Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Scouting Harvard: Deception, Deception, Deception

1) The Crimson's stats are really deceptive

Go ahead and check out Harvard's cumulative season stats, and tell me what jumps out at you.

I'm waiting...

The truth is there are a lot of good stats, but no individual player looks like an All American.

But the one start that counts is that Harvard has outscore its opponents by 277-60... oh, and they've won 21 games in a row.

The fact is that the Crimson are so good because every aspect of the team is at least 2nd Team All Ivy caliber with a few 1st Teamers thrown in. There are no weaknesses and no place where Harvard suffers a lack of depth. It doesn't mean the Crimson are unbeatable, but it does mean you can't hammer one part of the team and hope to see the rest of it collapse.

But beating Harvard comes down to simply holding your own against their QB. No team, no matter how good it is, can win consistently if the QB is neutralized in some way. Dartmouth did it for 3+ quarters and it took a miracle for the Crimson to win last week. Sacking QB Scott Hosch like the Lions have done to their last two opponents will at least keep them in the game.

2) Paul Stanton is deceptively elusive

The diminutive RB Stanton looks like "Rudy," but he's super fast and just the kind of back who slips out of tackles when you think he's down. But he's not rushing for 100 yards per game, and you could get cocky about stopping him. Columbia has done a great job against the run this year, but I can see why Harvard might think the Lions haven't been totally tested in the way that Stanton can.

3) Harvard deceptively defends the pass

Like Dartmouth, the Crimson do a very good job of stopping the pass the old fashioned way; they knock the passes down. They have a huge number of pass breakups as a team at 32. On the other hand, they don't have so many sacks or interceptions. But an incomplete pass works just as well. The one difference is that a running QB can take advantage of a defense that's too focused on defending the pass downfield. I didn't think Dartmouth's QB Dalyn Williams ran enough against Harvard last week and that played a role in the Big Green's loss. If Columbia moves its already mobile QB's a little more, there might be an opportunity.

4) Hosch looks human most of the game, until he throws long... or runs

There's nothing too stunning about Crimson QB Scott Hosch's numbers, but he is especially adept at throwing the long ball. Six different Harvard receivers have caught passes of 35 yards or more this season. And the 39 yard TD Hosch threw to Seitu Smith on 4th and seven against Dartmouth late in the 4th quarter was absolutely one of the most impressive plays I've seen in 30 years watching this league.

Hosch is also a great runner. He's very good at burning defenses once he's established that long ball threat.

5) Harvard deceives you into thinking you can throw on them

Until that Dartmouth game, every Crimson game this season had been a total blowout. So you'd expect to see stats showing that teams passed the ball a lot more than usual because they were playing from so far behind.

And you will. Harvard's opponents have thrown the ball a whopping 37% more than they've run it... to little success.

The Crimson are allowing a meager 2.6 yards per rush and just three TD's, so opponents have no choice. Your QB's may not get sacked or picked off when you abandon the run, but you still won't get 1st downs.

The fact is, the big scores Harvard has been putting up every week except last week are the biggest deception of all. This is a team that's winning on team DEFENSE and the solid offense and the lack of All America superstars on the defense doesn't matter. Harvard just won't let you score and they're doing it better than anyone else in the league.


RLB said...

There are two starting times on what appear to be AD sites. What is real time?

Jake said...


Chen1982 said...

My two cents .... I had a good feeling in my spine prior to the Yale game. Can't explain why. And I think my post prior to game gane more or less called it we needed to score 17 or more and let the Defense do the rest.

This week my fellow lion faithful, the feeling in my spine is different. I also cannot explain why. I worry that Murphy (a strong coach in his own right) will work out a blocking scheme like Penn did to keep their QB protected. Which then has me worry about our secondary getting picked apart. I worry about our offense forcing things too much and making mistakes that lead to Harvard points. With the offensive personnel we have, we probably top out at two TDs. I worry about a let down over a season defining Yale win

It all hinges on our D again. Keep it close, disrupt the QB. Force their mistakes and create a third TD for us via turnover. Get in their heads and make them twitchy.

Want to be more hopeful sounding but telling it like I feels it.

Nick Ramos said...

Jake, one thing you're forgetting to realize is that Columbia has failed to score against Harvard since 2011, when Norries Wilson was the coach. The seniors, most experienced players on the team have yet to taste scoring, let alone being competitive against the Crimson. It'd be really nice if they can take care of this right away early in the game.

alswingman said...

I'd love to see the Lions keep it close and have a chance at putting it away. I don't have the confidence our offense is that capable just yet to score lots of points.

oldlion said...

Penn was an aberration. Our guys were pressing too hard and let a few bad breaks snowball. You will recall that we opened the Penn game with a long, beautiful,scoring drive. We were set to score again when we fumbled the ball away. That opened the floodgates. I think we learned from that experience. And we also got a huge confidence builder from the Dartmouth game, which we were in a position to win at the end. Al is a great coach, certainly knows Murphy, and will have our guys ready for whatever Murphy has in mind for his OL. I have a GREAT feeling about this game. The Harvard streak has to end. Why not us?

DOC said...

Hope you guys with GREAT feelings about this game are right!
We're gonna have our hands full with Stanton the RB and Fisher the WR. Both extremely fast and force missed tackles. Their QB looks like he can run too-a problem in containment early in the season better remain fixed. Do you believe in miracles ?

Jake said...

Fischer is out for this game

oldlion said...

Dalyn Williams and the Dartmouth OL were on a par with Harvard. Our DL needs to play up to their potential. Stanton is not as good as the Fordham RB, and except for one long run we were able to control him. Our issue will be on the offensive side of the ball.