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As any back chased by red dogs knows, nothing is more reassuring than a solid line, NORTHERN MICHIGAN has a solid line. Led by Tackle Jack Mauro, Guard Bob Kalbfleisch and End Len St. Jean, the Northern front is two-deep and experienced, if, however, a bit slow. The backfield is inexperienced and Quarterback Stan Ferris is only a fair passer. Success depends on how well promising Fullback Don Bangert and Halfback Tim Tranetzki use their blocking.
With 11 lettermen in its interior line, it is no sign of weakness that SOUTHERN ILLINOIS has shifted four players from guard to other interior positions. The resultant starting guards, Jim Minton and Mitchell Krawczyk, are two of the better in the small-college business, as are Halfbacks Charles Warren and Carl Kimbrel. Senior Quarterback Dave Harris is as good as last year's incumbent, yet three sophomores are capable of replacing him. Disregard Coach Carmen Piccone's plaint that the squad is half sophomores. With 25 good lettermen back, that is merely a commentary on how many excellent sophs he has.
Drake, which proved itself one of the country's most potent "small" college teams by beating or seriously challenging such schools as Wichita, Southern Illinois and Iowa State in 1962, has challenges of its own in 1963. Foremost is the total departure of its first two backfields. Only three starters return to the line, and one of these is thrice-lettered Guard Lou Proctor, who lost his right hand in an accident this summer. Proctor fully intends to remain Drake's best lineman—and is expected to succeed. With that example before it, Drake's best freshman group in 10 years could be quite competent. Quarterback Tim Roels, Halfbacks Lee Brothers and Dan Mitera and End Don Ferrell are the players to watch.
Swayed by BALDWIN-WALLACE victories in the last six games of 1962, many observers call B-W one of the Midwest's best. Halfback George Morris (618 yards), Ends Jerry Roberts and Larry Shinn and Tackle Don Hyne tend to support the theory. At the halfback position, Coach Lee Tressel's only dilemma is which Boynar twin to use—Don or Den.
Omaha has 300-pound Tackle Jack Petersen, 9.4 Halfback Roger Sayers (brother of Kansas' Gale), Quarterback Carl Meyers (58 of 126 passes for 1,012 yards) and almost all the rest of an 8-1-1 team back. Omaha expects a lovely fall. Opponents, eying a Redskin defensive line averaging 245, do not.
Right in Northern Illinois' own conference, CENTRAL MICHIGAN looks ready to score often enough and to win often enough to keep Bork & Co. worried. The Chippewas, who actually beat Northern last year by the basketball score of 35-27, have three good back-fields. Most schools would settle for one that includes Quarterback Dick Moffit and big Halfback Bill Shuple.
An interesting quirk in the football map has been the absence of a single "major" team in the Dakotas and Montana. Judging by its stiffened schedule and 7-2-1 1962 record, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE is a possible future luminary. For this season, however, backfield losses through ineligibility make the Jackrabbits too reliant on Halfback Wayne Rasmussen and their able line. And they play Nebraska.
Members of the fratricidal Midwest Conference so enjoy ambushing their brothers that they schedule no outsiders. A little more equal among equals, GRINNELL probably will emerge on top again, boosted there by Guard Steve Warrick, Halfback Elston Bowers and Fullback Joel Goldman. Only a fat cat whisker behind will be RIPON, blessed with alltime best conference Quarterback Jack Ankerson. Following as close as their internecine nature permits should be COE, ST. OLAF and LAWRENCE.
In a region as thickly populated with small colleges and big football as the Midwest, noteworthy teams can go unnoted. Lest their admirers rise in arms, CARTHAGE, vanguarded by Tackle Gene Schrader and Halfback Jim Payne; ST. JOHN'S, led by Tackle John McDowell; and WHEATON, home of Guard Dick Taylor, are good enough to reward the most discriminating spectator. Also praiseworthy are VALPARAISO, KALAMAZOO, ALBION, NORTHERN SOUTH DAKOTA, HILLSDALE, EMPORIA, UPPER IOWA and PITTSBURG STATE.