The Quack Attack is back at Oregon, where a full house returns in the back-field, including tailback Tony Cherry, who averaged 6.5 yards per carry in '84. Who knows? The routinely ugly Ducklings could finish in the upper division. Jack Elway is recruiting madly at Stanford, but he's still two years away from contending. His biggest headaches will be the offensive and defensive lines. If he at least finds an offensive front, quarterback John Paye could cash in.
Cal hasn't had anybody to take the ball outside since Chuck Muncie, and coach Joe Kapp won't this year either. Only freshman Marc Hicks keeps the Berserkeleys hoping. He was rated the second best schoolboy back in the country behind USC's Aaron Emanuel. When new coach Dave Kragthorpe, late of the AD's chair at Utah State, surveyed the dearth of talent at Oregon State, he proclaimed, "Thou Shalt Pass." The trouble with the BYU Syndrome is that not everybody has a Robbie Bosco to make it work, least of all Oregon State.
A good bar bet: Lay 10-to-1 odds that Nevada-Las Vegas will win at least half a dozen more games this season than it did in '84, when the Rebels finished first in the PCAA and won the California Bowl. Count the cash fast while you explain that Vegas had to forfeit all 11 of its victories after using 11 ineligible players. Those players have left, making Vegas a little less awesome but still the favorite to win the conference. The Rebels will be led by running back Kirk Jones, a first-team PCAAer in '84.
One man who thought Vegas got off light was Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney, who said that the Rebels' violations represented "the most brazen plot since Frank and Jesse James." Sweeney thought Vegas deserved to be barred from the California Bowl for a year or two. The Bulldogs' coach hasn't much room to talk, though, considering the way he takes care of his star quarterback. That would be son Kevin, who still lives at home. "Where can he get a better room-and-board deal?" Dad asks. Kevin contributed to home morale last year by throwing for 3,259 yards and 20 TDs.
Long Beach State will get off the ground early and often. Quarterback Doug Gaynor, who finished third nationally in total offense, is back. So is his favorite target, Charles (Got It) Lockett, who caught 75 passes last year for 1,112 yards. Lafo Malauulu may be hard to spell, but it's a name San Jose State fans might want to memorize. Malauulu was an All-America wide receiver at Palomar (Calif.) College and led the jucos with 76 catches last season. If quarterback Jon Carlson can come back from an illness that forced him to redshirt in '84, Spartan fans might just have a Lafo minute.
Pacific has so little talent it is resorting to the wishbone, a curiosity in the pass-crazy PCAA. The Tigers hope nobody will remember how to defend against the run. Fullerton won the title last year after the Vegas forfeits, but the Titans won't come close this time. Quarterback Damon Allen is gone, as are many other integral players.
The good news at New Mexico State is that its top scorer, placekicker Andy Weiler, is back. The bad news is that Weiler led the Ags with just 43 points, converting 22 of 22 extra-point attempts and seven of 12 field-goal tries. In the interest of staying employed, Utah State coach Chris Pella signed a bundle of juco transfers. But that won't be enough. These Ags will fight the other Ags for the cellar.
Senior quarterback Tony Robinson is half the reason Tennessee may pop up in the polls. Robinson could end up as the Vols' alltime top passer and total-offense leader in only two full seasons. The other half of the reason is split end Tim McGee, who had 54 catches for 809 yards in '84.