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cornell preview

The Cornell Big Red travel to New Haven this week for a 1 PM showdown against the Elis. ESPN+ will be streaming the contest for those not at the Bowl.

Cornell is a much stronger opponent than Holy Cross this season and the Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them to secure a victory. Quarterback Mike Catanese is a dual threat quarterback with serious speed. Catanese scored on a 42 yard dive up the middle last week in the Big Red’s 21-7 victory over Marist. He finished the afternoon with 130 yards passing (75% completion percentage), 79 yards rushing and was only sacked once. Running back Harold Coles torched the Marist defense for 127 yards rushing with a whopping 7.9 yards per carry. Tight end John Fitzgerald is a big target with sticky hands and is a favorite of Catanese especially on play action plays. Receivers Owen Peters and Phazione McClurge will test our revamped secondary. The offensive line played well against Marist, but the improved Bulldog defensive line should matchup well against them. Cornell showed various formations from an empty formation with five wideouts to a full house backfield with three running backs. Outside containment will be critical this week as Cornell loves to attack the edges with jet sweeps and options.

The Cornell defensive line is not the biggest line we will face this season, but they are quick and very active with their hands to disengage from blockers. Defensive lineman Nathaniel Weber was a standout on film showing an effective swim move. The linebacking corps is strong led by Junior Lance Blass. Blass had 8 tackles against Yale last season and was very active against Marist. The secondary is above average and despite not facing a quality opponent in the first week, they did give up long passing plays of 51 yards and 28 yards. Cornell always plays very aggressively against the Bulldogs as they stack the box on running downs and blitz the house on passing plays. The Bulldogs will have to protect Rawlings long enough to exploit the single coverages on our top targets.

Cornell kicker Garrett Patla made all three of his extra point attempts, but missed a 45 yard field goal. Punter Koby Kiefer averaged just 32.2 yards per punt, although he did boom one punt for 55 yards and placed two other punts inside Marist’s twenty yard line.

Game Notes

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

Yale 23 Holy Cross 10

Starters

QB Kurt Rawlings

RB Alan Lamar

RB Zane Dudek

WR JP Shohfi

WR Reed Klubnik

TE JJ Howland

LT Nick Gargiulo

LG Dieter Eiselen

C Sterling Strother

RG Steven Cepalia

RT Cameron Warfield

DE Oso Ifesinachukwu

DT Spencer Matthaei

DT Josh Keeler

DE Reid Nickerson

OLB Rodney Thomas

MLB Ryan Burke

OLB John Dean

CB Melvin Rouse

SS Kyle Ellis

FS Dathan Hickey

CB Deonte Henson

K Sam Tuckerman

P Jack Bosman

LS Garry Raymond

KR Trenton Charles

PR Melvin Rouse

Holy cross preview

The Yale Bulldogs kickoff their season against the Holy Cross Crusaders on Saturday at 1PM at the Bowl. ESPN+ will be streaming the battle for those not at the Bowl.

Holy Cross is a quality opponent with two games under their belt. They opened their season with a difficult matchup versus Navy and Navy’s triple option offense exploited their speed advantage over Holy Cross’ front seven en route to a 45-7 victory. The Crusaders bounced back in their second contest beating New Hampshire 13-10 in a defensive struggle as they scooped and scored with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Holy Cross had a bye week this past week, so they have had ample time to draw up a gameplan for the Elis.

The Crusaders’ offense has not been particularly explosive to date, but they have a solid quarterback in Connor Degenhardt that can make the Bulldogs pay if coverages are blown. Degenhardt has completed 58% of his passes to date this season and isn’t afraid to stand in the pocket long enough to spot an open receiver. The top two running backs are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, however, the top three receivers are averaging 9.3, 11.7 and 21.4 yards per reception. Holy Cross has racked up twenty first downs on passing plays compared to just seven first downs on running plays. This should prove to be an early litmus test for our secondary. The offensive line has strength and size, yet has not impressed in their first two outings against very stiff competition.

Safety Joe Lang is the star of the defense and has already racked up 14 solo tackles thus far, while his fellow defensive back Chris Riley has notched 16 total tackles. Freshman linebacker Josh Dobbs leads the defense with 18 total tackles overall. The linebacking corps as a whole is very young with two sophomores and a freshman in the mix. This will be a very favorable matchup for our stable of talented running backs and our veteran offensive line. The Crusaders’ defensive line has yet to register a sack and simply could not keep containment against Navy.

Yale leads the series 28-5, but second year coach Bob Chesney is 1-0 versus Reno.

