In an effort to spark his offense, Harvard Coach Joe Restic will start Adam Lazarre-White at quarterback for today's nationally televised 12:30 p.m. game versus Northeastern (0-2) at The Stadium.
Lazarre-White, the superior runner among the Harvard QB candidates, gets the nod this week because Restic wants his offense to increase its time of possession.
"We've got to take the pressure off our defense by controlling the ball," Restic said. "It's unfair to that group when you don't get the ball going, when you don't control the ball and keep them off the field."
In the Crimson's 9-6 win over Columbia last week, the defense was on the field for 20 minutes in the second half, including 20 consecutive plays.
Harvard (1-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy) is attempting to extend its modest winning streak to five games, dating back to last year's Brown game--Restic's 100th career win.
Senior Tom Priore engineered the squad against Columbia, gaining 48 yards on the ground out of the option. However, Restic went to his aerial attack only seven times.
For today's ESPN game, the call goes to Lazarre-White, who has no varsity experience at quarterback, but has logged time as a running back.
"[Lazarre-White's] getting more and more comfortable at quarterback," Captain Tom Callahan said, adding, "We're hoping to beat North-eastern on the ground. They're huge, but they're not a fast team."
On the defensive line, Northeastern possesses a pair of Huskies at the defensive tackle positions in Albert Quintero and Joe Griesbaum, whose numbers combine to 12-ft., 10-in. and 540 pounds. Senior linebacker Joe Bonnell spearheads the defensive unit with 27 tackles in the first two games.
In their season opener, the Huskies fell to Delaware State, 43-16. Last week, Youngstown State ran circles around them and coasted to a 37-3 win.
The Crimson defense, led by ECAC I-AA Player of the Week Joe Gordian at linebacker, will have to concentrate on Northeastern's beefy right side. Expect the Huskies to try and run on the Crimson to counteract Harvard's blitzing schemes and Northeastern QB Dan Daponde's 23 percent completion rate.
Junior fullback Cal Johnson leads the Huskies running attack with 99 yards on 27 carries. Northeastern's other offensive threat is Daponde, who has run the ball 25 times in the first two games. Halfback Tony Morgan leads the team with four receptions.
But Northeastern has been dominated on the ground, 660 to 287 yards. This plays right into Restic's hands. With the insertion of Lazarre-White at quarterback, the Crimson's strength will be geared even more towards the running game and controlling the ball. In the option offense, Lazarre-White will be able to dish the ball to senior running backs Andy Bell, Bert Smyers and Chuck Greene.
Bell gained 68 yards against the Lions, while Smyers was also impressive, gaining 54 yards on just nine carries.
In playing the non-Ivy Huskies, Restic gets a chance to try different combinations of players and plays in an attempt to find a successful formula to keep the Crimson in first place in the Ivies. Besides Lazarre-White, expect to see other new faces in the Harvard backfield, including some of the younger backs such as sophomore Michael Hill.
"I was dissapointed that we didn't have a chance to put some of the younger backs in the game," Restic said after last week's game.
The Crimson and the Huskies last met three years ago in what would prove to be a pivotal game in Harvard's 1987 season. Harvard's 27-24 victory propelled the Tom Yohe and Tony Hinz-led Crimson to an Ivy championship season.