“All I have to tell our guys is that they beat Penn [27-13 in Week 6],” said Murphy. “Tough, resilient, there is a strong, mutual respect between the two programs.”
Reno lured three of Murphy’s assistants to New Haven — Joe Conlin (offensive line), Dwayne Wilmot (defensive line), and Kris Barber (tight ends) — and added two former Crimson staffers — Steve Vashel (defensive backs) and Wellesley native Drew Petzing (outside linebackers).
“They know how to get here, and they know pretty much everything else about the program,” said Murphy with a chuckle. “You never want to be too paranoid, but . . . ”
Undoubtedly, the Crimson changed a few play calls this week.
Will that intel pay off for a Yale program that has dropped 10 of the last 11 meetings in the series, including last year in New Haven, when the Crimson ran off 45 unanswered points in a 45-7 shellacking?
Reno points out that each staff “has seen 700 plays of the other from game film from the first nine weeks, and that’s what matters.
“Harvard is a great football team, they have no weaknesses, great special teams, the best punter [Jacob Dombrowski] and kicker [David Mothander] in the league. We need to do the little things and take care of the football.”
Reno said he would not know his quarterback until “11:50 on Saturday,” though Murphy expects freshman Eric Williams, the most consistent starter this season, to see playing time.
The focus for a Harvard defensive front gouged last week at Franklin Field is sophomore transfer Tyler Varga, a 5-11, 220-pound load who paces the Ivy in rushing (119.9 yards per game) and the Championship Subdivision in all-purpose yards (199.4 per game) while operating Yale’s no-huddle attack out of the Wildcat.
“A horse,” summed up Murphy.
Which puts the onus on the Crimson to get stops and place the ball in the hands of Collins and his mates.
“There’s always extra motivation,” said Collins. “I have never lost to Yale, and I want to keep it that way. Obviously, my former coach [Conlin] is there, and I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder to prove something to him. Definitely a lot of motivation for this game.”
“I feel very lucky, that given that we lost to Penn, I still have the opportunity to go out and win, and play in a big game.”
And if the Crimson receive a little help in Ithaca, N.Y., from Cornell against Penn, the defending Ivy champs might be able to walk off the field with at least a share of the title.
Craig Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.