A suitable complement to Davis' running is the passing of Mike Rae's successor, Pat Haden. "He's as good a drop-back and roll-out thrower as I've ever seen," says McKay. Haden has two excellent receivers returning in Lynn Swann and his old high school buddy, J. K. McKay, the coach's son. Between them, the two caught 53 passes last year.
As good as the offense looks, the defense, with seven starters back, seems better. The linebacking unit, headed by Richard Wood and James Sims, "could be the best we've ever had," says McKay. Safety Artimus Parker already has 12 interceptions, one short of SC's career record. The Trojans are loaded, but so is their schedule, and one letdown will cost them the national title.
3 PENN STATE
When Perm State Coach Joe Paterno turned down a million-dollar offer last January from the New England Patriots, it was a type of decision seldom seen in these materialistic times. Impressed that Paterno had bypassed all that NFL lucre in favor of what he called the "healthy atmosphere" of University Park, Penn State's Class of '73 made him its commencement speaker and a grateful school administration raised his salary.
Everyone wants Paterno because of his seven-year record of 63-13-1, tops among major college coaches during that period. He is primed for another successful season, owing largely to a potentially jarring running game keyed to senior Tailback John Cappelletti. Hard to hit and harder still to bring down, Cappelletti rushed for 1,117 yards last season, second only to Lydell Mitchell's 1,567 of two years ago. Now he will function behind a seasoned offensive line—six of seven regulars return—alongside either Bob Nagle, last year's starting fullback, or Tom Donchez, a rugged blocker who challenges Nagle after a year's absence because of injury.
Cappelletti and the other backs are the more dangerous for their ability to catch passes, a duty shared with Tight End Dan Natale, who led last season's team in receptions with 30, and Jimmy Scott, a 162-pound wide receiver with wispy moves and 9.6 speed. Still unresolved is the matter of who will do the throwing. Strong-armed Tom Shuman, understudy a year ago to All-America Quarterback John Hufnagel, had the job to himself until the annual spring game, in which he was outshone by sophomore Dick Barvinchak, a refugee from varsity basketball.
Another question concerns the traditionally hard-nosed Penn State defense. Two other All-Americas, Defensive End Bruce Bannon and Linebacker John Skorupan, graduated with Hufnagel, while Randy Crowder, a 6'2", 235-pound bruiser, has undergone knee surgery. That might force Paterno to replace him at tackle with Defensive End Dave Graf, an adjustment that would weaken both positions. "I'm concerned whether we'll be strong enough without Crowder," the coach frets.
At the very least, Penn State should continue to fulfill its well-nigh solitary mission of keeping big-time college football alive east of the Alleghenies. Given its schedule—oh, so soft with the Marylands and Navys—10-1 is the worst it can be.
"We'll probably throw the football more, but we're not going to get too fancy. We had four interceptions last year. We've got to eliminate mistakes like that."