Friday, November 03, 2006

Yale Brown notes

LONG DRIVES

The Yale football team has become pretty comfortable taking long Saturday afternoon drives. Scoring drives, mind you.
The Bulldogs have scoring drives of 80 or more yards in four of their last five games, with a 79-yard scoring drive against Dartmouth. Yale has seven drives of 75 or more yards in the past six games, all wins for the Ivy League-leading Bulldogs (6-1, 4-0).
Yale put together two impressive drives in a 21-3 win over Columbia, marching 97 yards on 11 plays for its first score, then taking 10 minutes, 30 seconds on its final scoring drive, a 17-play, 84-yard drive.
"I think a lot of it has to do with our ability to run the football," Yale coach Jack Siedlecki said. "We’ve had some really good tailbacks here, but we’ve never had a tailback who we’ve given the ball to this many times."
Yale sophomore running back Mike McLeod is fourth in I-AA, averaging 141.71 yards per game. He has 992 yards on 207 carries. Per game, the Bulldogs are averaging 42 carries and 201.7 yards — which is 4.7 yards per carry.
"We’ve gotten into a situation where it could be third-and-5 and we’ll run it as well as pass, when in the past we would not have run it. As we wear on you … it says something about you physically. It might not be that way in the beginning, but when you’ve run 60 or 65 offensive plays, and had those guys leaning on you all that time, that gets tough, and allows those drives to be so long at the end of the game.
"It just makes such a difference being able to drive the football on the ground," Siedlecki said. "It also allows you to open up the short passing game, and that enables you to keep drives going."
Yale will need to keep drives going Saturday when it travels to face Brown. The Bears lead the Ivy League in passing yards (256.9 yards per game) and is second in total offense (359.7 yards).

LONG DRIVE CHART


A closer look at some long scoring drives for the Yale football team this year:

OPPONENT PLAYS YARDS
Columbia 11 plays 97 yards
17 plays 84 yards

Penn 10 plays 80 yards

Lehigh 9 plays 80 yards

Dartmouth 14 plays 79 yards

Lafayette 4 plays 76 yards
8 plays 81 yards

Note: Yale has an additional nine scoring drives of 60-or-more yards this season.

A LEG UP

Freshman punter Tom Mante has come on strong of late after a slow start.
Mante averaged 40.5 yards per kick Saturday on four punts against Columbia, a vast improvement from the opener against San Diego, where Mante averaged just 28.6 yards on five punts.
"Tom Mante is a good punter," Siedlecki said. "He’s got a powerful leg. He’s a good placekicker too, but we didn’t want to put that pressure on him as well. We told him when we were recruiting him that we expected him to come in and be the punter. He came here ready to go. But he’s a freshman and he had nerves and a few issues."
Mante had four punts of fewer than 30 yards earlier this season: 29, 22, 17 and 14. Four of his past six punts have been 40 or more yards, including a 58-yarder against Penn.
"But these last few games he’s become the punter we expected," Siedlecki said. "He’s more mature and doing a great job. He can do all the little things. We’ve never really had a punter that can do the sky kick and put it down inside the 5 yard line. He has that ability and you’ll see that more."
Eight of Mante’s 24 punts have landed inside the 20 and six have been fair caught.
"I think it became clear at the first day of practice how valuable he was going to be to our team," Kimball said. "Anyone who has spent time around our practice and team knows he has an incredibly strong leg. He’s a freshman and he had some early-season struggles, but in recent games he’s done a lot of things to really help us win."
"He doesn’t qualify for the national statistics because he doesn’t punt enough. We’d like to keep it that way. That means we’re playing pretty well on offense. You need to average 3½ punts a game. He’s not there yet."

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