Long Day for Murphy
Tim Murphy did not imagine that his first game at Harvard Stadium would be this miserable.
He did not imagine that Bucknell quarterback Rob Glus would complete 14 of 17 passes for 257 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
He did not imagine that the lob pass would burn Harvard's defensive backfield again and again, like some kind of recurring nightmare.
He did not imagine that Harvard would commit five turnovers.
He did not imagine that starting quarterback Vin Ferrara, who looked nearly invincible against Columbia, would be intercepted twice on the day.
And, he certainly did not imagine that he would walk off the field on the short end of the final score.
"I hate to lose. I hate to lose anything," Murphy said emphatically after the game.
For the rookie Harvard coach, it must have been an afternoon of frustration and agony. His team lost, 42-23. But that wasn't half of it.
It lost ugly.
Crimson mistakes littered the game right from the start. In the first quarter alone, freshman Colby Skelton bobbled the ball on the opening kickoff and Harvard failed to convert for a first down on successive third-and-one and fourth-and-one situations. To make matters worse, Nathan Tyrell fumbled a punt, giving Bucknell the ball on the Harvard 34-yard line and an easy march to the end zone. After two more Harvard downs, signal-caller Vin Ferrara forced a ball into traffic and was picked off.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," Ferrara commented later.
Quite simply, Murphy does not tolerate mental mistakes like blown coverages, special teams breakdowns and penalties. He never has and he never will. He doesn't think his players should tolerate them either. Mistakes eat him up.
Bucknell legitimately was a good football team. They had a quality quarterback who had a record-breaking day, they had receivers who knew how to shake their Crimson defenders, and they had a workhorse running back that guaranteed them 100 yards rushing.
Murphy knew all of things going into the game. The fact remains, however, Bucknell simply had more talent than the Crimson.
Despite all the doom and gloom, there were bright spots for the Crimson. Harvard's offense gained 397 yards in total offense. Junior tailback Kweli Thompson rushed for 122 yards. The punting and kicking games looked solid.
Bright spots lead to optimism. Listening to Murphy at that press conference and watching him intently pace the sidelines makes one feel that the Crimson will get better. Murphy has given them no choice.
"We didn't make them work for their touchdowns," Murphy said.
You have a feeling that Harvard teams of the future will make their opponents work for touchdowns.
"You have to defend against the big play," linebacker and captain Ed Kinney said.
You have a feeling that Harvard will keep big plays to a minimum in the future.
Over again and again Murphy has said. "There is no question we will have a quality football team."
You can imagine that Harvard will.