Crimson Defense Attack Crumbled Before Columbia
Saturday's football game at Baker Field indicated two things. Columbia's improved team will probably win most of its remaining games, while Harvard will be fortunate to add one triumph to its meagre total.
This last may be a bit hard to take, but the 10,000 people who sat in the 35-degree heat to see the Lions win, 35 to 0, would agree that the Crimson put on a definitely poor show. The visitors played far worse than they did in losing to Holy Cross by one less touchdown. Holy Cross, of course, has a much better team than Columbia.
In such a flasco as this game was, it makes little sense to isolate a single factor which prevented Harvard's winning; Columbia simply had a better team. But even allowing for the Light Blue's superiority, one can still observe familiar distressing flaws in Coach Lloyd Jordan's team.
The Crimson now pointing for its fourth game, still cannot tackle. It took the Lions a little time to prove this, but the lesson was driven home quite solidly when Lion Captain Howie Hanson took the ball on a fullback plunge and rumbled 36 yards for the first touchdown.
On a long gallop of this sort, nearly everyone on the defensive team gets at least one shot at the runner. This is especially true in the case of such a fairly slow man as Hansen. So, even allowing for the perfect block with which Wes Bomm took out safety man Red Wylie, one must concede that high grabs and out-flung arm tackles will not stop college backs.
This alarming inability to bring down enemy runners cropped up again in the third period. Lion halfback Vern Wynott took the ball on the Crimson five, bulled his way to the three, where he was apparently stopped. But the alleged stop was of the stand-up-and-push type, and Wynott slithered off to give Columbia six more points. Holy Cross had scored a touchdown in an identical way.
Dick Clasby's running sparked an early--and abortive--Crimson drive; he completed six of 18 passes, and his punting average was 35.5, a full yard better than the Lions' Tony Misho--third in the Ivy League last year.
But even the promising sophomore had his troubles. He shows no real ability to throw the long pass-his completions gained only 65 yards. And his punts, while long, were very low; so low that nobody was able to get down underneath them. As a result, the Lions were able to stage several long, and damaging runbacks.
But after Clasby's performance, some good running by Wylie, and sometimes good defensive performances by John Nichols, Bob Hardy, and Don Cass, the Crimson collapsed totally.
The line hardly charged at all, so that Columbia passer Mitch Price had time to shine his shoes before throwing. This threw an extra burden on the secondary, which allowed two touchdowns via the air lanes.
On one, Price had apparently decided that nobody was really clear, and seemed to be pitching the ball toward the sidelines, out of danger. But Dick Danneman of the Lions managed to slip away from his cover and turned a "wasted" throw of the Lions managed to slip away from his cover and turned a "wasted" throw into a 60-yard touchdown play.
Price was not exceptionally deceptive, but he seemed to be able to fool the Crimson without even trying. Once, for instance, he ran a play which started as a straight handoff to Hansen. But for some reason, Hansen neither took the ball nor faked receiving it. So Price, left with the ball, sailed off around right end for 35 yards. Only a fine stop by Wylie, the last man, saved a touchdown.
Unfortunately, four plays later, Price tossed to end Al Ward in the end zone. Ward, incidentally, booted all five extra points. On this play, he snaked through the pass defense and caught the ball unmolested.
What's wrong with the football team is that it consistently plays teams which have better players, and more of them. This applies particularly to the line, but also in great measure to the backfield.
After all, it was the defensive backs who missed passes and tackles so badly Saturday.