Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Live chat replay

Thanks to everybody who logged into the chat. There were some great questions and look forward to more in the coming weeks.

Just a reminder that the chats will be held every Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Here's a link to the chat

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Christodoulou iffy, Lathan coming back

At Tuesday's weekly Yale press conference, Bulldogs coach Tom Williams wasn't optimistic about the status of junior receiver/returnman Gio Christodoulou. Christodoulou hurt his foot and ankle in Saturday's 14-12 loss to Cornell.

"Based on what I saw at the end of the game I would be surprised if he would be able to go," Williams said.

While Yale will miss the game-breaking skills of Christodoulou, the Bulldogs should have the services of senior receiver Reid Lathan and sophomore running back Alex Thomas.

Lathan has been slowed by a knee injury and last week Williams was uncertain when he would back. Williams believes the reliable Lathan, who developed chemistry with quarterback Patrick Witt, will be a big lift for the Bulldogs.

Thomas was in uniform against Cornell but Williams said he wasn't planning to put the former Ansonia High star in unless there were no other options.

"It would have to have been in an emergency situation because we just wasn’t quite right yet and for order for him to play in that fast of a game, he needed to be 100 percent," Williams said. "He should be ready to go this week."

The status of Witt, who threw three second-half interceptions, was a popular topic on Tuesday. Williams was solidly behind his quarterback who will start again on Saturday against Lafayette.

Lafayette's quarterback situation is a bit dicey. Senior Rob Curley suffered a concussion in Saturday's win over Pennsylvania. Curley has completed 64 percent of his passes for 831 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in the first three games of the season. The Lafayette media which called into the Ivy League football coaches teleconference referred to Curley as being out for Saturday. If that is the case, sophomore Ryan O'Neil will get the start.

Staying on the quarterback topic, Yale senior strong safety Larry Abare took a trip down memory lane when he was told that Josh Johnson would be starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Washington on Sunday. Abare remembers trying to tackle Johnson when he led his San Diego team to a 17-14 win over Yale. Johnson was 22 of 34 for 198 yards including the winning touchdown with 6:37 remaining.

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Yale football chat tomorrow

The first of the weekly Yale football chats will be held on Wednesday starting at 2 p.m. I will answer your questions. The address for the chat is

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mante honored again

Yale senior kicker/punter Tom Mante was named the Ivy League's special teams player of the week for the second week in a row.

Mante kicked two field goals including a 54 yarder which tied the Ivy League and Yale record.
Mante also punted a school record 12 times, averaging 37.9 yards per punt.

Mante, who kicked a 50-yard field goal in a season-opening win over Georgetown, is the first
Ivy League player with 50-yard field goals in consecutive weeks. He joins Penn's Tim Mazzetti
and Tyler Lavin of Dartmouth as the only players in Ivy League history with more than one 50-
yard field goal in a season. Lavin, who holds the league record with three field goals of at
least 50 yards, had a 52 yarder against Colgate and 50 yarder versus Harvard in 2003.

Mazzetti, who kicked for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons from 1978-80, had 54 yards field goals against Lehigh and Lafayette in 1976.

Playing on a sloppy, rain-soaked Clint Frank Field, the Yale junior varsity team defeated Milford Academy 8-0 on Sunday.

Yale freshman quarterback Dez Duron connected with running back and fellow freshman Taylor Stib on a screen pass which Stib took 40 yards for the only score. Yale added a safety when sophomore Matt Battaglia's pass rush led to Milford Academy being called for intentional grounding in the end zone. Matt Battaglia also had a sack while freshman defensive lineman Charles Holmes recovered two fumbles.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tough home opener

There may be new coaching staff with just two holdovers and 14 new starters for Yale but when it comes to Cornell, it was a familiar script as the inability to run the ball consistently, costly turnovers and offensive futility led to another loss to the Big Red. Instead of having quarterbacks losing fumbles, it was Patrick Witt's three second-half interceptions which proved costly.

A few observations:
Witt was not at his best. He was high on so many throws and will need to break his tendency to lock in on his intended receiver. It led to an interception by Anthony Ambrosi which was returned 20 yards for a score. Witt didn't get too much help from his receivers - especially in the first half when I counted six dropped passes.

