There were a lot of new, encouraging things about Harvard's triumph over Princeton Saturday that should be of great significance for the upcoming war between Harvard and Yale two weeks hence.
First, there was the return of two key offensive performers to the starting line-up, fullback Neal Miller and tight end Pete Curtin.
Both Miller and Curtin missed most of the season with pre-season injuries, Curtin suffering a broken hand, and Miller undergoing an assortment of nagging problems that were sufficient to keep him from playing.
Both had appeared in games previous to the Princeton contest but Saturday was the first time that either had played a significant role in the Crimson offensive production.
Miller was the leading ground gainer for the Crimson, rushing for 58 yards on ten attempts. He consistently ripped holes up the middle through the interior of the Tiger line, giving Harvard an inside running threat. Combined for the first time this season with speedster Tom Winn, Harvard now has a balanced running attack as it prepares to encounter the Bulldogs.
"I thought I had a pretty good game," said Miller. "It's fantastic having Tommy [Winn] beside me, because the other team can't just key on me. Now they also have to watch him on the outside, and that opens things up for me in the middle."
Curtin also had impressive statistics for his first full game back in action. He snared seven passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Together, the six foot five inch Curtin and six foot six inch split end Pat McInally provide the Crimson with the deadliest pass-receiving combination in the Ivy League.
Another big plus for Harvard was the outstanding play of quarterback Milk Holt. The writer who suggested that Milt turn in his Joe Namath-like white shoes had better turn in his reporter's notebook. Milt was simply devastating, completing 16 of 24 passes, good for 234 yards and three TDs. Even more important, Holt threw no interceptions and fumbled only once, off a snap, but recovered it himself. The three TDs surpassed the number that Jim Stoeckel threw all last year (10) and put Milt into a tie on the Harvard all-time list with Ric Zimmerman at 13.
In addition to his passing exploits, Holt called a fine game and ran well with the ball, scoring one TD and getting a two-point conversion himself via the ground. Indicative of Holt's aggressive play throughout the game was the first series of plays Harvard had, when the Crimson had to face a fourth and one situation at the Tiger one.
Holt turned towards coach Joe Restic and indicated he wanted to try for the score. Restic assented, and Holt called his favorite right option play and dove the necessary yard for the TD.
"That Holt is some quarterback," observed the Yale scout in the press box. "He can do everything and he's not afraid to gamble. Right now he's the best quarterback in the Ivies."
With the return of Neal Miller and Pete Curtin, and the continued excellence of Holt, the Crimson offense churns along like a well-oiled machine. The match-up with Yale's nationally-ranked defense should prove at least a little interesting.