HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS: Out in this high country, large cities and high school football players are a scarce commodity. Nonetheless, through judicial use of lean homegrown talent and "foreign" importations, the caliber of football is at a new peak. Perhaps the presence of the new Air Force Academy, whose avowed intent is to have an outstanding football team, has had something to do with this upsurge. Incidentally, this coming season is one in which they will provide nonconference opposition for Skyline teams, having graduated from the freshman and Rocky Mountain Conference competition of their first two seasons. They now have only three classes but are growing increasingly tougher.
Utah is admittedly the team to beat in 1957. The veteran Coach Jack Curtice, never static in his offensive formations and maneuvers, will be aided and abetted this fall by an experienced backfield with speed to burn. Word is that the passing attack will be also much improved. There is experience too in the line, but depth is lacking here. An intersectional date with Army at West Point on Nov. 16 is the high point of the Utes' schedule.
Bob Devaney, fresh from the Michigan State coaching staff, has succeeded Phil Dickens at Wyoming. He has scrapped the Tennessee single wing, which had become traditional during the reigns of Bowden Wyatt and Dickens—and last year carried the team to an undefeated season—and has installed the multiple offense. If Larry Zowada, a senior quarterback, stays healthy, hopes for another winning team are high.
A bigger, heavier line is in prospect for Denver, but inexperience is the major problem, with only 10 lettermen returning. If the Pioneers can get by their early-season games they should be a contender for the title.
My old Yale line coach, Hal Kopp, at Brigham Young should have the most improved team in the conference. With 21 lettermen returning and an undefeated freshman team coming up, Kopp's second year at BYU should be a pleasant one. Carroll Johnston at quarterback is considered by many as the top passer in the conference.
Colorado State University, formerly Colorado A&M, had a disappointing 1956 season and will have to rely heavily on new men for the coming campaign. But these new men are of high caliber, including both the rising sophomores and junior college transfers. The Aggies may not be a contender but they are capable of beating any team in the conference on a given Saturday.
At Utah State it is definitely a rebuilding year. Gone are speedy Jack Hill and many of his backfield compatriots. The line, too, suffered heavy losses, and only at the ends is there any worthwhile experience.
Lack of experience, mainly in the backfield, will also be the chief handicap at New Mexico, but this could be partially overcome by added depth and speed.
COLORS: Blue and white
BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T
1956 RECORD: Won 2, lost 7, tied 1
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 12 of 33
WATCH FOR: A sharp passing attack led by Quarterback Carroll Johnston