#31 Harvard FCS Football 2017 Preview


Harvard Crimson


Overall Rank: #31

#1 Ivy League

Harvard failed to earn at least a share of the Ivy League title for the first time since 2012. And it was struggling rival Yale that put the Crimson at 5-2 and one game behind both Princeton and Penn. This time around Coach Tim Murphy’s team will be right back in the mix for a conference crown and if history has taught us anything, Harvard will be back on top once again.
2016 Record: 7-3, 5-2
2016 Postseason: None
Coach: Tim Murphy (163-66 at Harvard, 195-111-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joel Lamb
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Larkee
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Semar Smith, RB, 487 yards
Passing: Joe Viviano, QB, 2,013 yards
Receiving: Justice Shelton-Mosley, WR, 568 yards
Tackles: Luke Hutton, LB, 56
Sacks: D.J. Bailey, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: Tanner Lee, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Charlie Booker, WR Adam Scott, LB Anthony Camargo, LB Jordan Hill, CB Raishaun McGhee, CB Wesley Ogsbury, K Jake McIntyre
Key Losses: HB Anthony Firkser, OL Larry Allen, OL Max Rich, S Kolbi Brown, CB Sean Ahern, DT James Duberg, DE Langston Ward
The return of quarterback Joe Viviano for another go at his senior season will certainly help keep Harvard among the top teams in the conference. Viviano struggled with injuries throughout his collegiate career and finally got through most of a season in 2016. In nine games he completed an impressive 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,013 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also rushed for 341 yards and five more scores. Yet, he also was sacked way too much and threw eight interceptions. Turnovers and sacks were a huge problem for Harvard last year. Those were not necessarily Viviano’s fault, but fixing those problems will start with him. With a developing group of receivers led by Justice Shelton-Mosley, the passing game should again be strong. Shelton-Mosley caught 48 passes for 568 yards in eight games. Adam Scott missed some action last year too, but caught 32 passes for 321 yards in just five games. Fellow junior Brian Dunlap should be another solid threat in the passing game too. The ground game was not particularly strong last season, but should be improved under senior Semar Smith and juniors Charlie Booker and Noah Reimers.
The strength of Harvard’s defense should be at linebacker where Luke Hutton, Anthony Camargo and Jordan Hill return. Those were the top three tacklers on the team last year and were a big reason why the Crimson ranked seventh in the FCS in rush defense. However, there are some major questions on the defensive line. D.J. Bailey is a talented end who led the team with 7.0 sacks last season and Richie Ryan is an experienced defensive tackle, but there are not many proven linemen behind those two. The secondary has some key players to replace also, but Tanner lee is a big playmaker at safety and Raishaun McGhee and Wesley Ogsbury are quality cornerbacks.
The Bottom Line:
Harvard does not have too many holes to fill, but they should have time to find new playmakers on the defensive line and work out their turnover and offensive line issues before the big games pop up on their schedule. This team should not have any problems with Brown or Cornell early in the year. They host a quality Princeton team on October 21st and then do not face the other probable contenders, Penn and Yale, until the last two games of the year. Just like last season, the Crimson will be playing for everything in those final two games. This time though Harvard should be able to do enough to win.
Projected Postseason: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 149.9 (68th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 241.0 (36, 3)
Total Offense: 390.0 (47, 4)
Scoring Offense: 26.2 (61, 3)
Rushing Defense: 98.3 (7, 2)
Pass Defense: 224.2 (70, 3)
Total Defense: 322.5 (19, 2)
Scoring Defense: 21.0 (15, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.40 (83, 5)
Sacks: 2.70 (16, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (103, 7)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#10 Devin Darrington
#16 Eric Wilson
#58 Josh Hall
#101 Aaron Shampklin
#107 Owen Holt
#131 John Jenkins
#172 Adam West
#240 Bennett Bay