Defensively, the team is solid and experienced. Linebackers Steve Kiner and Jack Reynolds are as good as any in the country, and Manley Mixon is just a shade behind them.
For tackles, Dickey has Steve Carroll and Frank Yanossy, and they are better than most coaches can hope for. Bill Young was the second-best safety in the conference last season, and with the departure of Georgia's Jake Scott, who was No. 1, there is no reason to think that now he isn't the best. Last year he intercepted nine passes, and no one yet has been able to find a better way to stop an offense.
Scott's job at quarterback will be easier, not only because he has receivers like DeLong and Kreis and McClain, but because he can hand the ball off to people such as Don McLeary and Curt Watson, especially Watson.
McLeary, a junior, has the edge in experience at fullback, but Watson is a crunching sophomore who can move his 210 pounds across 40 yards in 4.7 seconds. Tackling him is like trying to tackle a fast elephant. In the spring game he gained 193 yards in 31 carries, leaving the Tennessee staff snickering at being picked to finish sixth in the SEC. Already fans are tabbing him the finest runner to wear Vol orange since World War II. "I don't know," says Dickey, with the usual coach's caution, "we had a running back in Richard Pickens, who averaged more than five yards per carry for three years and made all-conference. If Watson does better than that, he'll really be something."
After the spring game Dude Hennessey, an Alabama scout, offered Dickey a trade: "our coliseum for Watson." Carroll Huntress, who was looking at the Vols for Kentucky, jumped in with a bid of his own. "How about Watson for one of Majestic Prince's first offspring?" he said.
Dickey laughed. "No deals. I'm just glad the kid is going to be on our side for the next three years."
Up front offensively the Vols have a powerful crew headed by Chip Kell, a junior who is fast and strong. He was all-SEC as a center last year but has been moved to guard. Another good one is Don Denbo, an SEC all-sophomore guard.
With an inexperienced quarterback and that crushing schedule, Doug Dickey doesn't figure to make anyone forget the Tennessee teams of, say, the 1926-through-1932 era. But the Vols should win enough to quiet the last diehard who longs for the single wing. And in Tennessee that's still a tremendous accomplishment.
How ya gonna keep 'em down on The Farm? Apparently Stanford Coach John Ralston doesn't even try. One of his best selling points with high school football prospects is Stanford's overseas program—60% of the student body enjoys two quarters on one of the university's five foreign campuses. Perhaps it is not what old Leland Stanford had in mind when he founded The Farm, but there it is, a first-class travel agency with course credits. Except as a recruiting device, however, the program does not enchant the football staff. Last spring, when the Indians were supposed to be getting in serious preparatory work for a Rose Bowl run, Split End Jack Lasater was in England, Defensive Back Rich Keller was in France, backup Defensive Tackle Vern Gant was in Italy and seven other varsity candidates were studying somewhere in Europe.