Friday, October 24, 2008

Good news on the injury front

As I watched practice on Wednesday, I counted seven starters who were either out or practiced on an extremely limited basis. This morning I received word that the only ones ruled out are quarterback Ryan Fodor (shoulder) and receiver Reid Lathan (concussion).

For the first time since the Cornell game kicked off, the Bulldogs should have full use of every defensive playmaker. Certainly a variety of bumps, bruises, sprains and tweaks will have some of those go-to players going at less than 100 percent. Still, barring any last-second setbacks, they should all be good to go.

In Fodor's absence, sophomore Brook Hart will get his first career start. Fodor and Hart were considered to be 1 and 1A in Yale's quarterback competition until Yale coach Jack Siedlecki went exclusively with Fodor following the Cornell loss. Hart has played in three games, completed 69 percent of his passes for 244 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. If he has a weakness, he occasionally holds onto the ball too long but that is more of a sign of his inexperience (he only started one year in high school) than anything else. Considering that Drew Goldsmith is the only Penn defensive lineman with a sack in the first five games, it will be interesting to see if the Quakers can apply pressure on Hart. If Mike McLeod makes an early impact, it will help keep the Quakers from blitzing too frequently and allow Hart time to get comfortable in the pocket.

Also, with just five sacks in five games and one sack from a defensive lineman this season, rushing the passer isn't the greatest strength for Penn's defense although Penn has made a ton of tackles behind the line of scrimmage against the run game.

A few weeks back Gio Christodoulou was moved from corner to receiver. With Lathan out of action, could this be the game where the speedy Christodoulou makes an impact?

It's just a hunch on my part, but I think this could be a week where the old Mike McLeod returns. The Bulldogs all-time leading rusher, who has run for 2,983 yards in the last two seasons, is on pace to have 932 yards as a senior. For some running backs, that is a nice season. But McLeod is not most running backs. He made a point of seeking out Siedlecki earlier in the week to tell him that his perpetually ailing left ankle feels better than it has in the last couple of weeks. Also, for the first time since he was injured in the season-opening win over Georgetown, backup tailback Ricky Galvez is set to go. Having a change of pace back like Galvez to spell McLeod should help open up the running game a bit.

Of course it should be noted McLeod, Galvez and the rest of the Bulldogs will be playing a Penn team ranked fourth in Football Championship Subdivision in total defense.

Just a piece of advice, if you enjoy a good, old-fashioned hit before you get hit, throwback type of game, the Yale Bowl is the place to be on Saturday. I don't know if it will be pretty but it should be extremely physical.

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