Game Week

Harvard Preview

The Bulldogs host the Crimson on Saturday at the Bowl for the 139th playing of The Game. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will air nationally on ESPNU. Kinderhook Industries, a New York based private equity firm founded by two former Elis, is the official sponsor of this year’s contest.

Harvard enters The Game with an 8-1 record (5-1 Ivy) and has secured at least a share of the Ivy League Championship. Harvard’s sole loss came at Princeton in a 14-21 contest, although the Quakers had the Crimson on the ropes last week and simply could not perform in overtime to walk away with a victory.

Harvard’s offense is led by sophomore QB Jaden Craig (6’2”, 215 lbs.) who has proven to be a dual threat over his two starts. Junior QB Charles DePrima (6’2”, 185 lbs.) started the first seven contests but was eventually benched in favor of Craig after lackluster performances versus Princeton and Dartmouth. Craig has completed 59.4% of his passes for 530 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. The Crimson’s offense has heavily leaned on quarterback rushes this season and Craig has posted a whopping 6 rushing touchdowns. Junior RB Shane McLaughlin (5’11”, 200 lbs.) hits the holes very quickly and possesses surprising power with 5.5 yards per carry and 6 rushing touchdowns on the season. Harvard has a very talented wide receiving unit as well as the top tight end in the Ivy League. Sophomore WR Cooper Barkate (6’1”, 193 lbs.) has hauled in 36 catches for 441 yards and 3 touchdowns. Barkate is roommates with Craig and not surprisingly, has been targeted the most by Craig. In addition to Barkate, the Crimson have another three dangerous wideouts in senior Kaedyn Odermann (6’3”, 211 lbs.), junior Scott Woods II (5’8”, 176 lbs.), and junior Ledger Hatch (6’4”, 190 lbs.). Senior TE Tyler Neville (6’4”, 235 lbs.) was a 1st Team All-Ivy tight end a year ago and is garnering a lot of attention from NFL scouts. Harvard’s offensive line is the most talented unit we have faced all year and averages 296.6 lbs. across the board. The offensive line is a bruising front that has paved the way for 5.1 yards per carry but struggled in pass protection against the Quakers last week as they allowed 6 sacks on Craig. Coach Murphy has seen gadget plays work on the Bulldogs over the last two weeks, so he will be pulling out all the stops in this contest. In fact, Harvard utilized the Philly Special in triple overtime to defeat Penn. Our defensive line must win battles at the line of scrimmage with linebackers and safeties successfully filling gaps to force Craig to try to beat us through the air. Craig will be looking at Barkate and Neville as his first options, so particular attention needs to be paid to these weapons. The Bulldogs will not win this contest if receivers are left as wide open as we saw Princeton’s Colella last week.

The heart of Harvard’s defense is senior DT Thor Griffith (6’2”, 320 lbs.), a 1st Team All-Ivy selection a year ago who has posted 47 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks on the season. Griffith’s dominating play has allowed other Crimson defensive linemen to shine such as junior Brandon Svets (6’5”, 244 lbs.) and seniors Tyler Huenemann (6’3”, 283 lbs.) and Nate Leskovec (6’3”, 251 lbs.). Opponents have averaged just 3.2 yards per carry against the stiff front of Harvard. Senior LB Matt Hudson (6’3”, 230 lbs.) is a returning starter from a year ago who has played very well with 54 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and an interception. Harvard’s linebackers are solid players but not on the same level as Princeton’s Nicholas or Johnson. The Crimson do feature a far superior defensive backfield than the Tigers led by sophomore S Ty Bartrum (6’1”, 195 lbs.) who leads the team in both tackles and interceptions with 72 and 3 respectively. Senior S Kaleb Moody (5’10”, 191 lbs.) has been tremendous on defense and special teams with 50 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 blocked punts. Junior CB Gavin Shipman (5’11”, 168 lbs.) has provided tight coverage and leads the team with 7 pass breakups. The Bulldogs will have to find a way to contain Griffith to burn the clock with Pitsenberger and allow Grooms time to spot open receivers downfield. Like last week, the Elis will need numerous quick hitting, high probability plays to move the ball against this talented defense.

Senior K Cali Canaval (6’3”, 205 lbs.) is 7 of 9 on field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards this season. Junior P Sebastien Tasko (6’1”, 180 lbs.) has averaged 37.9 yards per punt with 12 punts placed inside the red zone. Freshman Xaviah Bascon (5’9”, 190 lbs.) has been excellent on kickoff returns with 28.5 yards per return.

Go Bulldogs! Beat the Crimson!

28 replies on “Harvard Preview”

Statistically these are two evenly matched teams. That often means the team that makes the fewest mistakes (turnovers and penalties) wins. Obviously Yale needs to try to limit its own mistakes. But they also need to try to force Harvard to make them through a relentless pass rush and stripping the ball when tackling. Go Bulldogs!

Often times, The Game comes down to preparation. The side that has the right gameplan to take advantage of their strengths and the opponents’ weaknesses are able to pull the W, whether favored or big underdogs. Let’s hope that Coach Reno has had someone on the support staff dedicated all season to studying Crimson film and tendencies. It’s going to take a good performance in all three phases of the game to win.
Harvard’s team may fight to the end but Yale will win!

Once again, a game that Yale should be winning by three touchdowns is going to end up being close. Terrible offense.

Yale better find their offense in the second half. Hard to believe, with all the chances Yale has had, Harvard can go ahead when they get the ball to start the second half.

Protect the damn ball. Play within your limits. Vaughn runs the ball back for a touchdown. Baker , who isn’t even a thought . Gets a tackle on the run back. Wipes out the TD. Harvard holds.
Special teams blocks a punt again. Grooms, does the unmentionable. Come on man.!! Good teams win. Stop the nonsense.

That Harvard TD drive is ominous. The Yale defense has dominated H’s offense to that point. Feels like momentum has shifted. First possession of the 2nd half will be telling.

Defense doing their job again. Yale takes over again in Harvard territory.
Time for Grooms to pull his head out and show some Bushnell form.



Good game, A Yale win is awesome. Should have had at least another 10 points. Nolan Grooms should take the Defense and special teams out to dinner.

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