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Penn Preview

The Penn Quakers travel to New Haven to take on the Bulldogs at the Bowl on Saturday at noon.  The game will be aired on ESPN+ and NESN.

Penn suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Columbia last week in a 44-6 contest.  Expect Penn to bounce back and play with a high level of intensity after Ray Priore fired up his squad this week.

The Quakers have a very balanced offensive strategy as they have rushed for 1079 yards with 7 touchdowns and they have passed for 1078 yards and 7 touchdowns.  The offense is led by senior quarterback Nick Robinson (6’2”, 205 lbs.).  Robinson has completed just under 58% of his passes this season with only one interception.  Strong opposing pass rushes have had a large effect on his timing and accuracy.  The star of Penn’s offense is senior running back Karekin Brooks.  Brooks is a solid back with great balance and the ability to break tackles.  He’s rushed for 689 yards this season averaging 5.8 yards per carry.  Sophomore wide receivers Ryan Cragun and Rory Starkey, Jr. are Robinson’s favorite targets in the passing game.  Look for Priore to find ways to get Cragun and Starkey the ball often given Yale’s secondary struggles over the last two weeks.  Penn’s offensive line is above average overall with run blocking being the key strength.  The Yale defense can be successful if it limits Brooks on the ground and generates ample pressure on Robinson on passing downs.

Penn’s defensive line was impressive in the first drive of the Quakers game versus Dartmouth, but they could not sustain that high level of performance over sixty minutes.  Senior defensive lineman Prince Emili (6’2”, 275 lbs.) and junior defensive lineman David Ryslik (6’4”, 280 lbs.) will pose challenges for our injury depleted offensive line.  Emili and Ryslik have combined for 45 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.  Penn always seems to have talented linebackers leading their defensive efforts.  Zach Evans and Brian O’Neill are no exception.  Evans has racked up 44 tackles to lead the defense, while O’Neill has posted 31 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and an interception.  Our offensive line will need to get hands on second level defenders this week to spring runs from Lamar and Dudek.  The Quakers could not contain Columbia’s dual threat quarterback last week allowing him to run for 95 yards and complete 70% of his passes.  Senior safety and two-time 2nd Team All-Ivy selection Sam Philippi is the heart of the secondary with 20 tackles and an interception on the season.

Sophomore punter Jake Haggard averages an efficient 38.9 yards per punt, while junior kicker David Perkins has had difficulties in the kicking game making just one field goal on five attempts.  Penn has been dynamic on kick returns and punts returns averaging 21.0 yards and 16.2 yards respectively.  Special teams could be the deciding factor in this contest, so the Bulldogs will need to limit the mental errors that plagued us versus Richmond.

Go Bulldogs!

Richmond Notes

The Bulldogs stormed back on Saturday to beat Richmond 28-27 in a dramatic finish for the ages.

Yale’s offense stalled in the first half behind a banged up offensive line that could not open holes for Dudek and Lamar and could not contain Richmond’s talented defensive linemen on passing downs. Outside of a nifty 25 yard run by Dudek, the running game was non-existent totaling just 67 yards on the day. Rawlings was once again rushing passes into poor spots and was fortunate that Richmond dropped three potential interceptions. Yale began showing life in the third quarter after a quick four play, 64 yard drive that resulted in a long touchdown reception by Jaylan Sandifer. The Bulldogs’ defense tightened just enough to give Rawlings and company a fighting chance at a comeback. With under five minutes remaining, Rawlings led a 72 yard drive culminating in a 15 yard touchdown by JP Shohfi. Down by six points with just 1:23 remaining on the clock, Shohfi stunned the Richmond crowd by recovering the onside kick. Rawlings marched the Bulldogs down the field once again and delivered possibly the best pass of his career to Reed Klubnik to tie the contest. Tuckerman’s extra point put Yale ahead for the first time in the contest and left only nine seconds for the Spiders to operate.

