Giardi Nabs Starting Quaterback Job

Sophomore Passer Tallies Five TD's as Crimson Downs Brown, 43-40, in Scrimmage

Forget about the six-man Battle Royale over the quarterback position.

Forget about Harvard's past weakness at quarterback.

Coach Joe Restic's Multiflex offense has found itself a field general.

After passing for 236 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for two touchdowns in the Crimson's pre-season victory over Brown last Saturday, 43-40, sophomore passer Mike Giardi has landed the starting job, Restic said.

"It was no decision," Restic said. "If [Giardi] puts points on the board like he did today, we won't need a number-two [quarterback]."

Restic has reason to be happy.

Harvard's offense has experienced a metamorphosis. Gone is the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offensive attack of last season.

Granted, last weekend's scrimmage was against Brown, which is not known for its defensive prowess. It was the same Bears squad off of which Harvard scored 52 points last year.

But the contest served to showcase Giardi's many talents.

He can run the option. Or roll out and hit receivers downfield. Or dish off to a back. Or scramble for yards. Or drop back into the pocket and go long.

In fact, Giardi would have thrown for over 300 yards and a fourth touchdown against the Bears had a holding call not nullified a pretty 79-yard scoring strike down the left flank.

After the game, Restic spoke of Giardi as a proud father might speak of his son.

"You saw it today," Restic said. "That was the Multiflex. He has such a grasp of it. He has poise. He takes charge. You gain leadership by way of execution."

Harvard's backfield--one of the richest in the Ivies--was a key element to Giardi's success.

As Giardi rolled out and eluded Brown tacklers, he dished off at the last minute to Mike Hill, Kendrick Joyce, Robb Hirsch and Matt Johnson, who scampered for good yardage. Their threat took the pressure off Giardi.

Hill's 61 yards, Hirsch's 57 yards and Joyce's 42 yards on the ground accounted for half of the Crimson's total yardage.

The media guide describes the Multiflex system as one that combines the best attributes of the wishbone and run-and-shoot offenses.

Giardi seemed to have perfected the wishbone part with his timely pitches that he released when practically in the grasp.

Although Giardi overthrew several of his targets, his passes were generally on the mark. He completed 14 of 23 passes (61 percent).

"For a sophomore to run the show is a really big honor," Giardi said. "I was nervous in the beginning. I didn't want to overthrow the ball, so I just floated it in there. In the second half, I was more conscious of my passes."

Most impressive was Giardi's ability to throw on the run, and throw deep. Less than three minutes into the game, a scrambling Giardi hit Colby Maher on a 19-yard crossing TD strike.

Giardi also showed the ability to complete mid-and-long-range passes.

His 24-yard TD strike to Chris Taylor and four completions for 50 yards to Maher highlighted Giardi's mid-range passing.

But perhaps the day's most impressive play came off of the 79-yard Hail Mary bomb that was called back. Giardi withstood the pressure in the pocket and struck deep. The ability to throw long was one of Harvard's offensive weaknesses last year.

Giardi will start next week against Columbia at The Stadium.