Yale Football Blog

Yale Football News Written By Former Bulldogs

A Look Ahead

What excites us heading into 2022:

  • QB Development: While the quarterback competition could continue into 2022, it seems destined that Reno will opt to start his dual-threat weapon, Nolan Grooms. Grooms struggled with his accuracy and decision making in 2021 but has all the physical tools needed to become successful in the Ivy League. With half of a season of starting experience and a full spring to develop chemistry with his receiving corps, Grooms will hopefully show marked improvement from 2021.  
  • Improved offensive line play: While losing our best offensive lineman, Cam Warfield, to graduation hurts, the much-maligned interior offensive linemen return in addition to Gargiulo. Communication and teamwork can only improve from the low point in 2021 assuming Gargiulo can stay healthy.
  • Expanded big play ability: Dudek, Rouse, Carrington, Sandifer and Howland are all graduating but Reno’s exceptional recruiting efforts have kept the cupboard full of talent. Tipton racked up nearly 600 receiving yards despite up and down performances in 2021. With Tipton’s skill set and decent pass protection for Grooms, he should be an 800+ yard receiver over the next two years. Beyond Tipton at wide receiver, Nenad, Pantelis, Lindley and Felton have the speed, route running abilities and sticky hands to surpass the receiving totals of 2021. At tight end, Hawes is every bit as talented as Howland and his productivity should explode in 2022. Alston had a higher average yards per carry statistic than Yale’s all-time leader in the category in 2021 and will be supplemented by a stable of dynamic backs such as Peterson, McKenzie and Eboboko.
  • Dominant Defensive Line: Clay Patterson evolved from a rotational defensive tackle to the most valuable player on the roster over the course of his first few starts. With continued dedication in the weight room this off-season, there may not be an opposing Ivy League offensive lineman that can slow him down next season. Nickerson and Oso are two talented defensive ends that can create chaos in the backfield. Raine returns with a solid year of starting experience under his belt, while Goodyear will look to bounce back from an injury that sidelined him. This could be the top performing defensive line in Reno’s career at Yale.

What makes us nervous heading into 2022:

  • Lack of experienced linebackers: Every starting linebacker from 2021 will depart leaving a very inexperienced crew to pick up the pieces in 2022. Joseph Vaughn, Hamilton Moore, Brian Abraham, Shane Frommer, Nathan Campbell and Dean Shaffer all saw limited action in 2021 and should vie for the starting spots in 2022. If a freshman were to break into the starting lineup in 2022, it seems likely that it would be in the linebacking corps or secondary.
  • Secondary woes: The secondary has been the Achilles’ heel of Reno’s squads even in championship seasons and yet year after year, we witness the same mental mistakes and coaching errors plaguing the team. The top performer in the secondary, Rodney Thomas, is departing and we have returning corners and safeties with extensive experience returning, however, do we throw the same players to the wolves again in 2022 or start from scratch with new recruits and underclassmen? One thing is for certain, changes need to be made from the top down in a hurry to combat this weakness.
  • Field goal/PAT issues: The Ivy League football conference might be the most balanced division across all Division 1 sports. As one fan recently noted, Ivy League games are like “squaring off against your twin brother in an Oklahoma drill.” Outcomes are decided by a single play or a questionable decision from the officials. Bosman or whoever the eventual start is to be in 2022, will need to elevate their game to give Yale the best chance of victory in tight contests.

Awards Season

First Team All-Ivy

JJ Howland, Tight End

Clay Patterson, Defensive Tackle

John Dean, Linebacker

Rodney Thomas II, Safety

Second Team All-Ivy

Melvin Rouse II, Wide Receiver and Kick Returner

Mason Tipton, Wide Receiver

Wande Owens, Corner

Jack Bosman, Punter

Honorable Mention All-Ivy

Kiran Amegadjie, Guard

Cameron Warfield, Tackle

Spencer Alston, Running Back

Reid Nickerson, Defensive End

Miles Oldacre, Safety

Yale Football Blog Awards

MVP: Clay Patterson, Defensive Tackle

Senior of the Year: John Dean, Linebacker

Junior of the Year: Reid Nickerson, Defensive End

Sophomore of the Year: Clay Patterson, Defensive Tackle

Rookie of the Year: David Pantelis, Wide Receiver

Most Improved Over Career: Rodney Thomas II, Safety

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Cameron Warfield, Offensive Tackle

Defensive Lineman of the Year: Clay Patterson, Defensive Tackle

Offensive Skill Position Player of the Year: Nolan Grooms, Quarterback

Defensive Skill Position Player of the Year: John Dean, Linebacker

Specialist of the Year: Jack Bosman, Kicker/Punter

Most Underrated Player: Chase Nenad, Wide Receiver

Harvard Preview

The Yale Bulldogs host the Harvard Crimson on Saturday in the 137th playing of The Game. Kickoff is slated for noon and The Game will air on ESPNU.

