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A Tough Pack of Dogs

By Robert O. Boorstin

If nothing else about today's Harvard-Yale showdown is certain, you can bet that Yale senior defensive end Jack Kelley tried to remember to bring his sandals to Cambridge. It's been a ritual with Kelley for quite some time now--sun or snow, at home or away, he dons those sandals for the walk to the pre-game breakfast every Saturday morning.

Every Saturday morning, that is, except when he forgets. The last time it slipped Kelley's mind, the then-undefeated 1980 Elis travelled to Boston College earlier this fall. The squad slipped all over the field and went home to New Haven bruised and depressed by its 27-9 thrashing at the talons of the Eagles.

Kelley also forgot to wear his sandals about a year ago today, on the morning the then-undefeated Elis prepared to take on the Crimson at the Yale Bowl. That was a dark day in New Haven, when 72,000 fans saw Harvard come away with an astounding 22-7 upset.

But Yale fans shouldn't worry too much if Jack Kelley forgot to wear his sandals to breakfast this morning. As the Elis roll into Cambridge for their 97th meeting with the Crimson, they're bringing with them more than lucky charms and the lust for revenge.

For starters, the Bulldogs stand atop the Ivy League with a 5-1 record and, win or lose, have clinched at least a share of the Ivy crown for the third time in the last four years. In Carman Cozza, Yale's longtime coach who reached the 100-victory milestone this year, the Bulldogs feature one of the brightest minds in the game. And on the field, the 1980 Elis display one of the nation's toughest defenses and an offense with the potential to score both on the ground and in the air.

Defense has always been a New Haven trademark and 1980 has proved no exception. Despite a plague of late-season injuries threatening to disrupt the unit, the Bulldogs remain one of the stingiest teams in the nation when their opponents have the ball. Near the top of the country's teams in defensing the rush, second in the ECAC (behind Navy) in scoring defense and always best with their backs against the wall, the men of the "Monster" defense, as their co-ordinator, Buddy Amendola, says, "likes to make things happen.

For three years now, the key to that defense's success has been middle guard Kevin Czinger. He pronounces his name "Zinger," and if they listed it in Roget's, you would find it next to "tough." It seems that nothing--not a badly sprained ankle suffered in Yale's 35-7 humiliation of Dartmouth, not a sinus infection that spread into his lung before Yale clobbered Princeton (he played anyway), not his opponents' constant tendency to double-team him--can stop Kevin Czinger.

Easily the best in the East at what he does, Czinger is everywhere on the field, an omnipotent presence who promises to fill even the huge and capable hands of Harvard's highly touted offenseive line. As his tough-tackling teammates have been felled by injuries, Czinger has just moved over to fill the gaps. "Yale's strength is Czinger," laments Brown coach John Anderson, who says that number 40 singlehandedly wiped his team off the field two years running. "He ruins your whole game plan."

But if Mike Durgin and company decide to key on Czinger they'll do nothing but give freer rein to the rest of the Eli five-man line. Anchored by tackle Serge Mihaly, a blood-and-guts player who at 6-ft., 3-in. more than adequately fills the left side, the line has proved nothing short of remarkable against the rush. Yale opponents have gained only 844 yards on the ground all season--in the Eli's 30-10 triumph over hapless Columbia, the Lions were held to negative six yards of offense in the second half.

With the loss of ace linebacker Jeff Rohrer, who piled up a squad-leading 110 tackles before breaking his ankle in the Dartmouth game. Yale has weakened somewhat behind the line. At monster back, Dave Novosel stunts well and is a constant interception threat. But filling Rohrer's shoes (and containing anyone who happens to get by Czinger) has not come easy, as the Cornell game, when the Big Red ran for nearly 200 yards, demonstrated.

Yale is clearly at its weakest in the secondary. "Inexperience" has been the watchword here, and, as Cozza admits, the Elis "have been exploited all year in the secondary." Cornerback Dave Daughtery and safety Mike Muscatello, a player who covers the field well but defenses the pass poorly, will more than have their hands filled with Harvard's lightning quick quarterback-turned-split-end Ron Cuccia. Most observers say the Harvard attack will stand or fall on the strength of its air game.25CrimsonNevin I. ShalitPHIL MANLEY

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