I thought the offensive play calling for Yale was pretty conservative. Of course, losing Gio Christodoulou to an apparent ankle injury did not help. It is the second straight game Christodouou wasn't available for the entire game as he was knocked out of the Georgetown game with cramping issues. For most of the game, the passing game was little more than a series of dump offs. Then in the fourth quarter, it seemed like they were overcompensating and starting going for it all. You'd have to think they will find a happy medium at some point.

The offensive line did a solid job pass blocking as Witt was sacked just once but struggled run blocking. Yes, I know Jordan Farrell ran for 74 yards but he needed 25 carries. One thing to consider is that Alex Golubiewski, who started at left tackle, had less than a week of practice so the unit that started only had three days of practice to get accustomed to playing together so I expect that they will get better. Alex Thomas was in uniform but did not play. I think he could have loosened up the Cornell defense considerably but perhaps he was not ready physically.

Yale ran 35 more plays than Cornell, outgained the Big Red 296-166 and limited Cornell to three first downs but lost. Football can be a funny game sometimes.

Yale's defense was fooled on the trick plays as the double pass turned into an 81-yard touchdown and a flea flicker also worked perfectly only to be negated by a holding penalty. Let's be honest, other than strong safety Larry Abare, the other three starting defensive backs (Drew Baldwin, Adam Money and Geoff Dunham) came into the season with just one career start between them. I was impressed by the play of defensive linemen Pat Moran and Joe Young and linebacker Tim Handlon had an interception for the second straight game.

Of course Tom Mante's 54-yard field goal was something to behold. It would have been good from about 60 yards. His punting was merely average by his lofty standards as he averaged 37.6 yards on six punts.

Former Amity and Choate star Ricky Ballou started at defensive end and had three tackles playing in front of a host of friends and family. He had an interception nullified by a personal foul penalty by Aaron Levine.

Apparently the Versus feed went out in the second half. If anybody lost the feed, feel free to post a comment. We are looking into what happened.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Looking to draw a crowd

Many of the changes instituted by new Yale football coach Tom Williams may not be so obvious to those who do not head out to the Bulldogs' daily practices but there is one new wrinkle that Williams hopes the Yale faithful gets behind.

Williams wants Yale fans to line the path the Bulldogs take to the Yale Bowl to greet the team. The "Walter Camp Walk" begins at 10:30 a.m. The team will gather at the Walter Camp Arch to being the "Bulldog March" to the field.

The new-look Yale squad will feature 14 starters who never started for the Bulldogs before this season as Yale plays its home opener at noon against Cornell.

On Sunday at 1 p.m. at Clint Frank Field, the Yale junior varsity will play its first game of the season against Milford Academy. Duane Brooks, who shared the JV coaching duties with Larry Ciotti in the past, is the JV head coach although the entire staff will be on hand to help out. Milford Academy perennial sends multiple players to Football Bowl Series schools and this is another strong squad. Former Hyde star Zane Marks is expected to start at running back

According to the database, Milford Academy offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche (Miami), running back/defensive back Travon Van (Florida), receivers Todd Thomas (Pitsburgh) and Stephane Ngoumou (Iowa), defensive back Anthony Holmes (Temple) and defensive tackle Christopher Henderson (Akron) have all committed to FBS schools.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday's practice report

Tom Williams has seen his share of Thursday practices in his time as a college and professional coach and would be hard pressed to see a more productive one than the one which wrapped up about an hour and a half ago at Clint Frank Field in West Haven.

Running back Alex Thomas (ankle), safety Marcus Wallace (shoulder) and tackle Alex Golubiewski (knee) were all back in action. Wallace, who was the starter at free safety after spring practice was over, split time with Geoff Dunham with the starting defense during the scrimmage portion of the practice. Golubiewski, cleared to return to practice earlier this week, saw plenty of time at left tackle with the top offensive line unit and Thomas had a few impressive runs.

The two most impressive players in the scrimmage were receiver Peter Balsam, who caught TDs on consecutive series, and running back Mordecai Cargill, who had a couple of highlight variety runs. Considering that the Ivy League rookie of the week was Columbia punter Michael Williamsson, I'd have to think that Cargill has a chance to emerge as the league's best freshman since I would expect him to get plenty of opportunities to carry and catch the ball this season.

Receiver Reid Lathan (knee), fullback Josh Kozel (ankle) and tight end Chris Blohm (foot) were held out of practice with only Blohm expected to play on Saturday against Cornell.

