#32 Harvard FCS Football 2022 Preview

Harvard Crimson
Overall Rank: #32
#2 Ivy League
 Harvard Logo
On paper, Harvard finished third in the Ivy League in 2021, but they were much stronger than that number would indicate. The Crimson only lost two games. Both were to 9-1 teams in Princeton and Dartmouth. And both of those losses were tight. The Crimson and Tigers went into five overtimes, and the Big Green slipped past Harvard by three points. This group could be just as good.
2021 Record: 8-2, 5-2
2021 Postseason: None
Coach: Tim Murphy (186-83 at Harvard, 218-128-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mickey Fein
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Larkee
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Aidan Borguet, RB, 602 yards
Passing: Luke Emge, QB, 675 yards
Receiving: Kym Wimberly, WR, 453 yards
Tackles: James Herring, S, 69
Sacks: Nate Leskovec, DL, 6.5
Interceptions: Alex Washington, CB, 4
Other Key Returnees: QB Charlie Dean, TE Haven Montefalco, WR Kaedyn Odermann, TE Tyler Neville, LB Jack McGowan, DT Thor Griffith, DB Victor Tademy, DL Truman Jones
Key Losses: QB Jake Smith, RB Aaron Shampklin, WR B.J. Watson, WR James Batch, OL Spencer Rolland, LB Jordan Hill, DL Jacob Sykes, LB Andrew Irwin, DL Chris Smith, CB Khalid Thomas
Charlie Dean, Luke Emge and Jake Smith all started at least three games under center for Harvard last season. Smith is gone now, so the expectation is Dean and Emge will again split time. Dean began the 2021 season as the starter and threw for 6-4 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions in his five appearances. Emge had very similar numbers in his five games, completing 53.7 percent of his passes for 675 yards and five touchdowns and two interceptions. Kym Wimberly was the most productive pass catcher a season ago, tallying 34 receptions for 453 yards and four touchdowns. The Crimson will need to find a reliable secondary target to replace B.J. Watson, but Kaedyn Odermann is a promising option. A couple solid pass catching tight ends will help too. Coach Tim Murphy kept the ball on the ground quite a bit last season, but Aaron Shampklin graduated after rushing for 835 yards and 11 touchdowns. Aidan Borguet is certainly ready to emerge as the top back after rushing for 602 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021 and earning Ivy League Rookie of the Year accolades in 2019. However, the team will need to find a secondary back when Borguet needs a rest.
No team in the FCS had a better run defense than Harvard last season. They allowed a mere 64.6 yards per game on the ground. They also ranked second in sacks with 3.8. The front seven was dominating. Despite the loss of leading tackler Jordan Hill and sack leader Jacob Sykes, it still feels like this defense had so many weapons that they can overcome those losses with ease. Nate Leskovec will lead a line that will continue to get to the quarterback and Jack McGowan is a fine linebacker to reload around. The secondary gave up some yards last season since eventually most teams did not bother to try and run that much against this group. However, they were a huge reason Harvard had the second best turnover margin in the FCS. With ballhawks like Alex Washington and James Herring roaming the secondary, expect the Crimson defense to keep making big plays.
The Bottom Line:
Once again, Harvard will get Princeton and Dartmouth on back-to-back weeks. This time Princeton comes to Cambridge on October 21st for a Friday night matchup and the Crimson head to Dartmouth the following Saturday. Just like last season, those two games could go a long way in deciding first, second and third in the Ivy League.
Projected Postseason:  None
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 163.0 (35th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 191.9 (77, 6)
Total Offense: 354.9 (71, 6)
Scoring Offense: 32.4 (22, 2)
Rushing Defense: 64.6 (1, 1)
Pass Defense: 229.5 (70, 6)
Total Defense: 294.1 (12, 3)
Scoring Defense: 14.9 (5, 2)
Turnover Margin: 1.10 (2, 1)
Sacks: 3.80 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.60 (38, 4)