The item at the top of Crimson coach Tim Murphy’s list of areas to improve before this week’s game against Brown: conversion percentage inside the red zone.
Hidden behind Harvard’s spectacular performance running deep routes and breaking big plays was a disappointing rate of success in scoring—six-of-nine times—once advancing beyond the Crusaders’ 20-yard line.
Settling down after his early-game jitters, junior quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was flawless deep inside Bears’ territory, guiding the offense to seven scores—six touchdowns and a field goal—in as many chances.
“The biggest thing was saying let’s make sure we take it one play at a time,” Murphy said. “Let’s worry about getting the best play we can at a time.”
And the strategy worked beautifully, with Harvard taking what the Brown defense yielded and more.
But the Crimson would not have been in position to punch those scores over the end line without the success on third down conversion that has become a trademark of Murphy’s offense.
Converting on 10-of-16 attempts, Harvard frustrated a Bears defense that seemed poised to shut down several Crimson scoring drives before crumbling as Fitzpatrick consistently found receivers at the first down marker.
“The last four or five years, we’ve done a very good job on third down,” Murphy said. “We lost our whole offensive staff last year and we’ve managed to bring in three real good coaches…they deserve the credit for the execution.”
Kicking Some Game
Execution on special teams was something that was definitely lacking in last week’s game.
With Harvard’s two kickers combining for two missed extra points, two missed field goals and a blocked punt—resulting in a 15-point swing in the process—improvement this week was not a luxury but a necessity.
In response to his poor performance last week, Murphy benched sophomore place kicker Jim Morocco in favor of senior Adam Kingston, who handled all kicks for the afternoon.
“We just think that right now the veteran Adam Kingston is the guy,” Murphy said.
Kingston booted the ball perfectly, making all seven attempted extra points and notching a 31-yard field goal.
While he suffered slightly when kicking into the wind, he knocked two of his kickoffs through the back of the end zone for touchbacks with the breeze at his back.