Williams is one of the college football coaches taking part in the Coach To Cure MD program. He will be wearing a patch on his shirt during Saturday's game.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A few tid bits

Governor M. Jodi Rell is proclaiming Saturday "Tom Williams Day" in the state with a proclamation being read and presented to Williams. Last I heard, Governor Rell would not be making the presentation but Attorney General Richard Blumenthal may be there to do the honors.

On the latest two-deep chart, former Amity and Choate star Ricky Ballou is listed as the starting defensive end. That would be a classy move by Cornell coach Jim Knowles to give Ballou the start. He was injured and didn't play the last time Cornell played at Yale in 2007. Ballou was not on a two-deep chart before the season opener against Bucknell. He played in the game but did not register a tackle. Ballou has appeared in eight career games at Cornell, of his nine career tackles, 1 1/2 are behind the line of scrimmage.

For those DirecTV subscribers hoping to watch Saturday's game, the channel is no longer available to DirecTV subscribers. DirecTV complained about increased fees while Versus apparently was unhappy with the tier the channel was placed in. Those DirecTV subscribers who turn to the game will see the following message:

"Comcast, our largest competitor, has forced us to pull down this channel. Comcast charges us fees to air Versus, and they are now demanding an unfair and outrageous increase in those fees. In these difficult economic times, we do not want to pass this increase onto you, our valued customer, so we are standing firm in the negotations on your behalf. For more information go to"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Injury update

While more will be known as we get closer to Saturday, Yale coach Tom Williams believes Yale could be as healthy as they have been since the start of fall camp when the Bulldogs face Cornell in the home and Ivy League opener on Saturday at noon.

Marcus Wallace, who was the starting free safety coming out of spring camp, is expected to make his season debut after missing all of fall camp with a shoulder injury.

Gio Christodoulou will be good to go while running back Alex Thomas and offensive lineman Alex Golubiewski could also see their first game action of the season.

Fullback Josh Kozel (ankle) is not expected to play but freshman Jordan Cappellino drew high praise from Williams for his play against Georgetown. Receiver Reid Lathan (knee) will be questionable.

All riled up

Headed over for the last hour of practice but the most noteworthy part of my time there was Yale coach Tom Williams' post-practice tirade.

To say Williams was unhappy with the effort level would be an understatement of immense proportions. While calling out a couple players, Williams' wrath was directed at the entire unit as he reminded him of last year's outcome against Cornell.

Watching players walk back to the huddle is pretty high up on Williams' list of things he does not expect to see at practice. He bypassed the daily ritual of having players meet with their positions coaches and told them to "get off the field."

As for the practice itself, Gio Christodoulou was back at full speed catching multiple touchdown passes. Christodoulou left the season-opening win over Georgetown with cramping issues.

Alex Thomas and Reid Lathan, who missed Saturday's game, were in uniform but neither took part in the scrimmage portion of the practice. While it is still early, I would think they will both be able to go on Saturday's home and Ivy League opener against Cornell.

Cory Palmer, the only returning starter on the offensive line, was back practicing with the first unit. Palmer saw action at both guard and tackle.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting some love

Yale picked up two points in the latest The Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision poll

Richmond received 132 of 149 first-place votes to remain at No. 1. Among the Spiders' key players is defensive tackle Martin Parker, who played scholastically at Yale. Parker leads Richmond with four tackles for losses and is tied for the team lead with two sacks.

No Ivy League teams are in the top 25. Harvard is ninth among "other teams receiving votes" with 65 points, just ahead of Penn. Cornell, with three points, and Yale, are the only other Ivy teams to receive votes.

Mante honored

Yale senior punter/placekicker Tom Mante was named the Ivy League's Special Teams Player of the Week after kicking a 50-yard field goal, unleashing punts of 65 and 73 yards and recovering his own onsides kick in Saturday's 31-10 win at Georgetown.

Senior safety Larry Abare (12 tackles) and sophomore quarterback Patrick Witt (22 of 27 for 216 yards) were named to the honor roll.

Columbia senior quarterback M.A. Olawale (who threw for 167 yards and ran for 50) and Cornell senior linebacker Chris Costello (14 tackles) were named the league's offensive and defensive players of the week while Columbia punter Michael Williamson (40.7 average on six punts) was named the rookie of the week.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Scouting Cornell

Cornell and Yale were two of the three Ivy League teams to win on opening day (Columbia was the other).

