NEWS AND NOTES
BAY DEFENSE PRAISED BY BLACKBOURN
OCTOBER 21 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Never a congenial loser, Liz Blackbourn hurriedly disappeared from the Stadium after his Packers suffered their third straight loss, 24-14, to the 49ers at the Stadium Sunday. During his brief stay in the dressing room, Blackbourn showed he was not completely disheartened by the defeat as he had praise for his players. "We were better defensively than we had been in our last two games," Blackbourn said. "Offensively, we also showed improvement. But there's no sense in getting hysterical over our position because we still have eight games to play. We're going to settle down and play some good games." The final score was about the only edge the 49ers had as the Packers earned it all statistically. Unfortunately, it's the score that counts. "We had some bad breaks...of our making," Blackbourn was quick to add, "which hurt us. Those interceptions and fumble recoveries by the 49ers really were costly. Defensively, we really came back from where we were a week ago. Runners like (Hugh) McElhenny, (Joe) Arenas and (Joe) Perry didn't do
LIZ IS SURE ATTACK WILL CLICK SOON
OCTOBER 22 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Liz Blackbourn is sure he can shake some winning dice soon. He is still convinced he has a good football team. No pro coach in his right mind would be caught with his optimism down. But Blackbourn can back up his convictions with Sunday's improvements. Defensively, the Packers played their best game against the 49ers. They held one of the league's better running clubs to 78 yards. They intercepted four passes. Offensively, they gained 194 yards on the ground, their best performance. Howie Ferguson, running as a halfback, picked up 74 yards. The Packers lost their third straight game because the 49ers capitalized on Green Bay's errors. Blackbourn pinpoints the outcome on four events:
1) Kramer's sudden idea that he was a passer instead of a runner.
2) Ferguson's fumble on the 49er 23.
3) Parilli's pass to Howton on the 49er 15 which was intercepted.
4) Losing the ball on downs on the one foot line.
Green Bay had a 7-3 lead with three minutes remaining in the first half when Ron Kramer's play changed the complexion. Parilli was rushed, but managed to throw a short, behind the line of scrimmage pass to Kramer. Instead of running, Kramer decided to pass. His wobbly attempt was snatched by J.D. Smith, who returned it to the Packer 37. Five plays later Frisco went ahead for keeps with a minute remaining. Blackbourn's second point picked up play midway through the third quarter when the 49ers enjoyed a 17-7 lead. The Packers had stormed back and were on the 49er 20 when Ferguson was hit hard, the ball popping up like a cork. It was grabbed by Charlie Powell and gone was the scoring bid. The next time the Packers had the ball. Parilli fired a third down pass to Billy Howton on the 49er 15. Dickey Moegle made a sensational interception. The effort spurred the 49ers to their third touchdown as Moegle returned 21 yards to the Frisco 36. When the Packers failed to make a touchdown on four tries from the 49er one yard line it almost unbelievable. The Babe called the same play three times. The first time should have convinced him that he was bucking a stone wall. But he wouldn't believe it until the chance was over. Parilli called the shots himself, three quarterback sneaks and Fergy off right tackle. 'Twas frustrating. When asked about Paul Hornung's performance (directing a 59 yard touchdown march), Blackbourn said, "We know he can run well. The boy is the best running quarterback we have. But he also is our poorest passer. If he could pass close to Starr or Parilli, there would be no question who our quarterback would be." Whether Tobin Rote is missed is so much water over the dam. But neither Bart Starr nor Parilli is hitting one of the best receivers in the business, Billy Howton. Howton caught only 3 passes for 30 yards. Blackbourn is sure his offense will come around. "I've never had a poor offense in all my days of coaching," Liz said. "And we'll get something going now, too."
