In an effort to shake up Dartmouth football’s lagging offense, Head Coach John Lyons has decided to start quarterback Greg Smith ’02 this Saturday against Cornell in place of the incumbent Brian Mann ’02.
“Brian has really struggled the last two ballgames,” Lyons said in an interview with The Dartmouth yesterday. “Maybe he’s lost a little bit of confidence. I just think we need to make a change.”
Smith has had an active season as backup, starting once in place of an injured Mann and replacing him in several other games. On the year, Smith has completed 57 of his 105 passes (54.3 percent) for 559 yards and six touchdowns. He has also been intercepted four times.
Mann has thrown six touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 176 attempts.
“We just wanted to give Greg the opportunity as a starter,” Lyons said. “Brian needs to step back and look at things a little differently.”
Smith started the team’s second game on Sept. 23 with Mann hurt, completing 29 of 47 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-21 loss at the University of New Hampshire.
But Mann was coming off a good start in the team’s opening game versus Colgate before suffering a concussion early in the fourth quarter of that contest.
For the next game, Lyons had the luxury of choosing between two hot quarterbacks, and he chose his pre-season starter.
Mann responded the next week at Penn by completing under 50 percent of his passes and throwing an interception before Smith relieved him in the second half. Mann put up good numbers in a Nov. 8 loss to Yale, completing 28 passes for 285 yards, but also threw three costly interceptions in the 24-14 defeat.
Against Holy Cross the following weekend, Mann finally caught the fire he had exhibited early against Colgate, throwing four touchdown passes in the first half. The team won for the first time, 31-14, over the heavily-favored Crusaders.
“I stopped pressing. I stopped trying to force things,” Mann said following that game. “I threw some of the short passes and let my guys run with the ball.”
But it all fell apart the following weekend at Columbia. Mann threw two early interceptions that helped the Lions to a 35-14 halftime lead.
After throwing his third interception late in the third quarter, Mann was once again pulled in favor of Smith. In “relief,” Smith threw two more interceptions and Columbia ran away 49-21.
Finally last weekend, in Dartmouth’s Homecoming game versus Harvard, Mann hit rock bottom. After throwing four interceptions in the first half, Mann was removed in favor of Smith, who threw for the team’s only touchdown in a 49-7 trouncing.
“I think that he’s forced things trying to make things happen that aren’t there,” Lyons said of Mann. “The harder he tries, the more he presses.”
But Lyons added the decision to start Smith is only for the Cornell game. And if Smith struggles, Lyons won’t hesitate to go back to Mann.