Saturday, November 08, 2008

Brown/Yale post-game ramblings

Just got back from the game and now that there is no fear of booted off the internet at a moment's notice, I will share some of my thoughts.

First, appearances can be deceiving. As I normally do, I watched the pre-game warmups to see which of the injured players are in uniform or going through the drill. Junior cornerback Paul Rice was one of the first players to go through warmups and he looked fine. Meanwhile, senior running back Mike McLeod walked onto the field and headed straight to the bench to sit down. All I saw him do to get ready for the game was a brief period of light running nearly the goal line. So what happens? Rice gets injured on a punt after Yale's initial drive stalled and doesn't play a down on defense. McLeod plays nearly the entire game and rushes 24 times for 63 yards.

If I were picking a player of the game, I would split it between sophomore Adam Money who stepped in for Rice at cornerback and led the Bulldogs with nine tackles while providing blanket coverage against the dangerous Brown receivers and sophomore receiver Peter Balsam, who had 5 catches for 181 yards including a 78-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter. Other candidates would include senior linebacker Jay Pilkerton (7 tackles, 1 interception, another interception dropped), junior tight end John Sheffield (9 catches for 48 yards) and sophomore quarterback Brook Hart (22 of 32, 292 yards) who was more impressive than Brown's senior quarterback Michael Dougherty.

The most compelling images from the game would have to be senior cornerback Casey Gerald being mobbed by his teammates after making the first interception of his career and Bobby Abare racing out of the lockerroom and onto the field after receiving treatment after back spasms knocked him out of the game.

The call to throw the ball on Balsam's TD was a risky one. Faced with a 2nd-and-9, an incompletion would have stopped the clock, saved Brown from taking its final timeout and put Yale in a dangerous 3rd-and-long situation holding onto a three-point lead with just under 4 minutes to go. Obviously the Bears were expecting McLeod to get the ball as they led Balsam run unchecked down the field. Hart floated the ball to Balsam - careful not to overthrow his wide-open receiver. Balsam did the rest.

The immediate ramifications of the game is that Yale knows that a win over Princeton this coming Saturday will mean that the Bulldogs would go into the season-ending game at Harvard still having a chance - albeit a slim one - of winning the Ivy League crown. A loss to Brown would have eliminated Yale from the Ivy League race. The Bulldogs still need Brown, Harvard and Penn to lose to have a chance to earn a share of the Ivy League title. Harvard and Penn play this coming Saturday. The best scenario for Yale is to have Harvard win and then if Yale beats Princeton and Harvard, the Bulldogs could earn a share of the title if Brown loses to either Dartmouth or Columbia.

One last thought, I will think twice before I criticize the Connecticut media for its lack of coverage of the Yale football team after what happened on Saturday. Outside of a writer from the Associated Press, there was not one member of the Providence or Brown media in the post-game press conference. Brown coach Phil Estes wasn't even summoned to the press conference because there was no local media there to cover the event. That's pretty hard to believe considering that the Bears were in first place in the Ivy League playing a huge game. I know times are tough in the newspaper business with layoffs and early retirements happening at an alarming rate, but I believe the Brown team deserved better from its local media.

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