- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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We're an unsound team trying to get sound," says Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. He was on the right track at the end of last season, when he scrapped his razzle-dazzle, pass-happy attack and installed a land-based one. The 6-5 Seminoles then whipped North Carolina 28-3 in the Peach Bowl. Now Bowden has imported a new defensive coordinator, Mickey Andrews, who had been an assistant with the USFL's Arizona Wranglers, to do something about a unit that last year yielded 81 points and 880 yards in the Seminoles' first two victories. On the bright side, Bowden has a pair of aces at tailback—All-America Greg Allen and Roosevelt Snipes. Allen ran for 1,134 yards a year ago, while Snipes averaged 6.6 yards a carry on his way to 629.
The story at Virginia Tech is 6'3", 276-pound defensive tackle Bruce Smith. He had 22 sacks last fall as the Hokies led the nation in rushing and scoring defense, allowing only 69.4 yards and 8.3 points per game. Despite a 9-2 record, Tech wasn't invited to a bowl, but that's the price of scheduling VMI, Richmond and William and Mary. The Hokies have another guaranteed eight wins in '84.
East Carolina, which lost just three times in '83—to Florida State, Florida and Miami, by a total of 13 points—was also shunned by the bowls. Eight Pirates went in the NFL draft, so there are some holes to plug, but tackle Tim Dumas and flanker Henry Williams are solid performers. Dumas, a sophomore, graded at least 98% on assignments in five games last year. Williams, a senior who runs a 4.2 40, led the nation in kickoff returns with a 31.1-yard average.
Even without Jeff Hostetler at quarterback, coach Don Nehlen won't let the Mountaineers slip very far. Three predictions: Paul Woodside will win three games with his toe, West Virginia will go to its fourth bowl in a row, and it will lose to Penn State for the 26th consecutive year.
Napoleon McCallum of Navy finished third in the country in rushing yards (1,587 in '83) and first in all-purpose running (216.8 per game)—all while playing for a 3-8 team. Coach Gary Tranquill says McCallum improved during spring drills. "How?" says Tranquill. "Well, he's stronger. He blocks like hell and he's a better receiver." That's bad news for Army—2-9 in '83 and getting worse.
On Dec. 12, 1983, Memphis State coach Rex Dockery, offensive coordinator Chris Faros and defensive back Charles Greenhill were killed in the crash of a private plane. The new coach is Rey Dempsey, who guided Southern Illinois to the Division I-AA championship in '83. The Tigers, who improved to 6-4-1 last season after going 1-10 in '82, should win at least six games again.
Joe Morrison coached South Carolina to a better-than-expected 5-6 record last fall in his first year in Columbia. But with a schedule that includes Georgia, Pitt, Notre Dame, East Carolina, Florida State and Clemson, nobody expects much more than an upset or two—like the 38-14 jolt delivered to Southern Cal last fall—in '84.
Tulane recruited 21 junior-college players, but the Green Wave faces Florida, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Pitt and LSU—all on the road. Southwestern Louisiana was 4-6 in its second year at the I-A level and needs to rebuild. Southern Mississippi, 7-4 in '83, thought it might have Marcus Dupree in uniform this year. Instead, it has Sam Dejarnette (795 yards in '83) and Vincent Alexander (551). Seven Golden Eagles were drafted by the pros, so coach Jim Carmody can forget any thoughts about beating Georgia or Auburn. Cincinnati's season hinges on quarterback Troy Bodine. The Bearcats were 3-2, including an upset of Penn State, when Bodine fractured his left (non-throwing) arm, but then went 1-4-1 without him. Cincinnati is better off than Louisville, which was 3-8 in '83 and lost its only asset, quarterback Dean May, to graduation.
After its worst record in 30 years (3-8), Rutgers decided to get serious. Out went coach Frank Burns. In came Dick Anderson, former offensive coordinator at Penn State, and plans to build $3 million worth of new facilities, including practice fields, weight rooms and coaches' offices. "It's an investment in the future...an investment in New Jersey pride," says Governor Thomas Kean.
Temple lost a first-rate quarterback, Tim Riordan, but has 40 redshirts on tap. Syracuse ended 1983 by beating Navy, Boston College and West Virginia to finish 6-5. If the Orangemen can replace the two departed members of their tough 4-Wheel Drive defensive line, they'll demand respect from the seven bowl teams on their schedule.