The Beavers finished strong last year after a dismal start. Bill Johnson at guard seems to be the best O.S.C. bet for sectional honors. Outstanding also are Jack Peterson, left halfback, and Tackle Howard Buettgenbach. Sophomore Leon Hittner looks like an excellent pass-receiving end. Coach Kip Taylor says: " Oregon State should be much stronger than last season. We have a bit more depth, and the will to win is certainly there."
Idaho plays only three conference opponents and so does not qualify for conference rating. Twenty lettermen are returning from a squad that only won one game. Skip Stahley has stepped in as the new coach. Flipp Kleffner, a senior halfback, is the best of the returnees. The team lacks speed and depth but should improve its 1953 record with nonconference opponents. Their defeat by Oregon last Saturday, 0-41, was to be expected.
THE SKYLINE CONFERENCE
Most people are picking Wyoming to win the Skyline title, but my vote goes to Utah. Coach Jack Curtice's team has won it for three years running with a wide-open style of football. Despite heavy losses in both the backfield and line, he has good replacements and will be up to par by midseason. Outstanding are Halfback Herb Naaken and End Orv Nellestein.
The Cowboys are the "people's choice." The colorful Joe Mastrogiovanni, a 5 ft. 6 in., 195-pound Yogi Berra-type junior from Boys High, Brooklyn, U.S.A., is an outstanding candidate for sectional and possibly national honors along with Fullback George Galuska, of Arcadia, Wis. "Mastro" has been switched to the blocking back or quarterback spot, which means that Coach Phil Dickens has either increased the scope of his Tennessee single-wing to enable him to run and pass from this position, or that the much-heralded ineligible transfers on last year's squad?the "Red Shirts '53"?are furnishing sufficient material for the vital tailback position. Wyoming's opener with Oklahoma A. & M. was not a conference session but, as a test of strength, it was significant. As predicted, it was close, but the Cowboys lost it, 6-14.
Coach Bob Titchenal's Lobos have ten starters returning, including the sensational Center and Captain Larry White, twice all-conference and All-American candidate. There is also Porky Leyva, a 23-year-old sophomore just back from a hitch in the Marines, who caused Titchenal to junk his single-wing attack in favor of the unbalanced T from which Porky operates at quarterback. The line is coordinated and fast. The Lobos will be much improved. They opened their title bid last Saturday night by defeating Brigham Young 21-12.
Fourteen lettermen and a fine freshman crop greeted Coach John Roning after a five-win two-loss conference record last year. Outstanding returnees are Tackle Dave Kragthorpe and Kent Harris, quarterback. The personnel is the best since the Aggies tied for the crown in 1946.
Coach Bob Blackman's Pioneers looked good last Friday night, whipping Colorado College 72-0. Main reason for the upsurge is the influx of last season's fine freshmen, including Charles Bernard, halfback; Ernie Pitts, end, and Richard Mucha, center. Outstanding holdovers are: Jim Bowen, quarterback; Halfbacks Fred Mahaffey and Fred Tesone; Charles DeLuca, tackle; and Don Griebel, end.
Colorado A. & M.
Seven starters are gone from the 1953 edition which won three and lost four in conference play. Gary Glick, a renovated fullback, is supposed to make the split T go from his new quarterback position. Dick Braun is a halfback of note, and the line led by Center Bill Tavener should be stronger than last season.
The Grizzlies have been rather disappointing since they joined the Skyline Conference in 1951. This season they should show much improvement as only six lettermen have been lost. Eight backs have returned, led by all-conference Halfback Dick Imer and a slick T-quarterback in Dick Heath. Paul Weskamp, tackle, and Joe DeLuca, guard, bolster a young forward wall.