Men of Dartmouth are usually optimistic, often over-optimistic, about their athletic prowess. But current word out of the Hanover hill-country has it that, if the Indians don't overcome Harvard by a fair margin today, they won't win another game this season.
This unusual and refreshing modesty is not altogether unfounded. To date Tuss McLaughry's team has played some pretty fair football and in so doing has upset both Army and Syracuse. But it has also dropped two games decisively to the not surpassingly strong teams of Fordham and Pennsylvania. And the remaining schools on McLaughry's schedules are Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and Princeton-none of whom are expected, even by the most ardent Hanoverian, to roll over and play dead.
The trouble is basic. The Big Green is a bit green. Starting this season, McLaughry had lost, through graduation, his entire starting backfield of last season, and all but one man of his first offensive line. Men like Johnny Clayton and Bill Roberts are not easy to replace. But Dartmouth's McLaughry has a long history of manufacturing a temporary something out of a seemingly permanent nothing. This year's Indians are no exception, looking progressively better in each succeeding game.
With Clayton, the most popular bootlegger since Prohibition, irretrievable. McLaughry has been shuffling and dealing three substitute quarterbacks into his winged T. One of them, temporary first stringer, is sophomore Jim Miller, a fair runner and one passer, but totally unreceptive. Another is the more experienced Gone Howard, who is a good ball-handler but throws what must be intercollegiate football's most wobbly pass. The third senior Dick Brown, is neither so deceptive as Howard nor so accurate a pitcher as Miller.
Favorite target for McLaughry's mounds men is six-four senior John McDonald, a right end with a startling talent for cutting to his left, feinting opposition backers-up out of position, and receiving the ball, without either breaking stride or being unduly molested. Dave Thielscher, on the other side of the line, is not quite so gifted on offense. Thielscher, quite fast for his size, goes both ways and will often pull out of the line in a 7-1-2-1 defense to become an outstanding pass defender.
The Indians are pretty well set in rapid right halfbacks, notably diminutive (165 pound) Dick Collins and javelinace A1 Reich. Both are used extensively as pass receivers, and Collins' speed in an open field is a pleasure to watch--from the Dartmouth side of the Stadium.
With experienced and swift Charlie Curtis relegated largely to defensive duties. Tom (no relation) Collins is Dartmouth's leading left half. Only five pounds heavier than his namesake, he is an entirely different type of runner--a heavy-duty ball carrier who serves on quick-openers through the line. Behind him is a slightly slower man named Russ Small.
With power-runner John Foster injured in the Army game, sophomore Dick jennison has been trained into an acceptable and bull-like fullback. A favorite Indian play is the hard-to-stop screen pass from quarterback Miller to fullback Jennison, the latter protected by fully half of his teammates.
Standouts in Dartmouth's line, with Captain Bill Vesprini still sidelined by an injury, are substitute center Mike Papanteones and running guard Bill Thornton.
The 1951 Indians have a fair amount of raw material and a pretty good coach. This combination can be recommended as an almost sure cure for the brief splurge of pessimism in western New Hampshire.