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Unlike the Aztecs, who have somehow conspired to play eight of their games at home this season, San Jose State faces the grind of playing seven straight on the road. To survive that ordeal, the Spartans must rev up a sputtering running attack to match the aerial circus featuring Quarterback Craig Kimball, the seventh-ranking passer in the U.S. last year, and Wide Receiver Ike McBee.
At Pacific, old grad Dick Bass is an "immortal." Immortality must be near for Tailback Willard Harrell, the nation's top all-purpose runner in 1973; he is on the verge of surpassing Bass's career rushing record. But one superman does not a superteam make.
"Considering our record last fall," says Fresno State Coach J. R. Boone, "we had an exceptional recruiting year." Which is another way of saying that the Bulldogs, who were 2-9 in '73, need all the help they can get. Long Beach State, hit by NCAA penalties on top of a 1-9-1 season, hopes to regroup its forces under new Coach Wayne Howard. And Fullerton figures to be the PCAA's new sixth member in more ways than one.
Does the adage that the best offense is a good defense still hold up? Watch East Carolina this season and find out.
Stripped of nine starters, the Pirate attack that averaged 32 points a game and helped East Carolina win two straight SC titles is being rebuilt virtually from scratch. The defense, on the other hand, shy only two regulars from a snarly pack known as " Captain Crunch and the Wild Dogs," heeds only to be unleashed. Captain Crunch is Linebacker Danny Kepley, a two-time All-SC choice who did everything last season—93 solo tackles, 94 assists, five interceptions, eight passes knocked down—but declare war on the Union.
"If a ballcarrier stays in bounds," says Pat Dye, East Carolina's new coach, "Danny will make the tackle." And if Dye can bring into play some of the offensive expertise he learned as a longtime assistant to Bear Bryant, the East will rise again.
Furman, Richmond, William & Mary may sound like a liberated law firm, but each is in fact a serious contender for the SC title. Furman is the league's upstart, having finished fourth in 1973 after being picked for last, a feat that earned Art Baker SC co-Coach of the Year honors in his rookie season. Among the eight freshmen who started for Baker's "Kiddie Corps" last fall, Quarterback David Whitehurst and Running Back Larry Robinson are now mature threats, and the Paladins' secondary, No. 8 nationally in pass defense, has surely improved with age.
Jim Tait, the new head man at Richmond, inherits an 8-2 team and such prize packages as Quarterback Harry Knight and three prime receivers. On defense, though, Tait has been all but read out of the will as only two regulars are back.
William & Mary, coming off its first winning season (6-5) in seven years, is still in high gear offensively with its entire backfield returning, plus All-SC Dick Pawlewicz, a versatile "skilled end" who alternates as runner, blocking back and all-purpose receiver.