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Clemson's veer offense showed improvement late in the season, and Coach Red Parker has rebuilt his offensive line to help Running Backs Harold Goggins and Warren Ratchford. The little Baptist school, Wake Forest, has its own Polish army—John Zeglinski. Ziggy was the only man in the country to have 100-yard games in rushing, pass receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns.
Lou Holtz is gone to the Jets and 31-year-old Bo Rein has taken over at N.C. State. The Wolfpack had a winning record, but what else did Holtz leave Rein with? Ted Brown, who gained 913 yards as a freshman, and that's about it. North Carolina's Mike Voight rushed for 1,250 yards and was ACC Player of the Year. Coach Bill Dooley will be calling on Voight often, in hopes that Chapel Hill wolves will stop calling on Dooley. Their call goes: "Goodbye, Dooley, we hate to see you go."
Brigham Young has the best chance to upset Arizona State or Arizona and win the WAC title. The reason is lanky Quarterback Gifford Nielsen, who took over midway through the 1975 season and completed 61.1% of his passes, a league record. Nielsen has good receivers, notably Jay Miller, the nation's best in 1973 but sidelined two seasons because of knee surgery. Coach LaVell Edwards, anxious to end BYU's string of slow starts, has a lot of work to do with his defensive back-field, although All-WAC Safety Dana Wilgar returns. The Cougars have a fine runner in senior Jeff Blanc, who already has more than 2,000 career yards.
Colorado State hopes it can gain in the standings the way Offensive Tackle Steve Cyphers gained weight. The team's most effective blocker has bulked up from 218 pounds to 251. Ron Harris led the team in rushing with 836 yards, but Coach Sark Arslanian misses lost Quarterback Mark Driscoll and Linebacker Kevin McLain.
New Mexico has lots of worries beyond having to play the two Arizonas, Texas Tech and San Diego State. The Lobos must replace Quarterback Steve Myer and All-America Placekicker Bob Berg. All-WAC Defensive End Robin Cole leads a pretty good defensive line. UTEP, 1-10 because of injuries and inexperience, figures to be improved, but 17 starters back from a last-place team doesn't mean much. Its stars should be Running Back Robert Elliott, an El Paso product, and Linebacker Hal Barnett, a future architect who led the team on defense as a soph. Utah can argue it has the WAC's top quarterback (despite BYU's Nielsen) in Pat Degnan, a transfer from Air Force, who was seventh in the nation as a sophomore.
PACIFIC COAST A. A.
With San Diego State gone independent, the PCAA shapes up as a battle between Cal State Long Beach and San Jose State. When Coach Wayne Howard moved from UC Riverside to Long Beach in 1974, he took along a fine nose guard. Kise Fiatoa, who will join Linebacker Sam Tagaloa in a defensive wall seemingly made out of volcanic rock. There's a talented Polynesian on offense, too. Quarterback Joe Paopao (pronounced pow-pow) led the 49ers to a 9-2 record and passed for 1,652 yards. Fullback Mark Bailey was mostly a blocker last year, but Coach Howard promises Bailey is going to carry the ball more.
Long Beach meets San Jose on Oct. 16, and it should be quite a game. The Spartans' new coach, Lynn Stiles, likes what he has seen so far, especially two-time All-PCAA Defensive Tackle Wilson Faumuina. "He's a legitimate All-America from the word go," says Stiles. He also praises Running Back Rick Kane, who gained 1,174 yards and scored seven touchdowns, and Defensive Back Gerald Small, who had seven interceptions last year. Steve DeBerg is the likely quarterback, closely pressed by freshman Ed Luther.
Cal State Fullerton is an unknown quantity, 2-9 last year and stocked almost completely with newcomers. Fresno State has a new coach, Jim Sweeney. Pacific has practically all-new offensive and defensive lines and not much hope of upsetting the top two. It says it will throw more this season but has not settled on a quarterback.