Colonel Blaik's Great Experiment was designed primarily for use against Navy.
Holleder, one of the greatest competitors football has ever seen, may be a bear
at his new position in the game that matters. His fine mates in the backfield
should all be ready. And the Army defense, major team leader in that
department, can be counted on to keep Navy under reasonable control, with
savage gang tackling and tight pass defense. Psychologically, the outcome
favors Army. Colonel Blaik probably wants this one more than any game since his
first victory over Navy in 1944. It certainly would be a personal triumph for
him and Don Holleder if the Cadets came through.
ON NAVY: THE KEY
IS GEORGE WELSH
Were It Not for
the midseason loss to Notre Dame, this Navy team would probably be regarded as
one of the best in the academy's history. All you have to do is look at the
statistics to find the power of this year's team: fifth in the nation in total
offense, first in passing, third in total defense. On top of that, Quarterback
George Welsh is a leader in total individual offense with 1,163 yards, although
he missed the Penn game.
Great as Welsh
is—and great is the word to describe him—Navy is by no means a one-man show. It
is blessed with a strong forward wall, including Captain John Hopkins, among
the most rugged and underrated college tackles in business this year, and Ron
Beagle, the left end, who was good enough for All-America last year. This year
he is his old self on defense and has even improved as a pass receiver. It is
no reflection on George Welsh to say that his great pass receivers,
particularly at the ends, have given him a decided advantage over his
quarterbacking brethren around the country.
As noted, Navy is
a fine defensive team—not big but scrappy and quick—and against passes they are
superb. Nonetheless, when you think of the Middies you think of offense. Theirs
is one of the most versatile I have seen in college ball. The key is Welsh, a
little 5-foot 10-inch 168-pounder. He can do anything—fake, pass, run, think.
He directs the Middie attack with imagination and confidence. When he moves to
right or left on Navy's bread-and-butter option play (shown in the diagram
above), his split-second intuition is uncanny. He shows the defensive end the
ball, and when the man has committed himself, George will either step nimbly
through the line and be off—or pitch out to his halfback. When you think you
have that one solved he'll pass. With that kind of quarterback you simply can't
cover all the possibilities. Colonel Blaik has kept a book on him all season
and drilled his boys on the percentages when Welsh starts a play, but you can't
always trust the percentages against the likes of Welsh. If Navy beats Army he
will be regarded as the outstanding player in Annapolis' proud history.
So far Eddie
Erdelatz, Navy's coach, has refused to nickname this year's team
"Desire," as he did last year's. However, I have yet to see a Navy team
lack desire against Army, and I don't expect to next Saturday. After all,
Erdelatz has a 4-1 record against Blaik since reaching Annapolis, and if number
five is accomplished, happiness will reign supreme in Crabtown and on all the
ships at sea.