Fitzpatrick, Mazza In Midseason Form

Back At It
David E. Stein

Captain and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, shown in earlier action, was healthy for the first time since last October and impressive in limited action during Friday's annual spring game at Harvard Stadium.

Four months before the Harvard football team opens its season against Holy Cross, the Crimson faithful got a glimpse of what their team might bring to the table for the 2004 campaign.

In a game marred at times by the expectedly sloppy play of spring, the white-clad Harvard offense, led by captain Ryan Fitzpatrick and freshman receiver Corey Mazza, beat the defense 20-9.

Fitzpatrick and the first-team offense showed their ability to strike quickly, as the quarterback connected with Mazza on two touchdown strikes, including a 10-yard slant that Mazza broke for an 88-yard score.

Two Harvard defenders missed tackles on the play and then watched as Mazza outran the entire secondary, exposing a defensive weakness that the Crimson will have to address when it reconvenes this fall.

Despite a dearth of receiving options, Harvard’s air attack came out flying with Fitzpatrick and Mazza already in mid-season form. The freshman, now the most experienced receiver for the Crimson, finished the day with five catches for 163 yards.

But the game also contained the inevitable mistakes of spring. Fitzpatrick was picked off by junior linebacker Bobby Everett in the end zone, and during one sequence in the fourth quarter sophomore receiver Corey Waller—who is vying for playing time in Harvard’s heavily depleted receiving corps—dropped passes on consecutive plays that both would have resulted in big gains.

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MAZZA BALLS

MAZZA BALLS

BIGGER IS BETTER

In his last game action, Fitzpatrick was putting on a heroic display in the Crimson’s 37-19 victory over Yale.

Playing with a torn meniscus, the junior hobbled through the game, leading Harvard to victory with his arm, but barely resembling the scrambling quarterback that had confounded defenses throughout the season.

Now, six months later, he’s all healed and back making defenses look bad.

Over the winter, Fitzpatrick bulked up—he now weighs in at 223 lbs. according to Harvard coach Tim Murphy, up from a listed 210 last season—hoping the extra muscle would make him more stable and durable in the pocket.

But any opposing defenses thinking that the extra weight might slow Fitzpatrick down were disproved on the very first series from scrimmage.

On a play-action-pass, Fitzpatrick quickly felt the pocket close in around him and dashed through an opening in the middle of the line, side-stepped two defenders, and sprinted down field before sliding to safety 20 yards later.

It was a welcome sign for the Crimson, despite the no-contact rules in effect for the game, and exactly what the coaching staff wanted to see from a quarterback who can be just as dangerous with his legs as with his arm.

Fitzpatrick, who commanded the first team throughout much of the first half before being given the rest of the game off, completed the day with 149 yards on 4-of-10 passing and 49 yards rushing on seven carries.

RUNNING BACK ROTATION

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