Too Much to Handle?
Chris Pizzotti is doing everything right
If you like pain these days, you can either read the stock market reports or look at Harvard's season statistics page.
The Crimson are doing just about everything right, and finding a weakness isn't easy.
Standing out the most for me are QB Chris Pizzotti's numbers. Pizzoti has passed for 1,864 yards, 11 TD's, and is completing 62.5% of his passes.
But the most incredible statistic is that Pizzotti has just three interceptions in 224 attempts. That's basically just one interception for every 75 passes!!!
Pizzotti's heroics are the big reason behind a pass offense that's averaging 265 yards per game and more than eight yards per attempt. Usually, teams at the NFL level pray for a QB to have a 7-yard YPA. So averaging more than 8 yards per pass is just stellar at the college level.
Pizzotti has a lot of receiving targets, but the best one is 6-foot-6 Matt Luft. Luft is averaging 100 yards receiving per game and has 42 catches and four touchdowns. Chris Lorditch is another dangerous receiver with 24 catches and two scores.
The running game continues to be quietly effective as it was in 2007. With Gino Gordon, the still somewhat injured Cheng Ho, and Ben Jenkins Harvard is running the ball about 35 times per game and getting a healthy 4.1 yards per carry. But you get the feeling that Harvard would rather not rely on its running game for some reason. For the most part this season, they haven't had to.
The defense is not as strong as the Crimson teams from 2006 and 2007, but that's not saying much. Harvard still is allowing under 100 yards rushing per game, and the Crimson has 15 sacks on the year. Opposing teams are averaging less than 19 points per game.
But the pass defense is an apparent weakness. I say apparent because the Crimson are allowing more than 200 yards passing per game this season and their interception totals are way down from 2007. But opposing teams are also averaging just over 5 yards per pass attempt, which tells you just how often Harvard has forced the other guys to throw by shutting down the run or taking healthy leads.
Looking for an achilles heel on special teams? Well, you may be in luck. Patrick Long is a solid placekicker, but after that things get a little spotty. The Crimson are giving up bigger yardage on kickoff and punt returns than they have in recent years and their own return game has been unimpressive. Punter Thomas Hull is averaging just 35 yards per kick. But there are no signs of special teams disaster here.
So why is Harvard not 7-0 with such great statistics so far this season? Well, they're close at 6-1 and their only loss was a two-point defeat at a rainy Brown Stadium to a talented Bear team. That loss was really the result of a couple of fumbles deep in their own end, and it would seem that Columbia will have to force a similar rash of Crimson mistakes to win this Saturday.
But for a Lions team that has been so victimized by mistakes of its own so far this year, is it too much to ask that Harvard be the unfortunate ones this time around?