Villanova, Rutgers and West Virginia must look to individuals for national recognition; there is little likelihood of triumphant seasons. In the Wildcats' case, the player is Running Back Vince Thompson, who blasted for 977 yards last year. Rutgers has senior Glen Kehler, the leading Scarlet Knight runner since his sophomore year. West Virginia's headliner is sophomore Robert Alexander, who, after recovering from a series of injuries last year, led the Mountaineers in rushing the final two games. Boston College's new coach, Ed Chlebek, inherited a seasoned backfield and an all-everything guard in John Schmeding. Chlebek's immediate goal is to promote Eagle aggressiveness. "People who play us this year better bring their helmets," he warns.
If anybody can challenge Penn State and Pitt in the East, it is Syracuse. The main reason is Quarterback Bill Hurley, a savvy runner who also passes well. Another double threat is Art Monk, a 566-yard rusher who also hauled in 41 passes. And Coach Frank Maloney has called Tackle Craig Wolfley the best offensive lineman he has ever had. But the Orangemen face a schedule that lists five 1977 bowl winners.
Against Top 20 teams, Army, Navy and the Air Force endured some humiliating defeats. The Air Force has a new coach in Bill Parcells and one of the country's leading passers in Dave Ziebart, but the defense is spotty. Army has Clennie Brundidge, a star at tight end, but with Quarterback Leamon Hall commissioned, who will get the ball to him? Navy's defense is young and promising. That and the passing of Bob Leszczynski to Phil McConkey and Larry Klawinski's rushing give the Midshipmen the edge among the services.
Year after year Miami ( Fla.) has faced the toughest schedule in college ball, but Alabama, Penn State and Ohio State are off it now, the freshmen are said to be the best in Miami history, and even Coach Lou Saban, not normally an optimist, is saying that good things will happen in time. Improvement is all but certain in a defense that has a recognized star in Tackle Don Smith and a potential superstar in freshman Lester Williams, a 6'5", 250-pound prep school All-America. If a couple of freshmen fit right in on offense, the time could be sooner than Saban anticipates.