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Gilbert, Worster, Koy and Street. It might work. Give it a little age, though, and a little reflection. And especially give it a Cotton Bowl victory, and then try it. Gilbert, Worster, Koy and Street. Sure. Right in there with Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden, with Davis, Blanchard, Tucker and McWilliams, with Albert, Kmetovic, Gallarneau and Standlee—with all the legendary back-fields. This is mainly what the University of Texas has going for it against Tennessee in the Cotton Bowl, the Fleeing Foursome: Chris Gilbert, Steve Worster, Ted Koy and James Street, who may have gained more ground yardage than any four backs ever. Gilbert, a senior halfback, enjoyed his third straight 1,000-yard season (an NCAA record in itself) with 1,132 yards, while sophomore Fullback Worster rammed for 806 yards, junior Halfback Koy, a younger brother of Ernie (Ted wants to be a sports-writer and sold a story during the season to The Football News), slashed off tackle for 601 yards, and Quarterback Street, while adding the passing that Texas has lacked, ran away from his sideburns for 340 more on keeper plays.
In all, Coach Darrell Royal's backfield, operating from a new formation he calls the Wishbone T, heaped up a formidable 2,879 yards on the ground, and with Street's passes mixed in, the Longhorns became the highest-scoring Texas team in 50 years, averaging 34.4 points per game.
From the moment Royal replaced Bill Bradley at quarterback with Street, a baseball pitcher, Texas started making the scoreboard blink. It wasn't in time to save the Longhorns from a tie and a loss in their first two games, but it was in time for Street to lead Texas to an 8-1-1 season and a co-championship in the Southwest Conference. On the way Texas beat Oklahoma (26-20) and SMU (38-7), the Bluebonnet foes, flogged Arkansas, a Sugar Bowl team, by more than the score (39-29) indicated, and gradually fought its way up to No. 5 in the nation.
On the morning after Texas beat Baylor for its sixth straight, Street, a handsome athlete with mod sideburns, came strolling through the training center as Royal and his defensive coach, Mike Campbell, sat nearby.
"I guess," said Royal, "we'd better say something to James about getting a haircut."
To which Campbell replied, "Yeah, either that or let ours grow out like his."
No one cared to bother Street much about anything. Threatening to become the best quarterback Royal has had, Street makes the whole attack work. Shifty, smart, good arm and confident, he wasn't discovered quicker because he was injured for five games last year and then he missed spring training while pitching Texas to the conference baseball title. The triple-option play, which is the heart of the Texas offense, is a natural for Street's faking, his running, his guile and his arm. Often Texas will use what is known as a full-house backfield, but with Worster a step closer in, thus forming the Wishbone, or Y, effect. Worster is up close because he starts quickly and hits hard, and as the option develops his proximity to the scrimmage line limits the reaction of the defense. Street then either gives to Worster, gives to Koy, keeps, pitches out to Gilbert or throws to one of his good ends, Cotton Speyrer or Deryl Comer.
In view of all this it would seem that the oddsmakers are a little low in favoring Texas by only seven over Tennessee. If Texas could monopolize the ball against Arkansas, which it did, then it surely ought to be able to do so against the Vols, who are much like Arkansas. One thing that would greatly help the Vols would be for them to find a running game of their own to complement Bubba Wyche's passes and thereby keep the ball a while. But if Richmond Flowers is shut off wide, and if Richard Pickens is denied the middle, the Vols must throw. Throw they can, and well, with Wyche, cool and strong, aiming steadily at End Ken DeLong or Flowers, whose speed can keep anyone occupied—and Texas can be passed against much better than it can be run against. But Coach Doug Dickey's team, as spunky as it is, has scored inconsistently and depended too much on its defense. Nor has the Vol defense, led by two fine linebackers, Steve Kiner and Jack Reynolds, faced a team with the offensive firepower of Texas. In short, Tennessee will lose a scoring battle if it comes to that.
The final ingredient is the bowl tendency of the two teams. Texas usually plays well in bowls; Tennessee does not. The Longhorns have won four of their last five trips into postseason play, beating two especially talented Southeastern Conference teams in the process—the No. 2-ranked Mississippi team of 1961 and Alabama's Joe Namath-No. 1 outfit of 1964. Tennessee, in the meantime, has a 3-8 record in the Rose, Cotton, Sugar and Orange. The Fleeing Foursome should make it 3-9.