Yale wore down Georgetown to post a 31-10 win in Tom Williams' first game as Yale's head coach. Cornell had three scoring plays of at least 30 yards to defeat Bucknell 33-9.

It was last year's Cornell game where Yale's flaws were exposed - namely up front. The Big Red sacked Yale quarterbacks Ryan Fodor and Brook Hart five times, had 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and forced four turnovers. Ten of Cornell's points in a 17-14 win were a result of Yale turnovers.

The good news is that linebacker Chris Costello and cornerback Emani Fenton are the only two defensive starters in last year's Yale game who also started against Bucknell. Costello had a monster game against Bucknell with 14 tackles while Fenton had three tackles and broke up two passes. Ben Heller, who had a sack against Yale, is also back for the Big Red.

The bad news is that Yale gave up six sacks to Georgetown but bear in mind that there were five first-time starters on the offensive line so some growing pains were expected.

On offense, it was feast or famine for Cornell against Bucknell. Stephen Liuzza had a 65-yard scoring run and Marcus Hendren had a 46-yard run but the other 31 running plays totalled a net of 32 yards. Cornell had 181 yards of passing offense but 93 came on three players.

Game time for the Cornell/Yale game is noon at the Yale Bowl.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yale wins opener

The Tom Williams era of Yale football began with a 31-10 win at Georgetown.

Quarterback Patrick Witt completed 22 of 27 passes for 216 yards including touchdowns to tight ends A.J. Haase and John Sheffield. Tailback Jordan Farrell ran 17 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Sheffield and Peter Balsam had six catches each. Freshman Mordacei Cargill added 37 yards rushing on 11 carries. Sophomore Alex Thomas did not play because of an ankle injury suffered in practice.

Defensively, Drew Baldwin and Tim Handlon had interceptions and Joe Young had a sack as Yale held Georgetown without an offensive touchdown. Larry Abare led the Bulldogs with seven solo tackles and five assists.

Tom Mante had a 50-yard field goal, recovered his own onsides kick and punts of 49, 65 and 73 yards.

Those are the highlights. Now for the other side. Witt had some fumbling issues (losing two of his four fumbles) including one which Georgetown's Paul Sant'Ambrogio returned 38 yards for a score with 1:02 left in the second quarter. Georgetown, which lost to Yale 47-7 last year, was driving for the tying touchdown in the third quarter before self destructing. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns by Yale made the game sound more one-sided than it actually was. Witt was also sacked six times meaning he was sacked one for each six passing plays which is not the recipe for success. Then again, none of the five offensive line starters had started a collegiate game before. The defensive line managed just one sack even though Georgetown freshman quarterback Isaiah Kempf attempted 59 passes.

Still, Yale came away with a win in Williams' first game something that hadn't happened at Yale since the Bulldogs defeated UConn 3-0 on Sept. 28, 1963 in John Pont's first game as Yale's head coach.

The Bulldogs play Cornell at noon on Saturday at the Yale Bowl in the home and Ivy League opener.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Connecticut connections

With the season starting for all eight Ivy League teams tomorrow, I went through the rosters and depth charts to see how the Connecticut products are doing.

By my count, there are 29 Connecticut natives on Ivy League rosters and four are listed as starters (actually five are listed starters but Jordan Farrell and not Ansonia's Alex Thomas is the starting tailback at Yale).

Columbia leads the way with two starters. Newington's Austin Knowlin in on the program's career receiving records and will start again at one receiving spot while former Staples star Andrew Kennedy is the starting tight end.

Junior Alex Priestley, who played scholastically at Hall of West Hartford, is the starting tight end at Brown while former Greenwich High star Tom Brown is the top fullback at Dartmouth.

Yale and Columbia lead the way with eight Connecticut natives while Harvard is the only school without a native Nutmegger on its roster. The Crimson make up for that with two coaches (Joel Lamb and Tony Reno) who coached at Yale and another (Joe Villapiano) who played and then coached at UConn.

The biggest omissions are former Greenwich High star Jonathan Meyers, whose decision to pass on playing football at a Bowl Championship Series power like Florida to head to Princeton generated quite a bit of buzz, is opting to focus on lacrosse and former Amity High star Ricky Ballou, who had nine tackles including a sack as a junior. Ballou is still on the roster just not on the two-deep as a defensive lineman.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Breaking down the depth chart

The long-awaited release of the season's initial depth chart is out.

