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On the Bench

Crimson Weaknesses

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The greatest weakness of the Harvard offense is the lack of a smart, consistent quarterback. Eric Crone is strong and fast, and he throws bullets, but he seems to spend most of his time pumping the ball and vainly looking for his receivers, who are usually wide open.

He is regularly stricken with the early game overthrows, and he is one of the few quarterbacks ever to still be faking a pass after running five yards over the line of scrimmage. Crone gets hot occasionally (fortunately, he's hit his groove in the first half against Yale for the last two years), and he never really looks bad enough to permanently find a seat on the bench. But he rarely has the consistency to "put it all together" for four quarters, much less the whole season.

Jimmy Stoekel, a good short passer, lacks Crone's arm and speed, but he showed greater poise and steadiness in two of his three games last year. Dartmouth and Penn. In his last effort, against Princeton, he threw poorly, but his pass blocking was non-existent. Stoekel's talent limitations reduce the potential of Restic's system, but Crone appears incapable of realizing the system's potential with any regularity.

Despite all the pre-season talk of a wealth of good quarterbacks and a thin offensive line, it is the line that has consistently performed well. Harvard is hurting at the guard position after Columbia though, so today's game will be the line's first real test of depth.

Harvard does have probably the best one-two punch running game in the League with DeMars and Wheeler. Unfortunately, Restic's system demands that its back catch as well as run, and neither back has shown great hands (especially Wheeler). Wheeler's speed more than compensates for the loss of Richie Gatto as a runner, but Harvard sorely misses Gatto, who led the team in receptions last year, as a receiver.

The defense is not going to win many ball games this year. The front four and linebackers have performed well enough (rookie middle guard Sandy Tennant has been a pleasant surprise), but the much-maligned secondary, despite its renaissance against Jackson-less Columbia, will come in for a lot more abuse before the season's over.

Restic readily admits the defensive backfield is too small and too slow to stop a decent passer. Cornell has a good passer and a good runner who should continue to score at least 20 points against the Crimson. The onus is then on the offense, and Restic's system does have the potential to cut loose. However, Harvard's attack lacks the consistency to produce week after week. Given a vulnerable defensive secondary, a few good opposing quarterbacks, and the law of averages, that may well mean a 5-4 season.

Predictions:

Yale 24 - Columbia 19

Dartmouth 37 - Brown 6

Penn 30 - Lehigh 14

Colgate 14 - Princeton 10

Cornell 26 - Harvard 21

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