Saturday, October 31, 2009

On the Money

As Yale victories go, few are as improbable as Saturday's 23-22 thriller over Columbia.

Yale entered the fourth quarter without an offensive touchdown in more than 11 quarters and slippery freshman quarterback Sean Brackett, who starred at Griswold High, was eluding the usually sure-tackling Yale defense.

When Patrick Witt, who came on for the start of the third quarter for Brook Hart, hooked up with John Sheffield for a 20-yard TD to end the lack of offensive touchdown streak 32 seconds shy of 180 minutes or three complete games, Yale seemed to be in business.

Then Columbia's all-time leading receiver Austin Knowlin beat Yale safety Geoff Dunham for a 32-yard touchdown reception and Leon Ivery's two-run rush gave Columbia a 12-point lead with 8:32 to play.

That's where Adam Money took over. He chased down Ivery from the opposite side of the field, bringing him down at the 2. On the next play Paul Rice jarred the ball free from Zack Kourouma to keep the Lions from regaining the two-score cushion.

When Yale failed to move the ball, Columbia attempted to run the clock out. Brackett rumbled into Yale's side of the field but Money poked the ball out and recovered.

Witt hooked up with A.J. Haase for 22 yards and Peter Balsam for 8 yards and then Yale was given life when a defensive holding penalty on a fourth-down incompletion gave the Bulldogs 1st and goal at the 10. Witt found Haase along the left sideline for a game-winning score.

"It's probably the craziest win I have ever been a part of here," Sheffield said.

Here are a few numbers. Yale was being outgained 246-146 headed into the fourth quarter, was 1 for 8 on third downs entering the last quarter and somehow escaped with a win.

Mordacei Cargill led Yale with 73 yards but he was replaced by Alex Thomas after he lost his second fumble of the game. Two of Columbia's three scores came on the next play after Cargill lost the ball.

Witt was 14 of 23 for 166 yards and two touchdowns and was not sacked. Brook Hart played the first two quarters, was 9 of 15 yards for 64 yards and was sacked four times.

At halftime, John Sheffield had no catches and A.J. Haase caught two balls for 17 yards. They combined for 10 catches in the second half.

Rice led Yale with 14 tackles. Columbia ripped through the stingy Yale run defense for 235 yards despite being without starting tailback Ray Rangel (out for the season after undergoing surgery on his injured foot) and quarterback M.A. Olawale (who was in uniform but did not throw a pass in practice all week because of a shoulder injury).

Yale denied Knowlin a chance to become Columbia's career leader in receiving yards. Knowlin had three catches for 63 yards, leaving him 32 yards shy of the record.

The Bulldogs turned to Alex Barnes at kicker over Tom Mante after Mante missed three fields last week. Barnes kicked a 47-yard field goal while Mante was impressive both on punts and kickoff returns.

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Columbia 6, Yale 3 at half

The first half ended with Yale's Alex Barnes nailing a 47-yard field goal to answer Columbia's score to allow the Bulldogs to only be down three despite a mediocre first half.

Columbia struck first when Corey Coleman recovered a Mordecai Cargill fumble. Reaching into their playbook, the Lions used a flea flicker with Austin Knowlin taking the ball on a double reverse and pitching the ball to freshman quarterback Sean Brackett, the former Griswold High star who was the surprise starter. Although Yale wasn't fooled as Taylor Joseph was double covered, Brackett's pass avoided the outstretched arm of Yale's Drew Baldwin and fell into Joseph's hands in the right corner of the end zone.

Yale nearly answered back immediately as Adam Money broke free on the ensuing kickoff but rather than just attempting to outrun kicker Greg Guttas, he put a couple of moves on him and ran right into the kicker who had just missed the extra point. Money's 48-yard return gave Yale the ball in Columbia territory.

With Tom Mante having missed all three of his field goals last week, the Bulldogs turned to Barnes when the Bulldogs were faced with a 4th and 15 at the 31. Rich Scudellari got down a low snap and Barnes did the rest.

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The numbers game

There was quite a bit of commotion in the Columbia press box as Austin Knowlin came out onto the field wearing jersey No. 4 instead of his normal 83. With his fellow senior Ray Rangel, out for the season because of a foot injury, Knowlin requested to wear Rangel's number.

Knowlin, a former Newington High star, will draw plenty of attention regardless of his uniform number. He is Columbia's all-time leader with 190 catches and needs 95 yards to become the Lions leader in career receiving yards.

Speaking of prolific receivers, Yale freshman Chris Smith not only made the trip but too part in pre-game drills. Whether his injured knee is well enough for him to play remains to be seen but the fact that he is out there is a good sign that the injury he suffered late in last week's loss to Penn is not as serious as it appeared.

