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When Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, those two English astronomers, laid their line along the South in 1763 they drew it for the ages. The Mason and Dixon Line still exists today, and there's no better way to describe the football world below it than as solid. My own survey stretched from College Park in Maryland to Arizona, and in it you will encounter some of the solidest football ever. To sample some of it, I'm down in Memphis where I have just finished watching a double-header?Tennessee beating Mississippi State 19-7 and the University of Mississippi humbling Kentucky 28-9. Four teams?and they were fast and fancy, and that's what you can expect of the South in Fifty-four.
THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
Georgia Tech. Tech is talent-loaded with 25 returning lettermen and a good crop of sophomores. Outstanding returnees are All-American Center Larry Morris, Guard Franklin Delano Brooks and Halfback Bill Teas. Sophomores to remember are Halfback Paul Rotenberry, Fullback Dickie Mattison, Quarterback Wade Mitchell and Tackle Carl Vereen. Tech opened the season with a smashing 28-0 victory over Tulane, and they still look good despite Florida's 13-12 upset victory.
Alabama. The Crimson Tide was defeated by Mississippi Southern, but as far as the S.E.C. is concerned I would rate them with Georgia Tech as one of the two top teams, though neither will win the title. Last week the Tide beat L.S.U. 12-0. Corky Tharp was voted the best running back in the conference last season and might be the outstanding S.E.C. backfield candidate for All-American. Others to watch are Fullback Bill Stone; Bart Starr, whose passing ranks him along with Harry Gilmer; Bobby Luna, and Sid Youngelman, 'Bama's rough man in the line.
Mississippi. The Rebels will win the S.E.C. championship and perhaps go unbeaten this season?and not just because their schedule leaves out some of the top teams. Coach John Vaught has done wonders since 1947. Outstanding returnees are Fullback Bobby McCool; Tackle Rex Reed Boggan; Halfback Earl Blair, a 9.8 sprinter; and Ends Dickerson, Adams and Harris.
Auburn. Head Coach Ralph Jordan told me: "Auburn will field as good a football team as last year, if not a better one." Actually, Auburn should have one of the best teams in its history. End Jim Pyburn is one of the big reasons, and Quarterback Bobby Freeman is another. The Tigers use the two-team system playing in intervals of eight minutes. Remember what I said three weeks ago about the two-platoon system being used this season?
Tennessee. This year's squad of my old teammate, Coach Harvey Robinson, could be a year away from maturity. The Volunteers will be greener and larger than ever before. Jimmy Wade and Pat Oleksiak give Tennessee strength at the vital tailback position. Captain Darris McCord, tackle, and Tom Tracy, fullback, are bulwarks.
L.S.U. The Bengal Tigers remain a threat. Whenever tackles are mentioned, 225-pound Sid Fournet is one of them. Al Doggett, quarterback, and 205-pound sophomore Fullback Tommy Davis are men to watch.
Kentucky. Blanton Collier collided with Mighty Maryland and Mississippi in the first two games, and that's tough for a new coach. The Maryland game was much closer than the 20-0 score indicated, and Kentucky moved the ball almost at will. Ole Miss was just too much for them. Bob Hardy is a competent T quarterback. Duke Curnutte is a tackle of ability.