Southern Colorado State lost 14 lettermen and must now depend more heavily than ever on Tackle Dan Godinez and Halfback Frank Hester. NORTHEASTERN STATE in Oklahoma has its best offensive line in years, so Quarterback Dale Runyan can expect a splendid season of passing and running.
In a preseason poll conducted by the Gulf States Conference, every coach except SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA'S Russell Faulkinberry voted for Southwestern Louisiana—Faulkinberry was not allowed to vote for himself. It is no secret in and around Lafayette, La. that the Bulldogs have their best, though smallest, team in 10 years. A grand total of 26 lettermen are back, and Faulkinberry says, "We'll be awfully good on offense and awfully good on defense. We should only lack depth." With players like Quarterback Bill Bayard, Halfback Gerald Landry, Split End Leonard Kleinpeter and Guard Brad Hamilton on offense and Mike Neustrom, Jimmy Edney, Edward Pratt and Brad Hamilton on defense, it is hard to understand what the Bulldogs would do with depth if they had it.
Everything went wrong at LOUISIANA TECH last year. But if Southwestern Louisiana becomes overconfident, Tech will be right there to pick up the Bulldogs' ungnawed pieces. Tech's only trouble is its new stadium. It isn't quite ready yet, and Joe Aillet's team will play eight of its 10 games on the road. The worst will be the second one—Alabama, yet, at Tuscaloosa. All will be downhill after that for Tech's fast running backs—Robert Brunet, Lynn Cavanaugh and Richie Golman. A good secondary is back, but help is needed in the defensive line or strong Linebackers Joe Peace and Bob McKinnon may collapse from overwork.
Southeastern Louisiana is set everywhere in the line except at guard, where Fred Gary is the only returnee. Coach Pat Kenelly will go with a wide-open attack, featuring the passing of Quarterback Bobby Cotten and the catching of Duane Floyd, Tommy Arbour and Wayne Sullivan. McNEESE, bitten into deeply by graduation, will not be its old Wild West self. Most missed will be Merlin Walet, the Cowboys' finest runner last year, and Quarterback Rich Guillory, a two-year starter.
"We're going with two units this season instead of three," says FLORIDA A&M's Jake Gaither, and that means no more Tears, just Blood and Sweat, as Gaither labels his units. A&M, says Gaither, does not get the players it used to. Preston Johnson and Henry Scott will tote the leather this fall, however, and they are not bad. Neither are Tackles Don Smith and Freddie Woodson. TENNESSEE STATE cannot wait to get started, mainly because Quarterback Eldridge Dickey will be running the Tigers again. There are runners, too, in Halfbacks Gene Bowen and Bill Tucker, and Tackles Claude Humphrey and Tommie Davis to spring them loose.
Unbeaten MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE will defend the Ohio Valley Conference title it won on the passing of Teddy Morris. Larry Mathews, Bob Hlodan and Pat Morrison seem up to the assignment. WESTERN KENTUCKY should finish a step behind the Raiders. The Hilltoppers need help at linebacker and offensive halfback, but the return of Dickie Moore, Jim Garrett, Jim Old and Walt Heath should help. AUSTIN PEAY cannot be ignored. Fullback John Ogles was an all-conference pick last year, as was End Ronnie Parson. And the Governors, with good defenders on hand, will not be easy to score on.
Lenoir Rhyne lost only three lettermen, 35 are back, and the Bears are defending Carolinas Conference champs. Look for Wayne Bell, Mike Campbell, Sam Holcombe and Eric Vivian to lead the team to the top of the conference again and close to the top of all small-college teams.
Grambling's schedule gets harder every year, and so does Grambling. Eddie Robinson, who always has the athletes, now has Norman Davis ("The best college lineman I've seen in 10 years," says Scout Em Tunnell of the New York Giants). As ballplayers, LeRoy Carter and Jimmy Harris are not far behind Davis.
Delta State will go with a tough defensive team led by Linebacker Joe DeMelfi. FAIRMOUNT won eight games, the West Virginia Conference title and went to the NAIA playoffs, where it lost to St. John's, Minn. 28-7. Coach Harold Duvall has 21 lettermen back, including most of his best ones. A repeat performance seems likely.