Crimson Offense Sputtering As Ivy Season Draws Near
The two traditional patsies have been played. And now, as the Crimson football team looks forward to an unusually rugged Ivy schedule, the big question is: What's wrong with the Harvard offense?
Coach Joe Restic's offensive attack has been neither as wide open nor as prolific as expected, even against two relatively weak defenses. Quarterback Rod Foster put the ball in the air only 14 times Saturday afternoon.
The early interceptions off the arm of Foster undoubtedly forced Restic to retreat from his preferred "balanced" offense to a running game which proved effective until Harvard got inside Northeastern's 20-yard line.
Restic insists that the main difficulties have been caused by injuries to end Bill Craven, backs Steve Hall and Steve Harrison, and quarterback Eric Crone.
"The loss of personnel in our backfield has forced us to shuffle men into new positions, which hurts our passing game and doesn't allow me to use all the motion plays I would like." Restic said after Saturday's game. He added that he could have made good use of Crone to pick up the passing attack.
If the problem is indeed injuries, it will be at least two weeks before all the wounded are healthy again. By that time, the Crimson will have played both Columbia and Cornell, and may be out of the Ivy race.
But sitting in the locker room after Saturday's weak performance. Foster offered another explanation for Harvard's failure to generate an effective offensive game. "We just don't know the offense as well as we thought a couple of weeks ago. We don't have it yet. At least in my own case. I'm still having to do too much thinking while I'm playing," he said. "We're having too many plays thrown at us to learn how to run them well."
All-Ivy guard Jerry Hevern explained it somewhat differently. "It's a cross between the new system being actually hard, and our just thinking it's hard," he said. "I find myself making mistakes and saying I don't know the system, instead of telling myself I know the system and made a mistake on this particular play."
If Harvard's offensive woes do indeed lie in not being able to adapt to and execute Restic's complex offense, then it may be a long Ivy season.
Columbia 22 Princeton 20
Colgate 28 Yale 21
Cornell 31 Rutgers 17
Penn 17 Brown 16
Dartmouth 28 Holy Cross 9
Harvard 17 Northeastern 7