In a fit of perverse pessimism early in the season, we contrived a ten dollar bet that Harvard would not win four or more football games this season. Since then, Lloyd Jordan's astonishing amateurs have played some fine football on occasion to win three of those four contests--with the Elis to go.
We didn't worry about the money until last Saturday when we journeyed to Old Nassau to fill in a vacant chair at one end of the Palmer Stadium pressbox. Along about 4 p.m. a Fact became obvious to 45,000 paying customers and a gross of freeloaders.
Harvard can beat Yale next weekend.
The Bulldogs, it seems, have a poor offense and certain fairly obvious weaknesses in a pretty good defense. Herman Hickman, the poor man's Milton Berle, has been cracking a desperate whip over his offensive eleven in practices for the past month, but the Elis have still lost five of their last six contests, and have been shut out in three of them. Charley Caldwell's team won, 27 to 0.
As a matter of fact, the yalies looked fairly good against Princeton for a while, although certainly no better than Harvard looked in its first half against the Tigers. The reason for the difference in scores was, essentially, that the Elis didn't fall apart quite so early or quite so thoroughly.
But the even battle for the first 20 minutes or so of game time is not entirely to the Bulldog's credit. The gears of the Princeton machine simply jammed for a time somewhere between first and second, and it wasn't until the end of the game that Caldwell got them into overdrive. Blocking was sloppy. Anti-Tiger penalties were numerous. Dick Kazmaier consistently overthrew his ends in the warmup and kept it up in the game.
There are only two ways to slow up the passing of an outstanding player like Kazmaier. One is to pour linemen in on him and not worry about the short receivers, on the theory that even Kazmaier cannot pitch too accurately when the back of his neck is in contact with the ground. The other way is to almost totally ignore Kaz and blanket his receivers, except on running plays. (This is where the optional running pass makes strong men weep.)
The Elis chose the latter method and met with some success at the outset. The game fell apart when the tailback started to heave regularly to ends of the calibre of John Emery. Frank McPhee, and Len Lyons, all of whom seem to be able to steal any ball thrown within ten yards of them.
But a large part of the credit for the Elis' early defensive stands must go to the fine linebackers, Bob Spears and Dave Prince, who held up a relatively weak line. An even larger part must go to the incredible punting of quarterback Jim Ryan, who averaged over 40 yards. On consecutive kicks Ryan put the ball just over the goal line from midfield, stopped one dead on the 2 from approximately the same position, and got off a fine punt after a fumble with Tigers crawling all over him.
On kicks, Yale hands its opponents a further headache by lining up in the regular T, and then shifting into a deep punt formation.
The Thin Blue Line
When the Blue defensive eleven tired, several gaps showed. The ends were very turnable. The middle of the line fell apart before Kazmaier and fullback Russ McNeil. On passes, McPhee constantly outwitted Jerry Conway and Lou Polk of the weaker right side of Yale's defensive backfield.
Offensively, it was a sadder tale for the Bulldog. Highly-touted halfback Jerry Conway deserves a considerably lower touting after going approximately nowhere against Princeton. Ryan and sub Ed Mulloy, although the former is very deceptive (even pulls a bootleg on occasion), were consistently rushed through a porous line, and threw looping basketball-passes to reliable receiver Ed Woodsum. Yale's one magnificent back is Mr. Spears.
The Elis ran only one winged T play in the game; the rest was all straight and split T. And under Hickman's system you can often tell whether a pass or running play is coming up and where it is going. Herman, from what we saw, tries to combine a mite of single wing power with his T deception; if it's a running play to the right, for example, the right half is a couple of steps closer to the line and the left half draws back a step. This may be a good thing, but you can't prove it by the New Jersey performance.
The Yale passing was not good. The Yale line was not particularly good. The Yale downfield blocking bordered on terrible. Q.E.D.--all is not lost for the Crimson.
There was, however, one unpleasant occurrence on Saturday: to wit, the meeting between the Princeton and Yale freshman elevens. Princeton won, but the unpleasant part is that both teams went into the game undefeated and untied. This bodes pretty badly for the future.
For the distant future, that is. Between now and Saturday we'll take any bets on Yale--up to ten dollars.
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