Harvard enters the contest with a record of 7-2 following narrow losses to Princeton and Dartmouth. Had the Harvard-Princeton game been officiated correctly, Harvard would be 8-1 and playing for the Ivy League title this weekend. The Crimson possess the most talented roster in the conference and will be playing with a chip on their shoulder to avenge the wild overtime loss to the Bulldogs in 2019.

Harvard has started three different quarterbacks over the course of the season. Junior Luke Emge (6’2”, 205 lbs.) is the most likely candidate to start in this contest having started the last two games versus Columbia and Penn. Emge has completed 58.7% of his passes for 456 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception in the four games that he has played. In last week’s Harvard-Penn contest, Emge was held to a 46.4% completion rate with 164 yards and no touchdowns. Emge could be on a short leash with Coach Murphy, so the Bulldogs will also have to prepare for the possibility of facing senior Jake Smith (6’0”, 181 lbs.) or sophomore Charlie Dean (6’1”, 210 lbs.). The Crimson’s rushing attack is the strength of their offense led by junior Aaron Shampklin (5’10”, 195 lbs.) and sophomore Aidan Borguet (5’10”, 211 lbs.). Shampklin averages 5.7 yards per carry while Borguet averages 5.3 yards per carry. Harvard’s running backs are very fast, can break tackles with ease and possess great vision. The Crimson’s offensive line has been outstanding in run blocking and above average in pass protection. Senior Spencer Rolland (6’6”, 285 lbs.) is the leader of the offensive line and was named to Phil Steele’s pre-season All-Ivy team. Junior WR Kym Wimberly (6’0”, 201 lbs.) is Harvard’s top pass-catching weapon with 31 receptions for 372 yards and 3 touchdowns. Senior WR BJ Watson (5’10”, 187 lbs.) is one of the most elusive receivers in the Ivy League and Harvard loves to get him the ball in space. Freshman WR Kaedyn Odermann (6’3”, 211 lbs.) has established himself as the future centerpiece of Harvard’s aerial attack with the size and speed to create difficult matchups for defenders. Sophomore TE Haven Montefalco (6’4”, 231 lbs.) is a solid all-around tight end with balanced skills in blocking and pass catching. The Yale defense will have their hands full this weekend trying to limit the rushing attack and forcing Harvard to rely on their passing game. Edge containment and angle tackling must improve drastically from last week to secure a victory.

Four-year starter and 1st Team All-Ivy linebacker Jordan Hill (6’1”, 240 lbs.) is the heart of a physical defensive unit for Harvard. Hill has dominated in his senior campaign with 62 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and a sack. Senior linebackers Jack McGowan (6’1”, 216 lbs.) and Andrew Irwin (6’1”, 223 lbs.) have combined for another 85 tackles as opposing offenses key on Hill. Junior safety James Herring (6’0”, 187 lbs.) leads the Crimson in total tackles with 63 and has also hauled in 2 interceptions. Junior defensive lineman Chris Smith (6’2”, 293 lbs.) has been the most productive member of a very strong defensive front with 34 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. The Crimson have been adept at rushing the passer with junior Jacob Sykes (6’3”, 277 lbs.) recording 7 sacks, sophomore Nate Leskovec (6’3”, 251 lbs.) recording 5.5 sacks, and freshman Thor Griffith (6’2”, 303 lbs.) recording 4 sacks. In total, Harvard has sacked opposing quarterbacks 37 times this season. While Princeton relied on heavy blitzing to pressure Grooms, Harvard is able to generate similar pressure with just their four down linemen in a base defense. Opponents have found greater success throwing the ball versus running the ball averaging 222.6 passing yards per game and only 59.8 rushing yards per game. Our offense will face their toughest test of the season in attempting to establish the run game this week (with or without Dudek) as it would be disastrous to become one-dimensional.

