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It will be a somewhat patchwork outfit that takes the field today for Yale in the Elis' 79th football meeting with Harvard. A remarkably healthy squad until two weeks ago, the Bulldogs have been hit by a sudden rash of injuries that have played havoc with their three-team system.
Coach Jordan Olivar has hardly used his Commando (offensive) unit at all in the past two contests, and he has been forced to make extremely judicious use of his individual substitutions whenever the ball has changed since several of the players on the first two units are now cast in slightly anomalous roles.
While Crimson rooters may not know what to expect from Yale in the way of personnel, they can be certain that the Elis will confront the Crimson with an array of offensive and defensive formations that are generally familiar.
These two teams always add a couple of new plays to their repertoires before they face each other, but the new twists will not alter the basic style of play in Yale's case.
The Blue will depend on a fullback attack in which the bread-and-butter series centers around the belly play. In its most common form, this play starts as an off-tackle smash by the fullback. The quarterback places the ball in his stomach and "rides" him with a sideward step toward the line of scrimmage. The signal caller can either leave the ball in the fullback's arms or he can pull it out, and run, pass, or hand off to a trailing halfback.
When executed well all the plays in this series look "the same to the defense until the instant that the quarterback exercise his opinion to give the ball to the fullback, or to keep it himself.
Yale's offense is not limited to the belly series, however. The Elis like to try to spring their halfbacks on a pitch-out play that can develop into a wide sweep or a cutback through the hole of the defensive tackle who has been trapped. Another favorite pattern is run from the wing T formation and entails a fake into the line on the strong side and a give to the wide halfback coming back to the weak side on a trap play.
The Bulldogs also vary their formations quite a bit. Besides the wing T and the straight T, they have occasionally run from the double wing and even the shotgun formation. At times they will flank a halfback wide or split one or both their ends.
Yale has not passed a lot this year, but when quarterbacks have thrown they usually favored a straight drop back. Sometimes they have thrown on the rollout play that past Eli quarterbacks like Tom Singleton used to perform so well, but only rarely have they used the belly take to set up their throws.
Individuals whom Harvard will have to watch when Yale has the ball include fullback Pete Cummings; halfbacks Dick Berk, Lee Marsh, Hank Higdon, and Jud Calkins; and quarterback Ed McCarthy.
Defense May Change
On defense Yale is much more likely to come up with major changes against Harvard than it is on offense. The Bulldogs have used a six-man front against every opponents except Dartmouth, but Jordan Olivar has given no indication of what his plans are for this game. Regardless of the number of men the Elis use
on the line, however, one can expect to see them using a great variety of charges. Sometimes the wait at the line of scrimmage, trying to hold their position and "read" the play. Other times they charge and try to penetrate into the offensive backfield. They will occasionally use crosses and step-around maneuvers, and the linebackers do a lot of stunting.
Strong points in the Eli defense include the guard and linebacker spots. Wolf Dietrich, Bill Kay, Ralph Vandersloot, Stan Riveles, and Chuck Benoit give Yale a contingent of guards that stacks up favorably with any in the League. The Bulldogs are not as deep at tackle and end, however, and this means there is a lot of pressure on linebackers like Chuck Mercein. Pat Caviness, and George Humphrey.
The team has, in fact, lost a total of four games by only 20 points. No team has scored more than twice against the Elis, and several touchdowns have been set up by istakes on offense rather than by poor defense. The Bulldogs' scoring power has not been sufficient to frighten many opponents this fall, but their defense has always been stubborn enough to keep them in contention throughout every game they have played. It will have to be a big factor again today if the Blue is to entertain any hopes of upsetting the Crimson
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