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The following article on foot ball is an extract from the second letter on that topic to the January number of Outing. It is written by J. H. Sears, captain of the eleven for the ensuing year:-
"Foot-ball has changed this year, as it has from year to year for the past decade, in most of its minor points. The game is very susceptible of these changes, and is constantly becoming more and more a contest that necessitates head work far superior to that of our other sports; and as this necessity grows the disagreeable feature of roughness decreases, As the "slugging" disappears, another feature of the game comes into notice. Eleven men working as one can do more than eleven men working individually. If the quarterback by his signals lets each man on his team know just who is going to take the ball and where he is going to run with it or kick it, each one of the eleven can then take part in every play and give effectual aid to the man who has the ball. Princeton had this team play well arranged. Their signals told the whole team what the play was to be, and, as the scrimmage was made, every one played to help. The trouble with their team play was that it centred around three men instead of eleven. Yale's play was not centred as Princeton's, and the team did not work so nearly as an individual; but the superior playing of each man in the rush line made up for any lack of team play. That is, the Yale team as it was this year had the opportunity of doing better work than it did. Four or five of the rush line are undoubtedly the finest foot-ball rushers in America, if not in any other country. They played hard and recklessly, but unlike most other rushers they did not play without head.
"Many have been the complaints from the graduates of all the colleges that the teams did not kick enough. "Just think what you gain by a kick!" is a very common phrase, and the spectators are sure to raise a shout as the ball rises over the heads of the players, and goes-to the other side. Harvard kicked very little this year. She might have kicked more; she could scarcely have kicked less. Princeton has always been famous for good kickers, and she had a good one this year in her full-back. Yale kicked more than either. There is no doubt that a team must be able to kick well, very well-kick within a few feet of the point desired-and run well, to win the championship of American colleges; yet running is the offensive play and kicking in most cases is used as the best means of getting out of a bad situation. The kick is almost always a defensive play, and is very much in the nature of a last resort.
"There is one exception-the goal from the field. It is often the case that the team reaches the opponents' ten-yard line, and is there stopped. Harvard did this several times this year. The pressed team is put on the defensive. Half-backs, quarter-back and sometimes full-back go up into the line. Four men are uncovered and prepared to get through or tackle. The team that has but ten yards to make suddenly finds it has not five yards in three "downs." Then is the time when kicking may win the game. Goals from the field, however, have no connection with the other kicking in a game.
"The running game underwent a change this year. Princeton, last year, ran her half backs between the ends and the tacklers. This year they ran around the end. Having the same men they did better this year, and learned that they were better adapted, considering themselves and the rush lines they were to meet, to run around the end than to try the inside so often. Yale's half-backs were the weak point in the team, and consequently were not used until the game was partly played and the general strength of the opposing team ascertained. Harvard's half-backs were the strongest and were used the most. Being larger and heavier men they ran through the end-and-tackle hole rather than around. They were not built for dodging, but for straight, strong running. It may be doubted whether the positions of the half-backs, so near the quarter as they were on all the teams this year, were advisable. Yale put her men further out than either of the others, but the tendency was to stand close in to the quarter-back and run out diagonally to the fair line. It largely depends on the nature of the opposing rush-line and the quality of the end rushers.
"As a result of the year it is evident that foot-ball has taken a higher standing. It tends constantly towards hard, cool, individual play on the part of every man, the whole centered in the field captain or quarter-back. Princeton was not weaker than in previous years, but the others were stronger. Her eleven played their usual strong, well-practiced game, but the individual men with two or three exceptions were not equal to her opponents. Yale, as she always does, sent a team into the field with a dogged determination to win, and as always they played a magnificent game of foot-ball. Harvard used her experience of last year and made a great improvement, but the men had not learned the need of desperate work at a pinch that must be learned in order to win in a game where so many are engaged and the teams are so equal. The Harvard team in playing with only two men back of the rush line, when the other side had the ball, made a departure in the game that has been advised for many years, and predicted as an effective placing of the men. That it was a success is not at all certain. To make the arrangement a success the two backs must be players practically sure of never making a slip of any kind, and this was not true of them this year.
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