Columbia Preview

The Columbia Lions will travel to New Haven this week for a 1 PM game against our Bulldogs.  You can catch the game on the Ivy League Network or SNY TV.

Al Bagnoli has turned Columbia around in just two years and the Lions are vying for their first Ivy League title since 1961.  This is a must win game for Yale as a loss will make it difficult (although not impossible) to win the Ivy League Championship.

This Columbia squad is not composed of world beaters and top recruits as elated Columbia fans will try to tell you.  They have a great coaching staff, a solid quarterback, fast wideouts and a stingy defense, yet they do have chinks in the armor.  Senior QB Anders Hill and Sophomore WR Josh Wainwright are the top playmakers for the Lions.  Hill has completed 66% of his passes and averages roughly 277 passing yards per game.  Wainwright has 46 receptions for 637 yards and fellow WR Ronald Smith has 418 yards on the season, but did not play last week.  Dartmouth was not able to register a single sack on Hill.  That will change with the pressure the Elis will bring.  Columbia has not been particularly effective at running the ball with a net of only 738 rushing yards on the season.

Senior Defensive Back Ryan Gilbert leads the Columbia defense with 52 total tackles and his fellow classmate and DB Landon Baty has racked up 48 tackles.  That is a total of 100 tackles between two defensive backs with only 1 interception combined.  The defensive backs are clearly coming up for run support and hoping that their corners can lockdown their opponent’s top wide receiver.  They haven’t faced a well rounded receiving corps such as Yale’s that also features a deadly rushing attack.  Columbia has only accumulated 6 sacks on the season or 1 per game, so Rawlings should have ample time to read the defense and deliver a strike.

Keys to the game:

  • Hit Anders Hill
  • Key on Wainwright
  • Get the ground game going to open the passing game
  • Secure the football
  • Cut down on penalties
  • Execute on special teams

Notes on Penn Game

When Tre Solomon scored on the Bulldogs with 9:03 left in the 4th quarter, most of us had flashbacks of the Dartmouth game slipping away.  Rawlings and company were able to come alive and drive down the field to score, while the defense stuffed the Quakers effectively ending any hopes of another Ivy title in Philadelphia.

Penalties and turnovers crippled Yale all day.  Rawlings, Rouse and Dudek fumbled during the game and each turnover seemed to change the momentum of the contest.  Yale was penalized 9 times for 86 yards on Saturday with a questionable celebration call on Crowle leading to points and other offensive penalties stalling drives from the start.

The defensive line and linebackers played up to expectations.  DE Hunter Roman had his best performance of the season with 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.  DT Copache Tyler and DE Kyle Mullen were unblockable as usual.  Herubin, Matthaei, Crowle, Chism and Keeler all excelled as well.  Oluokun and Oplinger were typically the constants at linebacker, while Meder, Dean, Balter, and Burke rotated in.  Oluokun had a huge day with 10 tackles, a forced fumble, 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss.  Alessi, Carlson and Rymiszewski looked solid in the secondary.  Dixon and Henson were torched at times by Justin Watson, but showed grit to hang in there and improve as the game went on.  Deep passes are still an area of concern as Penn dropped 1-2 touchdowns that could have swayed the outcome of the game.

There was penetration into the backfield at times and a few big hits were put on Rawlings, but fans seemed to be pleased with the performance of the offensive line overall.  Penn only notched 2 sacks all day and we were able to shut down DE Vecchio for most of the game.  Rawlings seemed to force a few balls into bad spots early on, yet didn’t throw an interception and marched the Elis downfield for victory when it mattered.  Shohfi led the wideouts with 4 catches for 68 yards.  Dudek and Salter ran for 103 yards and 77 yards respectively.  Rawlings added another 37 yards on the ground most of which came in critical situations.

Galland had another solid outing with a 35 yard field goal.  Coach Reno and Coach Rice need to be commended for that gutsy two point conversation call!


Penn Preview

The Bulldogs will be traveling to the City of Brotherly Love this weekend to take on the Penn Quakers at 1 PM ET on Saturday.  You can watch the game on the Ivy League Network or NBC Sports Philly.

Penn is sitting at 0-2 in the Ivy League after last minute scores by both Dartmouth and Columbia in their first two conference games.  This is a tough and talented team that will not quit.  With a few different bounces of the ball, this team could be 2-0 and in contention for another Ivy League title.

