If the Bill Parcells dream-world of mistake-free football really exists, then the 1995 edition of Harvard's gridiron squad is holding a non-stop first-class ticket to Tuna Town while Fordham is stuck in economy class with a changeover in Tulsa.
In two games, Harvard (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) has turned the ball over once and has been penalized six times for 46 yards. On the other hand, Fordham (1-3) has turned the ball over 11 times (six fumbles, five interceptions) in four games and has been penalized 33 times for 285 yards.
The Crimson hopes to make this discrepancy even more pronounced today, when Harvard hosts Fordham at Harvard Stadium at 1 p.m.
Although this contrast is the most obvious one to draw between the two teams, theses stats get to the heart of the differences between the teams' styles.
Although Coach Tim Murphy continues to preach a balanced attack, Harvard has focused on a ball-control, grind-it-out offense so far this season that is centered around junior tailback Eion Hu. Fordham's attack, however, is wide-open and quarter-back-centric.
"Hopefully those things will surface tomorrow," Murphy said. "When you throw the ball as much as Fordham does, both bad and good things can happen.. On one hand, you are one throw away from changing your field position significantly. On the other, removers occur more frequently."
Despite its propensity to gift-wrap the ball for opponents, the Fordham offense has actually compiled some pretty impressive statistics in four games. The Rams are averaging 353.3 yards per contest in total offense, while senior quarterback Joe Moorhead, who holds several Fordham offensive records, is averaging 276 passing yards.
"Joe Moorhead is a threat every time he has ball," Murphy said. "We need to get pressure on him. We want to play zone but we will blitz him if we have to. We do not want to let him get in his rhythm. He can pick you apart if he does."
The Ram-shackle running game is a different story. Fordham uses a one-back, three-receiver set and senior running back Won Kyu Rim gets the ball about as often as that offensive package implies.
Rim has yet to prove too worrisome to opposing defenses; he has 150 net yards on the season and has been tackled for 30 yards worth of losses.
Finally, only 23 of Fordham's 78 first downs have come on the ground.
"Fordham does not have a strong running game, but their offense [read: passing game] has chewed up a lot of offensive yardage," Murphy said.
Harvard has a strong running game and has chewed up a lot of offensive yardage as well. Last week, workhorse back Eion Hu (229 yards on 29 carries, three touchdowns) propelled the Crimson to a record 572 yards of total offense.
Still, Murphy isn't quite satisfied.
"We would like to mix it up more," Murphy said. "Last week against Colgate, we ran the ball at will. But we have to be successful against their run defense. We will throw it about 30 times per game."
Even though it averages only 250 pounds across the defensive line, Fordham has held opponents to a respectable 3.6 yards per carry and 176 yards per game in 1995. Junior right tackle Carl Barbera leads the defense with 40 tackles (19 unassisted), while sophomore linebacker Jack Pieracini has 39.
"I think they're impressive against the run," Murphy said. "Overall, they're not a tremendously strong defensive team. But if you look at them against the run, they have been tough. They take away the inside running game. We will need to throw the ball to loosen them up."
Fordham is coming off of a 34-14 home pasting at the hands of Dartmouth. In a predictably sloppy game in which both teams turned the ball over fives times, Dartmouth extended a 14-7 halftime lead with three touch-downs in the second half.
Compounding their usual turnover problems, the Ram's special teams seemed to be asleep at the wheel against the Big Green. Fordham botched a punt snap, which led to Dartmouth's first touchdown and a 6-0 first-quarter lead. The Big Green also blocked two Ram punts.
"The Colgate game is ancient history for us," said Murphy, referring to Harvard's 28-8 stomping of the Red Raiders in Hamilton, N.Y. "We have to go out and prove we're good every week, and we're going to have to prove it tomorrow."
Morehead eclipsed Fordham's alltime passing yards mark of 4,247 yards last we against Dartmouth. Morehead also leads the Fordham all-time list in completions (375) and attempts (741).
Eion Hu has topped the 100-yard mark six times in his 11-game varsity career. For 1995, he is fifth in Division I-AA in rushing.
Harvard is 4-2 in its last six away games, but just 1-7 in its last eight contests at the Stadium. Harvard plays four of its next five games at home.
Harvard is looking for back-to-back wins during a season for the first-time since 1991. The Crimson beat Yale in 1992 and then opened 1993 with a win against Columbia.