The Crimson visit Holy Cross today to take on a Crusaders team that has been playing at a high level thus far this season.
Harvard has been impressive themselves thus far in back to back blow out wins over Georgetown and Brown.
Running back Aaron Shamplkin has been the story thus far for the Crimson rushing for 304 yards and four touchdowns through two games. He will be the key for the Crimson offensively today.
Defensively, the Crimson’s front seven will have their hands full with a multi-faceted Holy Cross running game that can hurt you in multiple ways. Quarterback Matthew Sluka and running back Peter Oliver both run hard and can push the pile. They’ll be a load to handle today.
Here are three offensive and defensive keys for the Crimson.
3 Offensive Keys
1. Get Shampklin going early: The Crimson need to get running Shampklin going early. If Harvard can establish their ground game early, it open up their entire offense.
2. Find Dobbs: Holy Cross linebacker Josh Dobbs is a game wrecker. He can be very disruptive. The Crimson have to account for him in their running game and pass pro.
3. Take care of the football: Holy Cross thrives on turnovers. If Harvard turns the ball over, the Crusaders will make them pay offensively. Harvard has done a great job protecting the ball thus far. They must continue hat trend today.
3 Defensive Keys
1. Consistent Pass Rush: Harvard’s front seven has been dominant up until this point in the season. They will be tough to match up with for the Crusaders. Getting consistent pressure on Sluka and Marco Siderman will be key. Both are effective at making things happen in and out of the pocket.
2. Limit the big plays: Holy Cross makes a lot of big plays in the passing game. They throw on unconventional downs. The Crimson secondary is experienced so they should be able to play smart and match up.
3. Containment is key: Harvard cannot allow Matthew Sluka to break contain and extend plays. They must disciplined in their pass rush lanes. Sluka is dangerous when things break down.
Final Thoughts: Holy Cross has had a lot of success against Ivy League since Bob Chesney arrived in Worcester. Chesney has recruited well. The Crusaders have the talent to match. This game will be won in the trenches. Harvard has the edge there on both sides of the ball and that could be the difference today.