A review of Michigan's work on the gridiron so far this season brings to light a team which has been fairly successful despite the tremendous handicap with which lack of experienced material and injuries to the star players burdened the eleven.
At the outset most of the available material was totally lacking in any experience whatsoever, but four men on the squad having ever played in a college football contest. The biggest problem which confronted Coach Yost at this period of the season was the formation of a dependable line. One regular, Captain Raynsford, constituted the entire nucleus about which the forward defence had to be constructed. At this time the backfield had every indication of being strong, fast and powerful, with individual stars aiding it particularly. Hughitt, at quarter, was the best man who had ever filled this position in the football history of Michigan. Galt, Catlett, Splawn and Maulbetsch were struggling for positions in a backfield combination which was to be the mainstay of the eleven's chances. Splawn showed decided ability in drop-kicking; Galt and Catlett were fast and clever dodgers; Maulbetsch's line plunging was a revelation, and Hughitt had the judgment and ability to handle the most capable backfield.
What standard of a team Coach Yost could develop from a squad which was so evidently lacking in line material while possessing such splendid backfield men was a question. The University waited with anxiety for the first scheduled contest in order that they might judge the team's worth and learn the style of game in which Michigan was to specialize. A scrub game between a tentative university team and the supposed second string men served only to mark the difference in quality which would eixst between the line and the backfield of the regular team when it had been definitely chosen. Coach Yost then gathered together the men who seemed to have fight and weight and drilled into them the rudiments of the game. To what extent he has succeeded in his efforts to develop a line from green material will be apparent when Michigan's forward defence will be forced to stop the University's attack today, for injuries have not taken from the strength of the eleven's line.
In the first game of the season Michigan's backfield played brilliantly, ripping up De Pauw's line and skirting her ends, until her total of points mounted up to 58. The line showed promise, for the men fought hard and held DePauw scoreless although their playing at times was noticeably crude.
The following Saturday Michigan completely overwhelmed Case College, using an open running attack which scored almost at will. Catlett, Splawn and Maulbetsch formed a backfield driven by Hughitt, which had power, speed, and drive. The line continued to improve, prospects were correspondingly brighter.
The team continued its effective work against the Mt. Union eleven, easily winning a game in which the new style of play predominated by a score of 27 to 7.
The Vanderbilt eleven presented the hardest attack which the Michigan line had so far been called upon to diagnose, but the men played low and fiercely and kept the southern team away from the goal-line. The backfield had little difficulty in scoring when a touchdown was necessary and Michigan came out victorious 23 to 3.
First Blow to Team.
The first blow to the team came when the physicians decided that it would be impossible for Galt, the veteran runningmate of Craig, to play this season. He had been on the injured list since the first week of practice, but the coaches had still hoped that he might be in condition to play in the later games of the season.
The Michigan Agricultural College opposed the western college with a heavy team. Fighting throughout every minute of a hard game Michigan managed to nose out a 3 to 0 victory. Splawn, the halfback, demonstrated his ability as a drop-kicker by scoring on a pretty field-goal, thus giving his team a victory. Hughitt, the quarterback was injured and without his generalship the team seemed lost.
Outplayed in every department the western team went down to defeat before Syracuse last Saturday. In fairness to the men it must be said that the eleven did not play up to standard. Two of the regulars were injured and had to be withdrawn from the contest; without them the men neglected all team-work and gave a good illustration of the disconcerted attack of an eleven in the throes of stage-fright. Splawn injured his elbow badly in the game and all of the men were badly battered up.
The men who appear in the Stadium today are not in the best of condition; the chances are that neither Splawn nor Hughitt will be able to last throughout the entire game. Hosts of easterners are eagerly looking forward to the insight into Coach Yost's ability to form a first class eleven out of inexperienced material, which today's game will afford.