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On the Bench

By Evan W. Thomas

On Saturday morning, I wrote a column saying the football team, and especially the defense and the starting quarterback, were pretty incompetent, and I predicted Harvard would lose to Cornell. On Saturday afternoon, the most abused individuals starred, and the football team not only beat Cornell, it blew them out of the Stadium.

I have been eating my words since then, and they taste like the burgers in the press box. I was way off, particularly about the defense. Cornell had an offense that on paper and film looked awesome (admittedly against the likes of Colgate, Rutgers and Penn), but Harvard's defense completely squashed it.

In the first half, I thought turnovers and dropped passes ruined Cornell's attack--they were only forced to punt once. But in the second half, the starting defense stopped Cornell cold.

Apparently, the pass defense can get away with size and speed limitations, especially if Restic's defensive strategy is so keenly attuned to the opposition's attack, and rookies like Dave St. Pierre and Joe Sciolla continue to perform well. Restic said last week that he's be "guessing" a lot, and he obviously guessed right a high percentage of the time.

I said on Saturday that the defense didn't have the stuff to win many (read any) games, and I was clearly wrong, although Dartmouth may stick the other shoe in my mouth.

I still worry about Eric Crone's consistency, however. Against Cornell, he showed great poise as well as natural ability. His statistics were not impressive, but he kept his cool under pressure in play action and broken play situations. However, unless he has finally tapped some special reserve of confidence, I still question his ability to do the job week after week.

I have doubted the players' ability to make the Restic system work, and on Saturday they proved me wrong. I apologize to the individuals I unfairly maligned.

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