Junior kicker Jonah Lipel has made 76.5% of his field goals attempts this season with a long of 42 yards. Junior punter Jon Sot averages 39.6 yards per punt and has punted the ball over 50 yards on 8 occasions. Junior WR Demarkes Stradford (5’10”, 179 lbs.) is a dangerous kick returner averaging 28.1 yards per return and returned one kick for an 89-yard touchdown.

Go Bulldogs!

Notes on the loss to Princeton

The Bulldogs fell to the Tigers by 15 points on Saturday after a lengthy weather delay in New Jersey. Yale’s opportunity to remain tied for first place in the Ivy League was erased and the road to a title now requires a win versus Harvard and losses by both Princeton and Dartmouth in their final contests.

The offense’s inability to sustain drives was the key factor in this devastating loss. Grooms completed just 38.9% of his passes for 102 yards, no touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The inaccuracy of Grooms was on full display with passes overthrown, underthrown or simply thrown directly to opponents. The offensive line could not handle Princeton’s aggressive blitz packages forcing Grooms to run for his life on most passing downs. This was a contest in which Yale needed to come up with big plays on offense and each opportunity was squandered in the second half. Two potential scoring plays with receivers streaking past defenders were lost to poorly placed passes, while a perfect deep throw to Howland was dropped. Alston had a decent outing in the ground game averaging 4.6 yards per carry yet after the disastrous defensive effort in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, Yale was forced to become one dimensional in an attempt to stage a comeback. The play calling never evolved to aid a rattled Grooms and instead placed the inexperienced signal caller in unfavorable high-pressure scenarios. Had Reno managed the clock properly, some of the pressure could have been alleviated which would have boosted Yale’s odds.

While the defense came up with big plays early on to keep the Bulldogs alive in this contest, compounded errors in the 2nd and 3rd quarters allowed Princeton to establish a commanding lead. In the ground game, there was no containment from the defensive ends and the linebackers and defensive backs took poor pursuit angles that washed them out of the plays. Princeton’s Cole Smith had his way with Yale’s secondary throwing for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns. Defensive backs routinely blew coverages, held receivers and refused to turn their heads to play the ball in the air. Smith was sacked 3 times but overall, the Tigers’ offensive line held up much better in this contest than they had versus Harvard and Dartmouth. The defensive preparation from the coaching staff leading into this contest was clearly lackluster as Surace’s offense found success with the same base plays that we should have studied on film.

The performance of the special teams units was one of the lone bright spots of this contest. Our punt return team blocked a Princeton punt that set-up the offense in great field position. Bosman was perfect on field goal attempts and PAT’s while still averaging 37.5 yards per punt in poor weather conditions. If this game had come down to special teams as the deciding factor, the Bulldogs could have prevailed with a victory, however, the offensive and defensive units were outplayed and outcoached to such an extent that the special teams’ performance only served to keep this contest closer.

Princeton Preview

The Bulldogs travel to Princeton, New Jersey this weekend to face the 7-1 Princeton Tigers. Kickoff is slated for 1 PM and the game will air on ESPN+.

The Tigers were dominated by the Big Green in a Friday night contest in Hanover losing 31-7. Dartmouth’s defensive line manhandled Princeton’s offensive line generating 6 sacks. Senior quarterback Cole Smith looked flustered under pressure and was never able to settle into a rhythm. Senior running back and captain Collin Eaddy suffered a season-ending injury in the first quarter which seemed to shell shock the Tigers. Dartmouth’s Derek Kyler had his way with the Princeton secondary completing 84.2% of his passes for 3 touchdowns. Princeton led the contest in both first downs and time of possession but was only able to score on 1 of 4 trips to the redzone and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Coach Surace will surely correct the mental errors and fortify the Tigers’ offensive strategy with an extra day of preparation before facing the Elis.

