"They'll spin without getting dizzy."
That was Art Valpey's comment when asked if he thought his football team would be able to execute the Michigan plays with the precision they demand. The new head-coach hasn't talked much yet, but when he says something, he generally says the right thing.
He is pleased with the progress of the team, as it rounds out its next-to-last week of spring practice. He is surprised at the amount of spirit shown by everyone. Candidates started the training period with so much pep that Valpey had to tone down practice sessions, keeping them quiet as possible, so that players could concentrate on absorbing the fundamentals of the Crisler system.
The new system is built on the "drawing" theory--pull a man out of position and confuse him so that he can't do anything positive, and his size is immaterial. "Fool 'em, don't bounce 'em," says Valpey. Of course, when the other team has the ball, you've got to bounce 'em. That is why every afternoon Valpey has his men belting each other around the practice field near Dillon Field House. "We're in the bumping stage now," he says, "and it's all boom-boom-boom till you get it."
Red Versus Green
Guinea pigs in the bumping phase are the "Greenies", a group of hard-working, if unsensational lads who wear grass-green, intramural jerseys and do their best to halt the various Varsity units. So far, only one of these men, end Jerry Bahn, who played Jayvee ball last fall, has come close to stopping the red-team running plays. Occasionally, when they take over possession of the ball, either on downs, or through interceptions or fumbles, the Green players get a chance to run their own attack. Scrimmages are rugged. "It's funny," muses Valpey, "how many of the boys have already discovered there are other things they'd rather do than play football. But if you think this is rough, wait till next fall."
Must Hit With Shoulders
What the head coach and his aides hope their men develop is the shoulder tackle. "They're not hitting with their shoulders yet," Valpey says, "and until you do that, you're not going to make many clean tackles."
Who looks good? Valpey isn't mentioning names. "We can make anybody look great for three plays," he says when asked if he doesn't think such-and-such a back is running like a combination rhino-gazelle. "It wouldn't be fair to the boys to name names at this stage of the game. There's no lineup. We're sorting 'em and changing 'em around."
Freshmen Face Hard Fight
One more seems likely: that probably not more than one sophomore (possibly tackle John Kristopik) will be in the starting lineup next October 2. Enough men have returned from last year's Varsity and Jayvee squads. It is silly, though, to speculate on the actual eleven players who will line up for opening kickoff next fall. Too many question marks and too few exclamation point's exist now.
A rundown sounds like the preview for a soap-opera sequence. Will Nick Rodis' weak knee stand up under hard running? Will the injured bone in Chuck Glynn's hand heal? What effect will Jim Kenary's appendectomy have on his football future? Will Chip Gannon and Tom Guthrie be able to catch up on the fundamentals they have missed so far?
Kenary's case is perhaps the most important. One of the best natural athletes this College has seen in a long time Kenary is supposed to help determine what kind of season the Crimson enjoys this year. He won't play any more football this spring. Which means that Valpey, who apparently figured on using Moffie and Kenary in the same backfield may now have to shift Moffie from fullback to tailback, where Kenary has been working.
Opinion at the Varsity Club is that Kenary will bounce back from the operation he underwent Monday night at Peter Bent Brigham and be ready to go come next fall. "It's easy to get soft and fat after an operation like that," one player commented. "Why just during the winter layoff Jimmy went from 185 to 198 pounds. But he plays baseball out in Worcester during the summer. That'll probably get him back into shape."