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It is hope well placed. Simpson has defied all efforts to stop him. In 10 games last season he carried the ball 291 times for 1,543 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Increasingly as the year went on, opponents realized that if they could stop Simpson they could stop USC, but except perhaps for the day in the mud at Oregon State, nobody could stack a defense well enough to hold off the 200-pound 9.3 sprinter who hits like a fullback. "You think you have him contained," said Indiana's John Pont after his team's 14-3 Rose Bowl loss to USC, "and suddenly you realize he's piled up 128 yards and you're standing there losing the game."
USC does have more than O. J. Simpson, quite a bit more, and much of it can be measured in speed. Flanker Jim Lawrence, who has just recovered from a knee operation, is a 9.6 man, and his backup, sophomore Mike Morgan, does the 100 in 9.9. Dan Scott, a 210-pound fullback who rushed for 349 yards last year, can move his bulk at a 4.7-second rate over 40 yards, and sophomore Sam Dickerson, a split end who evokes recollections of McCullouch, is a 9.7 sprinter.
The only backfield problem McKay has is at quarterback, where he must choose between senior Steve Sogge, who was last year's top quarterback, and Mike Holmgren, a 6'4" junior who has suddenly displayed much promise. Sogge is a stocky, unspectacular type. As one Pacific Eight coach put it, "He's too short, too slow and can't run. All he does is beat hell out of you." In his unnoticed way, when he wasn't making his half-millionth handoff to Simpson, Sogge was completing 75 of 151 passes for 1,032 yards and seven touchdowns. But Holmgren could beat Sogge out this year. Although Holmgren, a 220-pounder, has always been able to throw 60-yard strikes, he has been considered too clumsy to handle McKay's roll-out offense. Last spring, however, he began to move like a man with two feet instead of three, and McKay, with visions of 60-yard strikes to complement Simpson's blasts, took note.
The offensive line has size, mobility and reasonable experience. Both tackles are new, but Sid Smith goes 256 pounds and Marv Montgomery is 245. Guard Steve Lehmer, 230, and Center Dick Allmon, 225, were '67 first-stringers. At tight end is Bob Klein, 6'5" and 238 pounds, whom McKay considers one of the best in the West.
The defense looked wobbly in the spring, largely because Tackle Willard Scott and End Jim Gunn were convalescing from knee surgery. However, if they are sound, the front five will be hard to fault, with Scott moved to middle guard, JC transfer Gary McArthur and Tony Terry at the tackles and Bill Hayhoe, 6'8", 258 pounds, at left end. Linebacker Adrian Young cannot be replaced, but McKay feels Jim Snow has All-America potential. There is only one returnee in the secondary, senior Mike Battle, who will play halfback this year along with Tyrone Hudson, a JC transfer. Sandy Durko, a nonstarting letterman in '67, will be the safety except in punting situations when Battle, the country's No. 1 punt returner, will be deep.
With a schedule that includes Minnesota, Miami, Oregon State, UCLA and Notre Dame, a slightly weaker USC and a hopefully stronger O. J. cannot let down. But if preseason form fits real-season performance, when O. J. and Leroy meet on next winter's banquet circuit, they will be talking about The Big Game and The Big Trophy.
Super Bill may play super yet with a new attack that is really old
A fall ago there were bumper stickers all over the state of Texas proclaiming that 1967 was THE YEAR OF THE HORNS. This meant that it would be the season for the University of Texas Longhorns to reclaim the glory of days past, to get off of the 6-4 records that Coach Darrell Royal's teams had been suffering for a couple of years, to get back to winning the Southwest Conference championship again and, even more importantly, to get back to challenging for No. 1. Indeed, with the talent returning—Chris Gilbert, Bill Bradley and others—it looked as if there might be a 9-1 or even a bowl-game 10-1 on the immediate horizon.
But then the Longhorns played their opener against USC. The Trojans unveiled O. J. Simpson, and a 17-13 loss sent Royal's team reeling toward still another 6-4 season. Two days after that game Darrell's wife Edith was driving through Austin and she almost wrecked her car at the sight of a new bumper sticker. It said: WOULD YOU BELIEVE '68?