The title defense won’t officially begin for another month, but the preseason expectations are already mounting for Harvard’s football team.
Going undefeated in the Ivy League last season for the second time ever, the Crimson (9-1, 7-0) won their sixth conference title, and were rewarded entering 2012 with 13 of 17 first-place votes in a media poll for their fourth preseason No. 1 ranking in the past five seasons.
“We expect to have a very solid team,” said Harvard coach Tim Murphy. “How much better than that? I’m not sure, because we certainly have some question marks.”
Murphy pointed to the graduation of wide receivers Chris Lorditch, Alex Sarkisian, and Adam Chrissis, who combined for 84 receptions and 1,181 yards last fall, as the offense’s biggest question mark. Senior Colton Chapple — a “tough guy and an extraordinarily hard worker,” according to Murphy — takes over at quarterback for second-team All-Ivy selection Collier Winters after throwing for 918 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
But the Crimson return senior Kyle Juszczyk, a preseason All-American, and junior Cameron Brate at tight end. Brate and Juszczyk each caught seven touchdown passes for an offense that put up 37.4 points and 435.6 yards per game, and they both should see time at H-back as well.
“I think everyone would like to have that level of personnel,” Murphy said. “It is hard to find two, three guys with that size who are that versatile.
“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. To have that luxury as an up-tempo, no-huddle offense puts a lot of pressure on teams.”
The pressure on Harvard to repeat begins Sept. 15, when the Crimson host San Diego in the season opener at 12:30 p.m.