Inexperience, Slowness Beat Eleven in Opener
Performance in Columbia Defeat Indicates Winning Teams Still Several Years Off
The most encouraging thing that can be said about the football team's exhibition on Saturday in that the Crimson showed, in embrye, many of those qualities which could produce a successful season within the next two or three years.
It will be a long, hard climb, however, for Harvard must face teams with more effective defenses than Columbia; and quarterbacks possessing even greater deception and passing ability than Mitchell Prince will direct more powerful offenses.
Still, the Crimson displayed potentialities, and it remain to be seen whether the coaches can develop them. John West, who scored the losers' touchdown on a four-year buck over right guard, confirmed what everybody already know that he is a very strong fullback who can gain ground just about every time he is given ground just about every time he is given the hall. Dave Warden, the right halfback, also came through with some commendable running and on several occasions proved himself a first-class target for Carroll Lowenstein's Passes.
But the efficiency with which West, Warden, and tailback Phil Isenberg operate can be substantially increased by an improved brand of blocking. There were few times Saturday when a Crimson hall carrier did not have to clude or pull himself away from at least one tackler before reaching the line of scrimmage. Nor did the line provide Lowenstein with consistently good protection; twice, opposing linemen were able to reach up and bat down his passes.
By and large, Harvard's tackling was fierce and somewhat improved over last year's. But there were also many one-armed tackles, and these will not work against backs like Army's. The Crimson's most able lineman seemed to be Dike Hyde, defensive left end. He covered his territory well and Columbia's success in gaining yardage inside Hyde was largely due to the fact that the rest of the left side was being pushed to the right. Dick Heidtmann, defensive guard, played opposite the Lions Gerry Audette and showed much promise. He made many stops outside his area, although he often drifted with the play rather ran covering his zone.
Some of the mistakes are losers made can be attributed to inexperience. When a fullback dives over the middle of the line, it does little good for a defensive lineman to submarine and then not stand up. Also, the Crimson pass defense showed a tendency to float back with the deep receivers, usually leaving a man clear in the flat. And frequently Columbia receivers got beyond the Harvard defenders; fortunately, on these occasions, the passes were thrown elsewere.
Offensively, Lowenstein's play-calling left much to be desired. Next to West, the Crimson's most effective weapon was the forward pass, and Lowenstein did not seem to exploit it so often as he might have. When he did pass, it was in fairly obvious pass situations--and the Columbia defense was ready.
Harvard's single-wing, which was highly effective in the fourth period against the Lions' second string defense, does not certain a real passing threat, so it cannot be used exclusively. But when what formation was working well and Harvard had fourth down, three to go on the Columbia 16-yard line, it seems Gil O'Neil might better have given the ball to West on the single-wing rather than Warden on the T. As it was, Warden made one yard and Harvard lost possession.
Finally, Harvard felt the lack of speed, both on offense and defense. After the game, Lou Little, the Columbia coach, remarked that "the game of football is built on speed today." Lioyd Jordan looked a the floor and muttered: "You gotta have it."