Yale 36 Princeton 28

Categories
Game Week

Princeton Preview

The Bulldogs hit the road once again for their third and final away game of the season at Princeton. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will air on ESPNU. 

The Tigers enter the contest with a 4-4 record (3-2 Ivy) after narrow league losses to Brown and Dartmouth earlier this season. Princeton defeated top-ranked Harvard as well as Columbia and Cornell as they leaned on their talented defense to stymie the opposition. 

Princeton’s offense was expected to be a top performing unit under the leadership of senior QB Blake Stenstrom (6’4”, 220 lbs.) but inconsistencies and turnovers have derailed the Tigers’ offense to date. When the Tigers are in a rhythm, which they’ve shown at times such as in the Harvard contest, they are very dangerous in the running game and passing game. Stenstrom has completed 60.3% of his passes for 1,852 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Despite being a traditional pocket passer, Stenstrom is not afraid to run the ball and Surace has shown increased willingness in recent weeks to run designed QB runs. Junior RB John Volker (6’0”, 210 lbs.) was a former track star and has used that speed to gain 4.5 yards per carry with 6 touchdowns. Junior RB Jiggie Carr (5’10”, 200 lbs.) is also heavily involved in the offensive scheme and averages 4.3 yards per carry. Princeton reloaded at the wide receiver position once again with juniors AJ Barber (5’9”, 180 lbs.) and Luke Colella (6’0”, 190 lbs.) posting impressive statistics. Barber, son of former NFL legend Tiki Barber, has hauled in 36 catches for 530 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Colella has racked up 36 catches for 461 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Princeton’s receiving corps does a great job at finding soft spots in the secondary and gaining substantial yardage after catches. Surace gets very creative on offense and even had Barber attempt a long downfield pass against Harvard which was intercepted. The Tigers will also put a slot receiver or H-back in motion to the sidelines a split second before the ball is snapped and quickly deliver the ball to that receiver on a short outside pass. Given Yale’s inability to stop the reverses on 4th down last week, one has to expect a similar wrinkle thrown into the gameplan by Princeton this week. Princeton’s offensive line averages 300.0 lbs. across the board and is led by 2nd Team All-Ivy OT Jalen Travis (6’9”, 315 lbs.). The offensive line has struggled at times paving the way for just 3.0 yards per carry and has allowed 22 sacks, although several sacks were due in part to Stenstrom holding onto the ball too long in the pocket. Junior TE Tyler Picnic (6’4”, 230 lbs.) is a solid blocker and receiving threat with 17 catches and a touchdown through 8 games. Yale’s defensive strategy this week needs to focus on filling gaps in the running game, getting hits on Stenstrom, and staying true to assignments to limit the big play ability of the exotic schemes Surace may have implemented for this game. 

Princeton’s defense is not only the top defense in the Ivy League, but also the top defensive unit in the entire FCS subdivision. The Tigers are led by two of the best linebackers that we’ve seen in the conference over the last few years in seniors Ozzie Nicholas (6’2”, 225 lbs.) and Liam Johnson (6’0”, 225 lbs.). Nicholas has racked up a whopping 81 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season and was named 2nd Team All-Ivy a year ago. Johnson was the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 and if it weren’t for Nicholas’ stellar performances, he’d likely be a favorite to win the crown a second year in a row. Senior OLB Nicholas Sanker (6’3”, 235 lbs.) has been impressive on film disrupting plays at the line of scrimmage. Princeton’s defensive line does a great job at occupying blockers in their 3-4 defense to allow the linebackers to roam free. Senior DT Jack DelCarbino (5’11”, 275 lbs.) is a hard defender to move and has been the most productive defensive linemen for the Tigers with 37 tackles. Sophomore DE Bakari Edwards (6’1”, 225 lbs.) is a very skilled edge rusher who leads the team with 4 sacks. The best matchup for the Bulldogs in this contest is our wide receivers versus the Tigers’ defensive backs. Opponents have averaged just 2.4 yards per carry against Princeton but have fared moderately better in the passing game with 5.1 yards per attempt. Harvard and Dartmouth both had opportunities in the passing game but due to errant passes or dropped balls, were not able to exploit the Tigers on many occasions. Sophomore S Nasir Hill (6’1”, 190 lbs.) has been the top performing member of the secondary with 47 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception thus far. Princeton plays a fast and aggressive style of defense with great effort. Teams have not found success running the ball, particularly in short yardage situations, and the speed of the defense limits the effectiveness of screens. The Bulldogs have to find a way to get dedicated blockers on Nicholas and Johnson on every running play. The offensive staff must get creative with the short to medium passing plays to give Grooms quick options to unload the ball before the blitzers arrive.

