Murphy Must Overcome Hurdles

“Killer instinct.” More than “Carl Morris,” “Neil Rose” or “Dante Balestracci,” these two words were on everyone’s lips during last week’s preseason media day—hardly surprising for a Harvard football team that threw away two fourth-quarter leads down the stretch last year. Despite the records set by the Crimson offense, its combined 12 turnovers against Penn and Yale defined the season of a talented but inexperienced team.

However, Harvard Coach Tim Murphy knows that putting teams away requires more than just hanging on to the ball.

“Looking back, the things that could have helped us last year were being more secure with the ball, making that clutch field goal at the end and a defense that could finish people off,” Murphy said last week.

As optimistic as Murphy is about remedying the first concern, he feels just as good about the latter two.

Safety In Numbers

The Crimson defense loses only two of last year’s regulars, strong safety Mike Brooks ’01 and defensive tackle R.D. Kern ’01. While they will be missed, Murphy is thrilled at the prospect of a defensive unit that returns nine starters—many of them seniors.

“We’ve got some men in the trenches,” Murphy said. “We’ve got kids who have played. In our league, where you don’t have fifth-year players, playing juniors is a lot different than playing seniors. Having so many seniors will, I’m sure, have an impact.”

Captain Ryan FitzGerald, who will again anchor the defense at left tackle, believes that the large number of seniors will make his leadership role much easier.