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HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS: In this much underrated sector of the Southwest, Arizona State and Texas Western, the 1956 champions, should again battle it out for the Border Conference championship. Dan Devine's Arizona State squad sported a 9-1 record last season, finished fifth in total offense and second in scoring among the major colleges. This year the former assistant to Biggie Munn and Duffy Daugherty will continue his multiple offense with flankers, but—more important than any system of play—seven sophomores, all former Arizona All-Staters, will give the Wildcats their best depth ever.
At Texas Western Mike Brumbelow has retired from the head-coaching ranks but will maintain the positions of athletic director and assistant to the president. He is succeeded by his back-field coach, Ben Collins. An excellent running game with speed to spare and better passing could make the Miners a repeater for the conference title, despite inexperience at several positions.
With 22 out of 28 lettermen returning, hope is high at Hardin-Simmons. If Slinging Sammy Baugh can get the defense to complement his air arm, directed by Quarterback Ken Ford, the Cowboys will be in contention all the way. Ford, by the way, ranked fifth and sixth in passing in the nation as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, and looks better this year.
West Texas State finished last season with a healthy 7-2 record and wound up beating Mississippi Southern in the Tangerine Bowl at Orlando, Fla. Six starters are lost from this 1956 aggregation, with gaps to be filled at both guards and the quarterback spot, but a hard-driving running attack may bring them through for another fine season.
COLORS: Red and blue
THE DOPE: The Wildcats, according to Coach Ed Doherty , will be operating an offense some 20 years ahead of its time. Whether or not that is true, the slot-T offense, introduced by Doherty in his first season as head coach, is a bewildering formation in which the quarterback flips the ball backward, blind, to scuttling halfbacks. On some plays, the halfbacks line up facing the sideline, a maneuver worth five yards of speed on outside runs, says Doherty. To implement his unorthodox attack, Doherty has a strong first team but little depth. The quarterback is Ralph Hunsaker, one of the best in Arizona history, and he has taken to the difficult technical chore imposed on him by the slot T very well. As a sophomore, last year Hunsaker ranked sixth in the nation in passing. The first team has fair speed, good size and has learned to execute Doherty's fast-breaking, intricate patterns. Barring injury to a key player, Arizona, on the crest of a new offense which is unfamiliar to its opponents, could be a surprise.
1957 SCHEDULE (1956 score):
Brigham Young, N (no game)