#42 Harvard FCS Football 2014 Preview

Harvard Crimson

Overall Rank: #42
#2 Ivy

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The Harvard Crimson went 9-1 in 2013 with the only blemish being a triple overtime loss to Princeton 51-48. Harvard also had a triple overtime win at Holy Cross 41-35. Both Harvard and Princeton went 6-1 in the Ivy League to share the conference title but Princeton won the tiebreaker via head to head. It was the 14th shared or outright Ivy League title for the Crimson. Both Harvard and Princeton appear to be the class of the Ivy League again in 2014.

2013 Record: 9-1, 6-1
2013 Postseason: None
Head Coach: Tim Murphy (137-62 at Harvard, 169-107-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joel Lamb
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Larkee  

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Paul Stanton, RB, 936 yards
Passing: Connor Hempel, QB, 1,866 yards
Receiving: Andrew Fischer, WR, 285 yards
Tackles: Eric Medes, LB, 72
Sacks: Zach Hodges, DE 6.5
Interceptions: Four tied with 2

Other Key Returnees:  QB Michael Pruneau, RB Andrew Casten, TE Tyler Hamblin, WR Seitu Smith, C/G Nick Easton, DB Norman Hayes, CB D.J. Monroe, PK Andrew Flesher, P David Bicknell

Key losses: WR Ricky Zorn, TE Cameron Brate, TE Tyler Ott, K David Mothander

Junior quarterback Connor Hempel was honorable mention All-Ivy despite playing in only eight games. Hempel still completed 66% of his passes for 1,866 yards with 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Hempel also rushed 98 times for 259 yards and 5 touchdowns. He looks to remain healthy for the whole season, and could eventually be an NFL quarterback. Back-up Michael Pruneau started against Cornell and Lafayette, and appeared in nine games total. He completed 69.9% of his passes for 703 yards with 5 touchdowns and an interception. Pruneau also had 35 carries for 29 rushing yards and a touchdown. The senior is a capable back-up in case Hempel gets injured again. Sophomore running back Paul Stanton, Jr. is a work horse back who had 162 carries for 936 yards and 15 touchdowns, along with 15 catches, 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back Andrew Casten and wide receiver Seitu Smith will also get some carries.

The defense returns several key starters from a unit that allowed 22.7 points and 367 yards per game last season. The defense struggled against Holy Cross, Princeton and Penn but was solid for the most part. Linebacker Eric Medes had 72 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. DE Zach Hodges had 11.5 tackles for loss including 6.5 sacks along with 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and an interception. He made first team All-FCS in the pre-season for 2014 by the Sports Network. Norman Hayes headlines a strong secondary. Guard/Center Nick Easton headlines a strong offensive line that helped protect the quarterbacks and open up holes for Stanton. Easton was named second team all-FCS by the Sports Network.

Harvard must replace a large chunk of their receiving numbers as WR Ricky Zorn, TE Cameron Brate and TE Tyler Ott are all gone. The talented trio accounted for 90 catches, just under 1,300 yards and 12 of Harvard's 21 receiving touchdowns last year. Receivers Andrew Fischer and Seitu Smith each had 24 catches last year and will look to be the go to receivers. Fischer also had 3 touchdown catches. The versatile Smith also rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries. Fischer and Smith are the primary punt returners as well. The most dangerous weapon in the receiving corps might be tight end Tyler Hamblin who had 14 catches, 199 yards and a touchdown playing behind the talented Brate and Ott. Last season David Mothander and Andrew Flesher split the place kicking duties, but Mothander has graduated. Flesher made 7 of 10 field goals but his longest was only 38 yards. He made all 16 extra points attempted but he didn't have quite the leg of Mothander and that could be an issue. Punter David Bicknell averaged 40.8 yards a punt and placed 14 inside the 20. He returns for his senior season.

The Bottom Line:
This team has veteran talent at almost every position. The only question is really in the receiving corps and perhaps on the leg strength of Flesher. Harvard should be favored in every game except for the showdown at Princeton October 25 that will likely decide the Ivy title. Road trips to Brown, Dartmouth and Penn are no picnics either though. Of course, the biggest game of the year is always the season ender against archrival Yale.  The Bulldogs come to Cambridge this year. Harvard has won seven straight against Yale and 12 of the last 13 in the series. Anything less than a 15th Ivy League Title in 2014 will be seen as a disappointment.

Projected Postseason: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 166.0 (54th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 260.1 (26, 3)
Total Offense: 426.1 (32, 3)
Scoring Offense: 37.1 (17, 2)
Rushing Defense: 97.3 (6, 1)
Pass Defense: 270.4 (112, 6)
Total Defense: 367.7 (46, 4)
Scoring Defense: 22.7 (23, 3)
Turnover Margin: 1.2 (4, 1)
Sacks: 2.90 (13, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.90 (99, 5)

Madness 2014 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#2 Larry Allen Jr.
#6 D.J. Mott
#85 Luke Hutton
#102 Jackson Stansell
#103 Cecil Williams


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