First he was hit so hard returning a kickoff against Army that he was knocked senseless and turned completely around before he dropped the football. Then he caught a punt against Dartmouth that gave Harvard the ball inside midfield, returned it five yards, got hit and coughed up the ball. Scott McCabe has had better Octobers.
"It's been kind of a tough year," said the junior halfback who plays behind senior Jim Acheson. McCabe has rushed eight times for 29 yards from scrimmage, but 26 of those came four weeks ago in Harvard's opener at Columbia.
Since then he has carried the ball three times. "I've been returning punts and kickoffs, but I haven't been getting the time running the ball, and that kind of wears on me," he said yesterday. "I just want to help contribute to the team any way I can, but it's tough to not get down on yourself."
Neither McCabe, who has returned eight punts, nor Rocky Delgadillo, who has run back five, nor anyone else (three returns for 17 yards total) has broken a return longer than nine yards, a statistic that leads one to question some facet of the punt returning process--and not necessarily the deep men.
On Saturday's punt returns--McCabe's fumble and Delgadillo's one runback for a loss of five yards--the Crimson special teams were going all out to block the punt. "That's the way the play is designed," said Delgadillo. "They send everybody in and if they don't block the kick they're all supposed to double back and block. They just haven't gotten there in time."
If the rushers don't get back in time, the deep men are left to fend for themselves. "There are two people back there by design," McCabe says, "so whoever catches the ball has a blocker right in front of him. But when there are four tacklers right there, which one do you pick to block?"
"We've really had no room," said Delgadillo. "You're supposed to call a fair catch unless you think you can get a few yards."
Unlike earlier in the year when McCabe was correctly second-guessed for running a kickoff out from eight yards deep in the end zone, he did pick up five yards before fumbling Saturday. "I just want to forget about it, come back and help the team," he said. "I feel bad for the guys because I feel like I've let them down."
AROUND THE IVIES: The two Ivy coaches who have played Yale this season disagree on the Elis' vulnerability. "That's the best Yale football team I've ever seen," says Brown's John Anderson, "and if anybody beat them it would have to be an unbelievable upset." Anderson obviously sees nobody standing in the way of an Ivy title. "There's no question--they're unbelievable," he says. "They've got so much power." Columbia's Bob Naso, who lost to Yale, 48-17, last weekend, agrees with Anderson's assessment but feels the Elis may be beaten. "I think teams are capable of doing it. I think it shouldn't be conceded they will take it all," he says. "Yale is the best team I've seen here, but I don't think anybody's unbeatable."
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