Crimson Face Molloy-Less Penn Today
Defense Must Contain Quaker Passes
Two weeks ago the game might have been interesting, but now it's difficult to work up much enthusiasm about today's varsity football contest at Pennsylvania.
Harvard's hopes for an Ivy League championship vanished in the Stadium last Saturday: the Crimson seems consigned to third place in the League behind Princeton and Dartmouth. Penn started its season well, but after an injury ended the football career of star tallback Bruce Molloy, the Quakers appear destined to end the year in a blase of mediocrity.
After winning the Ivy title in 1959. Penn's football fortunes took a sudden decline. Over the past five years, the Quakers won only 12 games, and had a horrible 6-29 record in League play. At the end of last season Coach John Ftlegman was fired and replaced by Bucknell's Bob Odell in an effort to resuscitate football at Pennsylvania.
No one was predicting that the Millenium had arrived when Penn opened its season with a 20-14 win over Lehigh. But a week later the Quakers scored their first Ivy victory since 1963 by subduing Brown, 7 to 0. On October 9 Ponn was a 20-point underdog against Dartmouth, but the Quakers turned in a superb performance and lost by only 24-19. They won their third game the next week by edging Bucknell, 16 to 13, on a last-second field goal.
In that game, however, Molloy tore a sigament in his right knee and Penn lost the senior for the rest of the season. His value to the Quakers was immeasurable. Molloy was the team's leading punter; he had carried the ball 85 times for 393 yards; he was a competent passer and pass receiver. Without Molloy, Penn lost to Princeton last Saturday, 51 to 0.
Once the Quakers can readjust their offense to function without Molloy, they should have a reasonably good attack. But that will take time, since Molloy has been their one-man team for three years.
Two other factors suggest that Penn will improve as the season progresses. Odell switched Penn's offense from a single-wing to the T-formation, and it takes time for a team to adjust to such a change. Furthermore, the Quakers have been relying heavily on sophomores, who will improve as time goes by.
The most pleasant surprise of the season for Penn fans has been the performance of sophomore quarterback Pete Wisniewski. A second-stringer on last year's freshman team. Wisnieski has completed 29 passes this year for 318 vards. He has an excellent receiver in halfback Rick Owens, who has pulled down nearly 20 passes during the season.
It is a cinch that Penn will do a great deal of passing today. Odell certainly hasn't forgotten the way his Bucknel' team upset Harvard in 1964: pass, pass, pass. The Crimson aerial defense rates statistically as one of the ten best in the country, but only because Harvard hasn't faced an out-and-out passing attack all year. Penn's only hope for springing an upset is for Wisniewski to riddle the Harvard secondary with passes; the Crimson defensive line is too good for Penn's runners to permeate with any regularity.
The Quaker backfield is not particularly distinguished. Fullback Whit Smith is a hard-running 220-pounder with a 3.0 yard rushing average. Halfback Buzz Hannum, a third-stringer last year, has a 2.9 yard average.
Penn had the largest contingent of returning lettermen in the League this year. The Quakers employed the two-platoon system in 1964, and had ten starting linemen returning to this year's team.
The Penn line is not especially large, but rival coaches have been talking all season long about the ferocity of their blocking and tackling.
It has been amply proved that Harvard's offense cannot move the ball with any consistency against a good defensive line. The loss of Harvard tackle Steve Diamond will impair the Crimson's attack even further. John McCluskey's passing has been improving slowly, but it is not so good that Harvard can count on him to supply much offensive thrust.
As usual, then, the burden will rest on Harvard's brilliant defensive unit, which has yielded only 30 points in five games. If they are not fazed by constant passing, and if the team is not mentally "down" after the loss to Dartmouth. Harvard should win today by about 10 to 7.