Cornell Preview

The Bulldogs travel to Ithaca this week to take on the Cornell Big Red at 3 PM ET.  You can watch the game on ESPN+ using the free 7 day trial ($5 a month after that).

Cornell faced off against the Delaware Blue Hens last week and lost the contest 27-10.  Despite the lopsided final score, the game was actually 14-3 going into the final quarter.  Cornell’s defense is not the biggest or fastest we will face this season, but the players are scrappy and do not make many mental mistakes.  Delaware missed a number of open receivers on long pass plays that could have buried Cornell earlier in the game.  Nine defensive starters return from a year ago including All-Ivy corners David Jones and DJ Woullard.  The Cornell secondary struggled to contain Delaware’s top receiver who posted 6 catches for 154 yards on the afternoon.  The Big Red were able to slow down Delaware’s rushing attack limiting them to 137 net yards on the day with the longest run being only 13 yards.  On Run-Pass Option plays, the Big Red overcommitted to stopping the running backs allowing the quarterback to gain chunks of yardage.

Seven offensive starters return from a year ago including quarterback Dalton Banks.  Cornell played three different quarterbacks in their opener and could opt for a similar strategy against the Bulldogs as no quarterback separated himself from the rest of the pack.  Banks looks stronger than he did last season and is now listed at 6’3″, 245 lbs.  When he runs the ball, he puts his head down and tries to bowl over defenders.  Although his arm strength is above average, he struggles with accuracy and decision making.  Junior QB Mike Catanese threw for more yards than Banks with less than half the attempts.  Big Red running backs Harold Cole and SK Howard are both talented backs that possess speed and power.  Cornell’s offensive line has size and can generate an initial push against defensive linemen, but really struggle blocking linebackers and defensive backs.  Cornell netted just 91 rushing yards and 141 passing yards against the Blue Hens.  The offense is at its best when it attacks the edges with swing passes and jet sweeps.  Cornell was able to get JD Pickell and Thomas Glover in space on such plays during the opening drive that yielded a field goal.

Notes on Loss to Holy Cross

The Bulldogs looked like reigning Ivy League Champions after Melvin Rouse used his nifty moves and blazing speed to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown.  The defense stuffed Holy Cross and Alan Lamar took the first handoff of the season for a touchdown.  The dominance would only last so long before Holy Cross clawed their way back into the game to upset Yale in overtime.

On the first play of offense, Reno opted to have Dudek and Lamar on the field at the same time with Dudek in the slot and Lamar in the backfield.  Warfield started at right tackle and the remainder of the line was identical to the depth chart.  The offensive line performance was average.  The run blocking was far superior to the pass blocking, but Holy Cross was still able to create penetration that shut down running plays far too often.  The line struggled with picking up blitzes leading to hard shots on Rawlings.  Rawlings overthrew a few passes and held onto the ball too long under heavy pressure.  Dudek and Lamar both played well, although Dudek needs to take better care of the ball.   Aside from a back breaking holding penalty, Howland looked solid in his debut.  Klubnik had a fantastic afternoon and it was nice to see Locke out there making plays and throwing big blocks.  Shohfi was held out of the game with an injury and Rouse was injured early on in the contest.

The reverse pass was a risky move that backfired in a horrible fashion.  The play calling in the second half was reminiscent of the Dartmouth contest last season with the Bulldogs just trying not to lose.  Holding penalties killed big plays and led to drives stalling out.  Reno gambled it all on fourth down in overtime instead of simply kicking the field goal.  If we are going to run it on fourth down and one, at least bring in the more powerful running back or better yet, have Rawlings fake the handoff and roll out.  With such a young squad, our coaching staff can’t be overly aggressive in critical situations such as these.

Callender was missing from the defensive line on Saturday and the pass rush was simply ineffective without him.  Yale chose to have only two linemen in three point stances on most plays with defensive ends or linebackers standing up on the outside.  The scheme did not seem to work well with our personnel as our edge rushers lost leverage and speed starting from such a position.  Sampleton and Moore struggled with containment at times and the blitzes became too predictable in the second half.  The lack of pass rush exposed our young secondary.  Dixon got the start at safety along with Rodney Thomas.  Alburg and Henson started at corners.  Henson went down with an injury forcing Peggs, Abraham and Oldacre to try to pick up the slack.  Keeler, Kissel, Hill, Sampleton, Awodiran and Roman rotated in frequently on defense.  The tackling was downright atrocious and simple misdirection plays seemed to fool the linebackers.  The corners were often in good positions, but would not turn their heads to play the ball.  At other times, receivers were simply streaking by defenders (such as Abraham and Awodiran) for touchdowns.  It will be a long season if Yale can’t shore up the secondary in a hurry.

The special teams units were sloppy but effective on the afternoon.  Delay of game and false start penalties were nuisances, but a great fake from Conte to Howland should have opposing teams thinking twice about how to lineup against our punt and field goal teams.  Holy Cross’ onside kick recovery stands out as the only truly terrible special teams play of the day.


Keys to Victory

  • Establish the running game early on in the contest

The two-headed monster of Dudek and Lamar needs to get into a rhythm to force Holy Cross to stack the box.  Rotating Dudek and Lamar often will keep the Crusaders off balance trying to adjust to the patience of Dudek or the speed and power of Lamar.  Patient runners like Dudek need stellar blocking, so the three new starting offensive linemen need to prove that they can move bodies at the line of scrimmage.

