Preseason camp is finally here and the number one ranked Bulldogs seek to reclaim the Ivy League crown after a disappointing 2018 campaign.
Quarterbacks: Kurt Rawlings returns to spearhead the Yale offense after a leg injury derailed his season. The Elis can’t afford to lose Rawlings again, so he must limit his downfield running and look to throw the ball out of bounds when there are no open receivers. Griffin O’Connor is more than capable as a backup and will be well prepared in the event of an injury to Rawlings.
Projected Starter: Kurt Rawlings
Running Backs: The running back position has arguably more talent and depth than any other position on this team. Alan Lamar, Zane Dudek and Spencer Alston will pose challenges for opposing defenses with their varying styles. Dudek is a game-changer when fully healthy, while Lamar and Alston can pound defenses with their strength and power.
Projected Starter: Alan Lamar
Wide Receivers: JP Shohfi and Reed Klubnik combine to form the top receiving duo in the Ivy League. Who will step-up to be the third wide receiver this season? Rouse, Carrington, and Sandifer all seem to be likely candidates, although Seniors Caden Herring and Garrett White could overtake them on the depth chart with a strong preseason.
Projected Starters: JP Shohfi, Reed Klubnik, and Melvin Rouse
Tight End: Reno shocked fans last season when he announced JJ Howland as the starting tight end. Howland had a solid season both in run blocking and pass catching. D. Major Roman can stretch the field vertically and possesses fantastic hands. Look for Howland and Roman to continue to make major strides in 2019.
Projected Starter: JJ Howland
Offensive Line: The Yale offense will live and die by the play of its offensive line this season. The offensive line struggled to pick up blitzes and was often pushed around by strong bullrushers in 2018. There is too much experience and talent on this line to not dominate in 2019. Hinish and Tribble will likely battle it out for the starting guard position, while a number of talented underclassmen have the potential to unseat established starters.
Projected Starters: Cameron Warfield, Jacob Hinish, Steven Cepalia, Sterling Strother, Dieter Eiselen
Defensive Line: The defensive line simply must create more penetration in 2019. Matthaei and Keeler have to improve their consistency and production at defensive tackle to aid a linebacking corps that struggled to make tackles in 2018. The defensive ends have to contain outside runs and get more hits on the quarterback to take pressure off of the defensive backs. Beyond Moore and Callender, there are several defensive ends worthy of playing time including Sean Kissel, Reid Nickerson, Christian Sampleton and Oso Ifesinachukwu.
Projected Starters: Devin Moore, Spencer Matthaei, Josh Keeler and Charles Callender
Linebackers: We will likely see a rotation of linebackers once again this season as there are a number of talented players that are nearly equivalent in production. John Dean, Ryan Burke, Blake Hill and Micah Awodiran all have the ability to start at inside linebacker. Noah Pope, Jordan Carey or Miles Oldacre could start on the outside, although Oldacre seems to be a better candidate for the strong safety position and remains listed as a defensive back on the roster.
Projected Starters: Ryan Burke, John Dean, and Noah Pope
Defensive Backs: The defensive backs were by far the most criticized unit in 2018. Defenders refused to play the ball in the air and could not make necessary downfield tackles. Without a drastic change in the secondary, we will fall prey to skilled aerial attacks. The competition for the starting corner and strong safety positions will be the most intriguing aspects of fall camp.
Projected Starters: Malcolm Dixon, Jaelin Alburg, Miles Oldacre and Rodney Thomas