When college opened in New Haven this fall, the outlook for the football season was certainly disheartening. During the summer Capt. Rodgers had been taken ill with typhoid fever and his continued weakness necessitated the appointment of a temporary captain in his stead. Benjamin, last year's halfback, accordingly took charge of the men. Of the '96 eleven only Rodgers, Benjamin, Chadwick, Chamberlin, Conner and Hine returned this fall, and it was thought that only four of these men would be able to play. There was a good deal of very raw material to work upon but no stars and no men who stood out in the beginning as well adapted for particular positions. The problem then was to develop a team and by constantly changing its make up to weed out the best men and settle on the positions which they were best fitted to occupy. An example of the way this has worked is the case of Chamberlin. He played at centre last year but is considered to have been too light for the position, and it was thought he would develop into a good back. So this year he was first played at full then at half; from there changed to end and finally settled into tackle where he has proved a decided success.
It has been very fortunate for the university that Butterworth has been able to take charge of the work of coaching and remain with the team through the season. He has followed a certain policy consistently and the situation today proves his wisdom in the choice of it. He has worked wonders with the unformed mass of material placed in his hands, and he has shown the veterans that to retain their positions they must give conclusive evidence of deserving them.
The games early in the season gave little chance for judging the strength of the team because of the constant changes in the line-up. The Brown game showed Yale's lamentable weakness in defense and also her strength in straight-away offensive football. During the week following the game with Brown the work was confined to strengthening the line and the whole defensive play. The result of this was encouragingly apparent in the Carlisle Indian game. Yale's defense was much stronger but still far from perfect. The week before the West Point contest was used in practicing a method for breaking up mass plays, but the work went for nothing when the team lined up against the Cadets. Saturday's game with the Chicago Athletic Association on the other hand demonstrated that the university eleven can play hard, fast football both offensive and defensive. If the standard set on Saturday can be maintained, Yale men feel that at the least they can give Harvard a fairly close and exciting contest.
The general team play might be summed up somewhat as follows: The offensive work is encouraging. The eleven has been kept on straight football until they are better drilled than the average green team. If they can learn the more concentrated mass plays and better their defense in the short time remaining they will develop into a strong aggregation.
Yale's ends are probably the weakest positions on the line today, and can scarcely be compared with Cabot of Harvard or Cochran of Princeton. With Cadwalader at centre, Brown and Marshall the guards, and Rodgers and Chamberlin as tackles, the rest of the line should make a fair showing. Behind the line, quarterback is still in some doubt, but DeSaulles will probably play the position, McBride at fullback has made steady improvement throughout the season. His strong points are line bucking, interference and good (though at times unsteady) punting. The halfback positions are apparently as unsettled as they were a week ago. Benjamin, Corwin, Kiefer, Dudley, Marvin and Shattuck have all been played during the past week.
The company of coaches at the field during the past week has been the largest seen there for years and several have materially strengthened the college side by lining up with them and taking active part in the practice.
Yale has a serious handicap to overcome this year. Her men are all young and inexperienced players and have the consequent tendency to fumble and get rattled, which may be very costly in the big games. She has, however, material which is bound to develop in another year into a strong and aggressive team.