“I can feel it in my ‘Bones’”
By ED WETTERMAN
In an effort to establish some form of playing philosophies that were glaringly absent under Sammy Baugh (now serving as offensive backs assistant coach), new Oilers Head Coach Bones Taylor changed the Houston defense from zone to man-to-man, but he continued Baugh’s pass-happy, no-playbook offensive approach.
Wide receiver Charlie Hennigan had set records in the 1964 campaign and had appealed to management for a better contract, but Oilers owner Bud Adams refused, and Hennigan subsequently announced his retirement.
Legendary quarterback George Blanda finally talked Hennigan into returning, but the receiver showed up late to training camp, was fined for it, and never received the better contract he had wanted.
Sid Blanks, the young running back sensation of 1964, suffered a knee injury in camp.
Only six rookies made the team, four of which were draft picks.
Though the writing for the season was on the wall before it ever began, the local papers heaped love on Taylor, sating that the Oilers coach was a true winner.
Houston Chronicle Executive Sports Editor Dick Peebles wrote, “A simple definition of a successful coach is one that wins. Bones Taylor fits that description like Sophia Lauren does a bikini.”
For his part, Taylor returned the love to Houstonians: “Fifteen years from now, I’d like for people to find me right here in Houston, doin’ what I’m doin’ right now. I like everything about Houston, even the weather, and I’m not trying to butter up the Chamber of Commerce.”
Further adding to the preseason hype was the fact that the Oilers won all five exhibition games.
According to John Pirkle in Oiler Blues, General Manager Carroll Martin told Adams, “If this staff doesn’t get the job done, then it’s my fault.”
Here is the starting roster for the 1965 Houston Oilers:
QB George Blanda • 2,542 passing yards, 20 TDs, 30 INTs.
HB Ode Burrell • 130 rushes for 528 yards, 3 TDs; 55 REC for 650 yards, 4 TDs
FB Charley Tolar • 73 rushes for 230 yards, 25 rec for 138 yards
WR Charley Hennigan • 41 REC for 578 yards, 4 TDs
WR Charley Frazier • 38 REC for 717 yards, 6 TDs
TE Willie Frazier • 37 REC for 521, 8 TDs
LT Walt Suggs
LG Bob Talamini
C Wayne Frazier
RG Sonny Bishop
RT Rich Michael
LDE Gary Cutsinger • 1 INT
LDT Bud McFadin
RDT Ed Husmann
RDE Don Floyd
LLB Johnny Baker
MLB Doug Cline
RLB Danny Brabham
LCB Tony Banfield • 3 INT
RCB W.K. Hicks • 9 INT
LS Jim Norton • 7 INT
RS Fred Glick • 2 INT
Gone from the lineup were Bill Tobin (HB), Bob McLeod (TE), Willard Dewveall (WR), Bob Schmidt (C), Hogan Wharton (RG), Jim Dudley Meredith (LDT), Mike Dukes (RLB), Bobby Jancik (RCB), and Gene Babb (MLB).
Along with the new head coach, Houston fans hoped these changes would be enough to return the Oilers to greatness, but they would not.
UP NEXT – The 1965 Season, Part 4
Ed Wetterman is a native Houstonian and lifelong Oiler fan/historian. He is a teacher, genealogist, game creator, and writer who lived and died on Sundays with the Oilers. Ed has created many games such as “East Texas University: Degrees of Horror” and written short stories such as “HellFighter,” published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Football has always been one of his greatest passions. He experienced the highs and the lows of being an Oiler fan, and like many others, he was crushed when the Oilers left Houston. Writing for Miss Ya Blue! gives him an outlet for his Columbia Blue love.
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