FROM HERO TO BUM IN THREE SHORT WEEKS - LIZ IS DODGING PITCHFORKS UP IN GREEN BAY
OCTOBER 22 (Milwaukee Journal) - Three weeks ago they hailed him all over the town - all over the state. He had beaten the Bears. They hugged him after it was over. Vice President Nixon shook his hand. Today, they're hauling out the family pitchfork and looking for him. The simple fact is that Coach Lisle Blackbourn, after losing three games since the Bear game, and looking none too good losing, is in trouble. The powerful executive committee of 13 which runs the Green Bay show behind the scenes discreetly answers in public. "Worried? Worried about what?" In private, though, it is seething. It had talked to the coaches, wanting to know what's what, and talked to the players. It is genuinely disturbed. And the public? Well, somebody hung a sign, "For Sale", on the new million dollar stadium dedicated at the Bear game. And somebody else hung a sign in a window, "By-by Blackbourn". And everybody is talking, well, nearly everybody. A drugstore clerk was asked Monday: "People up here mad at Blackbourn?" "Who?" he said. "Blackbourn - Blackbourn - the Packer coach." "Huh, I dunno. Never heard of him." But the drugstore clerk was alone. In taverns, eating placed, filling stations, bowling alleys, store, the merest mention of the Packers triggered a flood of opinions, rumors, suggestions. The public, too, is obviously disturbed. A downtown barmaid confidentially revealed: "I heard that Blackbourn was fired this noon. They should fire the whole executive committee, too, for meddling the way they do." (The executive committee of 13 meets every Monday noon.) A De Pere tavern operator declared: "Something's gotta be done. They've been rebuilding the club since 1946. We built a whole new stadium in one year." A customer in a restaurant said: "The people are losing faith. They've got good material. Led Baltimore at the half and then lost, 45-17 - that's the coaching." A disgusted taxicab driver wanted no more of them (until next Saturday). "They're the Milwaukee Packers now as far as I'm concerned. Who wants 'em?" "What they need is a Red Schoendienst - they got no life, nobody to pull 'em together," said a man in a restaurant. "They should never have got rid of Tobin Rote." "My football team?" said a waitress. "Nuts - they're for the birds. I don't care what they do." A bulbous nosed bar fly indicated the distance of about a yard with his hands and then muttered in his beer: "They couldn't budge it an inch Sunday. There's something wrong in Denmark. Something ain't clicking. Maybe they need a new coach." At a bowling alley, a woman bowler walked up to the bar, asked for a malted milk with an olive, and offered the opinion: "They always look for an alibi. Now it's Blackbourn. Look what they did to Frosty Ferzacca down at Marquette and look what Marquette is doing now. So we get rid of Blackbourn and what will we get?" A sporting goods store clerk ventured: "It must be the coach. They always look worse in the second half. That's when they always lose." (At the moment, including exhibitions, the Packers have won six games, lost three and tied one.) "No one ought to get fired," said the bootblack in a hotel. "They had Lambeau and then Ronzani and now Blackbourn. So they lose. It's just like shooting craps." "Just wait till they try to sell season tickets next year," said a well groomed bartender in one of the better eating places. "I know, I hear it all the time. They ought to get someone who can handle the players. They ought to bring back Curly (Lambeau). But they'll probably go along with him (Blackbourn). Green Bay is a small town; we don't have any millionaire who can pay off the coach. In Milwaukee they had a millionaire who could pay off Grimm. They'll learn (the executive committee) - and look they ain't so smart either." "What are they doing with Hornung on the bench?" said a businessman - at least he wore a Kiwanis club button. "If I invest money in something I use it. I don't let it go to waste. (The Packers reportedly gave Hornung $50,000 for three years. So far he has played very little.) "Look at Baltimore. They got a guy like Unitas off the sand lots and they go with him. What's the matter with Hornung?" Another woman in the bowling alley said: "Some are pros and some are con - mostly con. And some say Blackbourn's working for the director and has 45 bosses." (The executive committee of 13 is elected by a board of directors of 45.) "I got this straight from somebody who knows," ventured a tavern operator. "Blackbourn slapped one of the players between halves of the Baltimore game." (Ridiculous.) A druggist said: "People are made because they're losing. They have to blame somebody so they're blaming Blackbourn. Isn't that always the way? But I haven't heard of any move to fire him." "I'm from De Pere," said a store keeper. "What they do in Green Bay is their business. This isn't the first time they've been fouled up in Green Bay and they've fouled up again now." "I turned the radio off yesterday to save power," declared a barfly. "What's the use - they're going downhill. Next Sunday I'm going hunting." "They got no imagination, no imagination whatever," said a shopkeeper. "They got no quarterbacks and no ball carriers. They don't draft well. They always go for Notre Dame guys. How many Notre Dame guys ever cut it in pro ball? Figure it out yourself." What will happen to Blackbourn, with the temper of the fans as it is, and especially the temper of the executive board, now depends entirely on what happens the rest of the season. Green Bay just won't stand for much more of losing - can't stand it. The "For Sale" sign on the stadium was no more than the work of a prankster, but it had overtones that none in Green Bay could miss. The stadium has to be filled and a losing team won't fill it. The talking the executive committee did with a players' committee (Hanner, Howton and Cone) and with the coaches, has brought no move for a change - yet. What has happened, thought, is ominous, no question. Green Bay, all of it, is genuinely disturbed. Blackbourn had an ironclad contract which has another year to run.
BAYS PASSING GOOD AS '56; LACK RUNNING
OCTOBER 23 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - It's plain heresy to say that the Packers have got off to a bum start just because there's no Tobin Rote around. That's what it is - just plain heresy. Granted, Rote was and is still a great clutch player. But if one looks at a year ago and compares the then 2-2 Packers with the 1-3 club today he might be surprised to see little difference in Green Bay's passing attach. After four games in 1956, Rote had completed 45 out of 97 passes for 678 yards. After four game this season Bart Starr and Babe Parilli have combined for 47 completions in 95 attempts for 645 yards. Rote could be counted on for touchdown passes. Directing the Bays last season he fired nine TD pitches in the first four games. And he had only two intercepted. Parilli has thrown four scoring passes but has had five intercepted. Starr has connected on two payoff pitches, but he had six stolen. Parilli's best day of this season was against the Bears in the league opener. He completed nine out of 17 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He had one intercepted. Starr's best performance was against the Colts. He hit 13 out of 22 receivers for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Three were intercepted. A little more confidence in their throwing ability could help fight off that interception bug. Using Howie Ferguson at halfback has helped the running game tremendously. Ferguson picked up 74 yards against the 49ers as the Packers gained 194 yards rushing. So far this season, the Packers have gained 888 yards on the ground compared to 1,290 rushing at this same time a year ago.
