Restic's missing a front line, but with his crack offensive backfield, he hopes that...

Late at night, Coach Joe Restic must fantasize about his ideal football team.

To run the ultra-complex "Multiflex" offense, he'd have an experienced, intelligent quarterback, as skilled on the run as he is on the pass.

He'd envision three offensive backs, each complementing the other: one with speed, one with brawn, one with both.

And visions of a defense loaded with experience would dance in his head.

In the 22nd year of his reign, the silverhaired, gravelly-voiced coach is seeing some of his dreams come true. But they are threatening to come undone by a nightmare: a flimsy offensive line unable to protect his runners and passers.


On paper, Harvard is poised to challenge for the Ivy crown which has eluded the men of autumn since 1987.

Unlike past years, key positions were all filled well before the 1992 training camp. But all that glitters is not gold. Especially in football.

After you look past the star positions, Harvard's picture gets gray.

How gray? Charcoal.

On the offensive line, at linebacker, and in parts of the secondary, Harvard lacks proven talent.

But you won't find team members talking about that. The buzzwords around the practice field this year are experience--and confidence.

"We're a lot more confident than we were thistime last year," said junior quarterback MikeGiardi. "All our backs understand each other. Wewent in the first day calling plays we weren'tcalling till the third week last year."

Senior fullback Mike Hill said, "Everyone isreally confident. We know the plays inside andout. We know how to run the Multiflex."

That's certainly good news. Restic's Multiflexis designed to confuse opposing teams, but withoutexperienced players it often has the reverseeffect.

Witness Harvard in 1989: the team stumbled tofourth place in the Ivy League because it couldnot find a capable QB.

In Giardi, Restic has a signal callercustommade for the Multiflex: a strong passer,wily runner, and innovative leader. Last year,Giardi collected a laundry list of honors--Harvardrecords for most rushing touchdowns and mosttouchdowns total, as well as New England DivisionOne Player of the Week and Team Most ValuablePlayer--for his magical performances against teamslike Army, Princeton and Dartmouth.

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