Jordan Farrell, Yale's leading rusher, is also out going through warmups. He is slowed by the flu and bronchitis so it will be interesting to see how much he can play. While Jordan Forney, who missed the Penn game with a concussion, is back and figures to see plenty of time.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday's practice report

Just a few notes from Thursday's practice.

First, John Sheffield stole the show during the scrimmaging portion of practice making a series of impressive catches including one which he tipped twice and managed to corral just as he was falling to the ground.

Freshman receiver Chris Smith was not at practice. Yale coach Tom Williams said he hasn't heard anything definitive regarding the team's second leading receiver but since he has not practiced, Williams said he will not play against Columbia on Saturday.

The good news is that junior Jordan Forney, who has three of the Bulldogs' seven touchdown receptions, is back at practice and figures to start on Saturday. Forney was knocked out of the Lehigh game and missed the game against Penn with a concussion.

With tailback Jordan Farrell not 100 percent as he battles back from the flu and a case of bronchitis, expect to see senior Rodney Reynolds and freshman Mordecai Cargill to see the bulk of work in the running game.

The ever changing offensive line figures to have its sixth different starting lineup in the last six games. Williams said he expects the starting unit which played together on Thursday (tackles Alex Golubiewski and Cory Palmer, guards Nathan Burow and Gabe Fernandez and center Jake Koury) to start against Columbia.

As promised, the quarterback reps were split equally between Brook Hart and Patrick Witt. Freshman Dez Duron saw plenty of time but that was more to give the Yale defense a look at a running quarterback to help prepare for facing athletic Columbia quarterback M.A. Olawale. Of course there is one major difference as Olawale is 6-foot-1, 224 pounds while Duron is listed at 5-11, 180 which might be generous in both the height and weight departments.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday press conference wrap

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Tuesday's press conference at the Yale bookstore as well as the weekly Ivy League football coaches teleconference is that Tom Williams was not asked about Saturday's Yale/Columbia game marking the first time two black head coaches will square off in an Ivy League game.

Following the question and answer portion of the press conference, I brought up the subject with Williams, who joins Columbia's Norries Wilson as the only two black head coaches in Ivy League history.

"I don’t know what it means other than two young black coaches who aspire to be head coaches," Williams said. "For everybody else, it is just Yale and Columbia and how the Ivy League race plays out. That is the only thought I had about it."

My follow-up question was whether the lack of attention on this subject is a sign of progress since there was a time when a matchup of two black coaches would probably be drawing attention from national media.

"I think it is progress that it is not front page (news), just two football coaches getting their teams ready to play each other," Williams said.

Now back to the football.

Williams said the status of freshman receiver Chris Smith, who injured his knee late in Saturday's 9-0 loss to Penn, is still up in the air.

"We're still waiting to find out, just have to wait to see what the doctors tell us and how Chris feels," Williams said. "We’ll evaluate that and hopefully make a decision by game time."

The good news is that Jordan Forney is expected to play this week after missing Saturday's game as he recovered from a concussion.

Williams said that quarterback reps were split equally among Brook Hart and Patrick Witt in Tuesday's practice and it looks like Yale is back to using both quarterbacks.

Yale moved into the top spot in scoring defense among Football Championship Subdivision teams allowing an average of 11.83 points per game.

Now for a programming note, we are holding off on our weekly Yale football chats for the time being but plans are in the works for a significant online presence the week of the Yale/Harvard game.

Speaking of "The Game", Yale is looking to get out word about some changes in parking policies. Passes will need to be purchased in advance and there will be no general admission parking available.

Here's the complete release
Parking Plans Changed For Yale-Harvard Game
The Yale Athletic Department is pleased to announce a new parking and shuttle plan for the November 21 Yale-Harvard football game at Yale Bowl. The following plan has been implemented to control heavy traffic in the vicinity of Yale Bowl caused by overwhelming interest in recent Yale-Harvard football games. In addition, the Department of Athletics at Yale is confident this plan will improve the game day experience for all of its fans.


For the 2009 Yale-Harvard game, in order to address parking challenges and the delays that have resulted from them in the past, General Admission parking will not be available. Instead, all parking at the Bowl will require a purchased pass. Parking passes must be purchased in advance and are available on a first come first served basis. In order to purchase a parking pass, fans must purchase at least two game tickets; two purchased tickets will then entitle them to buy one parking pass. Yale students and Yale employees can purchase one parking pass by visiting the Yale Athletics Ticket Office and providing proper identification. Fans without Yale Bowl parking should plan to park downtown, in the new subsidized option described below, or make other arrangements for transportation and parking.

There are approximately 4,000 available parking spaces around the Yale Bowl and these will be sold until they have been allocated. Yale does expect to sell out the parking passes in advance. Parking passes for regular-sized vehicles are being sold for $15.00. A limited number of oversized vehicle and bus parking passes are on sale for $25.00. All parking passes can be purchased online at the
Yale Athletics Tickets website or by calling the Yale Athletics Ticket Office at (203) 432-1400. All Yale Bowl parking lots will open at 8:30 am on Nov. 21 and we recommend spectators getting there as early as possible!


