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DREAMS CAN COME TRUE

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

By Jay K. Varma

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.

For that, the press likened the Salem, Mass.native to everyone from former Harvard star TomYohe '89 (Restic's most cherished formerquarterback) to Larry Bird to the next Messiah.

With Giardi in that kind of company, it's nowonder expectations are running high for thebackfield.

And they should be. Along with Giardi, Harvardhas three quality offensive backs: Senior KendrickJoyce is a hard-nosed halfback, known for hisblazing speed. Senior Captain Robb Hirsch, Mr.All-Purpose, is an unstoppable force whether he'srushing or receiving. (He's only been dropped fora loss on a rush two times--yes, two times--in hiscollegiate football career.)

The third, Hill, provides a combination of thetwo, and should fill in the hole left by thegraduation of Matt Johnson.

Though his strength is on the ground, Giardi'sarm is strong enough to lead an air attack. Thisyear, he will have senior split end Colby Maher,his favorite target in '91. The undersized, butsurehanded, senior Chris Taylor should also makean impact backing up Maher.

Restic rarely utilized the tight end last yearon passing plays (first-Team All-Ivy Andy Lombara,often lauded as one of the best tight ends ever tocome through Harvard, only had 11 receptions) soreplacement Read Hubbard probably won't see muchaction in the air.

Rather, look for Restic--who is often morecomfortable with the pass then than run--to go toHirsch and Maher as much as possible.

While the"skill" positions are filled, Harvard encounterssome serious difficulties along the line.Currently, the Crimson features only one returningstarter: senior guard Jeff Landry.

The lack of a line poses grave problems forRestic's. Already confusing and complicatedenough, the Multiflex cannot work unless theoffensive unit is perfectly in synch. Giardi has ahost of options on each play, but he won't be ableto exercise any of them unless the proper blocksare made. Even Hirsch--tank that he is--can't runthrough the trench without some assistance.

"We have to find a capable center, and we haveto make sure Michael's protected. If he's forcedout of the pocket, he can't do the things he'sbest at," Restic said.

Currently the line could include junior RayMertens at center, and junior Jason Slavik andsenior Mark Hourihan at tackle.

Other than that, it's all up for grabs. Giardisaid that right now the lineman have his "completeconfidence" but it will be interesting to seewhether that's the case after the first few games.Until Harvard's hogs prove themselves capable, theCrimson offense cannot be considered solid.

Defensively, Harvard is a little harder tofigure out. The Crimson does have some experiencedplayers coming back; the line is stacked withseniors--Kayode Owens, Josh Smiley, David Scherer,Liam Sullivan, Phil Furse, and James Reddinger.

But at linebacker and secondary Harvard hassome important vacancies. Harvard will missrock-solid David Stires at linebacker. SeniorMonte Giese (who played exceptionally in the winagainst Princeton last year) and formerspecial-teams player senior J.J. Vasquez will tryto fill those massive shoes.

Harvard's secondary needs some work as well.Last year, Harvard was expected to have atop-notch unit with seniors Greg Belsher and SeanKoscho but could barely hold back the feeble Brownrun-and-shoot.

This year, seniors Rob Santos and ChrisPillsbury should be steady anchors. After that,Restic is looking at a thin crop. The coachconceded that the team is still "a question of howfast people come together," that the team is still"rebuilding" in positions, and that "more work"needs to be done. That's all true. It's also truethat no matter how eager the Crimson seems, theteam is also anxious over its weaknesses.

In spite of all that, the coaches and playersare visibly giddy about the cast of charactersthat are coming back. Restic, who's been aroundthe block 21 times, still has a mission:

"An undefeated season first. Undisputed Ivychampions next."

Sure, coach, we know dreams die hard aroundhere. But is this the year? "It's going to beexciting. That doesn't mean we're going to score100 points. But it's going to be exciting."

FOOTBALL

Coach: Joe Restic

Captain: Robb Hirsch

1991 Overall Record: 4-5-1

1991 Ivy Record: 4-2-1

1991 Ivy Finish: Third

FOOTBALL: '91 RESULTS9/21  Columbia  21-16  W  1-0-09/28  at Army  21-20  L  1-1-010/5  Holy Cross  28-13  L  1-2-010/12  at Fordham  14-7  L  1-3-010/19  at Cornell  22-17  L  1-4-010/26  Princeton  24-21  W  2-4-011/2  Dartmouth  31-31  T  2-4-111/9  at Brown  35-29  W  3-4-111/16  Pennsylvania  22-18  W  4-4-111/23  Yale  23-13  L  5-4-1

