Last year at this time. Harvard football coach Joe Restic had a complicated offense imported from the Canadian pros and a lot of confused players left over from the days of the Yovicin sweep-right sweep-left-and-pray-for-the, defense system. Consequently, Harvard roared out to lose its opener to Holy Cross, a team that had not won a game in almost three years.
By the end of Restic's rookie year, however, his ball club had jelled, and with the aid of such Restic trickery as a quarterback-in-motion play, the Crimson stepped on Yale, 35-16. Last Wednesday, after two weeks of preseason practice Restic leaned forward in his chair flashed his salesman's smile and chortled. The systems in. If Restics players really can understand and execute the complexities of his fat play book. Harvard will be hot this year On paper at least the Crimson has the talent to a serious contender for the Ivy League title
A lack of clutch plays in crucial situations contributed as much to Harvard's early season losses in 71 as the team's lacks of familiarity with the Restic system. And unfortunately for the Crimson, the 72 team has lost its most on sistent student clutch player halfback Richie Gatto who is campaigning for McGovern this fall, Gatto's departure casts some uncertainty over what appeared to be a really superb backfield. Without Gatto, Restic will be forced to start a halfback who suffers from the same inexperience with the Restic system that plagued the Crimson in '71.
Mark Wheeler a transfer student who spent his season of ineligibility learning the opposition's plays to run against the defense in practice will replace Gatto. Wheeler is faster then Gatto, though, and his credentials are impressive to say the least--he was All-City. All-State, and All-American in high school, and as a sophomore at the University of Washington in a league considerably tougher than the Ivies, he scored four touchdowns in five games while averaging over four and a half yards a carry. Restic will also use Nick Leone, a junior track star who showed some good moves early in the '71 season before being hobbled by an injury.
One halfback spot will be held down by Captain Ted DeMars, who has the cutting ability, acceleration, and knack for finding the holes to rate with Yale's Dick Jauron as one of the two best running backs in the League.
Restic's hopes for an explosive backfield have been lampened by an injury to Rod Foster. Restic finally convinced Foster to give up his quarterback career (with the persuasive arguments of Jim Stoeckel and Fric Crone on his side) and use his considerable running talent as a fullback. But Foster is nursing an injured ankle, and he has missed the pre-season practice he needed to master his new position. If Foster isn't ready in time, Restic will have to rely on the shaky ankles and ailing back of Steve Hall a good blocking fullback who saw more time in the last year, or two lesser knowns JV veteran Marc Mayberg and sophomore Phil Allen. Semor Chuck Krohn a fullback who started the last four games in '71 has quit the team.
The depth chart in a lot more encouraging at the quarterback position Restic is blessed with Jimmy Stoeckel a junior who broke passing records records his first varsity game only to go under the knife two weeks later, and Eric Crone, who came back from as early season injury to blitz the Yale defense in the season finale. Restic's favorite word, "flexibility," calls for playing time for both quarterbacks. Each has different talents to offer--Stoeckel is a smart play caller and a good play-action short passer, while Crone is a drop back passer with a rifle arm well suited to the long bomb. Milt Holt, who threw seven touchdown passes while sharing the quarterback duties on last year's freshman team, has also drawn Restic's praise during preseason practice. And senior Frank Guerra, a frustrated veteran of three seasons on the bench (and one who may have the best understanding of the Restic system) has not been counted out of the quarterback race.
The Crimson put the ball in the air more times than any team in Harvard history, last year. With a promising new split end on the receiving side, sophomore Pat McInally, the Crimson may well outdo themselves this season. Restic effusively praised McInally, who may duplicate his record breaking year on the freshman team (eleven TD's an average of over 24 yards per catch), if his six foot six inch, 160 lb frame is not broken in half by a defensive back.
Mclnally is also a long ranger held goal kicker--booted two 19 yarders in high school.
However if any offensive linemen succumb to injuries this season Mclnally Howard Keene and ends will be running pass patterns for exercise while Restic's mans talented quarterback eat the football Restic calls the lack of depth in the offensive line his biggest problem" Standout tackle Monte Bowens is the only returning starter on the offensive interior line. Fortunately, last year's second string linemen saw a lot of action under the Restic system of giving under classmen a lot of playing time. The system made for some unhappy seniors, but now Restic is congratulating himself on his foresight.
Tackis Bit Perry and Tim Manna and guard Bob Kircher all saw more action on the line than either Crone or Stockel did at quarterback. Restic also has two strong transfers to beef up the line--guard Doug Crim, a sophomore letterman at Indiana and a high-school All-Ohio selection, and center Mike Evans, a 250 lb. former UCLA letterman who was once named "Player of the Week" during his sophomore season, and who won the Outstanding Freshman Award during his first year at UCLA. Two other linemen, guard Mark Bauer and center Steve Snavely, saw about 60 minutes apiece of playing time last year.
If any of his small group of experienced linemen are injured, Restic will have to take a chance on untested and largely unknown players. With reference to his thin offensive line, he commented last Wednesday that the Ivy League title rests on the weekly question, "who's injured?"
The defense has more experience with seven former starters back in the line-up. Mitch Berger, an All-Ivy selection and an aggressive 235 lb. pro football hopeful, and returning starter Mike McHugh, the fourth leading tackler on the team last year, give Harvard two excellent defensive ends. The tackle spot will sorely miss All-Ivy Mark Steiner, but two-year veteran Ed Vena, plus Mike O'Hare and Bill Kettlewell, both of whom saw some playing time, should adequately plug the holes.
Middle guard Spencer Dreischarf has graduated, but according to Restic Sandy Tennant and Fred Smith will be more flexible than Dreischarf at playing both inside linebacker and middle guard, as Harvard switches back and forth from five-and-four-man fronts. Veteran Mark Ferguson returns to inside linebacker with more defensive playing time than anyone except Barger while Jim Westra and Bob Kristoff will provide some linebacking depth.
1971 All-Ivy, team MVP, and Captain Dave Ignacio no longer occupies the rover back position, but his replacement, hard-hitting veteran Steve Golden, should make the most of a rover back's many opportunities to flatten opposing runners and receivers (Ignacio led the team in tackies last year with 60, 19 more than his nearest competitor).