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So has LONG BEACH STATE, which, except for a loss to L.A. State last year, would have won it. Quarterback Jack Reilly, who led the team to a 9-1 record while hitting receivers for 2,002 yards and 21 touchdowns, is around for more throwing, especially to Wingback Jack Tucker, who caught 27 for nine touchdowns. All-Coast Middle Guard Bob Johnson and All-CCAA Guard Joe Young are back. The 49ers' weakness is a shortage of running backs and offensive linemen. If they find them, watch out.
"Again, our strength will be in the line," predicts SAN FERNANDO VALLEY STATE Coach Sam Winningham, and that may be the bravest statement of the new season. Nine of the Matadors' opponents scored at least three touchdowns against them last year (three hit 50 points or more), and they were shut out six times.
San Francisco State, in the Far Western Conference, was a pleasant surprise in 1965 when it took the championship in what was to have been a rebuilding year. Fully rebuilt, the Golden Gators should repeat. Coach Vic Rowen has eight starters from last year's defensive team, led by Tackle Terry Oakes, End Bill Peters and Middle Guard Lyle Baucom. Defensive Backs Harry Gualco and Jim Gray are smart and fast. Offensively only two starters return, but, happily—for the Gators, anyway—Little All-America Guard Elmer Collett (a San Francisco 49er future) is among them. Jim Patterson and Bill Pollock are fine receivers, although Rowen is still looking for someone to throw the ball to them.
Should the Gators slip, NEVADA and SACRAMENTO STATE expect to be close enough to step ahead. Nevada's Wolf Pack ran second in the FWC last year, and among some fine returnees are Quarterbacks Chris Ault and Nick Walters, Backs Art Bayer, Dan Anderson and Lou Cooper and Ends Brian Hardy and Mike Smithwick. Sacramento State, though 23 lettermen are in camp, needs some muscle at the tackles in order to spring a swift backfield. Quarterback Larry Zenker looks good. He will be abetted by little Rich Falk, who, at 155 pounds, led the Hornets in rushing last year, and Mike Clemons, an All-FWC fullback two years ago who is well again after sitting out last season with an injury.
University of California at Davis has 23 lettermen back, "and that makes us feel good," says Coach Herb Schmalenberger. Among them are Quarterback Dennis Bunting, Halfbacks Dick South (All-FWC) and Glen Dufour and Fullback Jack Edwards, which is backfield enough, and the defense isn't all that bad with Tackle Tom Russell and Linebacker Paul Fiack. A break here, one there and the Aggies could move up in a close Far Western Conference race.
Frank (Bud) Van Deren has moved from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was offensive line coach, to HUMBOLT STATE, where he'd like to be offensive. He may be in time, but right now he is looking for a few more backs like Mel Oliver.
Tough little LINFIELD began last season with only seven starters, but the Wildcats hitched up their hip pads and went all the way to the NAIA finals. This year they have 16, including four All-Northwest Conference players. Quarterback Terry Durham completed 59 of 124 passes for 767 yards, most of them to Roger Ishizu (34 catches for 381 yards). Tackle Gene Forman is big (255) and fast, as is his defensive counterpart, Jack Ostlund, 6 feet 4, 260. Everything will be decided, however, when powerful WILLAMETTE comes to McMinnville, Ore. on Nov. 5. The pride of the Bearcats is a superb offensive line built around Center Wayne Looney and Guards Walt Looney and Gary Hertzog. With two sophomore passers, Mike Shinn and Terry Harrison, Willamette will throw more than it did in 1965. Little All-America Tackles Bruce Anderson and Bob Burles will be missed defensively, however. Just how much should determine the conference champion.
Although its schedule is much, much tougher, look for WEBER STATE to repeat as Big Sky titlist. In his first year at Ogden, Utah, Coach Sark Arslanian took the Wildcats to an 8-1 finish, and this year, with 27 lettermen, his team is even better. Henry Owens, the Big Sky scoring leader with 17 touchdowns, is back, as is Fullback Lee White. Quarterback Tim Jones was the best in the league, and he should have another year of fun throwing to Lawrence Hunsaker and Tony MacKinnon. Bruce Handley returns at guard. IDAHO STATE has defensive aces like John Montes and Rich Carrillo, MONTANA STATE 22 lettermen and MONTANA a good freshman crop, but not one of these threatens Weber State.
A wide-open race is in store for the Evergreen Conference, with WHITWORTH and its fine end, George Elliott, awarded as good a chance as any. Among the best of the independents are California Lutheran, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of San Francisco. CALIFORNIA LUTHERAN has exceptional balance and fine players in Tim Roettger, Pete Olson and Mike McLean. SANTA BARBARA'S Jack Curtice was voted the College Coach of the Year when the Gauchos won eight of nine for the second best season in the school's history. Twenty-five lettermen should improve on SAN FRANCISCO'S 3-5 record. WHITTIER is expecting big things from its sophomore quarterback, Roy Scaffidi, and Linebackers Mike Younger and Norm Lytle will head up a good defense.