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Calling any contest with Columbia a "must" game seems somewhat ridiculous but no one on Harvard's football team is laughing this week. A Loss to Columbia this afternoon a squad generally predicted for the Ivy cellar, would be deeply humiliating and it would signify the beginning of the end for the Crimson's title defense this fall.
Harvard is hurting after last Saturday's loss-both physically and psychologically. A victory over B.U. was to have been the confirmation of Harvard's excellent chance for the Ivy Championship and when the victory failed to come off, it was a rude shock.
The Crimson was angry after that game. The Columbia game was going to mark the beginning of Harvard's second season, the one that really counted. But now with the entire left side of the offensive line either missing or substandard, with grad Drew Czulewicz still unable to play and with two major injuries in the defensive backfield Columbia doesn't look so easy.
The Lions lost heavily through graduation b?? they seem to have retained more quality than most people will give them credit for Columbia lost its opener to Lafayette 36-22, but the Leopards were coming off a 7-3 season and still had plenty of lettermen left.
Lions Barely Lost
Last week the Lions dropped their Ivy opener to Princeton 21-7, but it should be noted that the score was tied at halftime and only a fumble and a freak punt mistake deep in its own territory cost Columbia the game.
Harvard made the mistake of looking past Columbia last year and it almost lost because of that. Only the stiff Crimson defense stopped a lrage drive that would have put Lions within a conversion pass of victory.
But the Crimson is aware of the Columbia threat this weekend . It is aware that the Harvard running attack will be hampered on plays toward the left side. It is aware that quarterback Dave Smith will have scant time to release his passes. And it is aware that Lion quarterback John Daurio has connected on half of his passes this fall and will explore the inexperienced Harvard secondary at every opportunity.
Boston University guarded the outside cornets well last week, depriving Harvard of its stock power sweep. The Crimson depends on the sweep for its bootleg and halfback option plays and if its effectiveness is limited it often has trouble switching its attack to focus on the resulting defensive weakness that arises from the special coverage.
"We have alternate plays in case the sweep is shut off" says Smith. We just didn't use them effectively enough last week. We'll have to start compensating a lot better.
The Crimson defensive line is superb but it will have to press Daurio hard enough to take the burred off the secondary. Both Holy Cross and B.U. systematically picked the secondary apart and Columbia can do the same. But if Harvard can stop the pass it will stop Columbia.
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