The big trouble spot is quarterback, although Crum insists, "I really feel pretty good about our quarterbacks." Which shows how giddy success can make a fellow, especially when one doesn't have Sherman Smith, who was Seattle's second-round draft pick. That leaves two sophomores. Bob Maxwell is more polished, more consistent, a better passer; Larry Fortner runs stronger and is more apt to make the big play in the multiple offense. Two talented defensive ends return (Bill Palmer and Carl Wintzer); both missed parts of last season with injuries.
Other key spots are solid. Nose guard will be Jack Glowik, who specializes in creating havoc; Joe Hasenohrl will anchor the defensive line at tackle; the offensive kingpin up front will be Tackle Mike Watson. Tailback Rob Carpenter, the 13th best rusher in the nation last year, is back again and confessing modestly that why he carries the ball so well is "kind of mysterious. I look at a film and I say. That's not me.' "
But it is and it is Miami, a team that succeeds because the players do what Crum implores them to before each game: "Just go out there, lay your ears back and play."
18 NOTRE DAME
If Notre Dame were ever to enter a season with a team made up entirely of the lame, the infirm and the dim, experts would study the lineup carefully and conclude that, sure enough, the Irish have the makings of yet another superior team. Just the name Notre Dame guarantees the school a place in everybody's Top 20.
And if Notre Dame should have a few decent players—bingo!—you're immediately talking national championship, which is the principal language spoken around South Bend. But such chatter this year is idle. For while the infirm and the dim don't dominate the squad, several key players have a history of turning up lame. A national title would be a miracle. The Irish are good, likely can go at least 8-3, but for Notre Dame that's bad. That would ditto last year's record, which easily could have fallen to 6-5 save for dramatic comeback wins over North Carolina and Air Force.
The Irish play Pitt in the season opener, an especially tough challenge for Notre Dame's offensive line, which is so new the players still will be introducing themselves to one another. Later, there's Alabama, and the season closes at Southern Cal.
It is that interior offensive line that has the coaches in jitters, although Offensive Coordinator Merv Johnson is trying the calm approach. "We aren't as bad as we were afraid we might be," he says. "It's not a throw-up-your-hands situation." But the only returning starter in the interior line is Guard Ernie Hughes, and Coach Dan Devine frets, "The hardest position to play is the offensive line."
Elsewhere Notre Dame has a fine supply of talent, notably fourth-year Quarterback Rick Slager (he sat out 1973 with a shoulder separation, by coincidence the last time the Irish won the national title). Ken MacAfee was an All-America tight end last year as a sophomore, catching 26 passes. More top-flight backs are on hand than second-year Coach Devine can say grace over. There's Fullback Jerome Heavens, who led the team in rushing as a freshman. And there are two premier running backs in fleet Al Hunter and Mark McLane who, believe it, doesn't mind blocking. Says McLane, "I wouldn't say there's a cockiness around here, just confidence." But McLane missed all of spring practice with an injury, and Hunter missed part of it.
The defense has reason to be confident. Key players are Ends Ross Browner and Willie Fry (who also missed spring ball) and Tackle Jeff Weston. "We have a good chance to be average," says Line Coach Joe Yonto.