The Crimson has to win this afternoon's football game against Dartmouth in the Stadium to have any chance of even tying for the Ivy Crown. And for the first time in three years. Harvard actually has a decent chance against the Big Green.
The Indians come to Cambridge with a 13-game winning streak and a 4-0 record so far on the 1971 campaign. Dartmouth and Cornell are the only undefeated Ivy teams, both with 2-0 marks.
Harvard is 1-1 after last week's disappointing loss to the Big Red. It is hard to conceive of a set of occurrences which would enable the Crimson to lose another game and still tie for the Ivy League championship. So today's game rates a must.
Luckily for the Crimson, Dartmouth's 1970 powerhouse, which crunched Harvard, 37-14, last year, was decimated by the graduation of 16 of 22 starters. Although the Green's slate is unblemished, it just isn't rolling up the big scores like last season. Witness the close calls of the last two Saturdays against perennial Ivy doormats, Penn (19-3) and Brown (10-7).
Last season we outclassed everybody in the East," said Dartmouth coach Jake Crouthamel, in his first year as Bob Blackman's replacement. "We had better personnel than anyone in the league. This year we don't. So it makes things a lot more even."
Despite the losses due to graduation, Dartmouth's defense hasn't appeared to suffer very much. Led by middle linebacker, captain Wayne Young, the defense has allowed only 29 points in the first four games and has kept the Indians in some contests when the offense couln't get moving.
"They like to play a defensive, field-position type ballgame," Crimson coach Joe Restic said yesterday. "If they control the tempo of the game with their defense, we'll be in bad shape."
Restic rated the offenses of the two squads "even up." Neither Dartmouth nor the Crimson has been consistent on the attack so far.
"The last couple of games it's been three downs and punt every time we get the ball," said Crouthamel.
Dartmouth's offense centers around an adequate ground game, with halfbacks Brendan O'Neill and Rick Klupchak the main ball carriers.
Bill Pollock, who moved into the quarterback position vacated by graduating All-Ivy Jim Chasey, is a good scrambler and likes to run with the ball on the roll-out option. But Pollock's passing hasn't been too impressive so far this season.
"I don't think Bill has shown what he can do. He's not a Chasey, but he does run well and has a lot of poise," Crouthamel said.
The Crimson has also been plagued by passing difficulties. Rod Foster has been specializing in interceptions, throwing his ninth of the year in the final minutes of last weekend's game. Foster threw well in the last period of the Cornell game, but still failed to come up with the important completion.
Foster, nursing a bruised shoulder, will probably start at quarterback for the Crimson this afternoon, as Eric Crone's hyperextended knee is still giving him trouble.
Restic indicated earlier in the week that should Foster continue to have serious passing problems, sophomore Jim Stoekel or junior Frank Guerra may be called upon to pick up the offense.
"We have to have more balance between our running and passing," Restic said. "We need the big pass in certain situations. We're going to go with the guy who can give it to us," he added.
No matter what or who Restic comes up with to solve the aerial problems, the Crimson can count on its running game, which has been steadily improving every Saturday. Fullback Steve Hall's return two games ago provided the necessary blocking for both Rich Gatto and Ted DeMars. DeMars has had two outstanding games in a row--145 and 98 yards.
Besides the possible absence of Crone, the Crimson will be missing only two players due to injuries. Halfback Nick Leone and defensive back Rich Bridich are both out with ankle injuries.
Cornell at Yale
Dartmouth at Harvard
Penn at Princeton
Brown at Colgate
Columbia at Rutgers