The Hurricanes don't play football; they play suicide. This year and every year recently there has not been a soft touch on the schedule. With six starters gone from 1961's 7-4 team, Coach Andy Gustafson probably could use a patsy. He will have to build a new line out of defensive specialists who have had little exposure to the complex multiple T offense he favors. Luckily, he has aggressive Tackle Stan Maluty and Guard Jerry Reynolds (who broke Miami's alltime tackling record last year) as a base. How well the Hurricanes move the ball will depend upon who Gustafson finds to catch the bullet passes of All-America candidate George Mira (81 completions for 1,000 yards and 8 TDs in 1961). Mira's best receivers—Bill Miller and Larry Wilson—are gone. This leaves the job to Halfbacks Nick Spinelli and John Bahen and last year's defensive ends, Jim Simon and Ben Rizzo. They probably can do it.
CONCLUSION: One of the country's better teams, the Hurricanes must play the best week after week. They will hold their own.
For Coach Johnny Vaught, who almost never loses, the new season may prove sorely testing. He could drop a game. Eight starting players, including several All-Americas from a squad that last season led the nation in offense and was third in defense, have moved on to the pros. Preparing for the worst, Vaught has jammed into his first team the best and biggest of a thin reserve supply and altered the character of his offense. He has made Left Half Chuck Morris a tailback (in his new single wing version of the T), where he can split ball-carrying chores with balky-kneed Fullback Buck Randall. Right Half Lou Guy goes to wingback to provide long-throwing Quarterback Glynn Griffing (10 touchdown completions last year) with a more accessible target. With the changes, the worst may never come, for the Ole Miss line is of the usual Vaught quality, with 260-pound Tackle Jim Dunaway a strong choice for All-America.
CONCLUSION: Vaught will be nervous all season. With an easier schedule than usual, he shouldn't be.
If nothing else, Mississippi State can claim honestly that it lives up to its nickname-Bulldogs. State regularly tackles the toughest and roughest of the SEC, yet after four years it has only two wins in 23 conference games to show for its tenacity. This year will be different; the Bulldogs have a new man, Paul Davis, at the end of the leash. He was the offensive backfield coach in 1961. The school, for once, might even have two first-rate lines. End Johnny Baker, one of six holdover starters and the team's best lineman, set a State record for receptions last year with 22 catches for 323 yards. Sophomore Guard Pat Watson, a 205-pounder with extremely fast reflexes, will lead the defense. In the backfield, State has one of the SEC's best passers in Charlie Furlow, who already has been drafted by the pros. With good depth at fullback, the Bulldogs lack only a breakaway runner and one or two more receivers.
CONCLUSION: This may be the year when the Bulldogs become worrisome snappers at the heels of their SEC masters.
Coach Jim Hickey is desperate or has supreme confidence in youth. Of his wing T offense starters, four—Guard Clint Eudy, Halfback Ron Jackson, Fullback Ken Willard and Quarterback Gary Black-are sophomores. Since the Tar Heels meet Ohio State, Michigan State and Maryland in their second, third and fourth games, this is like sending raw recruits in at Normandy, Okinawa and the Bulge. Hickey has taken up the three-platoon system to help out. but doesn't really have enough players to fill three platoons. In the line the only starters from last year are Center Joe Craver, a legitimate candidate for all-conference honors, and Tackle Vic Esposito, who is earnest. The rest of the troops will have to come from reserves and new men. The bright spot, all in all, is that sophomore backfield. Skillful operators, Black & Co. should give N.C. more scoring than it had last year. Wide End Bob Lacey makes a likely target for Black's passes.