No wonder Georgia coach Vince Dooley pondered a saner line of work in the U.S. Senate. For starters, tight end Tyrone Sorrells transferred to Georgia Tech. Then the Bulldogs were hit with a one-year probation and the loss of seven scholarships in each of the next two years for recruiting violations. Next the Dawgs' leading rusher, Pulpwood Smith, was bowled over by the books. Finally, guard Jimmy Holton got the boot for disciplinary reasons, and linemate Mack Burroughs suffered a knee injury in spring drills.
Kentucky might be a dark horse in the SEC if flash sophomore Mark Higgs has two good wheels after off-season knee surgery. Regardless, the Wildcats have most of the team that beat Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl. Nobody spent a lonelier summer than Alabama coach Ray Perkins, who didn't get the shadow of the Bear off his back. Tailback Kerry Goode, who missed last season with a knee injury, will give the offense a lift. 'Bama's solid defense is led by All-America linebacker Cornelius Bennett.
Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer likes to call his offense "explosive." And with quarterback Kent Austin it might approach that. The problem is the defense, which also has a tendency to blow up. Mississippi State kept its spring practices secret because it plans to unveil a new and improved offense for '85. How improved? Well, coach Emory Bellard predicts his team will win the SEC. If State doesn't at least improve, it might unveil a new and improved coach next fall.
Vanderbilt's only offensive gun is tight end Jim Popp, who averaged 10 yards per catch last year and may be the best in the country this season. The trouble is, how far can you go on 10 yards a Popp?
Houston has the same quarterback, same runners and same sticky receivers who played in the Cotton Bowl. Quarterback Gerald Landry set a team record for total offense (1,887 yards) in '84, and defensive tackle T.J. Turner and tight end Carl Hilton could be first-round NFL picks. The only problem with standing pat in the SWC is that everybody else is better.
Could this be the year Jackie Sherrill has a season worthy of his W-2s at Texas A & M? The Aggies get Texas, SMU, Arkansas and Houston at home. While A & M's skill positions may be hurting for skilled players, the defense will be superb. But get ready for long faces among the Longhorns, especially on Fred Akers, who within the last year had a defensive back plead guilty to robbery (Charles Washington), had a co-captain plead guilty to resisting arrest (linebacker Tony Edwards) and three days before the Oklahoma game found his best players being wooed by agents bearing "whiskey and pizza." More bad news waits on the field. Nobody's sure if Akers's new run-and-shoot offense will work.
TCU coach Jim Wacker has to rebuild an offensive line and break in a quarterback. Worse, this fall the Horned Frogs, especially All-America running back Kenneth Davis (1,611 yards in '84), won't sneak up on anybody. Last year, early road losses to BYU and Oklahoma left Baylor reeling. The same perils lurk this fall, with early ventures to Georgia and Southern Cal followed by trips to Houston, SMU, Arkansas and Texas. Not even two talented quarterbacks—Tom Muecke and Cody Carlson have shared the position the past two seasons—can overcome that itinerary.
Texas Tech will try to mesh the wishbone and the flexbone (creating the fishbone?) after finishing last in total offense in '84. A featured fish will be sophomore quarterback Aaron Keesee, who has started only seven games. That's more than most of his offensive mates. Just three other '84 first-teamers are back on that side of the ball.
Mother told us that if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all. So here is our scouting report on Rice: The coach's shirts are always nicely pressed.