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Coach Charlie Snyder is determined to make Marshall a menace in the Mid-American Conference. However, since the last disastrous season—his first—he may have revised his thinking upward on how tough his project will be. The Marshall men last year came up with only 72 points to the opposition's thundering 344. Relief may come sooner than expected. With 18 returning lettermen, the squad, though lighter this year, is faster, and the line, led by Tackle Dave Lowe (218 pounds) and Guard Wilson Lathan (206 pounds), should be harder to dent. The only spot where sophomores are likely to edge their way into starting berths is at halfback. Quarterback is another potential drag in the multiple offense. Ralph May is quick enough at calling plays, but when he cocks his arm to pass or spins out of the cockpit to run the end he is no threat. Both the offense and the defense should be bolstered by the return of End Sam Fugate, an ex-serviceman who was all-conference in his sophomore year.
There was a time when you could automatically write Miami's name at the head of the Mid-American Conference, then pause to think about the runner-up. No more though. Last year the Redskins finished third, and this season, even with heavy straining and quick adjusting by sophomores, they will be fortunate to do as well. Coach John Pont has a clutch of fair-size country boys squeezed into the line. Tackles Bob Bletcher and Sam Ridder, 225-pounders, patrol their posts in a manner that discourages enemy gains. Another 225-pounder, ex-Tackle Ron Brooks, is equally effective at right guard. But from here the defensive strength slows down. On offense, End Howard Millisor has the handiest hands. Bill Triplett, brother of the New York Giants' Mel, is the meanest man in the Mid-American when he is smashing through the line. But if he isn't backed by Sophomore Quarterbacks Vic Ippolito and strong-armed Lowell Caylor his effectiveness will be seriously jeopardized.
Last season Bump Elliott raced a crowd of players into competition, using as many as four teams in a game. Although 14 lettermen have graduated, 30 others are back, including the entire defensive platoon. Any thinness in the offensive unit can be strengthened with solid sophomores. John Halstead, 6 feet 2, 205 pounds, and Bob Johnson, 6 feet 2, 200 pounds, are a step ahead of the two other impressive ends. Two juniors, Tom Johnson and Jon Schopf, lend a fast, rangy look to the tackles, and Chuck Collins and Steve Stieler are the best of a lean, fast guard lot. Squat Center Jerry Smith, 5 feet 10, 195 pounds, tends to the linebacking chores. The backfield is a pleasant, if young, blend of fast feet and strong arms, and should set the Wolverines to scoring. At quarterback will be Sophomore Bob Chandler. Another sophomore, Dave Raimey, will be at right half; and still a third at fullback, forceful, 210-pound Joe O'Donnell. They join Junior Halfback Ben McRae, a hurdler in track season.
Up in East Lansing, there is talk of a return on New Year's Day to the bright winter sun of Pasadena. The Spartans are only fair-to-middling, but so is the Big Ten Conference. State's running game, with Halfbacks Gary Ballman and Herb Adderley scurrying around end or splitting the line with equal ease, is forceful. So, on defense, is the line, although it is somewhat slow and inexperienced on offense. In the middle of the line Center Dave Manders is a first-rate performer. The guard positions will be filled by sophomores and tried but slow holdovers. No regulars return at tackle, but there is Sophomore Jim Bobbitt, 235 pounds, whose strong play as a freshman prompted Coach Duffy Daugherty to remark, "He's always in position to hit. Right now he could play for any team in the country." There are at least five other hardy sophomores, including 275-pound Center Dave Behrman, who could make the multiple offense move out smartly if only Quarterback Tommy Wilson called a more inspired game.
The natives and alumni of Minnesota are restless, and Coach Murray Warmath , with a sad won-lost record, is in the center of their target area. But this may be the year, and Saturday's goats of a year ago may be this year's heroes. Outside of two empty stalls at the tackles and one at end, the team returns intact. Better-balanced, though still without depth, the Gophers should fumble less, miss fewer tackles. Rough and ready defenders, Center Greg Larson and Guard Tom Brown, are able to move enemy ball carriers to the outside where Ends Tom Hall and Bob Deegan can grab them. If there is any uncertainty in the first-string line, it is at tackle. Fran Brixius, a 255-pound reserve, is slow and Bob Bell, a 215-pound sophomore, is a converted back. The backfield is made up of fullback-sized Quarterback Sandy King (200 pounds); Halfbacks Bill Kauth (180) and Judge Dickson (210); and Fullbacks Tom Robbins and Roger Hagberg, both 200-pounders. All can run for four yards at a clip.