HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS: Despite protestations by Coach "Preacher Bill" Murray, Duke should be head and shoulders above the rest of the conference and represent the ACC for the last time officially against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day. I say "officially" because the Orange Bowl Committee has terminated their contract with the ACC, although they will still continue with Oklahoma and the Big Eight runner-up on alternate years against an opponent-at-large.
"Big, strong and powerful" is the quote from Durham. The great Sonny Jurgensen will be missed at quarterback, but he was out most of last season with injuries—and Bob Brodhead gained valuable game experience. The middle of the line offers such stalwarts as Guard Roy Hord and Tackle Tom Topping, who even sound like football players on paper. Cavorting behind a big line will be a bevy of fine backs led by Halfback Wray Carlton and Fullback Harold McElhaney. An easier schedule and 23 returning lettermen should help dry some of Coach Murray's 1956 tears.
South Carolina was the surprise team of the conference last year under new Coach Warren Giese. Smart, well coached and fiery, they shut out Duke 7-0 in their first conference start, and only a late season defeat by North Carolina State kept them out of the Orange Bowl. Two-hundred twenty-pound junior Tackle John Kompara is being touted as the best anywhere and certainly junior Halfbacks King Dixon and Alex Hawkins have proved their worth under fire. The feathers should fly again when the Gamecocks meet the Blue Devils on Saturday night, September 21, at Columbia.
Coach Frank Howard at Clemson vows the Tigers will throw the ball more in 1957. The air arm depends on two sophomore quarterbacks, Harvey White and Johnnie Mac Goff. He points out that in the last spring practice game they threw 31 passes and completed 19 while Clemson attempted but 80 passes during the entire season of 1956. Two sophomore receivers—Halfback George Usry and End Emil Zager—also shone in the spring. A rugged line and experienced Backs Charlie Home and Mike Dukes assure the Tigers of another fine season.
Coach Jim Tatum has not had easy sailing since his return to North Carolina, but he has the ability not to stay down long. The two games that he won his first year at Chapel Hill—over Maryland and Virginia—were ordered forfeited because of an ineligible player Tatum knew nothing about. On top of this there have been academic difficulties and his recruiting logistics have been strained to the breaking point in the fertile Pennsylvania fields. Despite all this he has come up with a representative group of sophomores. Defensive play, one of Tatum's trademarks, will be immensely improved. Ed Sutton will be missed in the backfield, but capable sophs led by Fullback Don Coker should more than make up for his absence.
No other coach in history was beset by more injuries and just plain bad luck than was Tommy Mont in his first year as head coach at Maryland. After such a disappointing season, the Terps may be in the mood to bounce back. The line has experience and depth. The backfield only lacks speed. Word is that sophomore Guard Rodney Breedlove is one of the best prospects in years.
N.C. State should be an improved team with a bigger line, an improved defense, and one of the best halfback combinations in the conference—the two Dicks—Christy and Hunter. Coach Earle Edwards says: "All in all, I'm looking forward to the season."
Wake Forest's coach, Paul Amen, was voted the "Coach of the Year" in the ACC in 1956 and brought the Demon Deacons a long way on short rations. Missing from this season's squad is Fullback Bill Barnes, one of the really great players of 1956. Nonetheless, Amen in his second year predicts a more solid and versatile team with the biggest problems at quarterback, fullback and ends.
Virginia, led by the block-busting Jim Bakhtiar, had a successful spring practice and is looking forward to an improved season. A rugged schedule may preclude the Cavaliers from winning more than the three games of 1956.