For the first time all year a Soldiers Field policeman yesterday asked reporters for identification before admitting them to practice. "Well okay," he told one grudgingly, "it's all right as long as you're not Cornell.
He wasn't the only one taking today's game very seriously. Head coach John Yovicsin sent his team through a 75-minute practice, unusually long for the day before a game, though perfectly in keeping with the rigorous schedule he set for the Crimson this week.
However, he will still be sending his first Crimson team into its first game as a 12-point underdog to a Cornell squad that almost beat Colgate last week before bowing, 14 to 13, in the closing seconds. The game will begin at 2 p.m. in the stadium.
Cornell will be seeking to avenge last year's surprise defeat, when the Crimson upset the Big Red, 32 to 7, at Ithaca. The biggest gun in the Cornell arsenal will be the running of fleet halfback Bo Roberson, particularly around the ends. But Yovicsin, who watched Cornell's game last Saturday, does not class the Big Red as predominantly a running team. He points out that Tom Skypeck's passing gives the Ithacans an effective, balanced attack.
For his part, Yovicsin will have only 33 men ready to play, the smallest opening day squad in recent years. Neither of his second-team ends, Hal Keohane and Stu Hershon, will be available. Keohane was rushed to a hospital yesterday with a suspicion of appendicitis, and Hershon will be observing Yom Kippur. Another end, John Soucek, will be in uniform but will not play. All the other players will be ready, although sophomore center Carl Framke, still out of condition after an appendectomy, will probably not see action.
The Crimson line will outweigh the Big Red's by 14 pounds, averaging 207 to 193 for the visitors. But the Crimson forward wall is not as fast as Cornell's, and scrimmages have shown decided weaknesses at center and left guard.
The Crimson will probably throw more passes than most of its recent predeces- sors in the Stadium, and quarterback Walt Stahura will do most of the pitching, besides handling the punting and some running chores. The sort of day Stahura has, combined with the protection his line can give him, may very well determine the outcome of the game.
Chet Boulris, last year's freshman scoring leader, will start at left halfback. A hard runner, Boulris is also a good pass receiver. Don Gerety will go at right half; the lightest of the Crimson backs (175 pounds), Gerety shows much speed. Sophomore Sam Halaby, who, like Gerety, has advanced to the first team since the Williams scrimmage, will open at fullback.
Behind this foursome, Yovicsin will have Dick McLaughlin and Ron Johanson at quarterback; Charles Leamy and Marsh Levin at left half; Albie Cullen and Bill Crowley at right half; and Stan Merkel, Dave Cappiello, and Tony Marlow at fullback.
Only at tackle will the Crimson line have any real depth today. Behind veterans Bob Shaunessy and Pete Briggs the Crimson will have letterman Dave Schein and big Jack Foker. But at end John Copeland and Captain Tom Hooper will have to do most of the work, as Hershon, Soucek, and Keohane will be unavailable.
Hal Anderson and Tom Hill will start at the guards, and Glen Nelson, Chauncey Walker and Pete Eliades will spell them. Eliades may see double duty, for he can be used behind Bob Foster and Tedo Francis at center.
The squad is in high spirits for this Ivy League opener, and unless injuries exploit the lack of depth, it could upset the odds. One distinct advantage the Crimson will enjoy is that of familiarity; Harvard has been watching Lefty James' football for quite a few years, and did see this team in action last Saturday, while Yovicsin's brand will be new to the Ithacans. James frankly said yesterday that he was not too sure what to expect, although he imagined that the Crimson's weight advantage up front would indicate a running attack.
But it was pass defense that let Cornell