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There is definitely inexperience at the quarterback position.
And possibly the offensive line as well.
But the defense? The defense was not supposed to be in question when Harvard was to open its 1991 campaign against Columbia at Soldier's Field at 1 p.m. today.
The defense, which returns seven starters from last year's unit, including all four members of the secondary, was supposed to be the Crimson's mainstay. After last week's scrimmage against Brown, however, it is the defense that has something to prove.
The Bruins accumulated more than 600 yards total offense and scored 40 points under the leadership of three different quarterbacks. Harvard was lucky to escape with a 43-40 victory.
"I don't want to pooh-pooh what happened, because we did try to play it as much as a real game as we could," defensive coordinator George Clemens said, "but we were very, very bland on Saturday."
Clemens promised that this Saturday's effort will be more "sophisticated."
"At least this week we have one game to build on," Clemens said. "Last week we went in cold. This week, we have some idea of what Columbia likes to do."
with Harvard until the very last series when Joe Gordian's second interception of the day ensured the Crimson a 9-6 victory.
The Crimson is a 13-point favorite. Harvard is expected to win. But after last year's scare, the Crimson isn't looking past the Lions.
"Being Harvard, everybody is gunning for us," Clemens said. "Columbia plays us very, very tough, as tough as they play anybody. We're like the Notre Dame of the Ivy League, as far as people wanting to beat us."
This year's contest might not be reminiscent of the defensiveminded affair of last year if sophomore quarterback Mike Giardi has a day anything like the one he had in last week's scrimmage.
Giardi piled up 236 yards on 14-23 passing with three touchdowns and one interception.
When he takes the field this afternoon, it will mark the first time in Coach Joe Restic's 21-year tenure that a sophomore has started at quarterback on opening day. The last time a sophomore made any start was in the fifth game of the 1986 season when Tom Yohe was given the nod.
"I don't think that it's all going to hit me until after the game," Giardi said. "I'm just real anxious for it all to get started."
It won't take much for Giardi to improve upon last year's Harvard qaurterbacking effort. In his first Harvard start, Tom Priore completed just two passes for 15 yards.
Giardi's life should be made easier this afternoon by Harvard's two main offensive weapons, tight end Andy Lombara and fullback Matt Johnson.
Columbia senior Jason Tribolet will start at quarterback for Coach Ray Tellier. Tribolet served as backup to the Lions All-Ivy quarterback Bruce Mayhew last year. This year he will be guiding another inexperienced squad that has nothing to lose when going up against the best in the Ivy League.
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