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September 19, 1966
The Miracle
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September 19, 1966

The Ghostly Gallops Of Red

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Devaney has done some tinkering with his defense, too. What prompted this was the way his huge, lumbering linemen were outcharged by Alabama's smaller and cuter players in the Orange Bowl. In fact, Devaney can still see them stumbling over themselves to get at 'Bama's Steve Sloan and Sloan nonchalantly lofting soft passes over their heads to his receivers. "They taught us a few things," says Devaney a little sadly.

He learned that he needed faster and more agile tackles and more speed in his secondary. So Jim McCord, a mere 250 pounds but quicker, will replace 261-pound Dick Czap, wrecked by a bad back, while Middle Guard Wayne Meylan, who is 239, goes to the other tackle and 244-pound Carel Stith moves from tackle to middle guard. The ends are Langston Coleman, a tough 197-pounder, and 227-pound Jerry Patton. The pass defense has a swifter and more secure look now with Ben Gregory, a strong running back, switched to cornerback to team up with holdover Kaye Carstens. The safetymen are Marv Mueller and little Larry Wachholtz, who was second in the country in punt returns.

As impressive as all this sounds—and is—Devaney has to fear someone, so he is making noises about Colorado and Missouri in his own conference, not to mention TCU and Utah State. But it will take a lot to beat these Huskers.

The second-best team in the Midwest may be NOTRE DAME, where Coach Ara Parseghian's name already is pronounced with the reverence once reserved for Knute Rockne. Hanging on a wall in Parseghian's office is a revealing dissertation entitled Enthusiasm. It concludes with the following: "If we have it, we should thank God for it. If we don't have it, we should get down on our knees and pray for it."

Parseghian, an energetic, effusive man, has it, and so do his players. One reason is that the Irish will be playing 1964-style football again instead of the poky, landlocked game they were forced into last year when Quarterback Bill Zloch's passes fluttered like wounded doves. Notre Dame passed only 118 times, and its attack was so predictable that Halfback Nick Eddy and Fullback Larry Conjar, maybe the best one-two punch ever at South Bend, automatically attracted a crowd wherever they went. It was a tribute to their ability that they were able to gain 582 and 535 yards.

Now comes a pair of talented sophomore quarterbacks, Terry Hanratty and Coley O'Brien, to turn the Irish around. They engaged in a spirited duel in the spring, along the way chasing holdover Tom Schoen to the defense, and Hanratty won out. A slim, poised youngster, Hanratty can run, but best of all he can pass—long or short, on the run or from the drop-back pocket.

What makes the life at South Bend even more like Riley's is that Hanratty has an abundance of good receivers. In fact, Jim Seymour, a rangy 6-foot-4 sophomore split end with good hands and all the moves of a pro, may even make Notre Damers forget Jack Snow. He is that good. So is 6-foot-3 Curt Heneghan, another sophomore, who probably will be at flanker.

This tickles Parseghian. "People won't be able to jam us and cram us now," Ara says happily. "We'll be able to throw the ball, and they will have to scatter whenever they even think it's coming. That will give Eddy and Conjar more running room, and that's all we want."

There is a problem. Except for Tom Regner, a crisp-blocking 245-pound guard, and Center George Goeddeke, the interior linemen who must provide the room for Eddy and Conjar are inexperienced. Tackles Rudy Konieczny and Paul Seiler, both around 230, and Guard Dick Swatland have played very little. But they are quick and big—the interior averages 232—and these qualities could hide a lot of naivete.

The defense is something else. Not many teams will get through the front four of Ends Tom Rhoads and Alan Page and Tackles Pete Duranko and Kevin Hardy. Page and Duranko are each around 235 pounds while Hardy, out last season with a back injury that has since been corrected by surgery, is a massive 270-pounder. The line-backing corps is intact, too, with John Horney, Jim Lynch and Mike McGill all back. If Notre Dame is vulnerable, it will be to the pass. The entire deep secondary is new and still learning.

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