Harvard mulls QBs
Who will get call: Viviano or Smith?
It’s been a tale of two games for Harvard football this autumn.
A 17-10 loss against Rhode Island in the season opener was marred by a horrific neck injury to defensive back Ben Abercrombie, one that has left the freshman temporarily paralyzed.
Last week’s result was a 45-28 rout over Brown in the Crimson’s Ivy League opener for their first win of the season.
With one win and one loss in the books, Harvard needs to make sure its performance this afternoon against Georgetown at RFK Stadium in Washington looks a lot more like the second outing than the first.
“We played a good scholarship football team in Game 1 that was playing in their third game,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said. “We had some questions we had to get answered, a lot of new guys playing.
“(Against Brown) we just came out and executed better and made some plays. They always say you make your most progress between Game 1 and Game 2, and I think that was the issue.”
The spotlight in Game 3 against the Hoyas (1-2) will be squarely fixed on Harvard’s quarterback, whoever it may be. Joe Viviano started nine games last year and the season opener against Rhode Island, but freshman Jake Smith opened the game under center last week against the Bears.
Both quarterbacks saw action against Brown and led the Crimson on multiple touchdown drives, and Murphy hasn’t announced who will start against Georgetown.
Entering the game in the second quarter didn’t seem to faze Viviano, who was a crisp 11-for-13 passing for 150 yards. The senior said all the right things when it came to the topic of potentially getting back into the starting lineup this weekend.
“You just have to control what you can control. That’s a big thing I try to focus on,” Viviano said. “Whether it’s injuries, whether it’s decisions the coaches make … just control what you can control and play your best.”
Smith became the first Harvard freshman to start at quarterback since Ryan Fitzpatrick did it in 2001.
“We feel like we’ve got two really good quarterbacks,” Murphy said. “Whether it’s Jake or Joe, we feel like we’re in a good place quarterback-wise, a better place than we were a year ago.”
Whoever ends up at quarterback will be leaning on a running game that has averaged over 200 yards per game. Junior Charlie Booker has paced the ground attack with 216 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 26 carries.
Booker and the offensive line will face a tough test from a Hoyas defense that has allowed just 2.7 yards per carry this year. Murphy thinks keeping the offense balanced will be a key going into the game.
“If you can run the ball, you can throw. If you can throw, you can run. We’ve been very balanced through two games,” Murphy said. “It makes it tough on defenses when you’re sort of unpredictable in any formation, down and distance and field zone, and that’s where we are right now.
Georgetown’s offense isn’t one that should scare the Crimson too much, as the Hoyas enter the contest averaging just 14 points and 271 yards per game.
CALLING AUDIBLE: Joe Viviano fires a pass last week against Brown, but it remains to be seen whether Harvard goes with the senior, or freshman Jake Smith, when it visits Georgetown today.