In any event, Florida, Alabama and Georgia are most likely to push LSU, Tennessee and Auburn for postseason spoils. Reaves, the nation's career total offense and passing yardage leader, completed exactly half of 376 passes for 13 touchdowns. He was intercepted 19 times, but an improved line and runners Tommy Durrance and Mike Rich could give him the split-second more he needs. Carlos Alvarez, who had calcium deposits removed from his right knee in December, appears ready to return to his sophomore form. Musso and receiver David Bailey are solid for Alabama, but Bryant must find a passer capable of reaching Bailey or the defenses will hound Musso. Georgia's defense, with Chip Wisdom at linebacker and Chuck Heard and Dennis Watson up front, is the kind General Lee needed. Royce Smith, an offensive guard, could make All-America. Kentucky has some thoroughbred sophs who may need a year to mature. The passing attacks at both Mississippi State and Ole Miss require mending, although Mississippi State can take solace in the fact that its entire defensive unit returns. Without Archie Manning, Ole Miss will be somewhat humbler behind Shug Chumbler. Vanderbilt must have Quarterback Watson Brown healthy again to score all the points it will need to stay above water.
Kansas presents new Coach Don Fambrough with a four-game losing streak and the role of conference darkhorse. The Jayhawks will field 15 of last year's 22 starters, but beyond that there is nothing at Lawrence but acres of wheatfields. "We can't get anyone hurt," says Fambrough. "That's a law." Here are some questions: David Jaynes, the most highly regarded of three quarterbacks, missed most of spring practice with a shoulder separation. Is it healed? Gery Palmer goes from defensive end to tackle. Can he adjust? Linebacker Ken Page, hampered by a leg injury last year, has been operated on. Will he be the tiger he was as a sophomore? If enough of the answers are yes, Kansas, with the help of a reasonably amiable out-of-conference schedule, could turn in a winning season.
Kansas State must make do without Lynn Dickey, the talented quarterback who led the team to a 6-5 record, not eye-popping but better than anything else at Manhattan in 16 years. Dennis Morrison, a lefthander, takes over as State shifts to a running offensive led by Bill Butler. To emphasize this point, Coach Vince Gibson is reinstating the position of tight end, something the Wildcats did away with when Dickey was around.
Al Onofrio replaces Dan Devine at Missouri and inherits only a fragment of a team that wasn't all that good anyway. Two experienced quarterbacks, Mike Farmer and Chuck Roper, may ease the pain. Iowa State needs a running attack, Oklahoma State needs a defensive line and all of the above teams need something of a miracle if they are to have a prayer of catching Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado.
When Stanford was preparing for the Rose Bowl last December, Don Bunce, a redshirt working on the taxi squad, did such a good impersonation of Ohio State Quarterback Rex Kern that when the bowl game was over the victorious Indians voted Bunce better than the real thing. This fall Bunce will get to do an imitation of Jim Plunkett. If he fails, sophomore Mike Boryla, who like Bunce can run the option, will get his turn. Should John Winesberry and Bill Scott work out well as replacements for receivers Randy Vataha and Bob Moore, Stanford could win again.
Oregon's prospects for improving on its 6-4-1 record would be brighter if the Ducks didn't have to play three of the last four national champions ( Nebraska, Texas and USC) early in the season. Coach Jerry Frei has a lot of talent and experience in Tailback Bobby Moore and Middle Linebacker Tom Graham, but as he says, "We must have a good team even to survive our schedule."
California has more good running backs than it needs but no quarterback. Reed Chastang played only four minutes last year, sophomore George Fraser was ineligible for either frosh ball or spring practice, and the other two candidates are JC transfers. Oregon State, with 40 lettermen returning, 17 of them starters last fall, is the team most likely to improve, especially with an easy schedule, but again, quarterback is the question. Steve Endicott broke his wrist in the third game of 1970 and it still hasn't healed entirely. But even if he is well, he may have trouble beating out Jim Kilmartin, who is No. 1 for now. UCLA has an army of good young players, but with Jim McAllister ruled ineligible for the season, the Bruins are a year away. Washington State's inexperience led to a 1-10 record last season. This year, with 24 seniors, things can only get better.