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Slager admits that around Notre Dame "sometimes we get to winning so much that we almost lose respect for winning." But the fans don't feel that way, which is why 8-3 will bring out grumblers complaining that Devine is not divine. And certainly not Rockne, Leahy or Parseghian.
No. 2 behind Arizona State in its league and in its state last year, Arizona has lost 12 starters, yet people in Tucson remain optimistic. The reason is Head Coach Jim Young, a Bowling Green graduate who served his apprenticeship under Bo Schembechler at Michigan, came west in 1973 and soon had the Wildcats clawing opponents. With essentially the same players, a 4-7 team became an 8-3 team. Arizona went on to 9-2 records the past two seasons, and the faithful don't think it's ever going to end. The seating capacity of Arizona Stadium has been upped from 40,000 to 57,000, making it the biggest football edifice in the Western Athletic Conference, and Young deserves much of the credit. And there is more than just added seats and a good coaching staff in Tucson to cause optimism.
Quarterback Bruce Hill, WAC offensive Player of the Year, is gone, but his two-year backup man, Marc Lunsford, a high school whiz in Bloomington, Ind., has a stronger arm and can run. He'll be throwing to his old high school partner, Reed May, a transfer from Michigan State, as well as to an outstanding deep threat, Keith Hartwig, one of many Californians on the squad (there are 30 Arizonans, 28 Californians; 10 of 24 freshmen on scholarship are from California). If Lunsford's passing or the running of Keith Jackson or Dean Schock doesn't get the Wildcats on the scoreboard, they can always turn to Lee Pistor from Phoenix. In two seasons the 148-pound Pistor has kicked 22 field goals, 15 of them last year in 19 attempts. He also has made 35 of 38 extra-point attempts and led the team in scoring with 80 points.
Arizona's schedule is fairly tough—Auburn, UCLA and BYU are the first three opponents, and Texas Tech and Arizona State come later—but the defense seems up to the challenge. Tackle Jon Abbott, a premed student and a first-team Academic All-America, has been moved from middle guard. Another fine student-athlete is junior Defensive Back Doug Henderson, who grew up in Germany, started college as a sophomore, is an excellent student in computer science and is the school's top long jumper and triple jumper. Linebacker Obra (the Cobra) Erby led the 1975 team in defensive points (117 unassisted tackles, 71 assists) and made All-WAC. Linebacker Mark Jacobs was All-WAC the year before.
Young is working more with the defense this season—his top assistant, Larry Smith, left to become head coach at Tulane—while hoping the offense can match its amazing 1975 record of rarely giving the ball away. Of Bruce Hill's 217 passes, only three were intercepted, and the team lost only six fumbles. Nine turnovers, compared to 37 in 1974.
Look out, America, Joe Roth is back! Golden Bear, golden hair, golden arm, golden future—this guy had everything last year except official ranking as the nation's best passer, and he's after that this time. Give him room to throw and he's gotcha.
This is the same Joe Roth who at the beginning of last season was a holder on extra points. With California 1-2, he moved into the starting quarterback spot occupied the year before by Steve Bartkowski and rallied the Golden Bears to seven victories in eight games, an 8-3 record and a share of the Pac-8 championship. Along the way he bombed Washington for 380 yards. With Steve Rivera grabbing everything tossed his way and Chuck Muncie putting in a better statistical year than Archie Griffin, Cal accomplished feats that seemed impossible for Cal, not to mention an I-formation team.