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The quarterback whom the pros may go after ahead of any player in the East, however, is Boston College's Concannon. He is one of the best long passers in football and he has the size, 6 feet 3 and 200 pounds, to peer over onrushing defenders. Boston College is one of the widest-open teams in football, and Concannon is just the man to operate so dazzling an offense.
Prominently taped to a filing cabinet alongside Coach Rip Engle's desk in his office in PENN STATE'S Recreation Hall is a huge red cardboard panic button. It is merely comic decoration. Despite some severe losses from last year's eastern champions, Engle is not about to summon outside help. His Nittany Lions quite likely will repeat as the best of the eastern independents.
Finishing first in the East will not be easy for Penn State, NAVY, with perhaps its best backfield ever, will be almost as strong, PITT has the potential for its finest team in years, and ARMY and SYRACUSE will be considerably better than they were a year ago. But the best record in the region may belong to BOSTON COLLEGE. BC will be playing a schedule that is not as arduous as those of the others.
As pessimistic as ever, Penn State's Engle shudders when he contemplates his losses and a schedule that lists Oregon, UCLA, Rice, Army, Syracuse, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio State, Holy Cross and Pitt. So would any other coach who lost two and one half All-Americas—Halfback Roger Kochman, End Dave Robinson and Tackle Chuck Sieminski (honorable mention)—and three-quarters of his starting line. "It's just like starting all over again," moans Engle.
Not really. If Engle can see no hope, it is only because his vision is being blocked by some of those mammoth sophomore linemen who probably will not break into the starting lineup. His first line is packed with such solid citizens as Harrison Rosdahl, a 235-pounder who threw his weight around with considerable effect as a middle guard last year and now moves to tackle to team up with 235-pound Terry Monaghan; 226-pound Guard Glenn Ressler; 215-pound Center Ralph Baker, a relentless linebacker; and Dick Anderson, a splendid end.
Where once the Lions were so sincerely dedicated to running over people, the offensive emphasis now has shifted to deceit. Penn State's multiple T will feature more wide sets with flankers and men in motion, more option plays and even some fullback sweeps and pitch-outs. "It's the only way you can get the defense to spread its strength," explains Engle.
There is another way, of course, and Penn State is well equipped to scatter reckless defenders with a strong passing attack. It has Quarterback Pete Liske, who completed 91 of 162 passes for 1,037 yards and 12 touchdowns last year and showed surprising adeptness at running the roll-out, and Halfback Junior Powell, a precocious little fellow who caught 32 passes and scampers through a broken field like a nervous fox. Penn State does have one nagging weakness. Its running game could be stronger.
Hardin of Navy is refreshingly candid about his team's chances. "I feel good about this team," he says. He should, with Staubach at quarterback to regulate traffic among such dodging halfbacks as Johnny Sai, a 9.5 sprinter, Kip Paskewich and Dick Earnest, who can all run outside the tackles and ends, and Fullback Pat Donnelly, a bruiser up the middle. And Staubach has sure-handed ends to pass to—Jim Campbell and Dave Sjuggerud.
But passing and running are only part of the game, and Navy's interior line, badly gutted by graduation, is a shell of its old self. Except for Jim Freeman, a quick, aggressive 210-pound tackle, it will be manned by players who, for the most part, were on the defensive team last year. They will have to learn to play both ways. Dick Merritt, a 230-pound 6-foot-1 jayvee fullback moved to tackle during spring practice, was impressive with his speed and blocking and is expected to help some. But Hardin, with his usual predilection for frankness, isn't too concerned. "We will be all right," he says confidently. "We're never really great, but then we're never really bad either."