Coach John M. Yovicsin showed up for work a bit early yesterday, rolled up his sleeves, called in his staff and announced, "We have a lot of work to do." The assistant coaches, all of whom had seen the Crimson scrimmage with Tufts Friday before jaunting up to Maine to watch Massachusetts beat the home team, readily agreed.
On Friday the Crimson showed it still needed more structural development in some areas and general polish before it could do much winning. Saturday brought the news that Massachusetts, Harvard's first opponent, is well on the way to becoming a football team and might very well arrive reasonably close to that goal as early as this coming Saturday afternoon at Soldiers Field.
'Not a Very Good Day'
Friday was cold, dreary, wet and generally miserable. As one Crimson lineman put it, "it was not a very good day to play football." With occasional exceptions, the Crimson did not play great football that afternoon.
Although the score was 24-0, there were few victory shouts. Tufts had, everyone recalled, lost the previous week to Springfield by a still more decisive score.
It was hard to determine exactly what was wrong, but in general the team lacked precision and consistent effort. The slippery field did not help, but even a dry turf would not have made sophomore halfbacks more experienced, quarterback Bill Humenuk more able to move the team, and the pass defense and overall play in the defensive secondary more alert.
An Ivy Champion the Crimson was not on Friday, though there were many encouraging developments. Sophomore Wally Grant, who now seems certain to start this Saturday, gained 101 yards in 9 carries from halfback. The figures will give both opposing coaches and junior Tom Bilodeau, now recovering from a pre-season injury, much to think about. Dave Poe, another sophomore back, flashed brilliant at times, also.
With all the talk about a pickle at tackle many observors expected to see gaping holes develop. In fact, the tackles, led by Jeff Pochop and Joe Jurek, actually looked quite good. They held on defense and gave fullbacks Bill Grana and Stan Yastrzemski plenty of running room.
Jerry Mechling, a kicking specialist last year, suddenly emerged as a man of many talents. One of the problems now is to decide whether to keep him on defense--where he was outstanding--or let him have a real crack at offensive quarterback, where he operated with poise, good sense, and effectiveness.
Mike Bassett was comfortingly at case with the first unit. If he can avoid the injury jinx that struck down the last two senior quarterbacks on Crimson teams, Harvard will enjoy highly competent, efficient field direction throughout the season.
In the Tufts scrimmage Yovicain appeared to have a good start towards two good line units, and he feels he will need at least that many to with-stand the pressure of the Redmen's two platoon club. "They killed Maine with depth," he reports.
Yovicsin will pay particular attention this week to the play of the ends. Against Tufts they showed improvement, but against Mass they will have to exude ability, especially on defense.
Mass likes to send speedy halfback Fred Lewis around the end, and if he makes it past the first line of defense, Yovicsin warns, "he's gone." Bob Meers, an end himself, gave Maine considerable headaches with his habit of slipping behind the defense to catch passes from the accurate arm of quarterback Jerry Welchel.
Yovicsin's defense of Maine as "a good scrappy football team" that really challenged a much bigger opponent last Saturday raised another important issue for the Crimson. If Maine is not bad at all, imagine how fine Dartmouth must be: in a scrimmage, the Big Green pounded Maine 33-7.