To say the Bucknell offense never got going on Saturday is an understatement.
Coming into the game, the Bison averaged 24 points per contest. On Saturday, it scored just three.
The Bison struggled to find a rhythm, and dynamic sophomore quarterback Brandon Wesley spent most of his day avoiding the rush. He struggled in the air too, throwing four interceptions to match his four sacks.
In the Crimson’s (4-1, 2-0 Ivy) 42-3 rout of Bucknell (4-3, 1-1 Patriot), Harvard’s defense was fast, aggressive, assertive, playing an instrumental in the lopsided non-conference victory.
“The biggest thing was preparation,” captain linebacker Alex Gedeon said. “One thing was tendency—just being aware of what they wanted to do on offense. [Another] was the coaches putting us in good situations and keeping it simple, which allowed us to play fast.”
Game plan and tempo were pivotal in the dominant performance by the defense.
The linebackers were all over the field, pressuring Wesley on some plays and wrapping up ball carriers on others to prevent broken tackles and limit big plays.
“[The coaches] gave us a great game plan and allowed us to execute,” said junior defensive back Brian Owusu. “It especially helps when we have seven guys swarming the ball up front.”
The defense played consistently from the opening kickoff, notching an impressive first-half performance that helped put the game out of reach. The Bison gained just 31 yards of total offense in the first two quarters, and the only drive with any promise ended with an interception.
“Holding them to 31 yards of offense in the first half really set the tone,” Gedeon said. “And then we were able to come out that same way in the second half.”
The front four dominated the line of scrimmage, freeing up the linebackers and defensive backs. Bucknell managed just 140 yards of total offense, running for -5 total yards.
“We really didn’t blitz at all,” Gedeon said. “It was just those guys up front winning the battles one-on-one.”
The line—led by preseason All-Ivy senior tackle Josue Ortiz—recorded four sacks and was a constant presence in the backfield. They harassed the fleet-footed Wesley, who despite an ability to run failed to gain a single yard on the ground.
“We knew [Wesley] could run the ball, and we really wanted to contain him,” Owusu said. “When he got out of the pocket, we wanted to get the secondary on the receivers. But at the same time, we wanted to remain attack-oriented.”
Harvard’s secondary played just as well, and its performance was particularly impressive with its backs against the wall, recording three of its four picks inside the Harvard five-yard line.