The word at UTAH is renovation—offense, defense and even the Ute Bowl. New Coach Mike Giddings, a Cal mathematics graduate who was on John McKay's staff at USC, has naturally introduced the McKay I formation and "rover" defense, but it probably will take a season or two to see results. However, the Utes should be all right this year on defense because of three fine linemen, All-WAC Tackle John Stipech (6 feet 3, 230 pounds) and Linebackers Pat McKissick and Tom Hawkes. Behind them is a "below average" secondary.
Jack Gehrke, who alternated at quarterback last season, probably will operate the I if sophomores Darrell Bigelow or Dick Wilson do not beat him out. Split End Mike Butera, All-WAC, makes an inviting target. Fullback Marvin Lowery was the team's leading rusher and Halfback Ben Woodson makes good use of his speed on sweeps. Junior college transfer Charlie Smith from Bakersfield, Calif. may break into the starting backfield.
Independent COLORADO STATE lost 19 lettermen from a 4-6 team, which does not sound encouraging. Although there are players from as far away as Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Ohio, it should be another sad fall in Fort Collins for Coach Mike Lude, who has not had a winning season since he arrived in 1961. Lude may find some cheer in squat Oscar Reed (5 feet 11, 211 pounds) from Memphis, who switches from fullback to halfback. He holds the school single-season rushing record. All four halfbacks are gone, so Lude has moved sub Quarterback Jon Henderson there and hopes he can learn quickly. Fullback will be 223-pound Jim Oliver, also a solid linebacker. Quarterback Bob Wolfe has no experienced split end to throw to, but he does have Tight End Tom Pack (6 feet 4, 210 pounds), who is a good blocker and good receiver despite being slow. The defensive line will suffer because of lack of depth and the fact that some good boys will have to go both ways. Graduation took all but one starting offensive lineman. Shed a tear for the Rams when they try to stop the likes of Tulsa and Utah State.
Prospects at PACIFIC in Stockton, Calif., proud alma mater of such good football players as Dick Bass and Eddie LeBaron, are even darker than at Colorado State, but the Tigers have a new coach, Doug Scovil, who played for the school from 1949 to 1951 and is No. 5 among its alltime passers. He vows he can bring back the glory but does not say how soon. The Tigers have won only four games in three years and were 1-8 last year, when they did not even field a freshman team.
Scovil hopes to reverse the trend by having a freshman team this year, bringing in as many JC transfers as possible and praying that Quarterback John Quaccia, who has not played the position since high school, has not forgotten how. He is a senior and is brave. The defensive backfield was the weakest part of the team in 1965 but now has two good JC transfers. Dan Blumquist and Walt Harris. Another transfer, Jack Layland, or Allen Melikian will start at fullback. Both the offensive and defensive lines will be smaller than ever. Scovil must do a heroic recruiting job if Pacific is to improve soon.
Idaho has Fullback Ray McDonald (6 feet 4, 240 pounds) and that probably means another 1,000 yards and 90 points to help bring Coach Steve Musseau back to good health. Musseau, who has 12 children, suffered a heart attack and could not direct spring drills. If any offense is needed besides McDonald, Quarterback John Foruria, the Boise Valley Basque, will try to supply it with slick option plays. Fine Split End John Chapman is gone, and his replacement will be either sophomore Manny Murrell or Rich Toney, who missed spring practice because he was playing first base on the championship Vandal baseball team.
There are three pro draft picks in the defensive line, topped by Tackle Dick Arndt (6 feet 5, 257 pounds), but perhaps some of the talent there will be shifted to the offensive line, which looks thin except at tight end, where versatile Tim Lavens, ex-back and ex-defensive end, probably will wind up.
The Vandals made a wise move when they replaced Utah State on their schedule with Pacific. If McDonald stays healthy (he missed one game last season and Idaho fell to little Weber State), the team might improve on 1965's 5-5 record.
San Jose State lost 2,441 of its 2,939 offensive yards with the departures of Quarterback Ken Berry and Fullback Charley Harraway. Coach Harry Anderson may find a replacement for Berry from two candidates, sophomore Russ Munson, younger brother of the L.A. Rams' Bill, and a good junior college transfer, Danny Holman. Locating a fullback will be harder.
Only one experienced man returns to the offensive interior line, but Split End Steve Cox, despite being only 5 feet 10 and slow, is a fine receiver. The defensive line should be rugged, led by Linebacker Mel Tom (6 feet 4, 240 pounds) from Honolulu, who did not play football in high school. Tackle Martin Baccaglio (6 feet 3, 225 pounds) was Northern California Lineman of the Week once last season.