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MIT football enters second year in NCAA Div. III

By Michael J. Garrison

and Harold A. Stern

One of the most attractive things about fall sports is their setting; a crisp, sunny autumn day has a hot, steamy summer day or a sweaty gym in the winter beat by a mile. And in the spring, you want to be out there playing yourself. But in the fall it just seems right to hang out in the stands and catch the last rays of the year.

So if you find yourself with nothing to do for a few hours on the weekend, why not drift out to Briggs field or Steinbrenner stadium? Any of the sports will do; MIT plays baseball, soccer, tennis, rugby, and field hockey out there. But the classic fall sport is, of course, football.

If you have never seen the MIT football team in action, don't worry. You are not alone. In fact you can probably sound like the most loyal fan in the stands if you just read the articles in this special Beaver football preview. To start you off, let's take a look at this year's team:

O+ Last season: MIT had a winning record in their first season in the NCAA Division III (4-3). MIT and several other club teams formed the New England Collegiate Football Conference. Although the Beavers did have a winning record, they suffered from somewhat inconsistent playing. Their best game was the season's first (in front of CBS cameras), while their best quarter was the season's last (against Bentley in a losing cause).

O+ This season: Everybody who is anybody is returning (21 of 22 starters). MIT should have the most experience of anyone in the league. And speaking of the league...

O+ Opposition: The NECFC becomes the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (even though conference standings will not be taken for the first year). The Merrimack College Warriors (who were a club team last season even though they participated in the NECFC and finished second) and the Providence College Friars (in last place) dropped out. Merrimack might come back next year, although unofficial word is they won't. As usual, Bentley is favored to win this year. The only team added to the conference is Western New England College, which MIT has never played.

Offense

MIT runs a wishbone, rushing dominated offense. Last year's team led the conference in rushing offense (averaging 194.4 yards per game) but was only fourth in passing offense (be-

hind Bentley, Stonehill, and Merrimack).

O+ Line: The offensive linesmen are good run blockers. Offensive guard Bob Kupbens '90 was named to the third string of the Football Gazette 1989 Division III pre-season All-American team. Kupbens is MIT's largest offensive lineman. The Beavers ran to his side nearly 70 percent of the time in 1988 while piling up 193 rushing yards per game.

O+ Running backs: Last year, Shane LaHousse '90 was named the NECFC player of the year. He broke a bevy of records, and led the NCAA rushing list against Stonehill College (260 yards). LaHousse was also given an honorable mention in the pre-season All-American team.

Fumbles were a big problem for Beaver rushers; they fumbled 30 times and lost 15, while the opposition lost only three the whole season. Solid fullback Garret Moose '90 returns this year, and several new prospects help to fill out the backfield.

O+ Quarterback/receivers: The passing game started off slowly, but picked up steam as the season progressed. By the end of the year, Quarterback Tim Day '89 was the conference's top-rated passer despite the obvious focus on the run. Day will return as a ninth-term senior.

Receiver Anthony Lapes '90 broke every MIT single game, season, and career receiving record. He was also given an honorable mention by Football Gazette. It is unlikely, however, this can continue without a second target for Day to throw to (over 70 percent of MIT's completions were to Lapes). The Beavers are working on getting him some help.

Defense

The Beavers were fourth in rushing defense (behind Merrimack, Bentley, and Providence College), and third in passing defense (behind Merrimack and Assumption). However, they did not give up many points. The defense typically gave up mid-field ground but held very tightly around the 20 or 30 yardline.

O+ Line: The Beavers didn't have much of a pass rush (only 13 sacks in 7 games). MIT needed to use its linebacker blitz in order to pressure the quarterback.

O+ Linebackers: The strength of the defense, MIT's linebackers were led by Darcy Prather '91, another Football Gazette All-American honorable mention. Prather led the team in tackles (117), averaging better than 16 per game.

O+ Secondary: The defensive backs had some problems, but several times they came up with key interceptions to save games. Rick Buellesbach '90, a former linebacker, played in the secondary,led the team with four pass break-ups, and tied for the team lead with three interceptions. He also recovered two of the team's three fumble recoveries. Brian Teeple '91 also picked off three passes.

Special Teams

O+ Kick returning: LaHousse and Day handle this job quite well. Day averaged 30 yards per return, and returned one for

a touchdown at rainsoaked Assumption College.

O+ Punt returning: This is more of a problem. Sunny Ahn '92, the primary returner, averaged under 4 yards per return. But he playing one of the most intuitive positions in football and was only a freshman.

O+ Kicking: The Beavers had a definite problem here. They attempted only one field goal the entire year (the try failed), although last year was the first year in memory that the Beavers actually made quite a few of their PAT kicks. Moose, the punter, averaged under 29 yards per kick and had one disastrous fake punt attempt.

This year, however, MIT has an actual kicker for the first time. Dan McGahn, an incoming freshman, will have kicking as his only responsibility. He does not, however, kick off.

Rule changes

The NCAA Rules Committee voted last spring to prohibit the use of kicking tees on extra points and field goals. Any regulations which hinder placekickers might help MIT, since the other teams in the ECFC have experienced more success kicking the ball than the Beavers. MIT was 0-1 for field goals, while opponents connected on a perfect five of five, including Mike Choniere's 24-yarder that won a 17-14 game for Assumption. But if McGahn proves himself to be a quality kicker, this change may actually hinder the Beavers, as good kickers at this level are few and far between.

The changes in the crowd noise rules are unlikely to affect anyone in the conference.

The unsportsmanlike conduct rule was made stricter -- allowing referees to penalize for a simple finger point. This could affect emotional players like Day, who was hit with three unsportsmanlike conduct flags in the game against Bentley, although they were not for taunting.