Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recapping "The Game"

First thing I did after getting home - after turning up the heat of course - was look at the replay of the controversial punt fumble/no fumble call which set up the game's only touchdown.

It looked to me as if the ball grazed off of Larry Abare's foot. Replays were not 100 percent conclusive but it certainly appeared as if the ball struck Abare, who was blocking for Gio Christodoulou and if that is the case, the officials got the call right.

Some other observations: it is hard to believe that a team could fail to register at least 100 yards of offense but Yale actually did it twice this season. The Bulldogs managed just 92 yards of offense in a 9-7 loss to Penn on Oct. 25 and ended up with 90 in Saturday's 10-0 loss to Harvard. Of those yards, 42 came on the Bulldogs' first six plays meaning the other 34 plays gained all of 48 yards. Yet, Yale still was in the game up until the time that Brook Hart was sacked and fumbled on Yale's final offensive play.

If there was a constant in Yale's losses other than a lack of offense it was the breakdown in pass protection. When Hart, a strong-armed sophomore, was given time to throw he was extremely effective but it is hard to complete passes while laying on your back.

Yale's offense will look significantly different next season. With the graduation of all-time leading rusher Mike McLeod, look for Yale to go back to spreading the field and throwing the ball. At the risk of harping on the line play, it should be noted that Yale loses four starters off the offensive line and two top reserves.

The defense will also have a different look if for no other reason than the graduation of Bobby Abare who had 18 tackles in his final college game. He is far from the only loss as defensive linemen Brady Hart, Kyle Hawari and Joe Hathaway, linebacker Jay Pilkerton, corner Casey Gerald and free safety Steve Santoro are also graduating. The good news is that Paul Rice, Tom McCarthy, Larry Abare, Travis Henry, Justin Oplinger and Adam Money - all key contributors on the defense which led all Football Championship Subdivision teams in scoring defense both in 2007 and 2008.

Speaking of Gerald, he was not one of the 32 people selected to receive a Rhodes Scholarship.

The best line of the day came from Harvard quarterback Chris Pizzotti. I asked him about the huge hit he took from Bobby Abare.

"Was it Bobby? I figured it would be. It was a good hit, I am still feeling it a little bit. He is an unbelievable football player. I grew up in Massachusetts and I heard all about the Abare brothers and they are as good as advertised."

There will be a look ahead at the 2009 Yale team in Monday's edition of the Register.

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