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For the last three years, Cornell run a balanced attack. As Bennie Beach observed, Ed Marinaro had two eyes, two arms, and two legs, and he WAS the Big Red Offense.
When Marinaro graduated to warm the beach for the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, everyone figured that Cornell coach Jack Munick would have to junk the old Marinaro left-Marinaro-right-Marinaro-center offensive attack. Nothing has been further from the truth.
When the Big Red invade Harvard Stadium this afternoon. Musick's troops will still do things in the old way -- only now there is another runner operating out of the tailback slot. Sophomore Don Malone, whom people around Ithica are now calling the "new Marinaro," has inherited old Number 44's slot. And from the way he's played in Cornell's first three games, the Big Red has lost nothing in the exchange.
Cornell, Ivy League co-champions a year ago, has picked up right where it left off a year ago, impressively winning its first three contents without a setback. The Big Red crushed Colgate, 37-7, stomped Rutgers, 36-22, and, last week, humbled Ivy League rival Penn, 24-20.
The play of Malone has been one of the vital forces behind Cornell's fast start. The halfback has picked up 427 yards in the first three games, for a 142 per game average. Malone is a workhorse in the Marinaro mold -- he has lugged the ball 84 times in three games for a 5.1-yard average.
Cornell's offensive similarity to the Marinaro era ends there, however. Unlike the past, the Big Red finally has other offensive weapons to go with a top ball carrier. Quarterback Marc Allen has matured into as strong a passer as there is in the Ivies. Allen threw over 20 times a game in the three contests to date, completing 50 percent of his passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns. Last weekend Allen was phenomenal, hitting 18 of 38 passes for 252 yards and two TD's.
Allen likes to look for George Milosevic, a 210-pounder who has grabbed 16 passes this season, for 206 yards and a touchdown. Ten of those receptions came last week. Allen also has Barrett Rosser, an ex-quarterback speedstar operating out of the backfield, and John McKeown who outleaped two Penn defensive backs last week to grab the scoring pass that gave Cornell the win with only 36 seconds to go.
The word in Ithica is offense, and the the Big Red's statistics are there to prove it. In three games Cornell has run up 796 yards rushing, 406 yards passing, and scoring at a 32.3 per game clip, 14th best in the nation.
Defensively Cornell is led by linebacker Bob Lally. Lally who goes 6'3", 220, anchored the Big Red fortifications through the first three contests. Junior Don Lombardo is a strong performer in the defensive line from his middle guard spot and 240-pound Wes Hicks looked impressive last week at right tackle. Mike Phillips, another tackle who has been injured, should return to the lineup today to bolster the front wall.
The defensive secondary could give the Crimson some trouble. Last week they held Penn's Don Clune, considered by many to be the best receiver in the East to a mere 36 yards. Harvard has no one in Clune's class and could be in for a tough time in the air.
Cornell uses a monster back to the strong side of the field, in most situations. Harvard coach Joe Restic plans to combat the monster with motion to the weak side, then running back into the Big Red strength.
Cornell is nowhere nearly as strong defensively as offensively. Cornell yielded over 20 points in both the last two games and has given up almost 300 yards per game rushing and passing this year. If the Big Red can be had, they'll be had on defense.
For Restic, coming off an upset win over Columbia last week, this is the second big game in a row. Cornell is by far the most awesome offensive team that the Crimson has faced -- or will face -- this season. And Harvard is below full strength in a bad way.
Last Saturday's win over Columbia took a severe injury toll in Restic's troops. Most serious are the blows that the defense received.
Adjuster Steve Golden, who was a major reason Columbia's Jesse Parks gained only 21 yards in receptions against Harvard will miss today's great with a neck injury suffered while judging a Lion running back.
In Golden's absence, Restic plans to use four defensive backs most of the time, rather then keep backup adjuster back Bort Broyer in there all the time. Regardless of who actually plays though. Harvard's secondary, could be in for a long afternoon. The defensive backs played well last week, but were helped along considerably by the sandwich play authored by ends Fred Smith and Mike McHugh that sent Lion quarterback Don Jackson mumbling incoherently to the sidelines.
Without Jackson, Columbia was unable to generate much of a passing attack, and Allen, while less highly touted, is every bit as good a passer as Jackson.
Harvard's front seven is physically hurting, too, which could be a factor against the high-powered offense that the Big Red will run at Harvard. Linebacker Mark Ferguson has a hyperextended wrist and missed three day's practice last week. Left end will be manned by two people who have a season-long history of injuries. Fred Smith should start on the basis of his performance against Columbia, but Smith has a bulky make that delayed his entry into the lineup until last week. The other left end is Mitch Berger, who missed last week's contest became of floating cartilage lodged in the joint of his knee. It is not known whether he will be able to play, and he now only light action this week in practice.
Offensively, Restic will go with like same lineup -- at least at the number of healthy bodies makes that possible. The interior line is the hardest hit in the injury mart, especially at guard. Original started at left guard. Bob Kircher, is still out with a neck injury. His replacement, John Friar, who played well last week, is also out. This week Restic has been working JV lineman Keith Schappert at the position and has been experimenting there with tackle Bill Ferry as well.
Regular center Steve Snavely injured his ankle last week and will be replaced in the starting lineup by Mike Evans. At tackle the injury problem is no less acute. Monte Bowens strained his back against Columbia and his states is questionable. He will go as long as he holds up. If Ferry moves to guard and Bowens can't go. Restic is going to, have to do some desperate juggling to comic up with a line. Depth was the major problems in the offensive interior as the season started, and with the sudden rash of injuries, the weakness is becoming all the more apparent.
To compound the problem, night end John Haggerty came up with a charley horse this week, and it is questionable whether he will play. Haggerty is the Crimson's leading receiver as well as being a strong inside blocker. Haggerty's original backup Howard Keenan has already been lost for the year with a shoulder separation, so Harvard is dangerously thin at the position.
In the backfield, the major problem is fullback where starter Mare Mayberg is out with a a banged up ankle. Mayberg's backup Rod Foster missed both practices and meetings this week, and it is unlikely that he will play.
That leaves Steve Hall and Phil Allen for fullbacks, and Allen is just getting over injury problems himself.
For today's game, the toughest yet of the season, the Crimson looks more like the cast of "General Hospital" than a football team. An old adage says that football means playing with pain. For Harvard today, the Crimson had better take it to heart.
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