Senior quarterback Cole Smith (6’1”, 210 lbs.) is currently second in the Ivy League in passing yards completing 66.4% of his passes for 2,083 yards, 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Smith was dominant through the first five weeks of the season before throwing 4 interceptions versus Harvard. In the Harvard and Dartmouth contests, Smith failed to throw a touchdown pass and was intercepted a combined 5 times. Smith’s performance largely depends on the play of his offensive line. Senior tackle Reily Radosevich (6’3”, 270 lbs.) is the leader of the offensive line and a former 1st Team All-Ivy selection. The offensive line features 5 seniors all of whom have prior starting experience (2 with All-Ivy awards) and averages 288 lbs. across the board. Harvard was able to expose cracks along Princeton’s offensive front, while Dartmouth fully exploited the weaknesses. With Collin Eaddy out with an injury, Princeton will likely lean on freshman running back John Volker (5’10”, 200 lbs.) for the bulk of the carries. Volker had a solid outing at Dartmouth scoring a touchdown and averaging 5.0 yards per carry. The Tigers possess several receiving threats that will challenge our secondary. Senior WR Jacob Birmelin (5’9”, 170 lbs.) leads Princeton in receiving yards with 52 catches for 669 yards and 2 touchdowns. Junior WR Andrei Iosivas (6’3”, 200 lbs.) is the top scoring threat with 31 catches for 583 yards and 5 touchdowns. Rounding out the receiving corps is senior Dylan Classi (6’1”, 200 lbs.) who has hauled in 27 catches for 475 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior tight end Carson Bobo (6’5”, 255 lbs.) is a well-rounded tight end that can block or stretch the secondary.

Senior linebacker Jeremiah Tyler (6’1”, 225 lbs.) is the leader of the Tigers’ defense and the most talented player on the roster. Tyler was a 1st Team All-Ivy selection in 2019 as well as a finalist for the Bushnell Cup. Senior LB James Johnson (5’10”, 210 lbs.) was an Honorable Mention All-Ivy selection in 2019 and has played well this season posting 44 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. Senior CB Delan Stallworth (5’11”, 180) has not played in two games this season due to injury but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the top defenders in the Ivy League. Princeton will be without senior safety Trevor Forbes (6’0”, 205 lbs.) for the first half of the contest as he was ejected for targeting in the second half of Princeton’s loss to Dartmouth. The Bulldogs will need to challenge the Tigers’ secondary early on to capitalize on the absence of Forbes. Senior defensive end Samuel Wright (6’0”, 255 lbs.) has had his way with opposing offensive linemen en route to 27 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks on the season. Junior defensive lineman Uche Ndukwe (6’4”, 270 lbs.) and junior OLB Cole Aubrey (6’2”, 215 lbs.) have combined for another 11 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Overall, Princeton is very stout on defense and is likely the second-best unit we have faced this season.

Freshman kicker Jeffrey Sexton has made 76.5% of his field goal attempts this season and has not missed a field goal beyond 40 yards. Pantelis should have an opportunity to flash his skill set on kickoff returns as Sexton has only generated 14 touchbacks on 50 kickoffs. Junior punter Will Powers seems to be on his way to another All-Ivy selection averaging 44.6 yards per punt with a long of 75 yards.

Go Bulldogs!

Notes on the win over Brown

The Bulldogs defeated the Bears on Saturday in a 63-38 shootout in Providence. With Princeton’s loss to Dartmouth, Yale now finds itself tied for first place in the Ivy League with two games remaining. Given Dartmouth’s remaining schedule, Yale will likely need to go 2-0 down the stretch to claim a share of the title.

Grooms continued to add to his highlight reel finishing 18 of 26 for 330 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Dudek was still out with an injury suffered in the UCONN game, so Reno opted for a running back by committee approach that proved successful. Alston led the pack with 84 rushing yards (6.5 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns. Josh McKenzie looked solid adding 25 yards and a touchdown on just 4 carries. Peterson and McElwain also found success averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 4.3 yards per carry respectively. Rouse was unstoppable hauling in 5 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. Carrington finished with 3 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown on a 65-yard pass from Grooms. Pantelis was one of the stars on Saturday with a receiving touchdown, a rushing touchdown on a fumble recovery and several great kick returns. The offensive line had one of its better performances this season as far as run blocking and an above average day in pass blocking. 3 sacks were allowed in the contest but 2 of the sacks appeared to be coverage sacks.