FOOTBALL: '92 SCHEDULE9/19  at Columbia  1:30 p.m.9/26  William & Mary  1 p.m.10/3  at Holy Cross  1 p.m.10/10  Cornell  1 p.m.10/17  at Lafayette  1:30 p.m.10/24  at Princeton  1 p.m.10/31  Dartmouth  1 p.m.11/7  Brown  1 p.m.11/14  at Pennsylvania  1 p.m.11/21  Yale  1 p.m.FOOTBALL: '91 STATISTICS

Team Statistics:  HARVARD  OPPONENTSPoints:  203  223First Downs:  195  163Passing Yards:  1405  1668Rushing Yards:  2258  1844Total Yards:  3663  3232Penalties-Yards:  68-538  60-580Int By/Yds Returned:  5-33  12-96PuntReturns-Yds/Avg:  29-199/6.9  31-273/8.8KickoffReturns-Yds/Avg:  37-689/18.6  40-682/17.1Punts-Yards/Avg:  56-1961/35.0  69-2411/35.1Fumbles/Fumbles Lost:  21-11  13-4Q.B. Sacks By/Yards:  13/134  33/1743rd Down Conv/Pct:  59 of 145/.407  52 of162/.320

Passing:Player  GCpl/Att  Pct.  Yds  TD  Int.MikeGiardi  979/161  .490  1193  6  9DavidMorgan  10  16/34  .480  167  0  3MattJohnson  10  1/5  .200  28  0  28JoelLamb  1  2/6  .333  17  0  9

ReceivingPlayer  G  Rec  Yds.  Avg  TD  LgRobbHirsch  10  32  438  13.7  3  47ColbyMaher  10  25  328  13.1  1  47AndyLombara  9  11  194  17.6  1  41KendrickJoyce  10  11  131  11.9  0  28MattJohnson  10  9  194  21.6  1  72ReadHubbard  10  3  47  15.7  0  23Mike Hill  10  2  18  9  0  18MarkBegert  5  1  16  16.0  0  16ChrisTaylor  10  1  10  10.0  0  10

Interceptions:Player  G  No  Yds  TD  LgGreg Belsher  10  2  3  0  3Rob Santos  10  1  24  0  24Chris Pillsbury  10  1  6  0  6Sean Koscho  10  1  0  0  0

Punting:Player  G  No  Yds  Avg  LgDavidMorgan  10  56  1961  35.0  51

CrimsonSusannah RossHarvard players practicing at The Stadiumduring pre-season. The Crimson still needs to workon building an offensive line.

"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.

For that, the press likened the Salem, Mass.native to everyone from former Harvard star TomYohe '89 (Restic's most cherished formerquarterback) to Larry Bird to the next Messiah.

With Giardi in that kind of company, it's nowonder expectations are running high for thebackfield.

And they should be. Along with Giardi, Harvardhas three quality offensive backs: Senior KendrickJoyce is a hard-nosed halfback, known for hisblazing speed. Senior Captain Robb Hirsch, Mr.All-Purpose, is an unstoppable force whether he'srushing or receiving. (He's only been dropped fora loss on a rush two times--yes, two times--in hiscollegiate football career.)

The third, Hill, provides a combination of thetwo, and should fill in the hole left by thegraduation of Matt Johnson.

Though his strength is on the ground, Giardi'sarm is strong enough to lead an air attack. Thisyear, he will have senior split end Colby Maher,his favorite target in '91. The undersized, butsurehanded, senior Chris Taylor should also makean impact backing up Maher.

Restic rarely utilized the tight end last yearon passing plays (first-Team All-Ivy Andy Lombara,often lauded as one of the best tight ends ever tocome through Harvard, only had 11 receptions) soreplacement Read Hubbard probably won't see muchaction in the air.

Rather, look for Restic--who is often morecomfortable with the pass then than run--to go toHirsch and Maher as much as possible.

While the"skill" positions are filled, Harvard encounterssome serious difficulties along the line.Currently, the Crimson features only one returningstarter: senior guard Jeff Landry.

The lack of a line poses grave problems forRestic's. Already confusing and complicatedenough, the Multiflex cannot work unless theoffensive unit is perfectly in synch. Giardi has ahost of options on each play, but he won't be ableto exercise any of them unless the proper blocksare made. Even Hirsch--tank that he is--can't runthrough the trench without some assistance.

"We have to find a capable center, and we haveto make sure Michael's protected. If he's forcedout of the pocket, he can't do the things he'sbest at," Restic said.

Currently the line could include junior RayMertens at center, and junior Jason Slavik andsenior Mark Hourihan at tackle.

Other than that, it's all up for grabs. Giardisaid that right now the lineman have his "completeconfidence" but it will be interesting to seewhether that's the case after the first few games.Until Harvard's hogs prove themselves capable, theCrimson offense cannot be considered solid.