Junior K Jeffrey Sexton (6’2”, 180 lbs.) has been successful on just 2 of 5 field goal attempts this season with a long of 29 yards. Freshman P Brady Clark (6’1”, 195 lbs.) has been reliable with 38.3 yards per punt and has not had a punt blocked this season. Our punt protection team will need to be aware of the very fast edge rushers that Princeton utilizes to disrupt opposing punters.

Go Bulldogs! Beat the Tigers!  

Brown Notes

The Bulldogs maintained their momentum with a 36-17 win over Brown on the road. Yale improved to 5-3 (3-2 Ivy) heading into the historic rivalry matchups with the opportunity to determine its own fate.

Grooms had a marvelous showing in his last career contest versus the Bears as he completed 15 of 27 passes for 220 yards, 4 TDs, and 3 interceptions. Ignore the interception total as two passes bounced off receivers in the end zone and the other interception came on a poor play call that Brown sniffed out based on Pantelis’ earlier screens. Grooms put the team on his shoulders in this contest as he picked apart a solid Brown secondary with pressure in his face and had tough runs to move the chains. Grooms led the squad in rushing with 21 rushes for 102 yards (4.9 yards per carry). The offensive line had an up and down performance as they allowed 3 sacks and failed to open rushing lanes for Pitsenberger and Alston but did deliver clean pockets at times and were able to spring Peterson loose. Having three top running backs with varied styles really paid off in this contest as the slight difference in timing and reads made it difficult for Brown to contain Peterson once they had adjusted to Pitsenberger’s style. Hawes returned from an injury yet still seemed to be dealing with some level of pain as he dropped two crucial passes in an uncharacteristic manner. The Bears simply could not contain Tipton as he raced ahead of defenders for 7 catches for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns. The wheel route to Peterson that resulted in a 45-yard touchdown was one of the best play designs that we have seen all year. Pantelis has returned to peak form and racked up 40 yards on 4 catches. Princeton does a tremendous job limiting rushers and shutting down WR screens, so the offensive staff has their work cut out for them in designing a successful attack strategy this week.

The defense held a dangerous Brown offense to just 10 points and 5 of 17 on 3rd down attempts. The defensive line had one of its top performances of the season as they controlled the line of scrimmage and delivered several hits on Willcox. Aside from the reverses that caught the Bulldogs off guard, Brown’s rushing attack never found its footing with just 2.3 yards per carry on the afternoon. The starters along the front (Patterson, Gulley, Egodogbare, and Shaber) were very stout but it was a true group effort with big plays from McDonough, Yang, Mauney, Oxendine and Larry. The linebackers had a great showing with Vaughn leading the team in tackles, Moore delivering punishing blows, and Baker intercepting a pass as well as recovering a fumble. Kamara continued to impress with 5 tackles, an interception, and a hit on the QB. Daniyan keeps getting better and better and posted 6 tackles along with a key forced fumble after a long rush by the Bears. Owens provided tight coverage and stalled an important Brown drive with a TFL on 3rd down. Guyton had a rough contest as he was burned on at least two occasions, although with Tarver out of position at times, he did not have much safety support. Cleaning up the mistakes in the secondary will need to be a point of focus in practice this week as Princeton has the best pure passer in the Ivy League and a cast of explosive wideouts.

The special teams units had a rocky start with a PAT blocked after Yale’s first touchdown, but bounced back to have their top performance of the year. Felton returned 3 kickoffs for a whopping 129 yards to give Yale great field position. Freshman Phoenix Grant blocked a punt that was recovered by Zion Dayne. Dayne also delivered a crushing hit on the first play of the game after Brown’s kick returner had difficulty securing the ball. Bosman made his only field goal attempt, a 21-yarder in the 2nd quarter, and placed 2 of his 4 punts inside the red zone.

Yale 36 Brown 17

Categories
Game Week

Brown Preview

The Bulldogs hit the road for just the second time this season as they travel to Providence to face the 4-3 (2-2 Ivy) Brown Bears. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will air on ESPN+.