Here are some lingering questions that we will hopefully have answered by 4:30 PM on Saturday:

Will Rawlings and Dudek be able to bounce back from the injuries that derailed their last campaigns?

Will the revamped offensive line be a more cohesive unit?

How will Reno distribute the ball with so many playmakers at running back and wide receiver?

Will defensive backs play the ball in the air and take proper angles to catch up to ball carriers?

Has the tackling improved from last season?

How will our special teams fare with a new kicker and snapper?

Stay tuned to find out. Let’s go Bulldogs!

T minus 5 days

Get your Ziploc bags ready as the Bulldogs host the Holy Cross Crusaders in five days.

It should be a gorgeous day on Saturday with the weather forecasted to be sunny with a high of 81 degrees. If you can’t make it to the Bowl, you can watch the live stream on ESPN+.

As commenters have noted, Strother may be starting at center with Gargiulo filling his tackle position. It will be interesting to see what combination of linebackers and defensive backs hit the field first although we can expect a deep rotation of players across the board on defense.

Holy Cross is a formidable foe with two games under their belt, so the Bulldogs will need to shake off the rust quickly and keep the energy high for four quarters (plus overtime if recent history repeats itself). The second half meltdown against the Crusaders was one of the low points of 2018 and set the stage for an up and down season.

The Holy Cross Preview will be posted in the coming days. We are not posting the Keys to Victory this season as the entries typically become locker room fodder for opposing teams given the lack of media exposure.

Under two weeks to kickoff

Congrats to Jaeden Graham and Foye Oluokun on making the Atlanta Falcons’ 53 man roster. We wish them both luck in their opener at the Minnesota Vikings.

Yale’s first opponent, Holy Cross, beat UNH to even their record to 1-1. The Crusaders were routed in their first contest versus Navy 45-7. Navy’s offense exploited Holy Cross’ lack of defensive containment with a punishing array of outside runs.

It’s evident that the wide receivers and linebackers have been the stars of preseason camp for the Bulldogs as they have racked up numerous Dog of the Day nods on Yale’s Twitter feed.

Our contributors did not view the scrimmage, so we’d love to hear insights from those in attendance in the comments section. The closed practices have limited the flow of information, but that will all change shortly.

Yale hosts Holy Cross on September 21st at the Bowl. Kickoff is slated for 1PM and ESPN+ will be streaming the game.

camp primer

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

Boola Boola

Yale remains as the winningest FCS program in history with a whopping 907 wins since play began in 1872. Harvard trails Yale by 32 wins, while Penn, Princeton and Dartmouth also appear in the NCAA’s Top 9 list: https://www.ncaa.com/news/football/article/2019-07-22/9-winningest-fcs-teams-college-football-history

We are under two months to kickoff versus Holy Cross. This will be an early test for the defense particularly the defensive line and secondary as these units struggled down the stretch in the Crusaders’ stunning comeback last season. The first three contests will be at home (versus Holy Cross, Cornell and Fordham), before the Bulldogs hit the road for Hanover in Week 4 for what should be a highly anticipated game against the Big Green. Week 5 offers a unique challenge as Yale heads to Richmond to face a very talented and physical squad. Heading into the brunt of the Ivy League schedule in Week 6, we should have a clear understanding of this Yale team’s toughness.

For those of you craving football in any form, Netflix’s new season of “Last Chance U” offers an entertaining glimpse into the world of junior college football in Kansas.

Make sure to buy your Pin Flags to honor Greg Hall at the upcoming golf outing! You don’t want to miss the opportunity to chat with Jack Siedlecki, so get your foursomes together.

June 26th Updates

We are under three months to kickoff at Yale on September 21st versus Holy Cross. Last season’s second half collapse against the Crusaders set the tone for a disappointing 2018 campaign, but the Elis will be hungry for redemption in New Haven.

Reno and company snagged a pair of solid commits over the last few weeks:

Teo Falk is a 6-6.5, 235 lb. Defensive End from Sweden that had other offers from Temple, Penn, Towson, and UMASS.

Ben Mann is a 6-4, 205 lb. Tight End/Defensive End/Long Snapper from Manheim Township, Pennsylvania. Mann’s grandfather was a former Bulldog football player, so blue runs in his veins.

The annual Ivy League Media Day will be hosted at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol on August 15th.

Photographs posted on Facebook show that the Yale Bowl has officially been resurfaced. Will the new synthetic surface be an advantage for Yale given our team speed or will it lead to more devastating injuries that derail seasons? Only time will tell.

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