The Bulldogs opened their season with a 23-10 win over the Holy Cross Crusaders.
Yale methodically marched down on the opening series with a long Klubnik pass and a two yard touchdown scamper from Dudek. Lamar had a nice eleven yard carry on the drive, but signaled for relief to the sideline and was not seen again. Howland suffered a serious injury on the next possession and may be lost for the season. Shohfi was dressed for the game, but did not participate. In his absence, Conte, Herring, and Tipton saw extended action and each was highly impressive. Conte led all receivers with three catches for 54 yards. Klubnik played up to his usual standard, although Rawlings seemed to force a few balls to him when other receivers had more favorable matchups. Dudek appeared to be fully healthy running for 96 yards with an average of 5.1 yards per carry. Alston suffered a serious injury leaving McElwain as Yale’s only healthy power runner. Rawlings wasn’t as crisp as we’ve seen him, yet he showed the same grit and determination as he did in the 2017 campaign. The offensive line play was up and down both in pass blocking and run blocking. Dudek had several large holes paved for him, but on obvious running situations, the Crusaders were able to penetrate the backfield. The line did well against Holy Cross’ base front in passing situations. When Holy Cross decided to blitz, Rawlings was left scrambling for his life.
The tackling on defense is much improved from a season ago. Plays that would have turned into touchdowns last season were contained for the most part. The front seven had a nice showing led by Matthaei. Matthaei racked up six tackles, three TFLs and one sack. Nickerson had three tackles and a momentum changing fumble recovery. Burke, Awodiran, Pope, Dean and Thomas all had good performances at linebacker. The secondary is still a work in progress. Holy Cross had a few receivers streaking wide open on long passes, but Degenhardt failed to deliver catchable passes. The defensive backs still do not turn their heads to play the ball.
The kicking and punting need to be improved in a hurry. Tuckerman missed the first extra point and Bosman only averaged 35 yard per punt with one punt hitting a Bulldog’s helmet as he ran down the field to cover. Rouse is a phenomenal punt returner and should have a touchdown or two in this position over the course of the year.
The offensive play calling was effective, but too predicable at times. Running Dudek on 3rd and short early in the contest when Alston was still available did not make sense. The 3rd and 5 run with Charles was also a mistake. All in all, it was a solid coaching performance for a first game with several star players out.
Next up: the Cornell Big Red