Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Some Yale Columbia notes

The Yale football team has five straight wins, including its first win over Penn in six years this past Saturday.

Off to its best record to start a season since the 1999 Ivy League championship season at 5-1 and to its best Ivy record to start the season since winning the 1989 Ivy League championship season.

Saturday’s opponent, Columbia, is 3-3, 0-3 in the Ivy League with 14 straight conference losses.

The word letdown has to come into the equation.

“It’s definitely something we put out on the table,” Yale coach Jack Siedlecki said. “As a coach it’s this week’s game, today’s practice. You need to put wins behind you and you need to put losses behind you. It doesn’t matter.

“This team to this point really hasn’t received that much praise,” Siedlecki said. “Everyone’s talked about how bad we’ve been in the past, I don’t think we’ve been that bad, we’ve won some games, but that’s all I’ve heard the past five or six weeks. Now all of a sudden it’s how good we are. That’s what we’ve got to deal with. If you start believing ... if you believe how bad people say you are you’re not going to win any games. You start believing how good people think you are and you are going to get picked off. We’ve got to stay on the same level, play with the same intensity.”

Yale’s players also say they are aware of this.

“This is really a special season for us because it’s not something we’re accustomed to, so I think we’re focused in on every game,” junior middle guard Brandt Hollander said.

“I think it starts with the individual and not taking any days off,” senior wide receiver D.J. Shooter said. “I think they know we’ve got something special going on here and I hope that we don’t let up and that everyone comes ready to play and ready to practice as if we were preparing for the No. 1 team in the country.”

Make no mistake this Columbia team, under first-year coach and former UConn assistant Norries Wilson, is playing at a different level than in the past, leading the Ivy League in points allowed at 13.8 per game and leading I-AA in turnovers ratio at plus-1.50.

“They’re playing with a completely different level of intensity,” Siedlecki said. “Their defense is just flying around. They’re in a hectic scheme. They’re giving people a lot of trouble. Unblocked guys making plays, tackling people for losses. They lead the nation in turnovers. So they are obviously confusing people. They’re not very big, but they are running around making plays.

“They are very, very active. But they are very sound in coverage. Columbia relies more on confusion. They are going to chance schemes in the middle of the play. You need to make some pretty good last second decisions in terms of scheme or where you are going to throw the ball. They will also move from a three man front to a four man front in the middle of the play.”

Wilson said Columbia has put a lot of emphasis on defense, especially forcing turnovers.

Columbia has intercepted 10 passes, returning those interceptions 230 yards. The Lions have also recovered seven fumbles.

“The defensive staff has done a great job,” Wilson said. “We talk all the time about the only ones who care about us, so we need to go out and play for each other. We practice the turnovers every day. The first thing we do after stretching is stripping the ball, picking balls off, tipping balls to each other.”

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW

Film and photos show junior tight end Langston Johnson knocked the ball loose from Penn defensive back Greg Ambrogi. J

ohnson’s hit jarred the ball loose from Ambrogi and allowed senior wide receiver Ashley Wright to come down with the ball at the Penn 4 and set up a second quarter touchdown from Mike McLeod.

It was reported Wright hit the ball to himself.

Apologies to Langston, who has played a key role in blocking for McLeod this season. With Langston and Ed McCarthy side by side, tough to find many better blocking tandems.


MILLER'S TIME

Yale senior tight end Dave Miller will play against his brother Lou Miller, an inside linebacker for Columbia, for the first time Saturday.

The Millers are expected to have about 25-30 family members, watching from the Yale side.

“We’ve talked a lot this week,” Dave Miller said. “We’ve never played against each other.”

The younger Miller has 22 tackles and something Dave didn’t get, a high school state championship. Although the older Miller did say, “I beat him in every other sport.”

EXTRA POINTS

‰ Saturday’s game will be on the YES Network. John Sterling and Howard Cross will call the action. Yale is also on YES next week at Brown.

‰ Offensive tackle Darius Dale (ankle), defensive end Kyle Hawari (knee) and offensive guard Tom Woznikcki (concussion) did not practice Tuesday. Woznicki needs to gain medical clearance to play. Dale is questionable for Saturday and Hawari doubtful. Defensive end and long snapper Chris Wright practiced and is expected to play Saturday.

‰ Mike McLeod remains ranked fourth in I-AA in rushing, averaging 143.8 yards per game. He is fifth in scoring averaging 11.0 points per game.

He has 11 of Yale’s 18 touchdowns this season, including 10 rushing, all in the last five games.

McLeod is six touchdowns shy of tying John Pagliaro’s single-season record of 16 touchdowns, set in 1976. He needs 34 carries and 161 yards rushing to reach the top for each single-season category at Yale.

‰Yale senior wide receiver Chandler Henley has 30 catches this season, with 25 of them leading to either a first down or touchdown. He has caught 13 passes on third downs, with 12 leading to first downs.

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