NEW HAVEN, Conn.--Mano a mano, all day long.
And as the dust settled, they stood alone on the field.
The Harvard secondary knew what it was getting into in the Yale Bowl Saturday, as it has for much of the season. Harvard's dedication to an aggressive, pressuring defense left it to the defensive backs to hold their own in single coverage on the corners of the offense.
Yale understood the situation as well, and attacked downfield with its tandem of athletic wideouts, 6'4 sophomore Jake Borden and 6'6 junior Ken Marschner.
"We knew they would be in a lot of man-to-man," said Yale Coach Jack Siedlecki. "So we tried to mix up post and flag plays."
Indeed Yale went deep on six of 13 pass attempts in the first half, and got single coverage on all six.
All six fell harmlessly incomplete.
With the drop-back-and-sling-it strategy failing, Yale mustered only 49 passing yards on its way to a 14-0 deficit and the intermission.
"We knew [the scheme] would be man-to-man going in," said junior cornerback Glenn Jackson. "All eyes were on us."
Yesterday the Harvard defense rode on the shoulders of a secondary that came into the season a source of concern.
"Going into the season, we questioned the secondary," said Harvard Coach Tim Murphy. "It's a big, rugged secondary, and we knew people would try to pick on it."
That questionable secondary gave up no deep balls yesterday before Harvard switched to a more prevent-based defense in the second half.
But the Crimson defensive backs have stepped up in more than just The Game. Harvard has allowed only two passing touchdowns in the last five weeks.
Yale talked a lot about missed opportunities and being undermanned after the game.
"We had opportunities," Siedlecki said. "We dropped a couple of [potentially] big plays."