  • Limit the mental mistakes on defense

Oluokun, Oplinger, Tyler,  Mullen, Carlson, Rymiszewski, Alessi, Herubin, and Chism will not be suiting up for the defense this season.  The defensive linemen and linebackers all have some level of experience, but the secondary seems to be an area of concern with two safeties making their first starts and corners that have not proven themselves to be dominant just yet.  The Bulldogs will likely give up yards in the passing game to Holy Cross, but will need to clamp down in the redzone and on third downs to win this game.  Blown coverages, misaligned fronts, and penalties could be disastrous for our young defense.

  • Don’t take Holy Cross lightly

The Crusaders have already played in two games and are looking for revenge after an embarrassing 32-0 loss to the Elis last season.  On paper, this should be the easiest non-conference game, but if Yale falls behind by a couple of scores, they may not be well equipped to mount an impressive comeback at this point in the season.

Offensive Depth Chart Analysis

Offensive Line: Sterling Strother (LT), Dieter Eiselen (LG), Steven Cepalia (C), Lucas Tribble (RG), Jack Lee (RT)

This combination of offensive linemen seems to make the most sense for the Bulldogs.  The left side of the line is downright scary.  Cepalia and Tribble both played well as Sophomores last season and should blossom in starting roles.  Lee was penciled in as a starter on last season’s team before an injury derailed those plans.  Warfield is very talented and will likely be the first one to step in if any injury occurs.  Gargiulo is the only Freshman that cracked the offensive depth chart.

QB: Kurt Rawlings

No surprise here as Rawlings could wind up as Player of the Year if he plays up to expectations.  Reno refuses to name a Number 2 opting to list Conte or Check as the backup.

TE: JJ Howland

Howland earning the starting spot at tight end could be the biggest news to emerge from camp.  With Yale fans arguing over Lager versus Roman, Howland quietly stole the show.  We expect all three tight ends to see significant playing time and depth is no concern at this spot.

WR: JP Shohfi, Jamal Locke, Reed Klubnik

The Rawlings to Shohfi connection should be huge this season.  Klubnik had a stellar Freshman season due to injuries at the position, but was buried in the depth chart last season with so many talented Seniors healthy.  Locke has seen extended action since his Freshman season, led the team in all-purpose yards as a Sophomore, and then was used sparingly in his Junior season.  Look for Klubnik and Locke to bounce back and vie for Ivy League honors at the end of the season.

RB: Zane Dudek or Alan Lamar

How can you possibly name one a starter over the other?  Both could start anywhere in the league this season.  It will be interesting to see who trots out with the offense on the first play against Holy Cross.

Defensive Depth Chart Analysis

Defensive Line: Charles Callender (DE), Devin Moore (DE), Nicholas Crowle (DT), and Spencer Matthaei (DT)

Devin Moore is the only surprise here and it probably shouldn’t be surprising considering how well he played in camp.  Hunter Roman was not listed in the two deep, but he should see quality playing time on passing downs.  Fraser, Keeler, James and Sampleton are listed as the backups and will rotate in depending on the situation.

Linebackers: John Dean, Jordan Carey and Ryan Burke

Dean played well as a Freshman and seems poised to have a breakout Sophomore season.  Carey is a bit of an unknown as he didn’t see significant playing time in critical situations last season, although he has been solid in practice and on special teams since day one.  Burke has been dominant when healthy and has the most talented backup in the Ivy League in Awodiran.

Defensive Backs: Deonte Henson (CB), Jaelin Alburg (CB), Tosan Agbeyegbe (S), Rodney Thomas (S)

Peggs and Dixon are both listed as backups, but will be key contributors.  Reno mentioned last week that Dixon and Thomas could wind up as the starting safeties.  Brian Abraham is the only Freshman to crack the two deep depth chart on defense.

Week 1: Holy Cross

The Bulldogs will travel to Worcester, MA this Saturday for a contest against the Holy Cross Crusaders at 1 PM.  The game can be seen on the Patriot League Network.

Holy Cross is entering the game with an 0-2 record after a close loss to Colgate two weeks ago and a lopsided 62-14 loss to Boston College this past weekend.  The Crusaders have a stout defense that limited Colgate to only 91 rushing yards on the game and 75 yards of total offense in the second half.  Junior QB Emmett Clifford went 20 for 34 with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in his first two career starts.  Senior WR Blaise Bell is Holy Cross’ most dangerous weapon after amassing 601 receiving yards as a Junior.  Senior LB Ryan Brady was a 2nd Team All-Patriot League selection a year ago and has already racked up 29 tackles with 8 tackles for losses in just two games.

Yale shutout Holy Cross 32-0 in last season’s October contest in the Bowl.

Oluokun Sees First Regular Season Action in Falcons’ Loss to Eagles

Ivy League Champion Foye Oluokun made his NFL regular season debut last night in the Falcons’ 6 point loss to the Eagles.  Oluokun was flagged twice for penalties, although the referees mistakenly announced three penalties on him throughout the game.  One penalty was a false start on a punt.  The second penalty was a roughing the punter call when he was blocked into the punter while trying to bring pressure.  A facemask penalty was attributed to him later in the contest, but the replay clearly showed that it was another Falcon.  Oluokun made a great play on a punt as he called off his teammates from touching the ball and an Eagle inadvertently touched the ball which Atlanta recovered.  He saw a few snaps at linebacker during the Eagles’ game winning drive as well.

8 days to kickoff in Worcester!

Oluokun makes 53-Man Roster for Falcons, Graham added to Practice Squad

Foye Oluokun has officially made the Atlanta Falcons after an eye-opening preseason camp in which he was described as having the presence of a veteran by team management.  Jaeden Graham was initially cut from the Falcons’ 53 man roster, but was retained as a member of the practice squad due to his skill and potential.

Yale’s first opponent, Holy Cross, played its first game on Saturday losing to Colgate by 7.  We are now under two weeks to kickoff in Worcester.