The eighty-nine eleven goes to Exeter on Saturday of this week. Before they start it may be well for the college to have some idea of the team which will represent Harvard in the game with the strongest of the school elevens. The freshmen have labored under some disadvantages this year that former teams have not had to contend against. The want of a university eleven to practice against, and from which to get points, has been strongly felt. The upper-class elevens have done their best to remedy this difficulty; but as they are themselves trying candidates for different positions, there is necessarily much loose play. While this could not have been helped there are other matters wherein eighty-nine has not done all that might be expected of her. Last year the freshman eleven began playing at three, played steadily till four against a second freshman team, and then played from half an hour to an hour against the university. This year eighty-nine makes no use at all of the hour between three and four, so that they play but one hour a day as against the two that eighty-eight played. Moreover, the freshmen do not turn out in anything like sufficient numbers. There ought to be fifteen or twenty men out every day, and yet time and again not more than six or seven have put in an appearance. More especially is this true since the game with Southboro, which seems to have discouraged them instead of inciting them to work all the harder.
The chief fault with the team play is listlessness and carelessness. Too many of the men play as if they were out there to amuse themselves, and as if it did not make any difference whether they worked or not. They do not block hard, nor break through with any life, and they are very slow about lining up. None of them seem to have any idea about blocking off the other side when their own half backs make a rush, and when a rusher does get the ball, he generally loses it, either when he is tackled, or by reckless passing. There is plenty of passing done, altogether too much in fact, for the chief idea of the man with the ball seems to be to throw the ball away when he is caught, in the vain hope of one of his own side getting it; but of good backing up and of real careful passing there is almost none. There is a fairly heavy rush line, the three centre men Trafford, Morse, and Markoe being especially heavy, but they do not make the most of their weight, and are slow in their movements, though Trafford is playing well and bids fair to make a really good rusher. Woodbury, the captain, is playing end rush at present. He blocks hard and tackles fairly well. Morgan, on the other end, plays a sharp, quick game with a good deal of snap. He is weak in blocking, and labors besides under the disadvantage of being very light. The other two rushers at Southboro were McKean and Newell, though since then McKean has been playing full back. Newell has a bad trick of bunting the man with the ball instead of tackling him. McKean in the rush line, did not work hard enough and seemed to lose his head, faults which he could easily remedy. As full back he seems to prefer to catch the ball on the bounce than on the fly, a remarkable thing to do. He tackles fairly well, but too high Austin, the quarter back, fills his position very well. He is quick and a fast runner, and makes many brilliant plays.
The half backs, Perkins and Scott, both tackle well, Scott especially so, getting his man around the waist nearly every time. Their kicking is rather below the average of freshman half backs. Their great fault is their seeming inability to catch the ball. It is rather the exception than the rule when they catch a ball kicked over by the opposite half backs. This is a very serious fault, and one which is perfectly inexcusable, as it can be overcome by constant practice. Perry has been playing full back. His catching is poor, and his tackling only fair. He may improve with practice; but as he is a very fast runner, it would seem that his proper place was in the rush line, where his speed would prove very serviceable.
If the team really wishes to make anything out of the material at its disposal, and have any chance against Andover and the class elevens, it must make up its mind to work hard, and not to take things in a happy-go-lucky style.
Above all, the men on the team and all those who have not yet succeeded in getting on, should remember that no one's place is safe if he does not work. At present the men seem to think that as they play a little better than the unsuccessful candidates, they are sure to remain on the team. The captain ought to be doing his best all the time to work up new men, and the old men should be dismissed at once if they get into loose habits of playing.