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Leopards Hungry For Victory Today

Slumping Gridders Face Uphill Battle

By Jay K. Varma, Crimson Staff Writer

If you listen to Lafayette Coach Bill Russo talk about today's game against the Harvard football team, it's hard to figure out which team he's talking about.

There's talk about "three tough losses," "getting back on track" and "making the right adjustments."

But while the two teams share a number of a similar situations--high pre-season expectations followed by a series of losses, a talented offensive backfield, the need for a morale boosting win--Lafayette is clearly no Harvard.

It may have lost three games in a row, but check out the margins: 5, 11 and 2. Compare that to Harvard's 20-30 point margins in each of its losses.

In fact, Lafayette supersedes Harvard in virtually every category, and today's game should give the Leopards their first taste of victory since September 19 (incidentally, the last day the Crimson won as well).

"We need to get on a good keel prior to going into our league schedule. The important thing for us is getting back on track. We're excited about playing," Russo said.

The Only Way to Win

Harvard doesn't stand a chance of winning today unless it can contain the Lafayette offense. Though Russo said his team has been focusing on defense, trying to prepare for--what he terms--the "unpredictable" Multi-Flex, it's clear the coach is really only concerned with putting points on the board.

In his Lafayette career, Russo is only barely over .500, but his team has scored in double-digits in all but eight of 123 games.

Philosophy

The Russo philosophy is quite simple: Who needs linebackers and a secondary when you have one of the top quarterbacks in the nation?

Senior Tom Kirchoff, who has started every game since his sophomore year, has been the focus of Russo's attack. Kirchoff, who is one of 12 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award (a list which includes Notre Dame's Rick Mirer and Miami's Gino Toretta), has already picked up 1143 yards passing in five games, completing 93 of 151 including six interceptions.

The Leopards are currently 10th in the nation in passing (266.6 yards/game).

Kirchoff's 14 touchdowns have already surpassed last seasons' totals--and the team still hasn't played the bulk of its schedule. That's scary.

Look at Kirchoff's performance against Army last week. Down 35-28 with minutes left in the game, Kirchoff led a 54-yard charge into the endzone, converting on the two-point conversion to cap his 294-yard, 24-for-32, four-touchdown performance.

(Lafayette ended up losing that game, after Army knocked in a 43-yard field goal with five second remaining.)

Two Main Weapons

The senior signal-caller has had two main weapons this season: fleetfooted sophomore Erik Marsh (549 yards, 102 attempts) and junior tight end Craig Roubinek (245 yards, 20 receptions).

If Harvard can't contain the potent Lafayette offensive backfield, it could suffer its worst defeat of the season. With senior back Kendrick Joyce and senior split end Colby Maher both questionable for today's game, the Crimson offense will have an even harder time getting started today than it has in the past.

And, if you consider the Crimson's meager output in its last three games, that's saying something.

SPORTS CUBE PREDICTS Jay K. Varma, Sports Editor Lafayette  44 Harvard  24 John B. Trainer, Sports Writer Lafayette  44 Harvard  20 Sean D. Wissman Contributing Writer Harvard  31 Lafayette  28 Dante E.A. Ramos, Design Editor Lafayette  27 Harvard  20

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