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Sun Devils only smile when they're hurting
Gary Ronberg
October 14, 1968
Arizona State players learn not to show pain and how to become pros. Wyoming, another Western Athletic Conference member, beat ASU, but few teams outside the WAC care to face either one
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October 14, 1968

Sun Devils Only Smile When They're Hurting

Arizona State players learn not to show pain and how to become pros. Wyoming, another Western Athletic Conference member, beat ASU, but few teams outside the WAC care to face either one

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Also, there are never any players trotting around wearing sweat suits and trying to work out some sore muscles. "If they can't hit on Thursday they don't play on Saturday," says Kush, who shares Vince Lombardi's suspicion of injuries. "Sure, we're hard on them. To find out who's tough and who's not we make them kick the hell out of each other. But in the long run they're better for it. They're all very young and immature. I'm just trying to give them the benefit of what I've learned."

One of 15 children of a Windber, Pa. coal miner, Kush was very much on his own by the time he was 14, when his father died. Working to help support the family, he fully expected to spend the rest of his life in mine No. 35—until he began to receive offers of football scholarships. He played for three years under Biggie Munn at Michigan State, and in 1952, Kush made All-America as a 170-pound guard.

Kush was greatly influenced by Munn, and even today, in the time of the pass, it comes as no surprise that he still has the Sun Devils running much of the Michigan State multiple offense, complete with single-wing blocking, power dives and slants. Everything is built around the ground game which, of course, demands toughness on the part of the ballcarriers. "They've got to run tough," says Kush, "so we make them into blockers first. You've got to be aggressive to block somebody, 'cause if you're not they'll take your head off. When they learn to block and be aggressive, we give them the ball."

The players do not resent Kush's hard ways. Instead, they all come to possess a Spartan pride in their mental and physical toughness. Dr. W. W. Scott, the team physician, has not been on the field in five years, and nobody can really remember (or doesn't dare to) the last time a stretcher was needed for an ASU player. Players stunned enough to require a time out almost always have smiles stitched onto their faces by the time Trainer Ray Robison trots out and bends over them. "They don't want the doc or me out there," says Robison. "They don't want nobody out there."

Wyoming gives Arizona State fits every year because it favors the same kind of game. Coach Lloyd Eaton recruits just as extensively as Kush. While there are only five Arizonans on the ASU roster, the Cowboys suit up only three Wyoming residents. The Sun Devils opened up a 10-0 lead Saturday on a field goal and J. D. Hill's plunge, but the Cowboys managed to tie at the half and broke the game open in the fourth quarter. The Sun Devils could not contain Jim Barrows of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who made two long punt returns to set up a pair of touchdowns. Ed Synakowski, a sophomore from Utica, N.Y., threw two touchdown passes, and Skip Jacobson from San Diego passed for a final, game-clinching score.

The Cowboy defense, shifting constantly from a 5-3 to a 5-2 to a 6-1, kept the Sun Devil runners in check, and when Rosenborough and sophomore Joe Spagnola (from Paterson, N.J.) could complete only three of 16 passes, ASU was able to manage a mere 120 yards total offense.

The 11-0 sign in the locker room must come down now, but 9-1 might still mean a bowl bid, and 10-1 might even make hamburgers and nutcrackers easier to take next September at Tontozona.

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