The defense did just enough to hold on for a victory yet without the offense’s 7 touchdowns, this would have been a very different game. Brown racked up 507 yards of total offense, 25 first downs and scored on all 3 trips to the redzone. Perry completed 56.8% of his passes for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns while running for another 74 net yards and catching a 64-yard touchdown on a trick play. Brown’s rushing attack accounted for 171 yards or 4.2 yards per carry as the Bulldogs failed to assert dominance at the line of scrimmage. Pass defense was a sore spot for Yale as Brown posted 336 passing yards for a 14.6 yards per catch average. Perry attacked the edges of Yale’s secondary finding open receivers all too often. Our defense’s depth was hampered by the absences of Owens and Awodiran who can hopefully bounce back for the final two contests. Freshman corner Sean Guyton saw extended playing time and intercepted Perry twice, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Pope was in the right place at the right time recovering a Brown fumble for a scoop-and-score touchdown. The two defensive scores by the Elis were backbreakers for the Bears who could not afford any offensive miscues to stay alive in this shootout. Our defensive coaches have much work to do over the next two weeks in trying to craft gameplans that will limit the Tigers and Crimson.

Bosman was perfect on all 9 PAT’s but missed a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter.  Pantelis was explosive on kick returns with 4 returns for a whopping 152 yards. Princeton and Harvard will certainly be taking a hard look at their kickoff coverage with the threat of a long return by Pantelis.

Brown Preview

The Bulldogs travel to Providence this weekend to face the 2-5 Brown Bears. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will air on NESN and ESPN+.

Brown fell to Penn last weekend in Philadelphia 17-45 but showed tremendous offensive firepower in the Week 6 defeat of Cornell (49-45) and the Week 5 loss to Princeton (42-56). Yale defeated Brown 59-35 in 2019 despite Brown’s EJ Perry throwing for 331 yards and 4 touchdowns and running for 140 yards and a touchdown.

Yale’s strategy this week will revolve around containing Brown’s senior quarterback EJ Perry (6’2”, 210 lbs). Perry transferred to Brown prior to the 2019 season after spending his first two years at Boston College. Perry quickly established himself as one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the Ivy League in 2019 and was named 1st Team All-Ivy while leading the nation in offensive yards per game (367.8 yards per game). While Brown has not provided Perry with the necessary supporting cast to compete for an Ivy League Championship, Perry’s talent alone gives the Bears a chance to defeat any Ivy opponent on any given Saturday. Through the first 7 games, Perry has completed just under 67% of his passes for 2,290 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Opponents have done a better job limiting Perry in the running game by containing him to just 2.7 yards per carry this season. Brown features two talented running backs in senior Allen Smith (5’10”, 200 lbs.) and freshman Jordan DeLucia (5’11”, 210 lbs.). Smith has averaged 4.1 yards per carry, while DeLucia has averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Junior wide receiver Wes Rocket (6’0”, 175 lbs.) is Perry’s favorite passing target hauling in 44 catches for 527 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season. Junior wideout Hayes Sutton (6’0”, 200 lbs.) leads the Bears in touchdown receptions with 7. Sophomore wide receiver Graham Walker (6’3”, 200 lbs.) has prototypical size and has played very well in his first season with 14.0 yards per reception and 5 receiving touchdowns. Brown’s offensive line is slightly undersized averaging 277 lbs. across the board and struggled to contain Penn’s defensive line last week allowing 8 sacks. Senior tackle Chad Broom-Webster (6’4”, 275 lbs.) is Brown’s top lineman and was a 2nd Team All-Ivy selection in 2019.

 While Brown has some of the most talented offensive skill position players in the league, the Bears’ defense has been a limiting factor for the team’s success this season. Brown’s defense has allowed 443.4 yards of total offense per game (6.7 yards per play) and 39 total touchdowns. In the redzone, the Bears have given up 24 touchdowns on 29 total series inside the 20-yard line. Junior outside linebacker Junior Gafa (5’10”, 200 lbs.) leads the Bears in tackles with 41 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and a sack. Senior inside linebacker Jason Medeiros (6’0”, 220 lbs.) has started since his freshman season and is currently second on the team in tackles with 35 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Junior safety Josh Ofili (6’2”, 190 lbs.) has been the most productive member of the secondary with 34 tackles, a tackle for loss and 3 pass break-ups. Senior safety Clayton Perrin (6’1”, 200 lbs.) is a multi-year starter and has posted 30 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception. Senior defensive end Callum Flanders (6’3”, 260 lbs.) has been the leader along the defensive front for the Bears with 26 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

Freshman kicker Christopher Maron is 4 for 7 on field goals this season with a long of 48 yards. Maron has not missed a field goal attempt under 40 yards. Sophomore punter Declan Boyle is one of the top punters in the Ivy League averaging 42.9 yards per punt with 6 punts over 50 yards.

Go Bulldogs!