Defensively, Harvard is a little harder tofigure out. The Crimson does have some experiencedplayers coming back; the line is stacked withseniors--Kayode Owens, Josh Smiley, David Scherer,Liam Sullivan, Phil Furse, and James Reddinger.

But at linebacker and secondary Harvard hassome important vacancies. Harvard will missrock-solid David Stires at linebacker. SeniorMonte Giese (who played exceptionally in the winagainst Princeton last year) and formerspecial-teams player senior J.J. Vasquez will tryto fill those massive shoes.

Harvard's secondary needs some work as well.Last year, Harvard was expected to have atop-notch unit with seniors Greg Belsher and SeanKoscho but could barely hold back the feeble Brownrun-and-shoot.

This year, seniors Rob Santos and ChrisPillsbury should be steady anchors. After that,Restic is looking at a thin crop. The coachconceded that the team is still "a question of howfast people come together," that the team is still"rebuilding" in positions, and that "more work"needs to be done. That's all true. It's also truethat no matter how eager the Crimson seems, theteam is also anxious over its weaknesses.

In spite of all that, the coaches and playersare visibly giddy about the cast of charactersthat are coming back. Restic, who's been aroundthe block 21 times, still has a mission:

"An undefeated season first. Undisputed Ivychampions next."

Sure, coach, we know dreams die hard aroundhere. But is this the year? "It's going to beexciting. That doesn't mean we're going to score100 points. But it's going to be exciting."

FOOTBALL

Coach: Joe Restic

Captain: Robb Hirsch

1991 Overall Record: 4-5-1

1991 Ivy Record: 4-2-1

1991 Ivy Finish: Third

FOOTBALL: '91 RESULTS9/21  Columbia  21-16  W  1-0-09/28  at Army  21-20  L  1-1-010/5  Holy Cross  28-13  L  1-2-010/12  at Fordham  14-7  L  1-3-010/19  at Cornell  22-17  L  1-4-010/26  Princeton  24-21  W  2-4-011/2  Dartmouth  31-31  T  2-4-111/9  at Brown  35-29  W  3-4-111/16  Pennsylvania  22-18  W  4-4-111/23  Yale  23-13  L  5-4-1

FOOTBALL: '92 SCHEDULE9/19  at Columbia  1:30 p.m.9/26  William & Mary  1 p.m.10/3  at Holy Cross  1 p.m.10/10  Cornell  1 p.m.10/17  at Lafayette  1:30 p.m.10/24  at Princeton  1 p.m.10/31  Dartmouth  1 p.m.11/7  Brown  1 p.m.11/14  at Pennsylvania  1 p.m.11/21  Yale  1 p.m.FOOTBALL: '91 STATISTICS

Team Statistics:  HARVARD  OPPONENTSPoints:  203  223First Downs:  195  163Passing Yards:  1405  1668Rushing Yards:  2258  1844Total Yards:  3663  3232Penalties-Yards:  68-538  60-580Int By/Yds Returned:  5-33  12-96PuntReturns-Yds/Avg:  29-199/6.9  31-273/8.8KickoffReturns-Yds/Avg:  37-689/18.6  40-682/17.1Punts-Yards/Avg:  56-1961/35.0  69-2411/35.1Fumbles/Fumbles Lost:  21-11  13-4Q.B. Sacks By/Yards:  13/134  33/1743rd Down Conv/Pct:  59 of 145/.407  52 of162/.320

Passing:Player  GCpl/Att  Pct.  Yds  TD  Int.MikeGiardi  979/161  .490  1193  6  9DavidMorgan  10  16/34  .480  167  0  3MattJohnson  10  1/5  .200  28  0  28JoelLamb  1  2/6  .333  17  0  9

ReceivingPlayer  G  Rec  Yds.  Avg  TD  LgRobbHirsch  10  32  438  13.7  3  47ColbyMaher  10  25  328  13.1  1  47AndyLombara  9  11  194  17.6  1  41KendrickJoyce  10  11  131  11.9  0  28MattJohnson  10  9  194  21.6  1  72ReadHubbard  10  3  47  15.7  0  23Mike Hill  10  2  18  9  0  18MarkBegert  5  1  16  16.0  0  16ChrisTaylor  10  1  10  10.0  0  10

Interceptions:Player  G  No  Yds  TD  LgGreg Belsher  10  2  3  0  3Rob Santos  10  1  24  0  24Chris Pillsbury  10  1  6  0  6Sean Koscho  10  1  0  0  0

Punting:Player  G  No  Yds  Avg  LgDavidMorgan  10  56  1961  35.0  51

CrimsonSusannah RossHarvard players practicing at The Stadiumduring pre-season. The Crimson still needs to workon building an offensive line.

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