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Know Your 2010 Opponents: Harvard

Weren't scared enough of a opening weekend trip to Des Moines to face off against a team featuring an NFL prospect on the defensive line?   Not intimidated by playing against last year's national champs?  Think it will be easy to knock off a nearby rival that has owned us in three of the last four meetings?  Or perhaps you think a game on the road against a team that was nationally ranked in 2004... and hasn't left the Top 25 since, will be a good shot at a Lehigh win?

You'd think the schedule would get easier after that tour of the Theatre of Pain. But you'd be incorrect.

The schedule originally had Lehigh getting a bye week, and starting off a nice long homestand against Harvard on October 9th. But a scheduling snafu meant instead that Lehigh would be spending the week after their break going back to Cambridge to face off against the Crimson, who have beaten them three of their last four attempts. This New England trip won't be any easier than the one they'll take to Durham. (more)

Harvard head coach Tim Murphy's won-loss record at Harvard speaks for itself.  Entering his 16th year as head coach, he's amassed an eye-popping 104-55 record.  That means for every three games he's been the head coach of the Crimson, two of them have been wins.  That's an incredible statistic at any level.

As if that weren't enough, Murphy has a choice between last year's second team all-Ivy quarterback in junior QB Collier Winters... or their former quarterback who transferred to LSU (yes, that LSU), senior QB Andrew Hatch.  Only at Harvard could there be a quarterback controversy involving a former all-League player and a guy from a school that won the BCS championship in recent memory.

Hatch has had a fascinating career.  After playing his freshman year for the Crimson, he decided to sit out a year to have a chance to play at LSU.  He cracked the starting lineup - but suffered a concussion against Auburn, ending his season.  With one last chance to show his skills, he sat out one more year in 2009 to get one last shot to show the world what he can do - at the school that started his college football career.

At 6'4, 225, Hatch has the physical traits that make NFL scouts' heads turn.  But Winters proved last year that he was a more than capable field general as a sophomore.  At 5'11, 190, he's hardly a prototypical QB, but he knows how to win football games with both his arm and his feet.  Playing an entire year, the dual-threat signal caller amassed 1,868 yards passing, 295 yards rushing and 18 TDs.

So aside from potentially facing a player that started on a BCS team, what other talent might Lehigh be lining up against this fall?  Let's just say: plenty.

Harvard will be returning their #1 and #2 rushers, senior RB Gino Gordon (632 yards rushing, 8 TDs) and sophomore RB Treavor Scales (485 yards rushing, 5 TDs) respectively.  They'll also be returning their #1 and #2 receivers, senior WR Chris Lorditch (545 yards, 5 TDs) and senior WR Marco Iannuzzi (233 yards, 1 TD). 

"Gino has been a very tough, consistent and productive player since the day he arrived," Murphy said.  "He has developed into one of our strong leaders in the senior class who leads by example and is not afraid to hold teammates to his high standards... Chris [Lorditch] has developed into the top big play receiver in the Ivy League and one of the best in Harvard history.

If it's Winters ends up being the starter at QB, every significant skill player will have played last year for coach Murphy - including one that he been described one of the best in Harvard's history.

Think on defense it gets any easier?  Think again.  Aside from Hatch, Harvard's best NFL prospect might come from the defense.

Senior FS Collin Zych is a 5'11 Texan that is a terror in the defensive backfield that has made some preseason all-America teams and made a lot of people in the Boston area and beyond take notice.  A captain and a player that Murphy has referred as "Harvard's best football player", his 2009 statistics - 73 tackles, 2 interceptions, 12 pass breakups - speak volumes of his abilities.

Murphy positively gushes about his ability.  "Collin Zych is the best safety that we have had in my 17 years at Harvard and we have had some outstanding ones. Pound for pound Collin is one of the best players in the country who is always where he is supposed to be when he's supposed to be there."

So: to recap: a Hall of Fame head football coach.  A potential starting QB who started at LSU - or he'll be backing up last year's second-team all-Ivy signalcaller..  Every single significant offensive production returning.  And a bona-fide NFL prospect patrolling the sidelines on defense.

Just another day on Lehigh's 2010 schedule, I guess.


ngineer said…
A lot of others are picking Penn to win the IL, with Harvard 2d. But no question they have a lot of individual talent. There will be some gaps to fill, however, and the transition to a team is always a key ingredient.

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