Although the Crimson team has not faced this fall the stiff opposition of last year, the schedule has by no means been of the easy variety of the 1919 and 1920 sort. The University eleven has kept a safe lead over each team that has invaded the Stadium this year, and, although scored upon by Centre and Dartmouth, was far enough ahead in both these contests to enable Coach Fisher to use 29 men in the former game and 22 in the latter. This year's schedule has given more opportunity for a greater number of men to gain experience in actual games, which may be of inestimable value to Coach Fisher in the contests today with Princeton and on November 25 with Yale.
No double header before the opening of College marked the beginning of the season this year, but instead the Crimson met Middlebury College in the initial encounter on September 30. The first string men appeared to good advantage in the first half of this game when they scored a touchdown in seven plays after the kick-off and a few moments later added six points more. As soon as Coach Fisher began putting his substitutes into play, however, Middlebury twice held the red-jerseyed team for downs and itself made four Arst downs in succession, only to have Pfaffman intercept a forward pass and run 75 yards for a touchdown.
Squad Cut to 45 Players.
A drastic shake-up in which five men were shifted and the squad cut to 45, occurred in the following week: at this time Fitts was moved to end, and Pfaffman was tried at quarter, in an attempt to find a capable substitute for Captain Buell.
The first two periods of the Holy-Cross game resulted in a 0 to 0 tie, when neither team showed any marked ability at ground-gaining, but at the close of the third period the Crimson machine began the first of three goalward marches that were responsible for the 20-0 victory.
Although the Bowdoin game food next on the schedule, the coaching force devoted a large part of its energies to preparation for the Centre and Dartmouth games. Captain Buell and Owen were kept out of the line-up, which enabled the men from the pine-tree state to halt repeatedly the Crimson rushes. At the end of the first quarter Pfaffman sent a low kick just over the cross-bar for the first score, after three line plunges had failed to gain the required distance. Bowdoin made a strong bid to tie the score, but Smith's 44-yard attempt for a field goal fell short and wide of its mark. At the start of the second half Chapin ran back a punt to within 23 yards of the vositors goal posts. An offside penalty and line plunges by Gehrke and Chapin resulted in the first touchdown. The second came after a punting duel with the Crimson finally gaining the upper hand when Chapin caught a punt at mid-field and returned it to the 43-yard line. Rouillard nearly broke through for a touchdown, but got no farther than the 15-yard line: here Gehrke fumbled but Lee recovered and ran until he was brought down with two yards to go. Rouillard then made the second touchdown and final score. Churchill missing the try for goal.
During the next week Coach Fisher sent the squad through several long scrimmages, but made no shifts in the line-up, and by Saturday, October 21, every man on the squad was physically fit again.
Colonels Faced Different Problem.
Thus it was that Centre faced a proposition of a character entirely different from that when the praying Colonels took the measure of the second string men a year ago for the Crimson was out to win, regardless of the effects on the line-up for the Dartmouth game. And win the regulars did, for in the first quarter they piled up a 21-point lead that even Centre's desperate come-back could not shake. After this the substitutes were put in, Centre recovered from stage fright, outrushed the Crimson for the rest of the game, and chalked up ten points before the contest was over.
The feature of the Colonel's play was a novel lock-step shift which netted fifty- two yards in one single drive down the field during the second period and culminated in Centre's first score on Covington's field goal. Late in the third quarter Coach Moran's men adopted the off-tackle attack against the right side of the Crimson line. When the teams changed positions at the start of the fourth period, Referee Quigley placed the ball less than a yard from the University's goal line. Here Roberts twice failed to penetrate the line as did Covington on his first try, but the latter, on the last down, skirted his line's left flank for Centre's touchdown. Lemon kicked the goal. Twice more the Kentuckians advanced deep into Crimson territory but lost the ball once on downs and again when a forward pass over the goal line failed. In the last 24 minutes of play Centre gained 136 yards against the Crimson's 36, as compared to the slight margin by which the red-jerseys led during the first half. Coach Fisher used 29 men in the contest, two of whom, Coburn and Hartley, received serious injuries.
Changes Before Dartmouth Game.
In the course of the next week the first team had one scrimmage with the Freshmen in addition to its usual practice with the black jerseys, while many first string men were resting up after the minor injuries they received in the Centre game. On the eve of the Dartmouth contest Coach Fisher decided to substitute Holder for Hartley, and Greenough for Dunker, but otherwise the line-up was the game as that which started the Centre game. When the Green invaded the Stadium for the first time since 1912, neither team showed any marked advantage. The heavy Dartmouth line repulsed the tremendous attacks of the Crimson backfield time and again, while the visitors' offence, with the exception of a brief and unsuccessful advance in the fourth period, was smothered beneath the University linesmen. In the aerial game, however, Coach Fisher's men obviously outshone their opponents, as it was the latter's weakness in this department that enabled Jenkins to block and recover the pass by Harris which resulted in the only touchdown of the afternoon. A protracted exchange of punts in the first quarter ended when Buell ran back a Dartmouth kick to the latter's 45-yard line. Owen, Gehrke, and Chapin advanced the pigskin to within 32 yards of the goal, where a stiffening Dartmouth defence forced Buell to try a drop-kick which, however, proved unsuccessful. The play had see-sawed back and forth in mid-field, with each side mising a field goal, when a short kick and a penalty gave the University team the ball on the Green's 25-yard mark. A short pass and a line plunge gained first down, but the opposition strengthened, and Buell, trying for the third time, sent the ball between the posts for the first score. In the third quarter Chapin made a fair catch and Owen sent across a placement for three points more. After the teams had changed positions at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Neidlinger booted a perfect 48-yard placement kick over the goal posts. Somewhat later, when the Green was advancing in mid-field, Harris fell back unprotected to make a pass. Jenkins rushed in from his end, knocked the ball up in the air just as it left Harris's hand, and caught it again as a second Crimson player took out Harris Jenkins, accompanied by his interferers, then raced over the goal-line for the final score, since Buell missed the try for goal.
The Dartmouth game showed that the Crimson was quick to make the most of an opponent's error, but that it was weak in the work of its ends, and to a much less degree, in unified line play. In its aerial game, however, the team showed precision, and a slight departure from its usual tactics, when Buell, on his own 20-yard line, let loose an unexpected pass to Chapin for a ten yard gain.
Substitute Team Downs Florida.
Preparation for the Florida game of necessity held a place of minor importance during the ensuing week, since all eyes were fixed on today's encounter with Princeton. Team B started against the southerners and team C was sent in before the contest was over. Not one of the men who was in the opening line-up against Centre ran onto the field at the beginning of the Florida game. High points of the play were Churchill's 90-yard run-back of the opening kick-off for a touchdown, and Dickson's remarkable punts, which were responsible more than anything else for keeping the University in mid-field during the second period. Hammond's consistent kicking, as well as the two goals which he sent over after the touchdowns and one from the field, featured for the University Churchill's dazzling run, however, so definitely decided the final outcome that the rest of the game was quite colorless.
One of the points apparent from analysis of the season is that the Crimson has not yet met any excellent opposition and is consequently still practically an untried machine as respects a prediction as to how much power it can show against the Tigers today. With its experienced backfield, there is little question but that 'its offensive will prove wholly capable of its task. The doubt arises as to how strong the defence will prove to be against the onslaughts of such runners as Cleaves, Crum, and Caldwell.
Perhaps the greatest weakness of the eleven is its lack of excellent ends. The wing men, although not by any means consistently weak have failed to show as high a standard in their regular play as the rest of the team. But the recent practices have done much to eradicate this weakness, and the game this afternoon may show it to have disappeared entirely