"I was pulling my hair out," says Navy Coach Wayne Hardin. Navy had a comfortable lead over Army in the third quarter, but the ball was on the Annapolis 10-yard line and Quarterback Roger Staubach was drifting back toward his own goal to throw a pass. First, Staubach almost slipped down. Second, an Army defender just nearly swiped the ball out of his hand. But Staubach recovered, and in his scrambling, now-you-have-me, now-you-don't manner launched a pass to End Jim Campbell that gained a whopping 50 yards to the Army 40. Seven plays later Roger Staubach scored the touchdown that helped bury Army for sure, 34-14.
"He is the only player I've ever had who made me change my offense," says Hardin. "I prefer to use the drop-back pass, but Roger is a roll-out, scrambling type of quarterback, so we've adjusted to him."
The big adjustment came last season in Navy's fourth game, against Cornell. Until then, Roger Staubach had been a sophomore making the usual mistakes. Against Cornell, however, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound product of Cincinnati's Purcell High School took over command of Navy. After routing Cornell 41-0, Staubach almost personally accounted for four more victories. He completed 67 of 98 passes for 966 yards and seven touchdowns. Equally impressive, he ran for 265 yards and seven touchdowns.
"He has a sixth sense," Hardin says. "He's not fast, but he's quick. He somehow gets where he is supposed to be. He's exciting and one of the easiest to coach I've ever seen."
Wayne Hardin knew Staubach would be good. In a recruiting duel with Army, Hardin won out by suggesting that Staubach attend New Mexico Military Institute for one year before coming to Annapolis. Army had wanted to send him to prep school. "I figured it would be better to have a year of college credits under my belt," says Staubach. Staubach got more than that under his belt. At NMMI he became a Junior College All-America quarterback.
Shy, modest and handsome, Staubach is durable. Despite his scampering all over the backfield, giving tacklers every conceivable crack at him, he has avoided injury. Neither has he ever had a sore arm. "I throw all the time," Staubach says. "Even in the summer. I think you have to work steadily at something if you're going to be any good at it. And I just want to be good at football."
Roger Staubach is the best of an unusual group of glittering quarterbacks in the East in 1963. In any normal season Columbia's Archie Roberts, Cornell's Gary Wood or Boston College's Jack Concannon would be considered exceptional players.
Roberts is an authentic triple threat, and although Columbia is in the Ivy League he could play for most any team. A junior now, Roberts is already being courted by the pros, the feeling being that the 6-foot, 185-pound Massachusetts youngster could make it as either a passer or a punter.
Cornell's Gary Wood would rather run than throw. Of all of the quarterbacks in the East, he is probably the best with the ball tucked under his arm. Last season he ran for 889 yards but still managed to complete 60 of 117 passes.