Junior Neil Rose should start at quarterback next week.
On Saturday, the honor went to sophomore Barry Wahlberg, whom Harvard football Coach Tim Murphy rewarded for his good performance in practice. Next Saturday, Rose should be rewarded for his better performance when it counted.
The numbers don't lie: In two-and-a-half quarters Wahlberg threw almost as many interceptions as completions, going 4-of-16 with 3 INTs for 54 yards. Rose, meanwhile, was a much tidier 7-of-9 for 78 yards and no interceptions.
"Barry really struggled today," Murphy said. "Everyone who has watched this kid sees that he's got a gun of an arm, but he really struggled."
The scant times Wahlberg successfully found a receiver, he did offer glimpses of his prodigious talent. Three of his four completions occurred on one drive early in the second quarter, in which he hit passes of 19, 18 and 15 yards. On third-and-9 from the 50-yard line, he drilled a pass in stride to sophomore wideout Carl Morris at the 33, which Morris then took another five yards.
The Crimson had to settle for a field goal on the drive, yet it was enough to offer proof that Wahlberg, making his first varsity appearance, has the tools to play at this level.
But for the rest of the game, Wahlberg simply looked uncomfortable in the pocket. He struggled to make reads and had difficulty surveying more than one passing option. Often on a snap, he would look directly at one side of the field and if the primary receiver was not open he didn't know what to do with the ball.
Blame it in part on jitters, part on inexperience, but for Harvard his poor decision-making must bear the brunt of the blame for the 27-25 loss to Holy Cross.