On offense, Karekin Brooks, Tre Solomon and Justin Watson are the stars of the show.  Sophomore RB Karekin Brooks leads Penn with 586 yards rushing as Brooks filled in for Senior RB Tre Solomon while he was out with an injury.  Solomon was back in the lineup last week and split carries with Brooks.  These backs are fast and hard to bring down on initial contact.  Senior WR Justin Watson is arguably the top player in the Ivy League.  Watson is off to another explosive start to the season with 34 receptions for 467 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Senior QB Will Fischer-Colbrie has an adequate arm and can run when he has to with 2 rushing touchdowns on the season, but he is no Alek Torgersen.  Fischer-Colbrie was 14 of 25 for 186 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions against Columbia.  In Penn’s loss to Dartmouth, Fischer-Colbrie only threw for 158 yards.

Penn’s defense always shows up to play against Yale.  Junior LB Nick Miller is an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year with the stats he is piling up.  Miller currently has 56 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 INT’s.  Senior LB Colton Moskal has been a dominant player in the conference over the last couple of seasons and is the heart of the defense.  Senior Defensive End Louis Vecchio is the leader of the defensive line and has two sacks currently.  Those who remember the nightmare that was the Night at the Bowl last year can recall Vecchio wreaking havoc on our offensive line.  The secondary is not on the same level as last year’s Penn squad and gave up a number of big passing plays to Lehigh and Columbia.

Keys to the Game:

  • Slow down WR Justin Watson
  • Pick Penn’s secondary apart
  • Contain Penn’s defensive front and get blockers to the second level
  • Play smashmouth football

Notes on Holy Cross Game

The Elis are sitting at 4-1 after a huge 32-0 victory over Holy Cross on Saturday at the Bowl.  The Crusaders had not been shut out since 2004 and Holy Cross swiftly fired its coach Tom Gilmore following the contest.

The defense had its best showing of the year limiting pro prospect Pujals to only 89 passing yards on the day.  This was truly a shocker as Yale’s secondary has struggled with injuries and added yet another one as Malcolm Dixon went down in the first half with an arm injury.  Jaelin Alburg, Marquise Peggs and Spencer Rymiszewski did not play and Brian Sykes came in to relieve the ailing Dixon.  Freshman Deonte Henson started at corner while his fellow classmate Micah Awodiran got another start at linebacker.  Ronnie Meder and Jarrett Balter rotated in at linebacker and both played their best games to date.  Matthaei started at defensive tackle with Copache Tyler out of the lineup.  The defensive line just bullied Holy Cross all day allowing Oplinger to rack up three sacks and a safety.  Sophomore Josh Keeler got his first sack of the season and Julian Fraser made an appearance on the defensive front.  Alessi and Carlson had great performances at safety.  Carlson is easily the most underrated star of the defense with countless touchdown saving tackles over the last three seasons.  He saved another touchdown on Saturday by chasing down Holy Cross’ kick returner.

The special teams units for the most part were solid on Saturday.  Galland had a nice 39 yard field goal, but would later miss an extra point.  Kick coverage is still an area of concern due to players not breaking down when trying to tackle the returners.  Tuckerman saved a touchdown with a nice tackle and to add insult to injury, Holy Cross’ return man was shaken up on the play.

Our offense was too much for Holy Cross to handle, but we still must improve to beat Penn this week.  Rawlings missed Siragusa and Graham on passes in the first half due to late deliveries.  Rawlings also threw a beautiful pass to Siragusa that was dropped, but Siragusa would make up for it with 98 yards and two touchdowns on the day.  It was nice to see Klubnik and Drwal out there snagging balls.  There were too many running plays that went for no gain or short gains.  Salter only averaged 2.6 yards per attempt on the day as defenders would often hit him the backfield.  Rawlings was drilled on a couple of pass attempts, but the pass blocking did look much improved from last week.

The coaching staff deserves high praise this week for bouncing back with a resounding victory.

Holy Cross Preview

Yale will host the 2-4 Holy Cross Crusaders on Saturday at 1 PM ET.  You can catch the game on the Ivy League Network at that time.  Holy Cross lost an overtime thriller to Dartmouth three weeks ago after electing to go for a two point conversion for the win instead of kicking the extra point.

Holy Cross has had a disappointing mid-season stretch with three straight losses after a promising start to the season.  In the season opener, Holy Cross lost to UCONN by only a touchdown and would go on to demolish Bucknell and New Hampshire in weeks 2 and 3.  Since the Dartmouth loss, Holy Cross has dropped two straight home games to Lafayette (10-7) and Monmouth (48-36).

Keys to Victory:

  • Stay aggressive

Dartmouth’s historic comeback last week may not have occurred if we did not take our foot off the pedal in the third quarter.  This week we need to put points on the board in a hurry and keep throwing downfield until time expires.  Holy Cross has the offensive firepower to erase a huge deficit in minutes. C-Lo and TE Jaeden Graham have been phenomenal this season and we need to keep feeding them the rock to keep Holy Cross’ defense honest.