Brown has improved tremendously from a year ago and has league wins over Princeton and Penn. The Bears lost a narrow contest to Harvard in Week 2 and had a disappointing showing in Ithaca falling to the Big Red by 22 points in Week 5. Aside from the Cornell contest, all of Brown’s games have been extremely tight battles that came down to the wire.

Brown has a potent offense led by senior QB Jake Willcox (6’2”, 195 lbs.) who has completed 64.3% of his passes for 2,216 yards, 16 TDs, and only 7 interceptions. Willcox is coming off a strong showing versus the Quakers as he posted 249 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 0 interceptions, and 40 rushing yards in the win. Junior RB Stockton Owen (6’1”, 210 lbs.) leads the Bears in rushing touchdowns with 6 and is a physical runner averaging 3.0 yards per carry. Senior RB Ian Franzoni (5’11”, 210 lbs.) and junior RB Jordan DeLucia (5’11”, 215 lbs.) are also utilized heavily averaging 3.8 and 4.0 yards per carry respectively. Brown possesses the deepest wide receiver unit that we have faced this season. Senior WR Wes Rockett (6’0”, 185 lbs.) was a 2nd Team All-Ivy wideout a year ago and seems to be a shoo-in for a 1st Team slot this year with 47 catches for 633 yards and 3 touchdowns. Senior WR Graham Walker (6’3”, 215 lbs.) is a large target with soft hands who had dominating performances versus Harvard and Princeton combining for 15 total receptions and 1 touchdown in those contests. Senior Mark Mahoney (6’5”, 240 lbs.) is listed as a wide receiver but has the size and power of any tight end in the Ivy League. The improved play of Brown’s offensive line has been one of the key factors in the turnaround for the Bears. The line averages 292.0 lbs. across the board and has paved the way for 3.2 yards per carry while allowing only 7 sacks on the season. Creating pressure on Willcox and finding a way to cover the out routes that Brown favors in the passing game will be paramount this week.

While Brown’s defensive performance has not matched its offensive performance, the defense of the Bears has made big plays at key moments to stay alive in contests. Opponents have averaged 405.9 yards of total offense per game with 5.2 yards per carry and 6.8 yards per passing attempt. The Bears have excelled in creating turnovers with 9 interceptions and 3 fumbles recovered. The Bears’ secondary could be one of the most talented in the Ivy League. Junior DB Isaiah Reed (6’0”, 180 lbs.) leads the Bears in tackles with 39 and is tied for the team lead in interceptions with 3. Senior DB Aubrey Parker (5’10”, 185 lbs.) has notched 37 tackles, 3 interceptions and 7 pass breakups. Senior CB Cooper DeVeau (6’0”, 190 lbs.) has been a mainstay on the defense for years and leads the Bears with a whopping 8 pass breakups. The defensive front has struggled at times to control the line of scrimmage but was able to create some pressure on Penn’s QB Sayin last week with 2 sacks. Senior DL Terrence Lane II (6’3”, 240 lbs.) has been the top performer along the defensive line for the Bears with 18 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The linebacker corps for Brown is an average unit among the league led by senior ILB Ethan Royer (6’2”, 240 lbs.) who has 36 tackles and 2.5 tackles on the season along with an interception versus Harvard. The key to this contest will be controlling the clock and converting on 3rd downs to keep the Brown offense on the sidelines for as long as possible. The Bulldogs matchup well with the Bears in the running game and Grooms should have opportunities to exploit in the passing game with the right strategy of attack.

Junior K Christopher Maron (5’10”, 175 lbs.) has made 7 of 9 field goals with a long of 47 yards. Senior P Austin Alley (5’10”, 165 lbs.) is averaging 39.4 yards per punt and has placed 8 punts inside the red zone. Wes Rockett is a dangerous punt returner averaging 11.2 yards per return.

Go Bulldogs! Beat the Bears!

Columbia Notes

The Bulldogs roared back to life on Saturday with a dominant 35-7 victory over Columbia to improve to 4-3. With three games remaining in the season, Yale remains in the hunt for a share of the Ivy League Championship.

