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While Saturday will be all about Al Bagnoli, who will be coaching for the last time at Franklin field, the coach on the opposite sideline deserves his fair share of recognition. Tim Murphy, head coach of Harvard, comes into Saturday’s matchup leading an undefeated Crimson squad and seeking his eighth Ivy League Title. We sat down with Murphy to talk both sides of the ball, going undefeated deep into the season and his last matchup with Al Bagnoli.

The Daily Pennsylvanian: In a league that has shifted to a more pass-heavy mix, the run game has been integral to you attack this year. Can you talk about the importance of the run game to your overall offensive success this season?

Tim Murphy: Our goal is to be as balanced as we can. If you have the horses and the scheme to be balanced it’s very tough to defend because you’re unpredictable. To that end, we try to be as balanced as we can.

DP: Paul Stanton has been having a pretty great year. Can you talk about what he’s meant to your offense?

TM: We’ve been pretty fortunate – we’ve had a three-headed monster at the running back position between Paul Stanton, Samar Smith and Andrew Casten, and all of those guys are doing a terrific job. The offensive line has played extremely well, but Paul certainly is an outstanding football player.

DP: Looking on the defensive side, it’s been a pretty dominant year for you guys, giving up less than 10 points a game. What factors do you think have contributed to the defensive success you’ve had this year as opposed to last?

TM: I think the biggest thing is that we returned a lot of guys from our front seven, so we felt like we’d be good up front. We just didn’t realize how quickly and how well kids who were new guys in the secondary would play. And we probably are more talented in the secondary than we were a year ago, even three out of those four guys are new starters.

DP: Looking at Penn’s offense, what players have you been keying in on?

TM: The biggest thing is they’ve got an outstanding quarterback who’s got a cannon. They’ve got three, four, five really outstanding, big, athletic receivers/tight ends, and they’ve got a very physical offensive line. The combination is very tough to defend.

DP: Your team is undefeated this season. What’s the mood been like in the locker room having gone this deep into the season without a loss? At what point do you start to feel like something special is happening?

TM: Our whole philosophy – after the first game, the first win against Holy Cross, it was “one down, one to go.” And at this point in the season it’s eight down and one to go. We try to focus on every day, not even the next game. The kids understand that this is the big game. We’ve controlled our own destiny for the last couple of weeks. But now this is a championship game. If we beat Penn, we’re Ivy League champions. If you can do that, you can go into the Yale game fast and loose with house money. So our kids understand how big a game this is, and they’ve been very focused in practice, very focused in meetings. They know what’s at stake.

DP: This is going to be Al Bagnoli’s last home game as you’re well aware, and you’ve been coaching against him for a while. What do you think it’s going to be like coaching against him for the final time?

TM: It’s going to be very difficult. It’s going to be very difficult on a couple of different levels. Number one is he’s a class guy. He’s led the ultimate program in this league, in my opinion, over the last 20 years. We also know it’s going to be very difficult because it’s the last game at home for their seniors, it’s the last home game for coach Bagnoli – we realize we’re going to have a highly motivated opponent. Penn’s always like that, but when you put them in this situation, with their back to the wall a little bit, we sense that this could be the most dangerous opponent we’ve had all year.

DP: What’s your relationship been like with coach Bagnoli?

TM: I’ve always liked and respected Al. He’s a tremendous football coach. The body of work that he and his staff have put together is just amazing. Like I said, I’ve had nothing but admiration and respect for Al, and will miss him. He will be missed.

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