OFFENSE UPPERMOST WITH NFL'S CLUBS IN WESTERN DIVISION
OCTOBER 24 (Milwaukee Journal) - In the NFL, the Western Division continues to be more interested in scoring points; the Eastern Division, more interested in keeping the other side from scoring. For example, Baltimore leads all time with 127 points. No other team has reached 100. And the Green Bay Packers, who meet the Colts in Baltimore Sunday, share with Washington the unwanted honor of permitting the most points, 110. The Eastern Division co-leaders, Cleveland and New York, have permitted only 39 and 46 points, respectively. Although Cleveland, along with Baltimore, was the last team to taste defeat, the Browns have scored only 60 points in four games...Frank Varrichione, Pittsburgh Steelers tacke, formerly of Notre Dame, wears a helmet equipped with a hearing aid...'MAKE A TRADE': The Baltimore Colts have heard from Dick Szymanski, fine rookie center of 1955, that he will be out of the Army in time to join them November 7. The former Notre Dame star is now in Germany...The fellow who took Szymanski's place, Madison (Buzz) Nutter, said, "I hear Dick is coming back but that doesn't mean he'll have a job." In one game recently, the opposing middle guard was giving Nutter a bad time. "What can we do with that guy?" Coach Weeb Ewbank asked on the sidelines. "I think you oughta trade for him," Nutter said, deadpan...Leon Clarke, Los Angeles end, says his college hurdling didn't help his pro football playing. "The track coach was always after me not to look at the guys on the other side," Clarke said. "But in running with the football in the open field, you'd better."...IN THE WAY: Herman Rohrig, the former Packer who caused the fans at County Stadium and the Packers a lot of mental anguish with a questionable interference call against Bob Dillon against the Baltimore Colts, got in the Cleveland Browns' way at Philadelphia Sunday in their surprising 17-7 defeat by the Eagles. Pete Brewster, Cleveland end, was ready to take Milt Plum's pass for a touchdown when he ran into Rohrig, the field judge, and fell down in the end zone...The Browns finally got some help from the deal by which they sent six players to the Packers last spring. Halfback Lew Carpenter, obtained in a subsequent deal with Detroit for Roger Zatkoff, reported after Army service. He played halfback against Philadelphia, gained 30 yards in nine carries and caught three passes for 40 yards. That after only a week of practice.
HORNUNG SURE TO SEE MORE ACTION
OCTOBER 25 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Paul Hornung is bound to see a lot more NFL action beginning Sunday against the Colts at Baltimore. What have the Packers got to lose? Their bonus choice has the best running average, picking up 80 yards in 12 carries for 6.7 yards per crack. But as a passer the former Notre Dame Golden Boy has completed one out of three tosses for a net loss of one yard. That explains why he's not calling the shots yet. Coach Liz Blackbourn would give anything to see Hornung develop into his No. 1 quarterback. That, of course, depends if and when he can out-throw Bart Starr or Babe Parilli. "A lot of attention was given Hornung's passing in drills this week," Blackbourn said Thursday. "I think he's coming around as good as any rookie." A strong-armed passer, Hornung repeated passing plays until he hit the mark. At what position Hornung plays against the Colts is undecided. At the moment, Blackbourn placed him at fullback behind Fred Cone. If Blackbourn could start three quarterbacks at the same time he might very well find the touchdown touch which was missing in the last three games. Starr throws the most accurate pass (56.9%), Parilli puts more fire in his pitches and Hornung can run. The Colts, who walloped the Packers, 45-17, at the Stadium two weeks ago, are a 10-point choice to win again. "Well do better time. I'm sure of that," Liz said. "The Lions stopped their running attack by stacking up their defense. But then the Colts went to the air and completed two long touchdown passes to Moore and Mutscheller. You just can't play out of a normal position and expect to contain them," continued Blackbourn. For the second week in succession, the Colts led the league in total yards gained (1,422). In rushing Baltimore has gained 688 yards and in passing, 734. The Packers have picked up 949 total yards, 436 rushing and 513 passing. Blackbourn reported five Packers were fighting colds. They were Babe Parilli, Jim Temp, Hank Gremminger, Al Carmichael and Jim Ringo. Slotback Ron Kramer sill isn't operating at top efficiency because of an injured ankle sustained in the first Colt game. Howie Ferguson, the club's top ground gainer (104 yards), had not hurt his knees in the last four games and is rarin' to roll as a halfback. The Packers found it all but impossible at their Green Bay Stadium practice field during this week's heavy rain storms. There's no indoor arena available if weather conditions get bad.