Grooms had a fantastic performance in the passing game and running game. He completed 26 of 32 passes for 234 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. On the ground, Grooms rushed 14 times for 89 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and a TD. The offensive line was not perfect allowing 2 sacks but showed great improvement from the last 2 weeks particularly in run blocking as they paved the way for 4.9 yards per carry with 4 rushing touchdowns. Pitsenberger was the primary RB and posted 15 carries for 63 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 2 TDs. Peterson and Alston did not find much success on the ground with 2.8 yards per carry and 2.2 yards per carry respectively. Denney entered the contest late and added another 2 rushes for 23 yards and a TD. Tipton added another marvelous contest to his career tally with 8 receptions for 114 yards and a TD. Hawes was out with an injury, but Yates filled in without skipping a beat and had 4 catches for 36 yards. Grooms was great at spreading the ball around to keep Columbia off balance as he completed passes to Shipp, Pantelis, Nenad, Lindley, Felton and Alston in addition to Tipton and Yates. The offensive play calling was far superior to what we witnessed a week ago versus Penn. The staff did a tremendous job in preparation for this contest with creative play designs and an offensive strategy intent on methodically marching down the field. We will need that same level of preparation heading into a Brown contest that could be a high scoring affair.

The defense bounced back from its worst showing of the season to limit Columbia to just 194 yards on the afternoon. Columbia’s rushing attack was held to 2.8 yards per carry as the defensive line was able to control the line of scrimmage. QB Joe Green was limited to 120 passing yards on 32 attempts and was sacked 3 times. Moore and Ayo-Durojaiye tied for the most tackles in the contest with 5 apiece. Guyton and Owens were both solid in pass coverage and run support. Sophomore DT Dylan Yang had the best performance of his career to date with 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a QB hit. Patterson was a disruptor along the defensive front once again and added another sack. Daniyan’s coverage skills seem to be improving and he had an impressive pass breakup on a big hit in which he dislodged his own helmet. Overall, it was a very encouraging defensive effort that will need to continue to ramp up through the final brutal stretch of Ivy contests.

Bosman missed a 34-yard field goal in the 3rd quarter and had a relatively quiet day in the punting game with just 2 punts for 93 yards (46.5 yards per punt).

Yale 35 Columbia 7

Categories
Game Week

Columbia Preview

The 2-4 Columbia Lions travel to New Haven this weekend to face the Bulldogs at the Bowl. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will air on ESPN+.

Columbia’s two wins were both over non-conference opponents as the Lions knocked off the Georgetown Hoyas in Week 2 by a score of 30-0 and then defeated the Marist Red Foxes 16-0 in Week 4. The Lions dropped two very close games against Princeton and Penn and missed several opportunities to narrow the contest last week at Dartmouth.

Senior QB Joe Green (6’4”, 230 lbs.) returned from an injury last week and had a solid showing versus Dartmouth completing 25 passes for 239 yards and an interception. The Lion’s other option at QB, senior Caden Bell (6’0”, 205 lbs.), struggled through five games completing just 41.3% of his passes with a single touchdown thrown. Columbia utilizes three talented running backs that all average 4.4 yards per carry or more. Senior RB Joey Giorgi (5’10”, 205 lbs.) leads the Lions in rushing with 86 carries for 389 yards and a touchdown but did not play in Columbia’s last contest. Junior RB Malcom Terry II (5’9”, 205 lbs.) rushed for 62 yards last week at Dartmouth and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Rounding out the running back trio is senior Ty’son Edwards (5’11”, 210 lbs.) who leads the team in both yards per carry and rushing touchdowns. The offensive line averages 301.0 lbs. across the board and returns two starters from 2022. The line has paved the way for 3.4 yards per carry on the season and given up 12 sacks to opponents. Columbia has two very skilled receivers in senior JJ Jenkins (6’2”, 200 lbs.) and junior Bryson Canty (6’2”, 200 lbs.). Jenkins leads the team in receptions and receiving yards posting 19 catches for 310 yards and a touchdown. Canty was a 1st Team All-Ivy WR a year ago and is averaging 11.6 yards per catch. Senior TE James Miller (6’4”, 245 lbs.) is adept at run blocking and pass catching. The Lions have had a run-heavy offense but that could all change in this contest based on their study of the Yale vs. Penn film.

