The only question is whether the line can provide the help Sherman had. Gone are two All-Americas, Dave Foley and Rufus Mayes, yet Tackle Coach Hugh Hindman blithely says he's "very pleased," thank you. Taking Foley's place will be Dave Cheney, the team's most improved player last spring. Mayes' spot will go to 245-pound Chuck Hutchison, the swingman for the past two years. Brian Donovan, who started at guard in the Rose Bowl, will move to center, while Alan Jack and Tom Backhus, both starters last year, return at guard.
Where Kern is the personality of the offense, Ohio State's defense is characterized by John Tatum, the quiet roverback and the man whom Hayes has called "the best athlete on my team." Tatum plays the wide side on the Buckeyes' mirror defense, where one set of four (safety, defensive half, linebacker and end) will always handle the open side and another set the closed side of the field. Myopic, his face an expressionless mask, Tatum often seems bored to the point of disinterest, yet he's the Bucks' top head-hunter. After his handling of Purdue's Leroy Keyes last season, he received a rare double: Associated Press voted him Back of the Week, while United Press voted him Lineman of the Week. Said Assistant Coach Lou Holtz shortly before he took over the head job at William and Mary: "He's the greatest athlete I've ever coached. If he's not an All-America, there never was one."
Complementing Tatum on the wide side is Dave Whitfield, a superb end and the defensive captain; Doug Adams, the team's best linebacker; and Ted Provost, a tall, bird-legged halfback. "Our whole defense is time oriented," says Hayes. "If we ever run into a back that does the 100 in five seconds flat, we're in trouble."
More likely is the danger of complacency, though Hayes fairly bristles at the thought. "Well," someone will ask, "what's to keep them from getting lazy?"
"Me. I'm a mean coach," Hayes barks.
"Then I guess it's not true you're getting soft?"
"Soft?" Hayes raises his voice a boom or two. "I'll be damned if I'm getting soft. I'm not going to let them get slipshod. I don't know if they like me for it. And I don't care what they call me, so long as I can't hear it. And so long as it isn't that I'm a nice old man."
Waller Creek meanders across the Texas campus, gurgling quietly and trickling peacefully. It is a tranquil, lazy, picturesque scene until football practice begins. Then players come barreling out of Memorial Stadium, clatter over some improvised steps across the water and up the embankment to Freshman Field for a whoop-and-holler workout that pierces the silence along the creek and its pecan-and-cottonwood-lined banks.
Towering above the scene is Coach Darrell Royal, who after mounting the circular orange staircase of his portable viewing stand can inspect his troops. Royal is not one to rave about his prospects, but what he saw as he gazed down this fall made him smile frequently.