COACH BENNIE OOSTERBAAN SAYS:
We should be better than last year, with a more experienced team, but we have definite problems at both tackles and fullback. We'd also like more strength at left half.
HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
A quiet confidence prevails. And why not? Twenty-four lettermen are returning from what was probably the surprise team of the Western Conference last fall, finishing in a tie with Wisconsin for second place. Bennie Oosterbaan believes that he has the best end squad in the country, headed by the incomparable Ron Kramer and his running mate Tom Maentz at the opposite flank and aided and abetted by capable reserves. The backfield will be the speediest in Wolverine history. Terry Barr, Tom Hendricks and Sophomore Jim Pace at left half are the fastest trio in one position in the country.
Tony Branoff seems sound after a successful knee operation last spring and should make the right half position another strong point of the offense. Depth is assured by his stocky understudy, Ed Shannon, who filled in so capably last season when he was injured. Probably the most valuable man on the squad next to Kramer is Louis Baldacci, who will be either the first-string quarterback or, more likely, the first-string fullback, a position where there is a real weakness. Junior Jim Maddock, who alternated with him at quarter last season, should competently handle the quarterback chores. The tackle positions, with only two reserve lettermen returning, still need fortifying. Barring the knee injury bugaboo the Wolverines should be in contention all the way.
BASIC FORMATION: Split T.
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 9; STARS: George Welsh, Q; Ron Beagle, E; Wilson Whitmire, C; Earle Smith, E.
LETTERMEN LOST: 18.
LEADING SOPHOMORE CANDIDATES: Ned Oldham, H; Tony Stremic, G.
1954 RECORD: Won 7, lost 2. Beat Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl 21-0.