Yale 23 Harvard 18

Game Week

Harvard Preview

The Bulldogs host the Crimson on Saturday at the Bowl for the 139th playing of The Game. Kickoff is slated for noon and the game will air nationally on ESPNU. Kinderhook Industries, a New York based private equity firm founded by two former Elis, is the official sponsor of this year’s contest.

Harvard enters The Game with an 8-1 record (5-1 Ivy) and has secured at least a share of the Ivy League Championship. Harvard’s sole loss came at Princeton in a 14-21 contest, although the Quakers had the Crimson on the ropes last week and simply could not perform in overtime to walk away with a victory.

Harvard’s offense is led by sophomore QB Jaden Craig (6’2”, 215 lbs.) who has proven to be a dual threat over his two starts. Junior QB Charles DePrima (6’2”, 185 lbs.) started the first seven contests but was eventually benched in favor of Craig after lackluster performances versus Princeton and Dartmouth. Craig has completed 59.4% of his passes for 530 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. The Crimson’s offense has heavily leaned on quarterback rushes this season and Craig has posted a whopping 6 rushing touchdowns. Junior RB Shane McLaughlin (5’11”, 200 lbs.) hits the holes very quickly and possesses surprising power with 5.5 yards per carry and 6 rushing touchdowns on the season. Harvard has a very talented wide receiving unit as well as the top tight end in the Ivy League. Sophomore WR Cooper Barkate (6’1”, 193 lbs.) has hauled in 36 catches for 441 yards and 3 touchdowns. Barkate is roommates with Craig and not surprisingly, has been targeted the most by Craig. In addition to Barkate, the Crimson have another three dangerous wideouts in senior Kaedyn Odermann (6’3”, 211 lbs.), junior Scott Woods II (5’8”, 176 lbs.), and junior Ledger Hatch (6’4”, 190 lbs.). Senior TE Tyler Neville (6’4”, 235 lbs.) was a 1st Team All-Ivy tight end a year ago and is garnering a lot of attention from NFL scouts. Harvard’s offensive line is the most talented unit we have faced all year and averages 296.6 lbs. across the board. The offensive line is a bruising front that has paved the way for 5.1 yards per carry but struggled in pass protection against the Quakers last week as they allowed 6 sacks on Craig. Coach Murphy has seen gadget plays work on the Bulldogs over the last two weeks, so he will be pulling out all the stops in this contest. In fact, Harvard utilized the Philly Special in triple overtime to defeat Penn. Our defensive line must win battles at the line of scrimmage with linebackers and safeties successfully filling gaps to force Craig to try to beat us through the air. Craig will be looking at Barkate and Neville as his first options, so particular attention needs to be paid to these weapons. The Bulldogs will not win this contest if receivers are left as wide open as we saw Princeton’s Colella last week.

The heart of Harvard’s defense is senior DT Thor Griffith (6’2”, 320 lbs.), a 1st Team All-Ivy selection a year ago who has posted 47 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks on the season. Griffith’s dominating play has allowed other Crimson defensive linemen to shine such as junior Brandon Svets (6’5”, 244 lbs.) and seniors Tyler Huenemann (6’3”, 283 lbs.) and Nate Leskovec (6’3”, 251 lbs.). Opponents have averaged just 3.2 yards per carry against the stiff front of Harvard. Senior LB Matt Hudson (6’3”, 230 lbs.) is a returning starter from a year ago who has played very well with 54 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and an interception. Harvard’s linebackers are solid players but not on the same level as Princeton’s Nicholas or Johnson. The Crimson do feature a far superior defensive backfield than the Tigers led by sophomore S Ty Bartrum (6’1”, 195 lbs.) who leads the team in both tackles and interceptions with 72 and 3 respectively. Senior S Kaleb Moody (5’10”, 191 lbs.) has been tremendous on defense and special teams with 50 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 blocked punts. Junior CB Gavin Shipman (5’11”, 168 lbs.) has provided tight coverage and leads the team with 7 pass breakups. The Bulldogs will have to find a way to contain Griffith to burn the clock with Pitsenberger and allow Grooms time to spot open receivers downfield. Like last week, the Elis will need numerous quick hitting, high probability plays to move the ball against this talented defense.

