This season marks the 101st year of Harvard football, but whether the Crimson will kick off its second century of gridiron action as successfully as it ended its first 100 years is an open question at this point.
Last season was by far the most exciting Harvard has had since 1968. The Crimson snatched a share of the Ivy title with Yale by defeating an unbeaten, united Bulldog squad with a last ditch drive in the final frantic minutes to clinch a co-companionship. The win left Harvard with a 7-2 record for the year.
But that was last year, and the glory of 1974 is a thing of the past. And so too are the Saturday heroes that brought the Crimson to an Ivy title. Gone is dynamic quarterback Milt Holt, holder of the Harvard seasonal records for touchdowns thrown and passing yardage.
Gone are his favorite receivers, All-American flanker Pat McInally, who holds every pass receiving record in Crimson annals, and tight end Pete Curtin, perhaps the best tight end the Crimson has ever had. And gone is the entire starting defensive front line from last year.
Coach Joe Restic and his staff are now faced with the realities of 1975--of trying to come up with replacements for the graduation losses, a task made all the harder by the illness of defensive line coordinator Carl Schuette, who is sidelined for the year.
Restic does have a lot of key people back from last season, and if he can fill the major gaps, the Crimson will be in the running for a second straight Ivy crown in what should prove to be another wild Ivy League season.
Below is a position-by-position evaluation of this year's Harvard team.
QUARTERBACK--For the first time in his five years here, Restic is without a quarterback. None of the present group of quarterbacks has completed a pass in varsity action.
Instead of Eric Crone, Rod Foster, Jimmy Stoeckel, and Milt Holt to choose from, Restic has a Mike Lynch, a Jim Kubacki, a Steve O'Brien, and a slew of others competing for the starting job.
"Right now I couldn't say who our quarterback will be," Restic said early in training camp. Hopefully, someone will take charge of the situation and Restic's search for a signalcaller won't continue too far into the schedule. Quarterback outlook: ?
RUNNING BACKS--Harvard has its two top backs from the last two seasons returning in fullback Neal Miller and halfback Tommy Winn.
Miller and Winn are similar in many respects. Both are small (Miller is 5-9 195, Winn is 5-8 170) even by Ivy standards. But their main assets are extraordinary quickness and pass catching ability that make them a double threat for opposing defenses.
"Neither Neal nor Tommy is what you would call power type runners," Restic said, "but they make up for their lack of size with their great quickness"--a quality Restic is sure to exploit with his multiflex offense.
Last season was pretty much a lost cause for Miller after he led the team in rushing as a sophomore. Nagging injuries kept him out of action for most of the year, but the problems that plagued him last season seem to have gone.
"Neal is in good health," Restic said, "and he's ready to go."