1981 was a disaster for the Brown football team.
The Bruins finished the season at 3-7, their first losing record since Coach John Anderson's arrival in 1973. And among the seven defeats was an acutely embarrassing 41-7 loss to Harvard on Homecoming Weekend.
So far, it seems that Brown has recovered. The Bruins opened the season by upsetting Yale, 28-21, and their Ivy mark currently stands at 2-2 (3-3 overall).
In addition, Brown fell just two yards short of stopping league-leading Penn three weeks ago. With only seconds left in the contest, quarterback Joe Fotter kept the ball and headed for the end zone. But he slipped on a patch of wet grass and the clock ran out on Penn's 24-21 win.
This afternoon at the Stadium, Brown will get a shot at the league's second-place team, Harvard (3-1), and just as important, a chance to avenge last year's humbler.
For the Bruins and their option offense, QB Potter is the key. In addition to his 855 yards passing (57 completions in 111 attempts), the junior signal-caller has rushed for 385 yards this season.
Potter sustained a concussion in last week's 17-6 loss to Holy Cross, but Coach Anderson said yesterday, "Joe is going to be starting for us against Harvard. If we don't have Joe Potter in the backfield, we're hurting."
For the Crimson, today's game represents the second straight challenge from a quarter-back-dominated offense. Princeton's highly rated Brent Woods threw for 322 yards last Saturday, but the Crimson came up with a league-record-tying six interceptions and held the Tigers' potent attack to a more 15 points.
The Bruins, however, have a slightly more balanced backfield than Princeton, and Harvard will have to keep an eye on tailback Rod Jones and fullback Bill Barrett.
Against Cornell, Barrett took a Potter pass 83 yards for a TD and a new school reception record. And Jones scored Brown's only TD in the 1981 Harvard game, on a 62-yard run in the first quarter.
Still, the Crimson defense has limited opponents to 82.5 yards rushing per game, and Anderson says he isn't sure that his backs will be able to move the ball this afternoon.
On defense, Anderson is concerned about protecting against Crimson quarterback Don Allard's serial deliveries--and with good reason. Although senior Bruin defensive back Jeff Gradinger has five interceptions to his credit this fall, opposing quarterbacks have averaged 205 yards passing per game against Brown.
In their loss to Princeton, the Bruins held a 14-0 lead at halftime, but Woods easily dismantled the Brown secondary in the final 30 minutes.
THE NOTEBOOK: Brown's senior backup receiver Bill Flutie is the older brother of Boston College's renowned quarterback Doug Flutie, whose team faces Penn State this afternoon...Harvard cornerback Chris Myers, who picked off a pair of passes against Princeton last Saturday, was named to the ECAC Honor Roll this week...A crowd of 15,000 is expected. The Stadium construction is nearing completion, and the Athletic Department plans to put some end zone seats on sale for today's game.