With the seagulls over Harvard Stadium beginning to look more like vultures, and with sportswriters getting ready to write the '78 Crimson's obituary already, the powerful UMass football team will roll into Harvard Stadium from western Massachusetts this afternoon in hopes of mashing the Crimson.
But the Harvard eleven has plans of its own, and head coach Joe Restic & Co. would love nothing better than to make today's contest Pickett's Last Charge--Pickett, that is, as in Minuteman coach Bob.
Defending Yankee Conference champion UMass weighs in as about a one-touchdown favorite for the 1:30 game, based on their close loss to Villanova (25-21) and their trashing of Maine (40-6), coupled with Harvard's surprise loss to Columbia last weekend.
The Minutemen are indeed tough. They handled the Crimson, 17-0, in Larry Brown's debut on a rainy Saturday last fall, and they whomped on usually tough Maine last week.
Pickett's squad has few weaknesses on either side of the ball, and if there are any outstanding strengths it has to be their size and their running game.
The offensive line averages 250, the defense 235. The Minutemen have Macktrucked their way to 675 yards on the ground in their opening two games. Halfback Cliff Pedrow and fullback Hank Sareault are both tough, but the cream of the crop has to be flanker/wingback Dennis Dent.
Dent, a 5-ft., 7-in., 155-lb. hummingbird of a ballplayer, can dart inside for a handoff or burn the secondary with his pass-catching.
UMass doesn't have a lock on talented football personnel in this state, though. The Crimson offense looked sharp at times in the Columbia opener--its first competition outside of intrasquads--and there will be changes this week.
There won't be any Paul Sablock passes or Larry Brown receptions this week, just that good ol'-fashioned man-against-man football. While the Restic game-plan has remained top-secret all week, you can rest assured that there will be at least two changes--fullback Matt Granger will see plenty of playing time, and Wayne Moore will run the ball more than five times.
If Harvard can establish improved offensive control, which did not happen against Columbia, the home gridders will be in the contest.
"We have to find out how good we're going to be." Restic said yesterday. "And the only way to find out is to play a team as good as any in our league."
And that's exactly what they're doing.