The Sun Devils, to put it mildly, have a flair for scoring. But the nucleus of the team that averaged 45 points a game and seven yards every time the ball was snapped has left with the kind of laurels that are just about irreproducible. Quarterback Danny White, second in the nation last season with 2,862 yards in total offense, exited with seven individual NCAA records to his credit. Both All-America Woody Green, the NCAA's fourth-leading alltime rusher, and Ben Malone departed after running for 1,000-plus yards in 1973—only the third time in NCAA history that two players in the same backfield have achieved that feat.
"It's a whole new ball game," says Kush. "Quarterback is the major concern, and we've lost the best one-two rushing punch in the country." Add to that the loss of six of the front seven from the defensive unit and, as Kush says, "our problems are obvious."
Still, the boys at Frank's Friendly Tavern, a huddle of knowledgeable football heads hard by the ASU campus, remain confident. Having placed their hopes—not to mention a few discreet wagers—on Kush through 16 consecutive winning seasons, they feel that ASU's strongest returning asset is the "punishing Polack" himself. "This year you might say poor old Frank Kush," says Moon Mullins, one of the stalwarts at Frank's Friendly, "but whoever does will more than likely end up in intensive care."
Junior Ray Alexander and sophomore Bill Kenney are the leading contenders for White's vacated slot—and Kush's fire. Freshmen Bruce Hardy, Utah's No. 1 schoolboy hero (SI, April 29), and Dennis Sproul could see action at quarterback, too.
Kush also has a way of turning out whole herds of galloping "pony backs." This year's stampede is led by Ron Cuie, Mark Lovett, Freddie Williams, Garland Evans and Stan Robinson. As for receivers, Split End Greg Hudson (54 catches. 788 yards and seven touchdowns last year) and Wingback Morris Owens (50 receptions, 1,076 yards, nine TDs) have already proved that they can gather in most everything within reach.
Defensively, 235-pound Linebacker Bob Breunig figures to plug more than a few of the gaps up front. Last season against archrival Arizona, for instance, Big Bad Bob did things like make 13 tackles, block a kick, intercept one pass and deflect another to help the Sun Devils win 55-19 and gain a share of the Western Athletic Conference title with the Wildcats. The ASU secondary is solid this season with the return of starters Bo Warren and Mike Haynes at the corners and Kory Schuknecht at weak safety.
The schedule affords ASU little time to regroup its forces. "We get Houston and Texas Christian at home right off the bat," says Kush, "and then go to Missouri. That's a pretty good boot camp. I'll be a lot smarter about our club after those first three games." Which is just another way of saying somebody is going to get knocked silly.