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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 13, 1972)
by Jim Johnston
It takes longer than a year to turn a
humpback donkey into a grand
champion. Or even a blue ribbon winner
for that matter.
The football coaches at Missouri
realized the odds against such noted
improvements. That's why they didn't
make any far-fetched promises when the
Tigers switched from their grab bag
offense of 1971 to the Wishbone in 1972.
Missouri had the worst offense in the
Big Eight last year . . . averaging just 129
yards rushing per game. The Tigers didn't
win a conference game and finished the
season with a 1-10 showing ... their
worst record since 1934.
So first year coach Al Onofrio, who
was second-guessed all season, made a
popular change. He switched to the
Now, the Wishbone offense has turned
some football fortunes completely
around. Oklahoma, Alabama and UCLA
testify to that. But Missouri needed more
than a new formation. The Tigers needed
So Missouri stepped-up its recruiting
last year and landed a pair of two-time
junior college ail-American running
backs Tommy Reamon of Ft. Scott,
Kan., and Jimmy Smith of Mesa, Ariz.
This pair totaled more than 6,000 rushing
yards and scored 70 touchdowns in two
junior college seasons.
They also obtained Leroy Moss from
Centerville (la.) Community College and
sophomore Bill Ziegler was already on the
scene to bolster Mizzou's running backs.
This enabled Onofrio to move two
former running backs to other
positions-Mike Fink to the defensive
secondary and Jack Bastable to split end.
Another junior college transfer John
Cherry from Northeastern Oklahoma
A&M-replaced letterman Ed Johndrow
at quarterback. The Missouri staff then
hired former Oklahoma quarterback
Bobby Warmack, who coached the
freshman backfield at Oklahoma last
year, to help install the Wishbone at
The results? About what you would
expect. The Missouri offense is better
than last year, but then itcouldn't be
The Tigers are 2-2 on the season and
are averaging 246 yards rushing per game.
But the offense hasn't been consistent.
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Saturday at Memorial Stadium-like
nearly every other Saturday at Memorial
Stadium may turn into Johnny Rodgers
Now that the Nebraska flanker has
etched his name into every Cornhusker
receiving and kick return record and is
quickly closing in on Big Eight marks,
he's also nearing NCAA records.
If Rodgers scores one more
touchdown on a punt return he will tie an
NCAA record of seven touchdown punt
returns established by Oktah6maV Jack
Mitchell in 1946-48. Rodgers has
returned seven punts for touchdowns, but
one was in the 1972 Orange Bowl and
post season bowl games do not count in
the NCAA record book.
'The players have been receptive to
the change in offensive thinking,"
Warmack said. "We're not completely
pleased by any means, but we realize that
the Wishbone is not something you pick
Against California-when Missouri won
34-27-the Tigers scored three of the first
five times they had the football. But
against Baylor, Missouri had eight
turnovers and lost 27-0. Missouri lost two
fumbles at Oklahoma State last week and
dropped a 17-16 decision in the last two
"We're a different type of Wishbone
than what Nebraska has faced," Warmack
said. "Oklahoma is big and strong up
front and has great speed in the backfield
and can break away with the long one at
"We feel we're more in the category of
Texas' Wishbone. We have strong running
backs and can break away for gains of 15
and 20 yards, but we're not going to
break many long ones."
The Tigers may have trouble breaking
anything against Nebraska at Memorial
Stadium Saturday afternoon. Three of
the Tigers top running backs probably
won't even make the trip because of
Fullback Ray Bybee, the leading Tiger
rusher, and starting halfback Bill Ziegler
were both injured against Oklahoma
Nebraska hasn't changed its defensive
philosophy against Wishbone teams. The
Cornhuskers still try to take away the
wide game first.
"Most defenses try to do that,"
Warmack said, "but none have been as
successful as Nebraska. Nebraska can
afford to go with a lot of peoplu outside
because they figure (Rich) Glover can
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