The biggest surprise is that five players who started games for Yale in 2008 are listed as backups.

That starts at quarterback where junior Brook Hart, who started five games last season, was edged out for the starting job by Nebraska transfer Patrick Witt.

Personally, I thought the biggest surprise came at right offensive tackle where Cory Palmer (the only returning starter on the offensive line) is now No. 2 behind fellow senior Jon Charest. I have seen variations of Yale's starting offensive line between practice, the intrasquad scrimmage and Union scrimmage and the only constants were Palmer and center Jake Koury.

Receiver Jordan Forney and H-back John Sheffield, the only returning offensive players to start every game last season, remain as starters but receiver Reid Lathan, who started nine games in 2008, is behind Gio Christodoulou while tight ends A.J. Haase (seven starts in '08) and Chris Blohm (three starts) are behind Caleb Smith on the depth chart.

One item to clear up on the offense is that although Alex Thomas is listed as the starting tailback, Jordan Farrell is expected to start against Georgetown. Thomas, Mordacei Cargill, Brandon Scott and Rodney Reynolds are all expected to see action at tailback this season. Ricky Galvez, a key backup to all-time leading rusher Mike McLeod the last two years, will likely be limited to special teams at least at the start of the season.

With starting fullback Josh Kozel slowed by an ankle injury, freshman Jordan Capellino moved to the top of the depth chart.

Defensively, Justin Oplinger, who started every game at defensive end, is now a second-string outside linebacker while Tom McCarthy (10 starts),
The constant on the defense is Larry Abare, who returns to the strong safety position after starting all 10 games there in 2008. Travis Henry, who started three games at a position called a defensive end but what was actually an outside linebacker, will return to that position. Paul Rice, who started nine games at cornerback, moves to inside linebacker while Adam Money, who started at corner in the Princeton game for an injured Rice, is the only other defensive player back who started for a Yale defense which led all Football Championship Subdivision teams in scoring defense for the second year in a row.

The defensive position which caught my eye was free safety where sophomore Geoff Dunham got the call over classmate Bedford Booth. John Pagliaro also seemed to be in contention to be a starter at free safety but the son of the former Yale running back is listed as Abare's backup at strong safety.

One of the many changes from the current coaching staff from the former staff is that if a player is not producing, they will not keep their job so don't be surprised to see the depth chart change in the coming weeks.

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Witt gets the nod at QB

During Tuesday's Ivy League conference call, Yale coach Tom Williams announced that Patrick Witt will start against Georgetown although last year's starter Brook Hart is expecting to see time against the Hoyas.

Williams also said Jordan Farrell will be the starting tailback on Saturday.

Neither decision is particularly surprising. Witt was slowed early in the fall camp with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder but seems at ease with the high-percentage passing game put in by new offensive coordinator Brian Stark. He is also more athletic than Hart.

Farrell has had an outstanding camp and seems primed to make an impact. However, this will not be a repeat of the last few years when Mike McLeod got the call over and over again. Freshman Mordacei Cargill and sophomore Alex Thomas are among the long list of tailbacks pushing for time.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Yale checks in at No. 138

From the take this for what it is worth department: Yale is ranked 138th among all Football Bowl Series and Football Championship Subdivision schools (or Division I-A and I-AA if you prefer) in Jeff Sagarin's power rankings.

The Bulldogs, who open Saturday at Georgetown, are sandwiched between Army and Rice and trail only No. 120 Harvard among Ivy League schools. Georgetown comes in 235th among 245 teams on the database.

Here are the rankings of teams Yale will play this season:
120 Harvard
151 Penn
156 Brown
166 Lafayette
170 Princeton
180 Lehigh
190 Cornell
207 Dartmouth
208 Columbia
235 Georgetown

Two former Ivy League stars are among the three active NFL players who are taking part in a program to donate their brains for post-concussion syndrome (following their deaths, of course). Former Ivy Leaguers Matt Birk (Harvard) and Sean Morey (Brown) and Lofa Tatupu, who played at Southern California, are the only active players to commit to a program where they will donate their brains and spinal cord tissue to a Boston University program that studies sports brain injuries.

There will be a team of walkers showing up in West Haven on Sept. 27 to walk in honor of Bill Gonillo, the former voice of the Yale football team, to raise money and awareness for the fight against diabetes.

