The captain of the defense is a 5-foot-8, 164-pound halfback named Donald (Jap) Japinga. You can usually spot Japinga by the way he hops and jumps and leaps around, as if 10 springs have suddenly become uncoiled inside him. Japinga went out for the team as a freshman, without a scholarship. He is now so tenacious a defensive back that Daugherty has dared to play him man to man against such giants as Hal Bedsole of USC or Bob Lacey of North Carolina. But his man in the Purdue game was the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Hadrick, big enough. When Japinga came into the dressing room after the first half he was furious, and he had not calmed down much when he was ready to go back out again. The first time he got close enough, he braced Hadrick, eyeball to necktie. "Hadrick," he said, "you won't catch another one today." Hadrick did catch another one, for six yards, but one was all he caught.
The team leader is Quarterback Juday, a handsome, quiet six-footer from Northville, Mich. (pop. 4,000 when everybody is home for Christmas dinner). Juday and Japinga are members of a campus honor society, Excalibur, which few athletes are invited to join. One player says Juday is the type you tear down walls for. Daugherty thinks enough of him to let him call 90% of the State plays. He has an almost studied aloofness, a detached officer-to-noncom way of running his team. "He is not the type you give a hotfoot to," says one player. "Know what I mean?"
There is a depth of other talent. End Gene Washington, for example, is as good a pass receiver as there is in the country, and Daugherty calls Linebacker Ron Goovert without a doubt the very best. And then there is Halfback Drake Garrett. Garrett is—well, he got knocked out in the Michigan game, and when the trainer knelt over him to assay the damages Garrett opened one eye and whispered loudly, "I'm all right, Coach, but how are my fans taking it?"
"I love these guys," said Japinga last Saturday in West Lafayette, sitting stripped on a table in the deep-in-joy Spartan dressing room. "This team just makes you love everyone on it." He shook his head. "But I can't believe this is happening to us. It's wonderful, but I just can't believe it."
On the ramp outside, a waiting Michigan State fan raised a green-and-white pennant for one last wave, though the game had ended long before. "There'll be joy in Mudville!" he crooned, and a Purdue man who had passed him by stopped, turned and snapped, "That's what you think, mister. This is Mudville."