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As much as Columbia might wish to, it may be a little early to count out Clifton Dawson for tomorrow’s matchup. While Dawson’s status remained uncertain earlier this week, as of yesterday the star running back believed that he was completely recovered from the strained side muscle that knocked him out of last week’s contest early in the fourth quarter.
“At practice today I was 100 percent,” Dawson said. “I completely intend to play this weekend. I’m completely 100 percent.”
The Crimson was awaiting the results of an MRI to determine the extent of Dawson’s injury. Senior backup Nick Carrington would get the start should Dawson be forced to remain on the sidelines. According to Dawson, however, the test came back negative. He participated in a non-contact practice yesterday.
But earlier this week, Harvard coach Tim Murphy seemed prepared for any possibility.
“You still have to maintain a balanced offense, because if you don’t, then it’s a lot easier game playing a one-dimensional team,” Murphy said. Without Dawson, Murphy added, “we’ll make some minor adjustments, but the bottom line is our offense isn’t going to change dramatically.”
Although the Crimson defense surrendered a stingy 12 points to Dartmouth last week, Murphy was less than pleased.
“To give up 200-plus yards and two touchdowns to a team last in the league in total offense is certainly not an outstanding achievement,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s disapproval stemmed from the fact that the majority of the Big Green’s offensive fireworks came after the Crimson defensive line had shut down its Ivy opponent for two full quarters. Even though the Harvard offense managed a measly 13 points, the Bobby Everett-led line kept Dartmouth on a repetitive punt cycle for the first half. In the second half, however, the Big Green crept back in long enough to make it interesting, capping its near comeback with a last-minute drive that was only stymied when the clock ran out.
“I think the only thing that was a little bit disappointing from my standpoint was that we dominated the first half and we had a very below-average second half,” Murphy said.
The defense will have no room for error against Columbia tomorrow, particularly because this will be the second time the two teams have seen each other this season. In September, Harvard squared off against the Lions in a preseason scrimmage. In addition, this late in the season there are few surprises remaining for intra-league games in the already tight-knit Ivy League.
“This time of year, everybody has so much videotape on each other that there’s not a lot of secrets, and that’s when the defenses tend to take over,” Murphy said. “This could be a defensive battle.”
Junior punter Mike King remains out with a sprained ligament in his left ankle. Sophomore Clem McDavid will take over his kicking duties for the second straight week....Despite having no takeaways last week against the Big Green, Harvard still leads the Ivies with a 1.00 turnover ratio....This will be the fifth time this season that the Crimson has played in a televised contest, and the second time on the YES network.
—Staff writer Lisa J. Kennelly can be reached at email@example.com.
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