Earl Blaik assesses the 1959 team

The following was an article written by Earl Blaik assessing his former team in 1959 as part of his twice -a-week column for the AP syndicated for national distribution.


======By Col. Earl H. (Red) BLAIK
(Asbury Park, NJ Evening Press)

Cadets Look Stronger

I suppose if I were still coaching the Army football team and anybody even suggested I come out and, state publicly that the Cadets deserved No. 1 rank in the East and a fairly high place nationally, I would call loudly for a sedative. But I am not a coach anymore and I have to admit the whole thing looks somewhat different. Seriously, it is hard for any coach to take a completely objective look at his team. He is subject to so much pressure, much of it unreasonable, from his school and its followers that he develops, unconsciously in part, a certain built-in wariness and pessimism. At times, it may appear inordinate and even ludicrous. But he would be most unwise to adopt any approach other than to expect the worst and work like heck to avoid it, because football is our most unpredictable, as well as our finest team game.

Let me say this. There Is nothing I want to do less than in any way add to what is already a heavy load assumed by my successor, Dale Hall, and his very, competent staff. Dale was a great athlete at West Point.

I believe he and Doug Kenna were the greatest in the Class of 1945. Dale delivered many of the big, vital scoring plays in the Blanchard-Davis era and was also very good at basketball and tennis. He is a superbly grounded coach with a fine football mind and was my only recommendation for the job.

Face Tough Schedule

I believe Dale will have a strong team. If the ball bounces as fortuitously in the Army's second "lonely end" year as it did in the first, and if there are not too many injuries In the line, It could well be the Cadets will successfully defend their Eastern championship and their high national ranking.

But they face a most difficult schedule. Boston College, Illinois, Penn State, Duke, Colorado State, the Air Force, Vilanova, Oklahoma and Navy pose a severe test for the Cadets, especially when you consider their exacting life with its tough engineering course for all and its rigid discipline.

Whatever the Cadets accomplish in the way of victories and defeats, I am sure of one thing: there win be no more colorful and exciting team on the gridiron. The "lonely end", attack, with some of Dale's own modifications included, will put much pressure on the enemy. The defense will be typically Army: quick, alert,with strong pursuit.

Let me re-emphasize, though, that any appraisal of the situation must be cognizant of an inadequacy of reserve strength from tackle to tackle and the serious problems, therefore, that injuries in that area precipitate.

Anderson Among Best

Bob Anderson, a truly outstanding all-around football player, one of the very greatest in West Point history, will head toward his third All- America year at left halfback. Joe Caldwell, a fine quarterback for us a year ago, will be even better. I understand there are strong fights on at right halfback between Steve Waldrop and Roger Zailskas for Pete Dawkins' old job and John Eilson and Don Bonko at fullback. Frank Blanda will relieve Caldwell at quarterback from time to time. He had a good spring practice.

Capt. Bill Carpenter, "Mister Lonely End" himself, another top grade all-around player, and Don Usry, the so-called "sociable end" and a vastly underrated one, lead the wingmen, with adequate replacements in Otto Everbach, Russ Waters and Frank Gibson.

The line must be built around three strong 1958 reserves: guard Al Vanderbush, tackle Gerry Clements and center Bob Oswandel. The, quick development of some husky yearlings (sophomores), always a precarious operation, is indispensable to reasonable solidity here.

I felt that in fairness to our "brave, old Army team:' I should give them an article to themselves. I shall, devote all of a subsequent piece to the other fine Eastern independents.

ArmySports.com Top Stories