•Event: the 58th meeting since 1890 between Army and Navy
•Place: 102,000-seat Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia
•Broadcast: NBC Radio; NBC color TV (12 noon, E.S.T.)
•1957 records: Army won 7, lost 1; Navy won 7, lost 1, tied 1
A football team—particularly a T-formation football team—tends to take on the personality of its quarterback, since he not only thinks for the team but also initiates each play. Nothing could illustrate this thesis better than the game coming up in Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium next Saturday when Army meets Navy. Army bludgeons the opposition, running through and over it with the power plays of the belly series that are so characteristic of its mow-'em-down offense. Navy, on the other hand, parries and feints like a man with a rapier—probing for a weakness in the center of the line, testing the strength of the flanks, throwing the long pass and then the short one, until finally the enemy has been outmaneuvered. Both teams are, in their different ways, characteristic of the two very different young men who will be guiding them.
Dave Bourland of Army is the machine. His mind is direct and methodical. "You got to form good habits," he says. "If something changes from what you're used to, you're in trouble."
Tom Forrestal of Navy is the gambler. "Figure out what they think you're going to do," he says. "Then do something else."
December 2, 1957
Both are 21, both are lithe and superbly coordinated, both are mature. But here the similarity ends.
Bourland is a deliberate Texan.
"I plan for a game," he will tell you, the muscles of his cheeks hardening. "I study a team's defenses, and I try to gauge my calls the way we scouted them. You got to have a plan in a game. You got to stick to it."
This is Bourland's biggest fault. He is not too adaptable, and he admits it. "When the game plan doesn't go—when another team changes the defenses I expect them to use—I get concerned. I usually ask my linemen for help in analyzing the new defense."
Forrestal is the opposite. He has an uncanny ability to pick out the weakness in a defense in a very few minutes. And if this cool young man ever gets concerned, he never shows it. He is an exceptional passer and a cagey play caller. At Annapolis they pull out that old cliché and say he has ice water in his veins.
Bourland has studied Forrestal in movies. After long hours of watching Navy's quarterback perform on the screen he offers this criticism:
"I don't think he's as methodical as he could be. His feet are never in the same place twice on any play and because of this he'll cross up his other backs on handoffs. He's great on rollouts and his deception is good, but his handoffs are sloppy. I try to run through a play exactly the same way every time. Put my cleats in the same holes. You get precision that way. I figure if you change gears all the time, you're going to get a jerky ride."
Forrestal, son of an Irish immigrant, is businesslike, straightforward, but not without that inherent Irish guile.
"I haven't seen Bourland enough to evaluate him. Maybe he's right about my handoffs, but I haven't noticed it, and the other guys in the backfield haven't either. We go pretty good, and we're going to go good Saturday. I guess you could say Army will be the toughest team we play all season. I hope we beat them. I think we can. But I don't like to brag about something I'm going to do and then not be able to produce. I just produce."
Bourland is a rather predictable play caller. "I feel we can make our ground game go against any team," he says. "Sure, Navy expects us to run, and we will, but I don't think they can stop it. We have great blocking out front and two halfbacks that know how to use it. Navy's going to have to defense our ground game, so when I do throw I should be able to complete."
Bourland's completion record at Army is an excellent 31 of 57 for 465 yards, five TDs and a 54% average.
But Forrestal, ninth best passer in the nation with 72 completions in 141 attempts, is the more dangerous through the air. He throws mainly on rollouts, which give him an option to run. Unfortunately, he is not a very good runner, so much of the danger the option should present is lost.
Despite the high-scoring habits of both teams (Navy has rolled up 247 points so far, while Army, with 251 points, has not scored less than three times a game) Bourland feels Saturday's game will be a low-point affair.
"I don't think either team is going to do a lot of scoring," he says. "It will be won, or lost, on defense. We're just going to go out there and try to knock them down and keep them down. And if we do that, the scoring part will take care of itself."
If incentive can be counted as a factor, perhaps Navy has the edge. The Naval Academy has announced it will accept a bowl bid (probably the Cotton Bowl) if it wins. West Point, on the other hand, has ruled out any such possibility, and the players have given up any hope of a last-minute change.
But, rated team for team, Army appears to have the better chance if its first unit can go all the way. Its offense is one of the most potent in the country (second in total offense), and 17 interceptions this season speak well for its pass defense.
"If I had to pick," says Bourland, "I'd say Army was going to win."
"I don't like to brag and not be able to produce."
Really, though, it is a matter of which weapon is going to be the more effective under the circumstances—the cudgel or the rapier.