In trying to prophesy the outcome of any big game, particularly a Harvard-Princeton game, more has to be considered than the ability of the two teams in that particular season. This is even more true this year than heretofore. At the beginning of the season the Princeton prospects on paper were not particularly good; Harvard prospects on paper were much better. As the situation now stands Harvard opposes a team coming up from the Jungle which has been thoroughly tried against Chicago and finds her own team as yet untried. I say "untried" because the Harvard team this year has never really been "up against it". It has not seen any of its opponents score one or two touchdowns and then come up from behind and beaten them. Any team which has accomplished this as Princeton did against Chicago is a thoroughly tried organization and a veteran team.
"IT'S UP TO YOU"
"Last fall, before the Yale game, it was my good fortune, along with other coaches, to witness the really remarkable demonstration of support and spirit that was behind the team shortly before the Yale game. I have seldom seen anything like it; and this same spirit unquestionably communicated itself to the players and everybody connected with the squad. The Harvard team this year needs just that sort of backing and unless it gets just that kind will have even a harder task on its hands than it has already. It is up to you as well as to them."
If we look back a little into football history and consider early season scores we will find that the Princeton preliminary season is very often, if not usually, poor until she strikes Harvard. Princeton has almost invariably played her best game against Harvard--usually better than when opposing Yale. Whether or not she has had a bad preliminary season makes not the slightest difference. It is worth while to remember that since the war Harvard has tied Princeton twice and been beaten once. I say that Harvard "tied" Princeton advisedly because that was about what happened. Harvard had to come from behind to prevent defeat.
Just why this is so can be readily understood if you will consider the type of game played by a Princeton team. They are perhaps the greatest gamblers on the gridiron. Against Chicago they took chances in the hardest possible situations and won when their team was ahead. Against Yale in 1921 they gambled again and won, by doing the least expected thing.
If the Chicago game can be taken as a sample, Princeton seems this year to have no outstanding stars unless Snively, Treat and Cleaves can be considered as such. Nevertheless, they have developed a fairly strong rushing attack. This was good enough to take them from Chicago's twenty yard line across their goal line on straight plays; yet Chicago had a good team and a big team. Princeton's overhead game is more than good--it is excellent and extremely dangerous. They have used it this year as well as in former years to put them within scoring distance and have usually succeeded. Using a widespread formation they have been able to gain big distances in pinches. Their kicking game has so far been excellent, with a good punter in Cleaves whose kicks are well covered by the ends. Princeton's defensive ability can best be judged by the fact of their holding the heavy Chicago team for downs on their own six inch line in the last quarter of that game.
"With Its Back Against the Wall"
Harvard has this year had no such severe tests as it had last year. The team has been scored on to be sure but has always been ahead at that time and never been really in the situation of having its "back against the wall' Just what it will be able to do when this situation occurs, as it undoubtedly will occur this afternoon, is difficult to say. The team started the season with a wealth of backfield material, most of which is intact for this game. The line was something of a problem but has been brought along so that it plays a good defensive game as was shown against Dartmouth. The downfield work of the line and ends under kicks has not been all that could be desired. With Princeton's ability to run back punts Harvard's downfield work will have to improve if Harvard is to hold her own in that department. The chief Harvard fault so far this year has apparently been lack of offensive drive and punch. Several times in earlier games, as well as in the Dartmouth game, the Harvard team has been held near the opponent's goal line. This is a bad sign in spite of the fact that on each such occasion incoming substitutes may have disorganized the attack somewhat. It will have to improve greatly if Princeton is to be scored on by a rushing attack. Harvard's passing offense so far this year has not been used to any great extent and certainly not with any great degree of success. The apparent weakness in this respect is simply a part of the whole offensive weakness. Defensively, the line has improved greatly but has had, in very few instances, to contend with the type of fast concerted rushing attack which it must encounter in the big games. The Dartmouth rushing attack often fell short of the strength which can be expected from now on and for this reason it is difficult to say whether the Harvard line defense will be adequate or not. If the Harvard line plays the game of which it is capable it probably can stop Princeton's rushing game and if this is the case there remains the problem of how to stop Princeton's passing attack and how to bottle up their so-called "surprise" plays. If our opponent's passing attack is not stopped, Harvard stands an excellent chance of being on the losing end as she was last year simply because one Princeton pass might get away for a score.
Has a Real Fight on Its Hands
There seems to be a sentiment in the college and certainly among some of the graduates to the effect that Harvard can easily beat Princeton this year. Just why this should be so is difficult to say, unless these would-be optimists are looking only at the teams on paper. Even this is difficult to explain after the Chicago game. Harvard has a good team with a better than average backfield but it is an untried organization. It has as yet this year not had a real fight on its hands and even at that has stumbled a good deal in its offensive work. Princeton, on the other hand has had a fight, it has a thoroughly tried and proven team and it has gambled against big odds and won. The chances are excellent that it can do so again and that it may even win without that unless the Harvard team shows us something in the way of offensive strength and fighting spirit which has not so far been shown.
Last fall, before the Yale game, it was my good fortune, along with the other coaches, to witness the really remarkable demonstration of support and spirit that was behind the team shortly before the Yale game. I have seldom seen anything like it; and this same spirit unquestionably communicated itself to the players and everybody connected with the squad. It played no small part in the result that followed in the game against Yale. I mention this simply to make you realize what a team can do with that sort of backing, just as I have cried to explain why the Harvard team this year needs just that sort of backing and unless it gets just that kind will have even a harder task on its hands han it has already. The difficulty of that task, the team realizes and you must also realize. It is up to you as well as to them