If there was a bright side to the discovery last week that Harvard quarterback Tim Davenport was out for the season, it was the fact that the team had two non-league games coming up--two chances for an heir to emerge and get some experience under his belt before the lvy League wars resumed.
Unfortunately, if the quarterback question was any closer to solution after Saturday's muddy debacle, Joe Restic wasn't telling. The day was especially dismal for the two signal callers Restic employed.
Neither Larry Brown nor Burke St. John had much help, of course. The weather was bad enough to slow the best of offenses and the Crimson offensive line was completely overpowered by the Minuteman behemoths.
"It's tough for a kid to come into that situation and do the job," Restic said. "It's like someone trying to do the work at Harvard when he's just gotten out of grammar school. But when you're struggling in one area like that, you just can't afford to make any mistakes." But that's exactly what Harvard did, turning the ball over six times.
It's pretty hard for a quarterback to look good when his runners keep getting stopped in the backfield and he's a marked man every time he drops back to pass, but the sad fact is that neither of the Crimson helmsmen looked capable of being anything but a victim to those circumstances.
For those of you who need to see the stats, Brown connected on seven of 13 tosses, but threw an interception, fumbled four times (Harvard lost three of them), and never threw with any real authority. In his brief fourth-quarter stint, St. John missed three of five, unless you count the one that UMass picked off.
"We were wide open on some passes," Restic said. "But we just didn't get it in there."
One series typified the problems that faced Harvard the whole day. Late in the third quarter, trailing 14-0, the Crimson had its final chance to get back in the game when the Minuteman punter was smothered on his own nine yardline.
But Bobby Kinchen was dumped for a five-yard loss on a sweep, and Brown's short flip to Scott Coolidge only carried down to the seven. Then, the junior signal-caller dropped back to pass and suddenly had UMass's whole defensive line clawing at him. He coughed up the ball, the Minutemen recovered, and it was time to start thinking about next week.
Unfortunately, if UMass provided a tough test for Harvard's fledgling quarterbacks, Colgate figures to make things downright brutal. All the experience in the world won't do a young player any good if all the memories are painful.
But if things are just as muddled seven days from now, waiting until next week won't be enough. We could be in for a very long season.