Richmond seemed to mimic Dartmouth’s successful offensive gameplan with a running game built around jet sweeps and quarterback draws that could open up the field for deadly passing strikes. With Rodney Thomas out of the lineup, the secondary struggled to tackle allowing the worst rushing attack in the CAA to move the chains. Coverage was certainly an improvement from the Dartmouth contest, but without a strong pass rush in the first half, the Spiders were able to find open receivers time and time again. This was a tale of two halves for both the offense and the defense. Deep into the third quarter, defensive linemen began applying pressure and getting off blocks. Linebackers were filling gaps and making crucial tackles, while defensive backs were locking down wideouts. We will all remember the heroics of Rawlings, Shohfi and Klubnik, but the defense had as large of a part in the win as the offense.

This was a signature victory for Reno that gives the Bulldogs a much needed boost of confidence going into the Ivy stretch.

Yale 28 Richmond 27

Richmond Preview

The Bulldogs travel to Richmond, Virginia to take on the Richmond Spiders on Saturday at 6 PM. The game will be aired on NBC Sports Washington and FloSports.

After starting the season 1-3, the Richmond Spiders have evened their record with impressive victories over Albany and Maine in the last two weeks. Redshirt Junior QB Joe Mancuso leads the Spiders in both passing and rushing yards. Mancuso has completed 65.8% of his passes with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. On the ground, Mancuso has averaged 4.7 yards per carry including a season long rush of 23 yards. Redshirt Freshman Aaron Dykes is the top running back averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. Graduate Student Keyston Fuller is an explosive wideout who has caught 27 passes for 562 yards with a whopping 20.8 yards per reception. Charlie Fessler is a big target (6’4″, 220 lbs.) at wide receiver who leads the team in overall receptions at 30. The offensive line has struggled to run block this season, but they were stout in pass protection versus Maine giving up just one sack.

The defense has been the strength of the Spiders squad in recent weeks. Junior linebacker Tyler Dessler was all over the field against Maine with 20 total tackles. Redshirt Sophomore Kobie Turner is a very physical defensive lineman that teams have struggled to contain. Turner (6’3″, 275 lbs.) has 36 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick on the season. Senior safety Daniel Jones could be the largest defensive back we will see all year at 210 pounds and he has the tackling skills of a linebacker with the coverage skills of a corner. With the uncertainty regarding the health of the Bulldog quarterbacks, the Richmond defense will provide yet another huge challenge for our offense.

Freshman kicker/punter Jake Larson has been nearly perfect missing just one field goal attempt that was blocked and punting for an average of 40.1 yards. As a team, the Spiders are not as strong or as deep as Dartmouth, but they are playing very well right now and the Bulldogs will have to dig deep to bounce back with a victory this week.

Dartmouth Notes

The Bulldogs were routed in Hanover by the Dartmouth Big Green in a 42-10 loss on Saturday.

Going into the contest against a stingy defense, we knew that there were going to be challenges blocking the talented Dartmouth defensive linemen.  The offensive line play was up and down and simply wasn’t consistent enough to sustain or finish drives.  When Rawlings did have time in the pocket, he seemed overly anxious as his footwork deteriorated and he forced passes into double coverage.  This led to two ugly interceptions that Dartmouth capitalized on in a hurry.  Rawlings finished the day with just 143 passing yards and 2 interceptions.  Griffin O’Connor didn’t fare much better throwing for 52 yards and completing under fifty percent of his passes.  Lamar and Dudek gained as much as they could in the running game, but we would have liked to see them break more arm tackles to spark the offense.  Melvin Rouse was surprisingly the offensive star of the day with 6 receptions for 65 yards.  Klubnik made a couple of nice catches before the Dartmouth secondary began keying on him nearly every passing play.  Shohfi wasn’t seen for much of the contest, so we are assuming he may have aggravated his prior injury.  The referees missed at least two pass interference calls on the Big Green in the first half, but you have to expect terrible officiating in the Ivy League.  The predictable offensive playcalling certainly didn’t help matters.  Dartmouth was able to play base defense rushing just three down linemen against our ineffective schemes.  The notable trick play of the afternoon consisted of handing the ball off to Griffin O’Connor to throw downfield.  Why not run this play with someone like Conte when opposing defenses have clearly seen O’Connor play quarterback on film?    Much like last year’s contest, this game was out of hand by the third quarter allowing Dartmouth to rotate in their backups.  Freshman QB Nolan Grooms led the Bulldogs on their only touchdown drive of the day completing all of his passing attempts and showing nimbleness in his scrambles.

