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."
The elusive Winn, who dazzled opponents and charmed Crimson fans after assuming a starting role early on in the year, led the team in rushing with 433 yards in 98 attempts for a 4.4 average. Winn also led the team in kickoff returns with a 29.9 average.
Also starting with Miller and Winn will be Mark Taylor. Key backups for this group are letterman Tom Lincoln at full back and sophomores Larry Schember and Nick Wilce at halfback.
Running Backs: Excellent
Receivers--Trying to replace the likes of McInally and Curtin is, of course, impossible. But Restic fells that he has some personnel who'll do a good job.
Junior Jim Curry figures to be the Crimson's main man this year in the pass catching department. Curry saw limited action playing behind McInally, but he has the potential to be an excellent wide receiver with all the assets of speed, good hands and moves. Harvard fans will remember the fine 48-yard catch he made in the Yale game last year on a pass from McInally.
There is a bit more experience at tight end, since Curtin was hurt most of the year. Senior Tom Hagerty and junior Bob McDermott, both lettermen, got valuable playing time last year and have the inside track on the starting post.
OFFENSIVE LINE--Harvard has four starters returning from last year, and that should say enough about the Crimson's strength in this area. Two-time all-Ivy tackle, Captain Dan Jiggetts returns as the bulwark of the Harvard offensive line. At center, All-Ivy senior Carl Culig returns. Returning vets Joe Antonellis and Kevin McCafferty will man the guards posts. The only vacancy is Brian Hehir's tackle spot Jerry McGillicuddy and Bob Wagner are the leading candidates to take over the starting berth.
Offensive line: Excellent
DEFENSIVE LINE--So you want to know about Harvard's defensive line? Well there's ah... and then there's, ah... --which pretty much sums up this year's defensive front situation. Everybody that started last year is gone. Graduation took away four starters, and mononucleosis claimed standout junior tackle Charlie Kaye as a victim. All of which leaves Restic and staff with a major rebuilding job to say the least.
At tackle, letterman Peter Mee, who played a big role in the six-man front Harvard threw at Yale last year, is the only person with substantial experience. As for the other tackle spot, Mitch Witten will hopefully be able to put his huge 6-5 240 frame to good use.
At end, 6-5 240 letterman Walter Herbert leads a pack of candidates for the starting roles. Middle guard is also pretty much up in the air.
Defensive line: Cloudy
LINEBACKER--As surely as the defensive line is the potential Achilles heel of the Harvard defense, the linebacking position is the Crimson's defensive forte. Two-year starter and two-time All-Ivy Eric Kurzweil, who led the team in tackles last season, returns as does rugged junior Tommy Joyce.
At adjuster, George Newhouse, All-Ivy as a sophomore, has the position nailed down. Main reserves at linebacker are lettermen Bill Collatos and Ted Jadick.
DEFENSIVE SECONDARY--Here is another area where Harvard has some experience. Senior safety Fran Cronin, who logged more playing time than any other defensive performer last season, leads the group in the defensive backfield.
Lettermen Jon Judge and Bill Emper should handle the corner position adequately enough to make up for the graduation losses of Joe Sciolla and Mike Page.
Defensive secondary: Good
KICKING--The Harvard kicking game was good enough last year with McInally doing the kicking off and punting and Alky Tsitsos handling the field goals and PAT's.
Split end Curry looks like he'll take over almost all of the kicking chores, as he filled in when Tsitsos was hurt, and is the only Crimson player who has punted in a varsity contest.