In the old days at Tennessee, under General Bob Neyland, September was a month for knocking down blocking dummies and running the off-tackle play 100 times a day. Neyland's teams generally played only one game in September, against someone amenable like Mercer. How times have changed. Under Bill Battle this month the Vols will play four games and three of the opponents are definite non-Mercers, 'it won't take us very long to find out what kind of team we're going to have," says Battle.
Should be a good one. With the graduation of Bobby, Tennessee finally has come to the end of a generation of Majorses; his runs with punts and interceptions will be missed. So will the great, big-play line-backing for which the Vols have become justly famous. But in a less spectacular way the defense looks traditionally strong.
Speaking of tradition, Tennessee was the first to go against the Southeastern one of neglecting the region's black talent. That progressivism is paying off. This year's Vols will have a slashing black quarterback-plaguer in Defensive End Ken Lambert, and the strongest man on the squad may be black Defensive Tackle Robert Pulliam.
It is in the backfield, however, where blacks will be most evident. There will be potentially sensational breakaway threats Haskel (Snap Back With) Stanback and Paul Careathers, and most importantly there will be Condredge Holloway, a cinch to become the SEC's first regular black quarterback. Interestingly enough, the season's TV opener pits Holloway against Georgia Tech's Eddie McAshan, who two years ago became the first of his race to play quarterback—or any position—at that school.
"Condredge can do some things quicknesswise and speedwise for us that we haven't been able to do for the last few years," says Battle. Translated from Standard Coaching English, that means Holloway can gain sudden amounts of yardage cutting and running, not to mention throwing. His best play is the busted drop-back pass call, where he scrambles out of trouble and disappears off into the distance. Another way he differs from run-of-the-mill signal-callers is that he enjoys lowering his head and running into people—enjoys it so much, in fact, that Battle says, "We are going to have to teach Condredge that discretion is the better part of valor."
Reportedly Holloway passed up a $100,000 bonus offer from the Montreal Expos—probably the most money ever forgone by any citizen of Huntsville, Ala., black, white or missile-worker—in favor of an education. Three years from now he may be on his way to a big-league shortstopping career, but in the meantime he will be doing some long going for the Vols.
Prospects in Austin cannot possibly be as meager as they seem, but for a Texas team they seem poor. Which means the Longhorns may lose two or three games, finish second in the Southwest Conference behind Arkansas and struggle to be ranked among the top 20. And yet, despite an occasional gloomy forecast, Coach Darrell (Daddy D) Royal usually manages to patch something workable together. In fact, the Texans will be trying to hook onto their fifth straight conference title, but to accomplish this Royal may have to recruit a few four-legged Longhorns. Gone are both Eddie Phillips and Donnie Wigginton, the running-passing quarterbacks so vital to Royal's Wishbone offense. Gone is the splendid halfback, Jim Bertelsen, an outside threat. Gone are...well, a whole bunch of key personnel. The only really outstanding returning player is giant All-America Offensive Tackle Jerry Sisemore, and even Sisemore, who is 6'4", 260 pounds, can't knock down more than two or three would-be tacklers per play. To field some sort of effective combination, Royal has had to juggle his forces like Bobby Fischer. All-conference Defensive Halfback Alan Lowry will start at quarterback; Bill Wyman, Sisemore's opposite at left tackle, will shift to center; Defensive Back Tommy Landry will attempt to replace Bertelsen as a running back; and Offensive Tackle Julius Whittier moves to tight end. Royal attempted to work Linebacker Glenn Gaspard into the fullback spot, but Gaspard was injured during spring drills and will stay where he belongs.
"We're just as average as everyday's wash," Royal declared of this m�lange at the end of spring training, "and I don't see much hope for us jumping out and being anything else. We're going to have to fight for everything we get."