Yale’s defense had no answers for the Big Green’s potent offensive attack.  Defensive linemen were not creating penetration, getting off blocks or keeping outside containment.  Linebackers were not filling the gaps fast enough or covering the running backs out of the backfield.  While the play of the front seven could be described as below average, the secondary’s performance was downright horrendous.  Dartmouth WR Drew Estrada posted 203 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 5 receptions.  Our cornerbacks and safeties were so far out of position, one had to wonder if they had watched any film of Dartmouth’s passing attack.  Even on simple 5 to 10 yard out routes, the closest defender was 10 yards away.  Aside from one trick play from Dartmouth, they ran basic plays that we should have been prepared for in such an important league contest.  This was the worst showing by the secondary since Penn’s Justin Watson torched the Bulldogs for 160 yards in one half back in 2016.  Princeton and Harvard both have passing attacks on par with Dartmouth’s, so we will need to improve in a hurry to stand a chance in our last two games.

Tuckerman nailed a 42 yard field goal in the second quarter and then missed a 23 yarder after Reno iced him with a timeout.  Bosman only punted twice averaging 35.5 yards per punt.

We’re on to Richmond.    

Yale 10 Dartmouth 42

Dartmouth Preview

The Bulldogs travel to Hanover, New Hampshire this week to take on the undefeated Dartmouth Big Green.  The game kicks off at 1:30 PM and will be streamed on ESPN+.

Dartmouth has been dominant in all phases of the game over their first three contests.  Dual threat quarterback Jared Gerbino is a tough runner to bring down and is a good enough passer to exploit mishaps in the secondary.  Dartmouth will often fake the jet sweep or line up in an empty formation to run Gerbino up the middle.  Backup quarterback Derek Kyler is often substituted in for Gerbino and is a slightly better passer, but we expect to see Gerbino the vast majority of the contest based on his success in last year’s game.  The Big Green’s running backs are average for the Ivy League, but they are aided by a strong offensive line, the threat of Gerbino running the ball, and the constant misdirections from the jet sweeps.  Receivers Drew Estrada and Hunter Hagdorn will be the best receivers we have faced thus far and are equally dangerous in the running game.  The offensive line is not quite up to par with Dartmouth’s offensive line from a year ago in terms of size and strength, yet based on film, they are skilled blockers particularly in pass blocking.  Penn’s defensive line had early success versus the Dartmouth offensive line, but could not sustain the effort in the second through fourth quarters in the Quakers’ loss.  Teevens’ offensive strategy is very aggressive and he will go for it on fourth down regardless of the field position.

Jackson Perry, Jack Traynor and David Chalmers are the stars of the Big Green’s stingy defense.  Perry (280 lbs.) and Chalmers (290 lbs.) are big, athletic defensive linemen that have spoiled offensive game plans over the last few years.  Former Yale defensive line coach Duane Brooks referred to this unit as the best that he has ever coached.  Traynor is the Luke Kuechly of the Ivy League as he is a tackling machine at linebacker that is also effective covering backs and tight ends in the passing game.  Yale will need effective strategies to neutralize Dartmouth’s top three defensive playmakers to win this contest.  If there is any weakness to the Dartmouth defense, it is the secondary, although that could change with the return of All-Ivy cornerback Isiah Swann.  Penn’s quarterback was unable to deliver passes on time to open receivers allowing the Dartmouth safeties to break up several passes with big hits.

Punter Davis Brief is averaging 35.9 yards per punt with a season long of 43 yards.  Kicker Connor Davis has only attempted one field goal this season and made the try from 39 yards out.  WR Drew Estrada is a dangerous punt returner averaging 19.3 yards per return.

Go Bulldogs!

Fordham Notes

The Yale offense exploded on Saturday in a 48-24 win over Fordham.

