Quarterback Ron Edwards, one of 13 Californians who are expected to start on the defensive and offensive units (contrasted with three natives from Utah), has thrown 21 scoring passes in two years and has good targets in Flanker Dave Clark and Tight End Jim LeMoine (6 feet 2, 247 pounds). The ground attack without Shivers will suffer, but Fullback Gerald Watson, second to Shivers last season, has two years to go.
The lines are scary. The entire interior offensive line is back, including Center Ken Ferguson (6 feet 1, 220 pounds) from Canada. Tackles Bill Staley (6 feet 3, 240 pounds) and Spain Musgrove (6 feet 4, 290 pounds) return from the defensive wall that held foes to just 83.9 yards a game, sixth best in the country. The defensive backfield is sharp, especially Henry King (6 feet 4, 205 pounds), who led the nation in interceptions until he was bothered by injuries.
The Aggies, who, in addition to the Nebraska game this year, butt heads with Wisconsin in 1968 and Air Force and Army in 1969, are coming up in high society.
If the title of top independent in the West can be stolen, the trick will be accomplished by another set of Aggies, those from NEW MEXICO STATE. With Tailback Jim Bohl, the nation's third leading rusher in 1965 (6.5 yards a carry) showing the way, they will meet Utah State at Logan Oct. 1. Coach Warren Woodson's team was 8-2 last year and is good enough and has a weak enough schedule (i.e., Arlington State, Pacific) to do a nice encore.
Woodson's big problem is his defensive line, where three regulars were lost to the pros. His best linebacker probably will be Kelly Olive, just a sophomore. But the Aggies have two good defensive halfbacks in Abelardo Alba and Jim Miller.
Woodson is noted for his good offenses, but Quarterback Sal Olivas, who started as a sophomore, had better improve his passing percentage (.370 for only four touchdowns). Of course, with Bohl the Bull around, who needs to pass?
Brigham Young was picked for the Western Athletic Conference cellar last season but shocked everyone in the desert and the Rockies by winning the first football title in the school's history. Even the crazy basketball fans in Utah took notice. Now BYU Coach Tom Hudspeth gets to feel what it is like to be favored.
The Cougars' forte is their aerial bombardment, and the chief bombardier is a good student from right down the street in Provo. Quarterback Virgil Carter was third in the nation in total offense last season and already holds more than 30 school and conference records. He runs almost as well as he throws. Carter's prime receiver should be Split End Phil Odle, a speedy junior from Illinois who was WAC Lineman of the Year and leading scorer. As if that was not sufficient, Fullback John Ogden is back after twice leading the WAC in rushing. In two seasons he has been thrown for a loss only once—and that was for one yard.
Coach Hudspeth has problems with his offensive line, though. The top five guards and tackles are gone, so Linebacker Grant Wilson has been shifted to offensive guard. Hardest hitter in the defensive line is Curg Belcher, and Hudspeth is hoping sophomore Craig Bozich will be another good tackler.
Arizona State, BYU's main challenger for the WAC title, had its best spring practice since the arrival of Coach Frank Kush nine years ago. That was surprising because among the missing was Ben Hawkins, who led the Sun Devils in scoring, receptions, interceptions, punt returns and kickoff returns. Also gone are two linebackers and four regulars in the offensive line.