#33 Harvard FCS Football 2016 Preview

Harvard Crimson
Overall Rank: #33
#2 Ivy League
Harvard won their third straight Ivy League title in 2015, but tied Penn and Dartmouth at 6-1. The Crimson beat Dartmouth at home, but fell to Penn also at home. With a large group of departures, Harvard may find it much more difficult to go 9-1 again this season. The fact that they have to play Dartmouth and Penn on the road this year will not help ease in all of the new faces.
2015 Record: 9-1, 6-1
2015 Postseason: None
Coach: Tim Murphy (156-63 at Harvard, 188-108-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joel Lamb
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Larkee
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Noah Reimers, RB, 253 yards
Passing: Justice Shelton-Mosley, WR, 28 yards
Receiving: Justice Shelton-Mosley, WR, 589 yards
Tackles: Sean Ahern, DB, 34
Sacks: Miles McCollum, DE, 3.0
Interceptions: Luke Hutton, LB, 1; Eric Ryan, LB, 1
Other Key Returnees: TE Anthony Firkser, OL Larry Allen Jr, OL Max Rich
Key Losses: RB Paul Stanton Jr, QB Scott Hosch, TE Ben Braunecker, WR Andrew Fischer, WR Seitu Smith, OL Anthony Fabiano, OL Cole Toner, OL Adam Redmond, LB Jacob Lindsey, LB Matt Koran, LB Eric Medes, DB Asante Gibson
Harvard boasted one of the most potent offenses in the FCS last season, but there are a lot of holes to fill. Quarterback Scott Hosch is gone after throwing for 2,827 yards and 22 touchdowns during his senior season. Tom Stewart and Joe Viviano are competing for the starting job. Viviano was in a battle with Hosch for the starting job a year ago, but broke a toe and lost the job. Whoever is under center will have Justice Shelton-Mosley back at wide receiver. As a freshman last season he caught 40 passes for 589 yards and six touchdowns. He is a big play receiver and should be the new quarterback’s favorite target from day one. The departures continue at running back where Paul Stanton, Jr. graduates after rushing for 809 yards and nine touchdowns. Once again a sophomore looks to fill the void. Noah Reimers only had 59 carries in 2015, but he rushed for six touchdowns. It is a changing of the guard, but the offense has plenty of talent to work with this year. The question will be how quickly they come together.
The defense did an amazing job of stopping the run and stopping the opposition from getting into the end zone. No team in the FCS allowed fewer yards on the ground and only one team allowed fewer than Harvard’s 13.0 points per game. But like the offense, the defense has some massive holes to fill. The entire starting linebacker corps needs to be replaced. Jacob Lindsey, Matt Koran and Eric Medes were the team’s top three tacklers last season and a huge reason for the team’s success against the run. Junior Luke Hutton will have to step into a leadership role and get some help from Chase Guillory and Eric Ryan. The line returns Miles McCollum, who led the team with 3.0 sacks last season. Stone Hart and Langston Ward should help solidify the line. The secondary will be led by Sean Ahern, who recorded 34 tackles last season. Juniors Tim Haehl and Tobe Ezeokoli figure to step into a bigger role in the secondary in 2016.
The Bottom Line:
Coach Tim Murphy has been down this road before and always seems to put out competitive teams. Harvard is built to reload and they always do. This season should be no different. However, with a tougher road schedule, the Crimson could end up losing a couple conference games this year and that would likely put them out of the Ivy League title race. The good news is that the toughest games of the season come at the end of the year, most notably the road trip to Penn and the home contest against Yale to conclude the season. By then all of this inexperience could be a forgotten issue and Harvard has enough pure talent to win every conference game before that.
Projected Postseason: None
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 170.7 (49th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 304.3 (6, 1)
Total Offense: 475.0 (10, 1)
Scoring Offense: 36.4 (10, 1)
Rushing Defense: 84.4 (1, 1)
Pass Defense: 240.5 (100, 4)
Total Defense: 324.9 (23, 3)
Scoring Defense: 13.0 (2, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.20 (44, 4)
Sacks: 1.80 (81, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (11, 2)
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#34 L.J. Northington
#35 Carter Hartmann
#38 Cade Knox
#101 Cameron Whiteman
#117 Bobby Drysdale
#118 Joey Goodman
#136 Max Mangum
#143 Mikah Hughes
#152 Devin Judd
#177 Zachary Kastenhuber