Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crimson Comebackers

James Williams (53) has his Harvard career behind him

For a team that was only a close loss to Penn from winning the Ivy title last year, Harvard is returning better than a fair amount of starters for 2010.

Here is the starting lineup from the season finale at Yale:


WR 89 Lorditch, Chris*
LT 53 Williams, James
LG 57 Sessions, Ben
C 60 Spisak, Alex
RG 70 Osborne, Brent*
RT 58 Paris, John
TE 85 Schwarzkopf, Nicolai*
TB 22 Gordon, Gino*
QB 16 Winters, Collier*
WR 81 Chrissis, Adam*
WR 82 Luft, Matt


DE 62 Lyon, John*
DT 56 Ehrlich, Carl
DT 55 Sklar, David*
DE 91 Ojuwku, Victor*
LB 94 Hasselberg, Nick*
LB 44 Hayes, Sean
LB 45 Takamura, Jon
CB 17 Barker, Derrick
SS 25 Barnes, Ryan
FS 27 Zych, Collin*
CB 3 Hanson, Matthew*

*=returning player

Six returners on offense and six returners on defense is not bad by any rate, but throw in sophomore RB Treavor Scales, who was the Ivy Rookie of the Year, and QB Andrew Hatch, who has BCS starting experience, and you begin to see why Harvard is a favorite to win the Ivies this season.

But the loss of four of the five starting offensive linemen has to be a concern, especially when one of them is NFL-signee James Williams, who dominated his position for most of his three years as a starter. Only Columbia's Jeff Adams, and the outstanding season he had in 2009, could knock Williams off of his 1st Team All Ivy perch at Left Tackle.

Harvard also loses WR Matt Luft, who was a nightmare to guard at 6-foot-6.

If this were any other team, I would say the losses of Luft and most of that O-line would mean a drop in the standings. But Crimson coach Tim Murphy has become a master of cultivating and preserving his talent, especially when it comes to getting highly qualified players who could start anywhere else, to sit and wait their turn to play at Harvard.

The losses on defense do not seem as dire. Carl Ehrlich is gone, but most fans don't know he played all of 2009 pretty badly banged up and his younger teammates were already carrying more of a load up front.

The biggest loss is linebacker Jon Takamura, who terrorized a lot of opponents last year.

With Collin Zych and Matthew Hanson returning, the secondary should be very solid.

I really think it will all come down to how well the new offensive linemen play and how quickly they can start to work together as a unit. Getting the front five to be in sync is one of the most difficult things to do in football, and the teams that do it best usually win championships.

Luckily for Harvard, the first Ivy game is against Brown, who loses James Develin and David Howard, and can't be expected to have much of a fearsome defensive line to test the Crimson O-line... at least not by week two.

And then there's that burning question about who will start at QB. I think it's not much of a question at all and Andrew Hatch will get the nod for sure. I believe the hemming and hawing about it is just out of respect to 2009 starting QB Collier Winters, who did a great job, and because of the animosity Hatch's questionable playing eligibility status has fostered throughout the league. It doesn't seem fair that a kid who transferred to LSU and back again should leapfrog a loyal player like Winters, but there it is. It's going to happen.

But if Hatch has trouble adjusting to the new offensive line and it to him, all bets are off.

And so are all the predictions that the Crimson will dominate Ivy play in 2010.


At Wed Jun 23, 12:58:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad we can't switch Princeton and Harvard on the schedule. An early home game against a still-gelling Crimson would be more to our advantage then a late season away game against a perennial contender.


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