Thursday, November 06, 2008

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?


At Thu Nov 06, 09:57:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harvard lost to Brown and should have lost to Princeton. We have basically been one or two plays away from having an outstanding season. For Harvard we are a trap game. Football is a game of emotion and confidence. If we play with reckless abandon, then we have a real chance. Calvin Otis is an outstanding cover corner who can play anybody straight up. Owen Frazer is getting to be a force in the middle and will clog up any inside running game. I watched the DArtmouth Harvard game, and I thought that Dartmouth was out-psyched from the opening kick-off. This is the game when Phil Mitchell must show that he has finally reached his potential. He has to have the game of his life. He has to be in Pizzuti's jockstrap on every play. If we can get to Pizzuti we can pull off the upset. And yes, Harvard does not have a good running game. What it does have is a group of strong linemen on both sides of the ball; the battle of the trenches will be where this game must be won.

At Fri Nov 07, 02:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have been our own worst enemy this season with untimely fumbles and a disappointing kicking game that has negated a strong performance by the defense and solid offensive line play. Hopefully, the coaches and players have figured out how to correct these problems. This is a good football team and I would not be surprised if it wins its next three games.

At Fri Nov 07, 03:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fully agree. Rocholl has been very inconsistent. Special teams and untimely fumbles and turnovers have been the difference between our current record and a great record.


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