SUGAR BOWL - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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SUGAR BOWL

AT NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA...
Author:

NAVY

Eddie Erdelatz earned his place among today's most gifted coaches by beating Earl Blaik's Army team in four of the five years he has been at the Navy's helm. His five-year record now reads: 22-19-4.

GEORGE WELSH, BOB CRAIG, RON BEAGLE (see opposite page).

JOE GATTUSO (36), fb: As Dick Guest's (30) sub in Army game he was outstanding on both offense and defense, winning starting role. Excellent runner, a fiery player.

JOHN WEAVER (16), lhb: Not especially fast, but still a deceptive, dangerous runner. Great pass-defense man.

WILSON WHITMIRE (58), c: Turned in his best showing against Army. Usually an average blocker, but can be blocked.

PHIL MONAHAN (33), rhb: Captain, has missed much play because of injuries, but is ready again. Able defender, he is fast on offense with lots of drive.

LEN BENZI (64), lg: Able and quick, he likes to shoot to either side of center, especially on passing situations. Good blocker, hits high.

ALEX ARONIS (61), rg: Like Benzi, he is very fast and a good blocker. Does a good job backing up left side. On offense he is aggressive, hard to get around.

JOHN HOPKINS (77), lt: Better than average blocker. On defense he plays off line and charges across hard, usually hitting high. Reacts well.

JIM ROYER (71), rt: Strong blocker but has lapses and can be blocked offensively. Has acquired better reaction since Notre Dame gained through him.

BILL SMITH (81), re: Like Royer, has profited from opponents' traffic to the right side, and is now a good defensive end. Can also be pretty rough offensively.

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TEAM STRENGTH

NAVY

Until the Army game Navy's attack had usually been sufficient—but not particularly explosive. The victory over Army was full of daring, dangerous and well-conceived tactics, which make the Middies difficult to defeat. Quarterback Welsh uses his flankers to good effect, tending to keep the opposition defense off balance. The team is still primarily an outside running club, but Welsh's passing, particularly his short throws, is most effective. Defensively, Navy favors the 5-4-2 and the 5-2-2-2. The pass defense is mostly man-to-man and well executed. And, like all Erdelatz-coached squads, this team tackles hard and its downfield blocking is superb. To take home a Sugar Bowl victory Navy will principally have to stop Mississippi's passing game. The Rebels' only defeat came when Arkansas stopped them in the air. Despite a good defensive record, especially against passing (only 87.8 yards average per game), Navy can lose by missing assignments just once.

MISSISSIPPI

The Rebels, although a capable running club from the split T which Coach John Vaught introduced in 1948, were this season primarily a passing team. They ranked fourth in the country in the air—and fifth in total offense, just behind Navy. At the same time Ole Miss led the nation's major teams in total defense—a department in which the Middies finished ninth. The Mississippi air attack is directed by Quarterback Eagle Day, who completed 40 out of 85 passes for a total of 879 yards and four TDs. Day has shown a preference for carrying the ball only when absolutely necessary, and the brunt of the Ole Miss running game is carried by Muirhead, McCool and Patton. Some opponents reported that Day's completions suffer significantly when he is rushed hard. On the whole, the club has size, speed and good reserves. Admittedly, the Rebels have not struggled through as representative a schedule as did Navy, but nonetheless they allowed 10 rivals a total of only seven touchdowns. This certainly deserves to be called a good team—possibly a great one.

TWO PHOTOS

ILLUSTRATION

PHOTO

11

WELSH

PHOTO

16

WEAVER

PHOTO

58

WHITMIRE

PHOTO

64

BENZI

PHOTO

77

HOPKINS

PHOTO

80

BEAGLE

PHOTO

36

GATTUSO

PHOTO

44

CRAIG

PHOTO

33

MONAHAN

PHOTO

61

ARONIS

PHOTO

71

ROYER

PHOTO

81

SMITH

PHOTO

19

DAY

PHOTO

24

PATTON

PHOTO

53

McKINNEY

PHOTO

65

JAMES

PHOTO

78

WEISS

PHOTO

83

HARRIS

PHOTO

42

McCOOL

PHOTO

33

MUIRHEAD

PHOTO

40

COTHREN

PHOTO

61

SHEPHERD

PHOTO

74

BOGGAN

PHOTO

81

DREWRY

ILLUSTRATION

11

ILLUSTRATION

44

ILLUSTRATION

80

ILLUSTRATION

19

ILLUSTRATION

33

ILLUSTRATION

74

DIAGRAM

NAVY'S WELSH (11) operates option to the right or left. In play to right he fakes to Craig (44), then moves towards defensive left end. End must go for Welsh or Weaver (16) running wide. Whichever way he goes he's wrong, as Welsh decides to pitch out or keep himself and go inside the end.

11

16

44

DIAGRAM

OLE MISS pass pattern against box defense. Ends Harris (83) and Drewry (81) go straight, then flair out, forcing defensive backs to go with them. Halfback Patton (24) goes down deep into middle where he is clear. Quarterback Day (19) gets good protection, giving receivers time to get downfield.

83

19

81

24

NUMBERS TO WATCH

NAVY

GEORGE WELSH, QB
Great day against Army has probably given him more confidence. Directs the team with poise, imagination. Odd fake on the option confuses the defense.

BOB CRAIG, RHB
Extremely fast and will go all the way if not "gang-tackled." Moves and reacts well to all situations. Still has slight tendency to fumble. Good receiver.

RON BEAGLE, LE
On almost everyone's All-America, he is an outstanding lineman and pure murder on rushing the passer—as Army found out. Agile and fast, he can catch, too.

MISSISSIPPI

EAGLE DAY, QB
One of the leading offensive players of the season, he will throw nearly half the time he's in. Dislikes carrying unless he has to. Erratic when rushed hard.

ALLEN MUIRHEAD, RHB
Dangerous all the time, fast, shifty and they call on him inside the 10. Best play is the hand-off but he also covers kicks well and is a good pass receiver.

REX REED BOGGAN, RT
One of the top men in the Southeastern Conference, former All-Service. Better on defense than offense and especially tough on play run directly at him.