Columbia’s defense is one of the toughest in the Ivy League and leads the nation in both red zone defense and scoring defense. The defense has limited opponents to just 103.8 rushing yards per game and 170.7 passing yards per game through 6 contests. Senior LB Anthony Roussos (5’11”, 230 lbs.) has been dominant this season with 57 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble. Junior DE Justin Townsend (6’1”, 255 lbs.) is one of the top defensive linemen in the Ancient Eight and has racked up 15 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception. Junior DB Hayden McDonald (5’9”, 180 lbs.) has been a key to Columbia’s defensive success this season with 42 tackles, 3 pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Junior S Aaron Brebnor (6’1”, 195 lbs.) has seen action since his freshman season and is tied for the team lead in interceptions with 2. Opponents have scored just 6 touchdowns on 19 drives inside the red zone and have converted on 3rd down just 35.1% of the time. The Yale offense needs to find its footing in the contest to control the clock and exploit mismatches on the outside.

Freshman K Hugo Merry (6’2”, 215 lbs.) has made 4 of 9 field goals with a long of 42 yards on the season. Senior P William Hughes (6’0”, 175 lbs.) has done a tremendous job punting with an average of 44.2 yards per punt with 9 punts over 50 yards. Senior Carter McFadden (5’11”, 180 lbs.) could be the best returner we’ve faced so far this season and has averaged 14.3 yards per punt return and 25.8 yards per kickoff return.

Go Bulldogs! Beat the Lions!

Categories
Uncategorized

Penn Notes

The Bulldogs fell to the Penn Quakers on Saturday in a 17-27 contest dropping to 3-3 on the season and 1-2 in the Ivy League. Harvard’s loss over the weekend improved the odds for a team winning the Ivy League Championship with a 5-2 record but the next four games for Yale will all be tough contests.

The offense was able to piece together two complete drives in the first half yet struggled to gain yardage behind an injury plagued offensive line. Grooms was constantly flustered by pressure and was only able to complete 58.3% of his passes for 121 yards and 2 TDs. An ugly interception and two overthrown deep balls to open receivers killed any momentum that Yale had attained. The offensive line was manhandled, allowing 4 sacks and failing to open rushing lanes. Aside from a 44-yard run by Grooms and a 14-yard run by Lindley, the rushing attack failed to produce results despite hard running from Pitsenberger, Peterson and Alston. Lindley, Tipton and Nenad were bright spots for the offense combining for 10 receptions for 96 yards. Like last season’s loss to Penn, the offensive play calling in the second half could not have been worse. For instance, the Quakers had a drive stalled in the 3rd quarter after a bad snap and then had a disastrous punt for just 18 yards. Yale began the drive at the Penn 45-yard line but was quickly forced to punt following two runs up the middle and a deep incompletion to Nenad on 3rd and 4. The Dartmouth contest should have been a clear warning sign that the overreliance on big plays would come back to bite Yale, yet due to ignorance or arrogance, the coaching staff continues to gamble with low probability plays instead of simply trying to move the chains and control the clock.

As poor as the offensive performance and coaching were in the contest, the defensive woes were on a whole different level. Penn’s QB Aidan Sayin had his way with the Yale secondary completing 33 passes for 364 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. The lack of a pass rush was an embarrassment as Sayin had a carefree afternoon in the pocket with ample time to find open receivers. Freshman RB Malachi Hosley effortlessly ran through arm tackles from the Bulldogs to rack up 86 rushing yards or 4.3 yards per carry and a touchdown. Yale had no answers for Penn’s WR Jared Richardson who set an all-time Penn record with 17 receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown. The coaches failed to make any meaningful adjustments to limit Richardson despite accounting for over half of Penn’s completions. On the off chance that Richardson was covered, Sayin had no issues finding other receivers such as Casilli open with no Yale defender nearby. Instead of getting creative with an endless possibility of blitzes, stunts and coverages, the defensive coaches refused to stray from the base zone packages that have failed to limit opposing offenses this season. Brown, Princeton and Harvard all possess more potent offenses than we faced against Penn, so drastic changes must be implemented in a hurry.

Bosman was 2 of 2 on PATs and nailed a 23-yard field goal in the 4th quarter. The windy conditions made punting difficult and Bosman averaged just 30.7 yards per punt in the contest. Felton had a solid showing at kick returner with 2 kickoff returns for 56 yards.

Ivy Standings

Dartmouth 2-1

Princeton 2-1

Harvard 2-1

Penn 2-1

Cornell 2-1

Brown 1-2

Yale 1-2

Columbia 0-3

Categories
Uncategorized

Yale 17 Penn 27