#18 Harvard FCS Football 2015 Preview

Harvard Crimson

Overall Rank: #18
#1 Ivy League

Harvard Team Page#18 Harvard FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy Harvard Football Tickets

Harvard will go for their third straight Ivy League title in 2015 and they are certainly the favorites to win. It would be the first time an Ivy team has won three straight titles since Penn did in the 1980’s. The Crimson did not have an easy time going undefeated last year, battling through some injuries and having a bit of trouble against the likes of Brown, Dartmouth and Yale. But all that matters is that Harvard won. And this team just keeps winning. Their only loss in the last two years came in a triple overtime thriller against Princeton in 2013.

2014 Record: 10-0, 7-0
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Tim Murphy (147-62 at Harvard, 179-107-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joel Lamb
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Larkee

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Paul Stanton, Jr., RB, 990 yards
Passing: Scott Hosch, QB, 1,428 yards
Receiving: Andrew Fischer, WR, 677 yards
Tackles: Jacob Lindsey, LB, 63
Sacks: James Duberg, DE, 3.5
Interceptions: Scott Peters, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Semar Smith, TE Anthony Firkser, OL Anthony Fabiano, LB Eric Medes, LB Matt Koran, DB Sean Ahern, DB Chris Evans

Key Losses: RB Andrew Casten, QB Conner Hempel, TE Tyler Hamblin, OL Nick Easton, K Andrew Flesher, DL Zack Hodges, LB Connor Sheehan, DB Norman Hayes

Harvard ranked first in the FCS in scoring defense, allowing a mere 12.3 points per game. There was an eight game stretch in the middle of the season where the Crimson never allowed more than 14 points in a game. While there are some key players to replace, most notably lineman Zach Hodges, linebacker Connor Sheehan and safety Norman Hayes, this should still be the best defense in the league. The line will reload around Dan Moody and James Duberg. It is Duberg who will be asked to pick up the pass rushing left behind by Hodges. At linebacker, Jacob Lindsey, Eric Medes and Matt Koran form a nice trio for Coach Tim Murphy to work with. Those three were Harvard’s top three tacklers in 2014. Cornerbacks Sean Ahern and Chris Evans are two of the best in the conference, while free safety Scott Peters intercepted two passes during his junior year. On the other side of the ball, Harvard’s strength lies with running back Paul Stanton. He rushed for 990 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014. Touchdown vulture Andrew Casten is gone (457 yards, 8 touchdowns), but sophomore Semar Smith is ready to play a bigger role behind Stanton.

Harvard’s quarterback situation certainly could have been more muddled this year. Scott Hosch was forced into action last year when Conner Hempel when down with an injury after four games. Hosch started six games and threw for 1,428 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. He does need to keep the turnovers down though and boost his completion percentage up as well. An offseason as the #1 quarterback should help with that. The top three pass catchers are back in receivers Andrew Fisher and Seitu Smith and tight end Anthon Firkser. That should help Harvard’s passing offense rank higher than sixth in the conference, but they do need to be more of a threat or the opposition can load the box to stop Stanton.

The Bottom Line:
This is Harvard’s title to lose at this point. The schedule also shakes out relatively well with games against Dartmouth and Princeton at home. The season finale at Yale could decide the title. The Crimson’s nonconference games are against Rhode Island, Georgetown and Lafayette. A trip to a CAA team is never easy, but Rhode Island is a bad CAA team. Lafayette gave the team some trouble in Cambridge last year too. However, Harvard will be eyeing another perfect 10-0 season.

Projected Postseason: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 230.5 (14th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 230.9 (43, 6)
Total Offense: 461.4 (19, 2)
Scoring Offense: 32.7 (25, 2)
Rushing Defense: 86.8 (4, 1)
Pass Defense: 219.7 (70, 1)
Total Defense: 306.5 (12, 1)
Scoring Defense: 12.3 (1, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.20 (46, 3)
Sacks: 2.60 (21, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.10 (14, 2)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#1 Justice Shelton-Mosley
#4 Anthony Camargo
#42 Adam Scott
#47 Tyler Spitzer
#70 Cole Thompson
#91 Justin Hunter
#182 Case Brabham


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