Kurt Rawlings was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for another two touchdowns. Lamar was back in action rushing 11 times for 52 yards, while Dudek had 7 carries for 33 yards. Lamar and Dudek were also receiving threats out of the backfield combining for 5 receptions for 33 yards. The offensive line had their best showing of the year pushing around defenders in the running game and giving Rawlings ample time in the passing game. The receivers and tight ends were nothing short of dominant. Shohfi could not be contained hauling in 5 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Klubnik had 5 receptions for 96 yards, while Tipton and Roman each caught bombs from Rawlings good for 48 yards and 41 yards respectively. McCord, White and Herring were all solid in the second half.

Ifesinachukwu and Matthaei could not be blocked by the Rams’ offensive line. Conlin likely had a headache all day trying to figure out how to spring his stellar running back free against the Bulldogs’ stout front seven. Burke was back in action at linebacker and was outstanding with 6 tackles, 3 tackles for losses and a sack. Rodney Thomas has become the star of the defense in recent weeks with another strong showing. Thomas racked up 11 tackles, 3 tackles for losses, a sack, and a forced fumble. Ellis keeps improving by leaps and bounds each week. His interception for a touchdown in the second quarter put the Bulldogs ahead 45-10. There were a couple of mental errors in the secondary that led to wide open receivers streaking down the field, but it’s hard to complain after such a thorough beating of Fordham.

Sam Tuckerman had a nice showing in the kicking game. The areas of concern on special teams were the kickoff and punt coverages. Fordham’s kick returner had 5 returns for 150 yards including a 53 yarder.

This was exactly the type of momentum we needed heading into the toughest week of the season.

YalE 48 FordHam 24

Fordham Preview

The 2-3 Fordham Rams travel to New Haven this Saturday to take on the Bulldogs at 1PM. The game will be streamed on ESPN+, but let’s try to pack the Bowl with at least six thousand fans this week.

The Rams are much improved this season and just beat a solid Richmond team 23-16 last week. This will not be the easiest game on our schedule as some believed in the preseason. Quarterback Tim DeMorat is an average Patriot League signal caller who has thrown for 185.8 yards per game with 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. DeMorat’s two favorite targets in the passing game, Hamze El-Zayat and Fotis Kokosiolus, are likely the best receivers we have faced thus far. El-Zayat and Kokosiolus are averaging 10.0 and 12.2 yards per catch respectively. The running game is clearly the strength of Fordham’s offense led by Wallingford’s Zach Davis. Davis has rushed for 511 yards or 102.2 yards per game with an average rushing attempt of 6.1 yards. Fordham’s offensive line is large and appears to be on par with Cornell’s based on game film. The Rams have struggled on 3rd downs converting on just 36% of their attempts this season. The Bulldogs will need to create penetration with the front seven to shut down the running game on early downs and force Fordham into uncomfortable 3rd and long positions. Ball security is an issue for the Rams as they have already fumbled nine times this season.

Sophomore linebacker Ryan Greenhagen leads Fordham’s defense with a whopping 55 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Glastonbury’s Glenn Cunningham is another standout linebacker with the ability to cover tight ends and running backs. Our offensive line will need to get to the second level to spring Dudek on running plays. Anthony Diodato and Ellis Taylor are the best playmakers for Fordham along the defensive line. Diodato and Taylor each have 15 tackles and a blocked kick. Taylor has a knack for pass rushing racking up 4 sacks. Fifth year senior James Biggs-Frazier leads the secondary with 25 tackles and a forced fumble. The Fordham defense has been outscored 42-14 in the first quarter and 49-25 in the second quarter, so Yale must look to put points on the board in a hurry before Paul Rice (former Yale captain) can get his defense to clamp down on the Elis.

Andrew Mevis is Fordham’s kicker and punter. He is 6 for 8 on field goal attempts with a long of 42 yards, while his punting average is a respectable 39.9 yards.

Fordham’s head coach, Joe Conlin, was Yale’s former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, so he’ll be fired up to try to knock off the Bulldogs. With a brutal matchup against Dartmouth looming, it’s imperative to clean up the mental mistakes this week and above all, stay healthy.

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