18 NORTH CAROLINA STATE
When Lou Holtz arrived at North Carolina State, the team needed a magician more than a coach. Holtz, who does card tricks on the banquet circuit, filled the bill, changing a 3-8 record in 1971 into 8-3-1 in 1972 and winning ACC Coach of the Year honors.
But Holtz cannot rely on surprise anymore. Instead he must depend on his 14 returning starters, nine on offense and five on defense. The offensive team has five of last year's six All-ACCers, including Quarterback Bruce Shaw. As a junior Shaw led the conference in total offense, completing 91 passes for 1,708 yards and nine touchdowns. Prior to the Peach Bowl he broke his wrist in practice. Freshman Dave Buckey took over and was voted the game's outstanding offensive player. Between them, Shaw and Buckey produced 51% of the Wolfpack's total offense of 2,472 yards rushing and 2,286 passing.
After the spring game doctors discovered that Buckey was suffering from a detached retina. He was operated on in April and after several months of concern he has been given the go-ahead.
The offense also has four talented runners. Stan Fritts (689 yards, 106 points), Willie Burden (605 yards, 44 points), Charley Young (611 yards, 42 points) and Roland Hooks (283 yards, 14 points) prompt Holtz to say, "There's not a stronger group of running backs in America."
The offensive line also is intact, with Harvey Willis at tight end, Rick Druschel and Allen Sitterle at tackle, Bill Yoest and Bob Blanchard at guard and Justus Everett at center. Yoest may well be the best lineman in the South and an All-America candidate.
"The key to our 1973 season will be overall defense and the kicking game," Holtz says. The defense held only one opponent (Duke 17-0) to less than two touchdowns last year, but the offense was productive enough to offset the weakness. This year that defensive deficiency may be telling. Only five starters return, and the second unit has only two lettermen, so depth is a problem. As for the kicking game, Holtz is still trying to pull something out of a hat.
The other big problem is scheduling. State has a toughie. It meets archrival North Carolina following trips to Nebraska and Georgia. North Carolina will have played Maryland and Missouri at home. It will take some doing to beat the Tar Heels, but then maybe Lou Holtz can turn them into rabbits.
19 OKLAHOMA STATE
It is an old story at Oklahoma State: the Cowboys have a new coach. Jim Stanley is the third in as many years. But his team is an old story, too, and he could not be more pleased. Seventeen of 22 starters are returning from a team that upset Colorado 31-6 and suffered three of its five losses by a total of only six points. At only one spot are the Cowboys hurting—their top two centers were lost to graduation—and Stanley says, "I definitely think well be better." At Stillwater these clays that low-key evaluation amounts to pessimism.