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The preliminary season of most of the big college football teams closed last Saturday; and although the final standing of the teams depends to a large extent on their development between now and the big games, they have played enough so that a fair comparison of them may be drawn.
So far the Yale team has made the best showing of any, having had little trouble in disposing of its opponents. The Harvard team, on the contrary, has developed slowly, and until the Williams game lacked life; and Princeton, whose brilliant backfield has rolled up large scores on a dry field, narrowly escaped a defeat at the hands of Lehigh, when they played on a muddy field.
In the line Yale has more experienced and seemingly better material than either Harvard or Princeton. D. Bomeisler and Gallauer, who will probably fill the end positions, have both been laid up for some time so it has been hard to get a line on their work. Walter Camp, Jr., and Avery, their substitutes, are good, but not at all remarkable. Scully and Paul at tackles, McDevitt and Francis or Tomlinson, at guards, and Ketcham at centre are a combination which for all around work will be hard for any team to equal. These men are big and fast, and have nearly all had at least a year's experience on the University squad.
In the backfield Yale has no one who can approach Pendleton and Sawyer of Princeton in open field running, or Wendell of Harvard in line plunging, but they have a wonderful quarterback in Captain Howe. When he is out of the game, the team is perceptibly slower than when he is running it.
There has been one serious fault with the Yale team this fall, and it is a fault which must be remedied before the hard West Point game on Saturday. That is fumbling. Time and again in the early games the backfield has fumbled at critical points, and the team has only saved itself through the weakness of its opponents.
Unlike Yale, Princeton has a weak line. On the offensive they are unable to open holes for the backfield, or even to prevent the opposing linemen from sifting through and breaking up end plays. Unless this weakness can be done away with before the harder games, the fast open plays on which the Princeton offence depends will be unable to get started.
Taken all in all, at its present stage of development the Princeton team is too one-sided to be good. There is no doubt that it has the speediest backfield combination in the East and a pair of first class ends; but it has absolutely no good line plunger, and with the line unable to protect their attack, the backfield cannot be effective.
In the Williams game Harvard for the first time this season showed a backfield which seemed to be better balanced than either the Yale or Princeton combinations. Wendell who is a certainty at half-back is unequalled as a line plunger, and with him, as all around backs, may be found at the end of the season almost any two of five or six men. Potter, while not up to Howe of Yale, as a quarterback, is a dependable man. Smith at end is better than any one Yale or Princeton can show, and Felton or Howard will make a satisfactory runningmate for him; but with the exception of Captain Fisher the line seems weaker than at Yale. The majority of the men are new, however, and a little more experience will probably strengthen them.
Of the other teams which Harvard will play this season, Brown appears to be the strongest. The material is the best in years, but it has not been rounded into a smooth team as yet. Sprackling, at quarter, is easily the star of the team, and puts a great deal of life into the men. The line does not seem to be strong on the defence, and although the large scores that Brown has rolled up against, its opponents would seem to indicate strong offensive work, a large part of the high scoring ability has been due to Sprackling's phenomenal work at quarter
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