he reminds some people of Charley Taylor and Tony Lorick. "We have a lot of youngsters," admits Kush, "and they simply must go through the learning process."
"We're going to be a better ball club this year, I feel sure of that," says BRIGHAM YOUNG'S Tommy Hudspeth. He probably is right. The Cougars were 3-6-1 in 1964 despite Quarterback Virgil Carter's 1,542 yards in total offense and Fullback John Ogden's 770 yards rushing (tops in the WAC). The problem was too few players, but things should be different now. With 21 lettermen returning along with more junior-college transfers than ever in the school's history, Carter and Ogden have more and better help in tackling a schedule where four of the Cougars' five WAC games will be played on the road.
When he departed from IDAHO for Oregon State, Dee Andros did not leave Steve Musseau in such bad shape. A total of 23 experienced players are returning to Idaho, where the Vandals will be playing for the first time in the Big Sky Athletic Conference. Happily, Fullback Ray McDonald will be among them. The 6-foot-4 232-pounder missed the first three games last year but still set a new school rushing record for the season with 585 yards and a 4.4-yard average. The schedule, however, is about as easy to handle as McDonald is on an off-tackle smash. Idaho meets four AAWU teams, including Washington and Oregon, and therein lies the main problem of improving upon last year's 4-6 mark.
At University Park, N. Mex., everything is up to sophomore Quarterback Sal Olivas. NEW MEXICO STATE, 6-4 last year, is stocked with experience at every position. If Olivas throws as well as he did in the Aggies' two freshman games, the record could be more like 8-2, 9-1 or even 10-0.
Six of the football players who had to leave the Air Force Academy last year have enrolled at ARIZONA. The Wildcats would love to push them into action immediately, but all six must sit out a year, and that means Coach Jim LaRue must depend primarily upon a good group of sophomores to fill in for the 25 lettermen who graduated. Needless to say, Arizona will be green, but more optimistically, it will be big and green, and the Wildcats are getting accustomed to life at the top of the league. They will fight rather than go up in smoke, and with a little break here and a sophomore surprise there they just could stay up with the leaders. La-Rue promises a good defense and a better offense, and when he talks that way he is thinking in terms of bigness. With fellows like Co-Captain Jim Pazerski, 6 feet 2, 228 pounds, and a transfer, Steve Mass, 6 feet 4, 260 pounds, at the tackles, the Wildcats average 220 pounds per man in the offensive line—even with 185-pound Jeff Fries at left end. "We have better backfield potential than we had last year, too," says LaRue, referring to his 6-foot-2, 215-pound ex-marine halfback, Brad Hubbert. The way LaRue sees it, Hubbert will get Arizona the title if the defense keeps the games close. The burly, lacerating halfback ran for 115 yards in 11 carries in the spring game—and that was no accident. Junior Phil Albert, who missed all of 1964 with an injury, takes over at quarterback. He had a fine all-round spring and completed six of nine passes for 119 yards and one touchdown in the spring game. Co-Captain Tom Malloy at linebacker will key the whole defensive unit. LaRue sums up his team this way: "It might take a while for our youngsters to develop, but the talent is there. If they take charge right away, we could have a very good football team."
The Tigers of the UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC have decided they owe something to somebody on their schedule this year. They were shut out in four of their nine losses in 1964 and took some lacy trouncings along the way, among them 50-0, 40-0, 54-7, 42-6 routs. Only nine players are missing from that outfit and, though the Tigers will not win more than they lose, they will improve on last year's nightmare. To start with, Coach Don (Tiny) Campora has installed the I formation. He says he has done this to exploit the all-round abilities of Quarterback Tom Strain, now third among the school's alltime passers. Fullback Bob Erman led Pacific in rushing last year and should do it again. If Campora can strengthen the defense enough so it gives up just half the points it did last year (304), and the I does not buckle under Strain, the Tigers may be better than anyone expects.