  • Shore up the secondary

Holy Cross QB Peter Pujals threw for over 500 yards last week to 13 different players.  We can expect to see the Crusaders target our secondary after the dismal defensive back play in the second half of the Dartmouth loss.  The secondary needs to regroup this week to have any chance of making a run at the Ivy title.  The blitzing this week will need to be more creative as the blitzing against Dartmouth put our defensive backs at a disadvantage against talented wideouts.

  • Cut the mental mistakes

From high snaps and holding to late hits, penalties killed any chance of clinging onto a win last week.  The offensive line was the biggest offender and crippled several drives with mental errors and penalties.  On defense, personal fouls will need to be cleaned up as Tyler and Balter were cited for such penalties last week.  Rawlings will have to study extra game film to see which routes the Holy Cross cornerbacks like to jump.  Correcting the mistakes starts with the coaching staff, so Reno and company will have their work cut out for them this week.

Thoughts on the Dartmouth Loss

Things got off to a rocky start for the Bulldogs on Saturday as a high snap from Strothers pinned them deep on their first possession.  Yale’s defense shutdown Dartmouth with notable starters this week including Awodiran and Matthaei.  Yale took charge from that point going up 21-0 with their high flying offense being too much for the Big Green to handle.  Rawlings threw touchdowns to Williams-Lopez, Rouse and Dudek during that span.  A poor decision from Rawlings led to a pick six by Dartmouth’s Isiah Swann in the second quarter.  Galland finished off the half with a field goal to put Yale up 24-7 at halftime.

It was all downhill from that point for the Elis.  Reno decided to run a conservative offensive plan that would only yield 3 points all half.  On defense, the linebackers and secondary were routinely picked apart.  Balter and Alessi in particular struggled immensely.  The continuous blitzing by Yale’s defense became predictable and left the secondary vulnerable without adding much to the pass rush.  Injuries piled up for both teams as Peggs and Oluokun went down along with Perry and Hagdorn for Dartmouth.  It was clear midway through the fourth quarter that we would not hold onto the lead.  Holding penalties on offense and roughing the quarterback penalties on defense doomed the Elis.  The officiating was sloppy, but that’s usually par for the course for Ivy League referees.

Yale clearly has the talent in place to beat any school in the Ivy League this season, but mental mistakes and coaching blunders will have to be corrected in order to make a run.  The Ivy champ this year will likely have one loss, so this does not end the season by any means.

Dartmouth Preview

The Bulldogs will travel to Hanover to play the Dartmouth Big Green Saturday at 1:30 PM ET.  The game can be seen on ESPN3 or the Ivy League Network.

Keys to Victory

  • Dismantle the Dartmouth Offensive Line

The right side of Dartmouth’s offensive line features new starters this season and our veteran defensive line needs to manhandle the big boys up front to alter Teeven’s gameplan.  Tyler, Mullen, Crowle, Herubin, Callender, Chism and others are more than capable enough of shutting down the Big Green’s running attack led by Ryder Stone and Miles Smith.  Dartmouth also likes to use QB Jared Gerbino as the wildcat rusher and showed in the final seconds of the Penn game that this formation is their favorite short yardage package.

  • Create Holes for Salter and Dudek

Dartmouth is proud of its defensive front featuring 300 pounder Jackson Perry.  Perry and his fellow defensive linemen have been able to keep defenders off of linebackers Jack Traynor and Eric Meile enabling them to rack up stats.  Traynor was named Defensive Player of the Week after registering 9 tackles and a pass breakup versus Penn.  Our offensive line will need to get a push up front while still making blocks at the second level to spring our backs this week.  Salter seems to be gaining steam each week, while Dudek continues to amaze with his vision, patience and balance.

  • Slow Down Hagdorn

WR Hunter Hagdorn caught 9 passes for 91 yards and a score in the Penn contest last week.  In last season’s win over Dartmouth, Hagdorn was open on a number of occasions, but Heneghan failed to deliver time and time again.  With Peggs potentially out this week, it will be a tall task to shutdown the Dartmouth receiving corps.  Alburg and Dixon will need to rise to the occasion as they did last week.

  • Fluster Heneghan

Tight coverage alone will not limit Dartmouth’s aerial attack.    We will need to put hits on Heneghan to get in his head.  We saw in the Penn-Dartmouth and Yale-Dartmouth contests last season that when Heneghan loses his confidence, his play quickly spirals downwards.  Fordham’s Anderson and Cornell’s Banks were pounded in recent weeks by our defense and a similar infliction of pain will result in a Yale win.