Benham Threatens Favored Crimson Eleven
Line, Running Give Visitors Edge; Lions Seek Season's First Win
Columbia Coach Lou Little will send his last Lion team out onto Baker Field today trying to wreck the dreams of Crimson fans. Two men in particular, Claude Benham and Ed Spraker, will threaten the visitors' new-found prosperity, for it is on them that the Light Blue's attack depends.
Little's team has lost eleven straight, and this could be the afternoon to break that string, for Benham is the leading passer in the Ivy League and Spraker is a good runner and pass receiver.
Besides the significance this game has for Columbia, whose students are upset to the point that they complain of poor recruiting by the alumni, this game may go a long way toward clarifying the status of the visitors. This Harvard team was questionable at the outset, disappointing in losing to Tufts, and then startling and gratifying in routing Cornell.
Chance for Title
A convincing victory over the Lions would certainly rank the Crimson among the top contenders for the Ivy League crown, but a defeat or a narrow win would relegate the team to consideration as just another up-and-down Harvard eleven.
Columbia, despite its winless record, gave Yale quite a scare last Saturday, and its style of offense should test the improving Crimson line severely. For Benham will not be so easily rushed as some other quarterbacks; remarkably cool, he fades back and prefers to eat the ball rather than throw it away.
Spraker is a hard-running right halfback who is also one of Benham's favorite receivers, along with end Ron Szczypkowski. His is the main running threat in the Columbia offense, which will be augmented by the return of Captain Art Wilson to the left half back spot.
Of Benham, Crimson coach Lloyd Jordan has said, "Only rain, lightning and thunder can stop him." Unfortunately for the Crimson, the forecast for New York today is fair, with the temperature between 60 and 65.
Brief hope that Benham might not have to be worried about was raised yesterday with a report that he was injured and would not play. But Coach Lou Little said yesterday morning in New York that while he had an injured leg muscle and had not worked out till Thursday, he definitely would start and go as far as he could.
In part, the Crimson's response to Benham's presence will be, once again, to rush him, for the weather forecast seems not to meet Jordan's specifications.
The other aspect of the visitors' game will be to keep control of the ball, preferably in enemy territory. Although right halfback Jim Joslin will be out with an injured knee, Ron Eikenberry can be counted on for effective work in his spot.
The remainder of the Crimson backfield that started against Cornell will be intact. Walt Stahura, who enjoyed the best game of his career, will be at left half, Tony Gianelly, who plunged for the third touchdown against the Big Red, will be at fullback, and Matt Botsford will once again direct the attack at quarterback.
To judge from this week's practices and the Cornell game, the Crimson can be expected to pass more often than in recent seasons. Both Stahura, Botsford, and substitute quarterback John Simourian will do the throwing, with ends phil Haughey and Tom Hooper the favorite receivers, along with Eikenberry and Stahura.
The passing attack, along with a powerful ground game that piled up over 250 yards in Ithaca, should give the Crimson a better balanced offense than Columbia. Gianely's plunging and Stahura's runs off tackle feature this aspect of the Crimson attack.
Same Crimson Line
In the line, Jordan will stick to the same players who started against the Big Red. Captain Ted Metropoulos will anchor the line at left guard, and Marv Lebovitz, bumped against Cornell, will again play center. Big Harold Anderson will open at right guard, and Bob Shaunessy and Dave Schein will go at left and right tackle respectively. Haughey and Hooper will be the ends.
The bookmakers' line figures the Crimson an eleven and a half point favorite, and while this may be a slight exaggeration, the figure could easily be higher. Benham's uncertain physical shape and a rapidly improving Crimson line may very well halt the Lion attack. A weak Light Blue line in turn may allow the Crimson backfield to score as frequently as it did against cornell. The two factors the Crimson fear most are overconfidence and Benham; the first has been not much in evidence, the last will be all too apparent