The event starts at 10 a.m. at the boardwalk on the West Haven beach and for the sake of full disclosure, I should say that I am the person organizing the team of walkers in Bill's honor.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scouting the Hoyas

I'm sure the Yale football staff had more than just a passing interest in Saturday's Lafayette/Georgetown game considering that the Bulldogs open at Georgetown on Saturday and host Lafayette on Oct. 3.

The first night game at Georgetown's Multi-Sport Field was not one to remember as the Hoyas managed a total of 22 yards in their first eight drives. Meanwhile, after a slow start, Lafayette had touchdowns on three of four drives.

Former Hillhouse star Keerome Lawrence had a team-high 45 yards receiving and tied for the team lead with five receptions for Georgetown. The defensive star for Georgetown was Andrew Schaetzke who had 4 1/2 tackles for losses including two sacks.

Rob Curley was 20 of 34 passing for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Mark Layton had seven catches for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Lafayette.

Georgetown heads into Saturday's game with an 0-2 record. The Hoyas have been outscored 48-10 in losses to Holy Cross and Lafayette. The rushing game has been almost non-existent with 57 net yards in the two games. The only two runs for more than 10 yards are by receivers (Rick Cosgrove and Lawrence). The defense is surrendering nearly 500 yards per game.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11: A look back

September 11, 2001 is one day I will never forget. It boggles my mind that it has been eight years since that world-changing day.

I got into my office probably around 9:30/10 a.m. although don't recall what was on my "to do" list that day. Reports were just starting the trickle in about the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers. I remember being struck by the absolute naivete of one television reporter who made a comment about air traffic controllers not doing their jobs and hoping her future in his business would be short lived. More than anything, I thought about how many lives would forever be changed because of the events which transpired that day.

I wondered how many kids would lose a mother or father - or both - how many wives would lose a husband, how many husbands would lose a wife. A couple months later as I boarded my first flight since 9/11 and waited in a long security line, I thought about people just like me who were going through the same process of taking laptop computers out of their travel bags, waiting for their chance to collect their belongings and head to their gate. Only they had no way of knowing it would be the last flight they ever took.

Having lost both of my parents to a plane crash, I guess those people who perished in planes on 9/11 were the ones I initially mourned the most. I only saw the images of the planes hitting the towers once. To this day, I have to look away or change the channel if I see those images flashing on the screen. However, the mere thought of people sitting in their offices doing their jobs with no sense that their lives were about to be end still sends chills up my spine.

I did not lose a family member in the 9/11 attacks but couldn't even try to guess how many people I know who did suffer the greatest loss of all on that day.

Out of respect to those who perished and those who have attempted to move on following the tragic loss of a loved one or loved ones, this is the last blog entry I will make on this day. I simply can't imagine that there is anything more important on this day than remembering the victims of September 11, 2001.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Yale scrimmage wrap

With a Yale/Quinnipiac men's soccer game to run out to Saturday evening, I wasn't able to put together a recap of the Yale/Union scrimmage.

So file this under the "better late than never" department.

Patrick Witt started at quarterback and played five of the seven first-half drives. Witt seems comfortable in Yale's West Coast offense. His two touchdowns (a 54-yarder to Alex Thomas and 16-yarder to Peter Balsam) probably traveled about five yards combined. Thomas ran the wrong route but made up for his miscue by slicing through the Union defense for a TD while Balsam made an impressive grab on Witt's swing pass just after crossing the line of scrimmage and took care of the rest. The passing game didn't take a ton of chances down the field but it's hard to argue with a 20 of 30 for 320 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions in Yale's 36-14 win.

My unofficial stats had Witt 8 of 9 for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brook Hart was 4 of 9 for 59 yards. It was a two-quarterback show until the fourth quarter when Rich Scudellari (4 of 8, 48 yards) and Bryan Farris (4 of 4 for 47 yards) got some work.

Jordan Farrell started at tailback and turned a busted play into a 36-yard touchdown run on his first carry and had a 25-yard run on his second rush. He finished with 71 yards on five carries. Freshman Mordecai Cargill was up next and ran nine times for 33 yards and also had a 24-yard reception. Thomas also saw plenty of action, scoring on a 2-yard run as well as the aforementioned screen pass. Rodney Reynolds and Brandon Scott (the top two tailbacks coming out of spring ball) and Ricky Galvez saw some time in the second half. Balsam, Thomas, Chris Smith and tight ends Chris Blohm (2 catches for 45 yards) and Jordan Jefferson (3 catches, 54 yards) had multiple receptions.

