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.