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Now that William (The Refrigerator) Perry is gone, does Clemson go bad? Also missing are three secondary starters, quarterback Mike Eppley and five of six offensive linemen. Still, Danny Ford's coaching is like his tobacco spittin'—he never misses badly. Ford has several solid runners led by tailback Kenny Flowers. Could be that just when people think Clemson is in for an off year, Ford has a better idea.
Last year (Wild) Bill Curry boldly predicted that Georgia Tech would win the ACC. His Wreck didn't win it, natch, but with all the hot air nobody noticed that Tech went 6-4-1 playing the eighth-toughest schedule in the country. "This program has gone from less than pathetic to pathetic to, I guess you could say, reasonably competitive to average," says Curry. "Now we want to be good." Curry might just get there. With 33 of 1984's best 44 players back, including quarterback John Dewberry, who completed 61% of his 206 throws last fall, the Wreck could get high Tech. The key is keeping the Ramblin' Runts—5'7" tailback Cory Collier and 5'9" fullback Malcolm King—from winding up on the bottom of somebody's shoe.
North Carolina coach Dick Crum has switched from a 5-2 defense to a four-man front to help the perennially Crummy pass D. The other Heels Achilles are quarterback and running back; tailback Ethan Horton will be powerfully missed. Last fall Wake Forest had its moments, winning the Big Four championship (3-0 vs. other North Carolina teams) and putting together its second winning season in 13 years. The Deacons have the ACC's top returning rusher, Michael Ramseur, who gained 961 yards in '84, and all-ACC defensive end Gary Baldinger, brother of Dallas Cowboy Brian and Kansas City Chief Rich.
North Carolina State's Joe Milinichik is 6'5", 302 pounds and can dunk a basketball. Unfortunately, Milinichik doesn't play for Jim Valvano. He plays tackle for football coach Tom Reed, who can't get by on Milinichik alone. Reed doesn't have a quarterback, a defense or anybody who can score points. Perhaps Lorenzo Charles is available.
Duke went 2-9 last year and figures to be bluer in '85. Blue Devil defenders gave up 437 yards per game in '83 and 392 in '84, proving there's no D in Duke.
Some NCAA doghouses are roomier than others, and Kansas is quite happy with the one it's in, thank you. The second year of the Jayhawks' two-year probation lets them appear on TV and in a bowl. Under pass-happy coach Mike Gottfried, they just might find themselves in a postseason game. The Jay-hawk to watch is linebacker Willie Pless, who led the Big Eight in tackles in each of the last two seasons.
New at Missouri are the uniforms, the offense, the coach and even the field. The last of the Big Eight's naturalists goes artificial for '85. But tradition didn't lose out entirely at Mizzou. Rookie coach Woody Widenhofer, a Tiger scrub under Dan Devine and a former Pittsburgh Steeler assistant, dumped the atrocious uniforms introduced in 1983—"We looked like Christmas trees," he says—in favor of the solid black and gold. In those togs Widenhofer's offensive line, which includes John Clay (6'5", 270 pounds), Dave Kniptash (6'5", 273) and Phil Pettey (6'4", 270), will look like the Steelers'. Pettey is a former Marine sergeant, but Widenhofer had better be looking for more than just a few good men if Missouri is to finish in the upper half of the Big Eight class.
Give Iowa State coach Jim Criner credit for scruples. He kicked his best player, honorable mention All-America flanker Tracy Henderson, off the team for general mischief. The Cyclones went 2-7-2 last year with Henderson. Only the defense, anchored by linebacker Jeff Braswell, can save the Cycs from cloning that mess.