I have seen different variations of the offensive line with center Jake Koury and tackle Cory Palmer the only constants. But the starting unit was the same one which I saw working together in Thursday's practice with Jon Charest playing the other tackle and Nate Blair and Jeff Marrs (the only freshman to start on either offense or defense) manning the guard positions. It was a mixed bag as there were very few hits behind the line of scrimmage by Union but there were six penalties for either holding or illegal blocks.

Defensively, I was little surprised to see Joe Young and Pat Moran lining up side by side on the line along with Sean Williams and Tom McCarthy. Although I had Young and Moran for three tackles combined, they helped bottle up Union's running game. Bedford Booth got the start at free safety and looked pretty comfortable while Tim Handlon and Jordan Haynes saw plenty of time at linebacker, playing alongside Paul Rice and Travis Henry.

Larry Abare and Drew Baldwin, half of Yale's starting secondary, had interceptions as did John Pagliaro while linebacker Dan Walsh continues to make plays.

On special teams, Tom Mante did miss an extra point and field goal but did have a 57-yard punt. Gio Christodoulou was his normal electrifying self on returns while freshman John Powers, who starred at Hopkins, was a special-teams terror.

It was a pretty good day for the freshmen. Not only did Marrs start and Cargill have his moments, Jefferson looks like he will be forcing his way into the rotation even with John Sheffield, Haase and Chris Blohm all returning at tight end for the Bulldogs. My stats had Powers and fellow freshman safety Ryan Falbo tying for the team lead with three tackles with Walsh and Haynes. Freshman receiver Chris Smith made a highlight-variety catch in the end zone for an 18-yard scoring grab. Fullback Jordan Capellino had a 23-yard catch. Of the 15 players with receptions, seven were freshmen.

The only injury I noticed was to fullback Josh Kozel, who twisted an ankle.

Hopefully, the depth chart will be available to me in the next couple of days.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thursday's practice report

Caught the last hour of Thursday's practice - the last true practice before Saturday's scrimmage against Union since tomorrow will be little more than a walk-through which is customary for a Friday before a game.

A few observations. First, Patrick Witt looked more comfortable throwing the ball than any of the three or four times I have seen him in action. His timing on the crossing patterns is rather exquisite. Brook Hart, who started five games as a sophomore, is making a statement that he will not give up his position without a fight.

The offense, which still a work in progress, drew major praise from head coach Tom Williams. Running backs Mordecai Cargill (a freshman) and Alex Thomas (a sophomore) were especially noteworthy. I absolutely love the decisiveness with which Cargill runs. Thomas is starting to resemble the player I saw in action at least 10 times in his three years rewriting the Connecticut high school record book at Ansonia High. Williams was absolutely glowing in his praise of Thomas as we walked off Clint Frank Field. The "should I or shouldn't I" tap dancing that Thomas ran with as a freshman is replaced by the slashing aggressiveness which made Thomas one of the top players in Connecticut high school football annals.

The highlight of the day for the defense is corner Adam Money scooping up a fumble and bringing it back for a touchdown. I was also impressed with the play of Max Newton at defensive end.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A little scouting

Two of Yale's non-conference opponents will open up on Saturday.

On Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Lehigh will host Central Connecticut State while Georgetown will play at Holy Cross

Lafayette, the third non-conference opponent on Yale's schedule, will kick off the 2009 season on Sept. 12 when the Leopards play at Georgetown.

Speaking of Georgetown, which will host Yale on Sept. 19 in the first game of the Tom Williams era with the Bulldogs, I glanced at their roster and noticed two things right off the bat. First, former Hillhouse star Keerome Lawrence is no longer listed at quarterback but as a slot receiver and ex-Wilbur Cross standout Enico Jones is not on the roster at all. I reached out to Georgetown football SID Michael "Mex" Carey who confirmed that Keerome is indeed now a receiver and that Enico Jones is no longer with the team although he was uncertain whether he was still in school.

While Georgetown and Lehigh are getting their seasons rolling, Yale will be facing Union in a 1 p.m. scrimmage at the Yale Bowl. When I spoke to Williams earlier this week, he said he may limit the time of some of the players who have locked up starting spots. Hard to argue with that philosophy since the scrimmage will give the coaching staff a better idea of how the players perform in a game setting.