Senior K Cali Canaval (6’3”, 205 lbs.) is 7 of 9 on field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards this season. Junior P Sebastien Tasko (6’1”, 180 lbs.) has averaged 37.9 yards per punt with 12 punts placed inside the red zone. Freshman Xaviah Bascon (5’9”, 190 lbs.) has been excellent on kickoff returns with 28.5 yards per return.

Go Bulldogs! Beat the Crimson!

Princeton Notes

The Bulldogs remain in the hunt for a share of the Ivy League Championship following Saturday’s thrilling 36-28 victory over Princeton in double overtime. Yale improved to 6-3 on the season (4-2 Ivy) heading into the 139th playing of The Game. Princeton was officially eliminated from championship contention with the loss, while Harvard secured at least a share of the crown with a triple overtime win over Penn. Dartmouth could also share the championship with a win on Saturday plus a Harvard loss.

Grooms was spectacular versus the Tigers completing 76.7% of his passes for 232 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. In the ground game, Grooms rushed for 45 yards including a 24-yard touchdown scamper on the first drive of the game to put Yale up 7-0. Pitsenberger put together the top performance of his season with 131 rushing yards on 28 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and added 3 touchdowns including the game winner in overtime. Alston appeared to be back in peak form racking up 5.3 yards per carry. After his strong performance last week, Peterson struggled with just 1.3 yards per carry and had a costly fumble that limited his playing time. The offensive line welcomed back Durand into the starting lineup and the physicality at the line of scrimmage allowed the running backs to gash Princeton in the running game. Princeton’s aggressive defense did notch two sacks on Grooms, but the offensive line deserves much of the credit for posting 36 points on the top scoring defense in the nation. Tipton dominated the defensive backs for the Tigers with 10 catches for 130 yards. Pantelis had crucial catches throughout including a potential season-saving grab on an errant pass over the middle that did not appear to be intended for him. With Nenad out of the lineup and Shipp potentially injured on the first play of the contest, Felton saw additional playing time hauling in the only touchdown reception of the afternoon for the Elis.

Princeton entered the contest with a very talented offensive roster that had failed to produce due to turnovers, penalties, and costly errors. The Tigers played a relatively clean game without any turnovers, yet the Bulldogs were up to the task of limiting Stenstrom and company for much of the contest including overtime. Yale did fall victim to the trick plays that were expected including a botched passing play from Barber that he converted into a 25-yard rushing play and the flea flicker to Colella for a touchdown. Vaughn was unstoppable on his way to weekly Ivy League honors with 12 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, and a pass breakup. Our defensive front really stepped up the intensity in pass rushing in this contest sacking Stenstrom 3 times. Larry racked up 2 sacks and narrowly missed on a third, while Tyler added another sack for a 9-yard Princeton loss. Yale’s rushing defense was far from perfect with Volker averaging 6.4 yards per carry, however, the toll of running up the middle against the Bulldogs caught up with him eventually as he was knocked out of the contest with a concussion. The loss of Volker was a tremendous blow to the Tigers, especially in overtime as they became one dimensional. Owens was burned on the flea flicker play (along with the safeties) but more than made up for the error with two crucial pass breakups in overtime to seal the win. Guyton was targeted heavily by Princeton and struggled for the second week in a row.

Bosman missed a game winning field goal in overtime and had a 23-yard punt in the 1st quarter that gave Princeton great field position on their first scoring drive. The punt return squad had a special outing as they blocked two punts (one by Dayne and the other by Belk) and gave Lindley room for a 17-yard punt return. It’s been great to see a dedicated senior like Dayne shine on special teams over the last few weeks.

The coaching staff clearly had a very productive week of preparation and showed the kind of offensive and defensive creativity that’s needed to win Ivy matchups.

Yale 36 Princeton 28

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

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