Friday, April 24, 2009

Look ahead to spring game

Just took a peek at the roster for tomorrow and no major surprises.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is that there will be players donning uniform numbers 28 (freshman defensive back Josh Grizzard) and 44 (freshman linebacker Ben Ashcraft). Grizzard will get a pass since he plays a different position from Yale's all-time leading rusher Mike McLeod but for a linebacker to put on the No. 44 jersey worn by Yale's all-everything linebacker Bobby Abare for the last four years takes a little gumption.

With the exception of a pair of freshmen (running back Jake McCrary and lineman Michael Gabriel) every non-senior on the 2008 Yale roster is on the spring roster as well although tight end A.J. Haase and defensive lineman Matt Kelleher (both listed on the roster I was given) are taking the spring semester off.

The prominent number changes are:
receiver Peter Balsam (changing from 15 to 7)
linebacker Jesse Reising (going from 54 to 34)

Word is the first half hour of the event will be used for practice purposes before the game heads into scrimmage mode. The offense will square off against the defense since having a roster in the mid to high 70s makes it difficult to have two completely different teams. If what I am hearing is correct, there will be no score kept as the coaches will tabulate the points on the defensive side of the ball.

I will be most curious to see who emerges out of the defensive front seven which returns only two full-time starters in defensive tackle Tom McCarthy and defensive end Justin Oplinger (although starting linebacker and captain Paul Rice started nine games at cornerback). I was very impressed with many of the freshman defensive linemen/linebackers like Jake Stoller, Reed Spiller, Jordan Haynes, Cliff Foreman and Matt Battaglia at the JV games I witnessed last season and will be curious how they make the adjustment to the varsity level. Naturally the running back and offensive line positions will also bear watching. Who will man the other safety position next to Larry Abare should be intriguing as well.

The game/practice begins at 2 p.m. at the Yale Bowl. There is no admission.

Before heading to practice on Thursday afternoon, the members of the football team were at the Yale Commons for the marrow donor drive. Reports are that the goal of topping to record of donor candidates was achieved as more than 700 people showed up for the event held with the hope of finding a match for Yale women's hockey player Mandi Schwartz, who is battling leukemia.


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