THE QUIET peace of Sunday afternoon has been shaken of late by sizable temblors; seismograph needles across the U.S. should already have recorded the disturbances—which are caused not by any phenomena of nature but simply because the pro football teams are running again.
Last Sunday the big Chicago Bears loosed 225-pound Fullback Rick Casares on the San Francisco 49ers in the wake of some awesome bully-boy blocking. The Bears, using the pass only to prevent the 49ers from stacking their defense, gained 397 yards on the ground, only 86 in the air. Elsewhere, the New York Giants ran for 256 yards, passed for only 74 in stopping the Browns, and the Chicago Cardinals depended on their fine running to beat the Redskins. All over the league, running began to dominate passing.
"We are getting more runners from colleges since the split-T became popular," explained New York Giant Coach Jim Lee Howell. "Then, too, for several years the pro defenses have been stacked to stop passes. Nearly everyone has been using a four-man line with seven men deep to stop the pass. So, naturally, we run more."
The pendulum may soon, of course, swing the other way when the pros readjust their defenses to stop the running, but until they do, the seismographs will record minor earthquakes each Sunday with the impact of giant on giant (see below) as those fleet and hefty pro runners crunch through the line behind the battering blocking.
THE Chicago Cardinals, bereft of their communications system in the unfriendly confines of Griffith Stadium, shuttled ends back and forth industriously with communiques from the bench to beat the Washington Redskins, 31-3. Halfback Ollie Matson, regarded by most pro coaches as the best runner in the business, returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown and gained 69 yards in six tries from scrimmage as the Cardinal split-T attack continues to pick up momentum. Lamar McHan, who was never very comfortable as a straight-T quarterback, handles the split-T marvelously well. He is a strong, hard runner and, while his passing is not always good enough to implement the heavy air attack of the straight T, it is more than adequate for split-T maneuvering. McHan threw only nine passes against the Redskins, completing four. Frank Bernardi's 95-yard punt return was just icing on the cake for the winners. The Redskins, possessed of what must be one of the smallest backfields in prohistory, found no running room at all through the burly Cardinal defense. The victory kept the Cards undefeated.
The New York Giants, beating the Cleveland Browns 21-9 behind tremendous blocking, intercepted both a pass and Coach Paul Brown's sideline broadcast, proving that the Brown defense is not capable of carrying the load alone even with the coach's voice in its ears. The Giants, who had set up a receiver on their side, tuned in on Brown and shouted warnings to their defense until Brown gave up in disgust. Fullback Mel Triplett thundered inside the Brown tackles throughout the first half, then, when Coach Paul Brown adjusted his defense to close that avenue, Triplett thundered up the middle without the ball while the Giant halfbacks scampered around the undermanned flanks. "Triplett is doing a terrific job of running and blocking for us," Coach Jim Lee Howell said after the game. "We're getting great blocking in the line, too. We grade our players on each game by studying movies. Against the Chicago Cardinals, Roosevelt Brown got 91% of his blocks and we havealways considered 75% very good."
The Philadelphia Eagles dealt the electronic age and the Pittsburgh Steelers a 35-21 setback at Forbes Field. The Steelers had Quarterback Ted Marchibroda wired for sound, but the furious charge of the Eagle defensive line short-circuited the Steeler offense. "All I could hear was a buzzing in my ears," said Marchibroda. The Steelers discarded automation in the second half and rallied sharply, but not enough to catch the Philadelphians.
For Games of Saturday, Oct. 20
•Texas A&M vs. Texas Christian. Tough Aggies lied by hot Houston. Horned Frogs untied, undefeated and untested. Statistics, Swink and common sense say TCU. A lone, stubborn voice crying in the wilderness. TEXAS A&M.
•Southern California vs. Washington. First five or final five games, Trojans have most manpower on Coast. Huskies have potential. Still ... USC.
•Notre Dame vs. Michigan State. Defensively Irish disappointing. Spartans' offense and defense scintillating. Notre Dame will rise again but... MSU.
•Duke vs. Pittsburgh. Powerful Panthers, the pride of the East, rested and groomed. Blue Devils emerged from purgatory with win over Southern Methodist. If Jurgensen is ready, DUKE.
•Michigan vs. Northwestern. Rebirthed Wildcats will win another one but not with Wolverines. MICHIGAN.
•Wisconsin vs. Purdue. Battling Badgers are a threat but Boilermakers are bruising and Len Dawson devastating. PURDUE.
•Ohio State vs. Penn State. Nittany Lions loaded but Buckeyes better. Outside upset chance. OHIO STATE.
•Wyoming vs. Utah. Skyline summit at stake. Cowboys comers but Utes have arrived. UTAH.
•Syracuse vs. Army. Orangemen out to make it two in a row over Army. Fumbling Cadets come back. ARMY.
•Washington State vs. Oregon State. Cougars can pass but young Beavers are tried, tested and not found wanting. OREGON STATE
Miami over Georgia (Oct. 19)
California over UCLA
Harvard over Columbia
Georgia Tech over Auburn
Mississippi over Tulane
Navy over Cincinnati
Maryland over North Carolina
Oklahoma over Kansas
Stanford over Oregon
Princeton over Colgate
Southern Methodist over rice
Tennessee over Alabama
Yale over Cornell
Minnesota over Illinois
Houston over Oklahoma A&M
Last week's hunches: 18 right, 5 wrong, 2 ties Record to date: 80-17-3