By Matt Noonan
On Tuesday, the Ivy League unveiled its “preseason prognostications” for the upcoming football season. And for the fourth time in five seasons, Harvard was chosen as the favorite to win the Ancient Eight.
Last season, the Crimson finished their season 9-1 overall, and 7-0 in league play, which helped them earn their 14th Ivy League title.
When asked to describe his team for the upcoming season, which will begin its defense against San Diego on Saturday, September 15, head coach Tim Murphy described Harvard as a “solid” unit that is eager to begin their season.
“I think I speak for all of our coaches and all of our players that we are excited to get going,” said Murphy via the league’s teleconference call on Tuesday. “As far as our team is concerned, we expect to have a very solid team. How much better than that? I’m not sure because we certainly do have some question marks, but as a starting point, we always start with our defense and we expect it to be a very solid defense.”
Murphy’s defense was one of many factors last season, which helped the Crimson cruise to a perfect record in league play. Yet, despite the various 11 men on the opposite side of the ball, rising senior Colton Chapple, who was a backup to Collier Winters last year,displayed flashes of brilliance, especially when he tossed five touchdowns against Bucknell. Those five strikes marked the first time since 1953 that a Harvard quarterback had thrown that many touchdowns in a span of 544 games.
“Colton [Chapple] is one of those guys who has just gotten better and better and if he continues on his trajectory, we expect that he can be one of the best [quarterbacks] in the league,” exclaimed Murphy. “He was only a solid thrower when he got here – we took him as a tough guy with potential. Clearly it’s Colton’s team.”
Another player to watch this season, according to the Ivy League, is rising senior Kyle Juszczyk, who is a preseason All-America selection by various media outlets. Juszczyk, who is listed as a tight end, will also be spotted at halfback and wide receiver this season, which should pose problems for opposing coaches and defensive coordinators, especially when crafting a game plan. The senior tight end led the receiving core last season with 37 receptions for 512 yards and seven touchdowns.
“In Kyle, we thought he was terrific in high school and he has turned out even better in college. There are very few guys, who can line up at multiple positions. It is so rare and when we have one of those guys, we’d better use him [the right way],” said Murphy.
Of course, Chapple and Juszczyk are just a few names to note, but don’t forget seniors Joshua Boyd, Brian Owusu, Nnamdi Obukwelu and Treavor Scales, as well as junior Cameron Brate.
“All in all, we have the nucleus and the foundation of being a very solid football team,” stated Murphy.