This past Friday, we played at Harvard University for the first time in the long history of both programs. The game was carried by ESPN3. Under unexpectedly clear skies, we competed against a very good football team. We lost by a score of 45-0. We were outgained by the Crimson 494 yards to 222 yards. The score and the total yards do not tell the entire story of the game.
Our players played hard the entire night. From the first play of the game with no score, to the last play of the game with the score 45-0, the effort was the same. I am proud of the effort we put forth in Boston, but after reviewing the film, it is apparent that we need to improve in all three phases of the game.
On offense, Matt Buckman was our leading receiver and Jo’el Kimpela was our leading rusher. Overall, we struggled to run the football for most of the game. We need to be more consistent offensively. We must eliminate a number of mental mistakes which hurt us at critical times during the game.
Defensively, David Akere played well and had 13 total tackles, one forced fumble and a pass breakup. Jelani Williamson, Matt Satchell and Garrett Powers all had double digit tackles and played with great effort throughout the game. We were unable to consistently stop the run against a very good offensive line and tandem of running backs.
Isaac Ellsworth had a great night returning kickoffs. He has done a tremendous job all season returning kicks. He had 133 return yards and helped to establish good field position for our offense. We have to improve our kicking game as we move forward. We were 0-2 on our field goal attempts and had one punt partially blocked. Over the course of the season, our special teams play has been positive. We will work extremely hard to make sure we win the kicking game this weekend.
Harvard owns the longest winning streak in the country, winning their last 17 games. They won the Ivy League last season with a perfect record of 10-0. They have placed a number of players in the NFL over the past four years. They have proven that you can have a great academic institution with a very successful football program. Our goal is to play a great non-conference schedule against our academic peers whenever possible. Harvard did not build this program overnight. Our goal is to build a program which can boast success on and off of the field.
We will continue to challenge our players and staff to compete and improve from week to week. There are many lessons from Friday night we will take into our first league game against Lafayette this weekend. There are also many lessons to be learned from the Harvard program off of the field. They have built a very successful program over a number of years with the support of their administration, alumni and supporters.
As I have stated many times in the past, I work for great people on the Hilltop. Our program has strong support from the highest levels. Lee Reed, our athletic director, and President DeGioia have both been extremely supportive. I will continue to work with our outstanding alumni to build our program into a success, both on and off the field.
On Saturday, I traveled to Shepherd Center to see Ty Williams. When I arrived, he was in the middle of a physical therapy session. Every person I spoke to raved about Ty and his work ethic and determination. Ty was in great spirits and is attacking his rehab on a daily basis. He is the definition of one of our three core principles, SISU. The walls in his room are covered with cards and words of encouragement. Thank you for all of your support of Ty and the program this season.
We are already preparing for a great Homecoming weekend against Lafayette. It is going to be a great weekend on a number of levels. On Friday, we will have the first of our “4 for 40” lunches. We will have a number of alumni from different fields visit with our players on Friday afternoon. If you are in town and would like to attend, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week. Hopefully we will see you on the Hilltop this weekend!