"We should go 8-0 again," predicts Zakowski. "Coach Schmidt never yells at us and we never practice very hard. We just expect to win."
Until four years ago the University of Puget Sound hadn't made much noise on the football field. But then Bob Ryan quit coaching at nearby Puyallup High to take over at UPS, and the Northwest has been aware of the Loggers ever since.
Last year Puget Sound won eight of 10 games—both losses coming in the final minutes. Now, with 27 lettermen returning, season ticket sales have tripled, and the 3,300-seat Baker Stadium has been expanded to accommodate more than 6,000. "I can remember when you could rattle around in our stadium, take almost any seat in the house," says Ryan. "Now things get pretty crowded."
Ryan can hardly wait for the opening kick-off against Pomona. "If coaches were permitted to be optimistic, I'd be that way this year," he admits. Two reasons line up behind the center. "Instead of having just one good quarterback, I've got two," Ryan says, "and last year, when one seemed to be a bit off the other was always on." Bob Botley, however, is rarely "off." In three years he has thrown 21 touchdown passes, scored nine TDs himself and gained a total of 2,316 yards. Behind him is Bob Cason, a tall, skinny sophomore who throws as well as Botley runs. "Cason's one of those scramblers," winces Ryan. "I mean, he drives us nuts. But he's got some arm." The preferred target of both quarterbacks is Dan Thurston, who last season caught 11 touchdown passes.
"Thing is, we scored so much people forgot we really emphasize defense around here," says Ryan. The Puget Sound defense does indeed resemble a logjam now and then (UPS held the opposition to 141 points last year, while scoring 288).
And—just like some big-time schools—Puget Sound has a soccer-style kicker. Few, however, are quite as small or as gutty as Clint Scott, a 5'6", 145-pound senior from South Africa. Scott, who holds 17 school records, booted a pair of 42-yard field goals last season and hit the upright from 52 yards. "He's so little, we try our best to keep him away from contact," sighs Ryan, "but it seems like he's always popping up in the game films making the tackle on the kickoff."
South Dakota could put itself in the running for the national championship if it can upset North Dakota State on Oct. 4, for Quarterback Jim Foster is one of the best to be found anywhere. However, the Coyotes' problem is that the game will be played in Fargo, where NDSU has yet to lose since Erhardt became coach.
A few teams that are usually pushing for the top could be in for trouble this year. Among them are Grambling, which still can't get used to taking the field without Little All-America Quarterback James Harris, and Wittenberg, whose coach, Bill Edwards, moved up to athletic director after 14 straight winning seasons.