To accommodate fans who do not wish to park at the Bowl, or are not able to purchase a parking pass, Yale has partnered with the City of New Haven and the New Haven Parking Authority to provide parking options downtown and FREE shuttle service from two locations (
WHITE LINE) - to transport fans to and from the Bowl. Parking spaces sold at the Bowl will help subsidize these shuttles. Parking is available for a daily rate of $3.00 from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm on Nov. 21 at two downtown garages. The Crown Street garage is located at 235 Crown Street between College and Temple Streets. The Temple Street Garage is located at 60 Temple Street and can be accessed from George Street, Temple Street or North Frontage Road. A parking map for these garages and other public parking options can be found here . Yale University visitor parking is limited but also available on game day. A map for Yale University parking can be found here.


Starting at 8:00 am on Nov. 21, FREE shuttle buses will bring fans from downtown New Haven to Yale Avenue at the Yale Bowl. The buses will run during and after the game from Yale Avenue to two downtown locations. The BLUE LINE is located at the Corner of Chapel and College Streets adjacent to Old Campus and the New Haven Green. The WHITE LINE is located at Payne Whitney Gymnasium (70 Tower Parkway) on the Yale campus.


Yale Athletics has worked closely with the City Of New Haven and the City of West Haven to manage the impact on these two communities. After careful planning and thought, the Yale Athletics Department believes the implementation of this plan will help eliminate some of the parking delays and provide a safe and enjoyable atmosphere at Yale Bowl. The game day experience of our fans and the student-athletes participating in the 126th playing of the game is of paramount importance to us. Thank you for your cooperation as we prepare to make this a special day at the Yale Bowl.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Penn 9, Yale 0 final

For the second straight year, Yale lost to Penn despite not giving up an offensive touchdown.

Obviously the three missed field goals by Tom Mante including a 28-yarder which would have made it a one-possession game with 10:01 to play were backbreakers.

Yale managed 189 yards of offense, almost 100 more than last year but not enough.

No report on the status of freshman receiver Chris Smith, who appeared to injure his left knee late in the game. He left the field on crutches.

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Yale/Penn at the half

Pretty forgettable first half by the Bulldogs.

By my count, Brook Hart has been sacked four times. He was also intercepted by Jared Sholly with the Penn sophomore returning the pick 15 yards for the game's only touchdown.

Yale had a promising opening drive behind some hard running by Rodney Reynolds. When the 12-play drive stalled, Tom Mante just missed a 54-yard field goal. Making matters worse, freshman Jeff Marrs was called for a personal foul allowing the Quakers to start their first drive inside Yale territory. The drive ended with Andrew Samson's 35-yard field goal.

Three plays later Hart telegraphed a pass intended for Chris Smith. Playing a zone blitz, Sholly retreated and jumped the route to put the Quakers up 9-0. A bad snap prevented the extra point from being attempted.

Yale did well to keep Penn off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

A few notes, Marcus Wallace got the start at strong safety for the injured Larry Abare.

The ever changing Yale offensive line featured Cory Palmer and Nathan Burow at tackles, Mike McInerney and Gabe Fernandez at guard and Jake Koury back at center after missing the last two games with a bruised calf.

Smith had a brilliant return on the opening kickoff negated by a holding penalty, called EXTREMELY late as was a personal foul call for a facemask on Adam Money to give Penn a chance to add to its lead in the final minute of the first half.

Adam Money and Travis Henry have had outstanding first half performances on defense for Yale while former Staples star Brian Levine has made his presence felt.

Yale, which managed only 92 yards of offense in last year's loss to Penn, managed just 56 yards on 30 plays in the first half.

If Yale doesn't protect Hart and apply some pressure on the pash rush, it could be a long second half.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Abare sidelined, Christodoulou done for the year

The biggest news coming out of Wednesday's practice came from who was not on the field.

Senior safety Larry Abare, who leads the Bulldogs with 30 tackles, had his right arm in a sling. Abare suffered two broken bones in his right arm. Although no surgery will be needed, Abare said "I am going to keep looking at the x-rays but it probably looks not good for the season right now. I am still hoping I will be able to make the Harvard game."

It goes without saying that this is a huge loss for the Yale defense. Juniors John Pagliaro and Marcus Wallace will likely both see plenty of time filling in for Abare.

Junior receiver Gio Christodoulou spoke with his parents Tuesday night and decided to sit out the rest of the season so he could recapture his junior season and have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Christodoulou suffered a turf toe injury similar to the one that hampered Green Bay Packers' star Charles Woodson a couple years back and he was not going to be 100 percent so he made the decision to shut it down for the season. Christodoulou, while obviously disappointed to see his season end prematurely, admitted it's been easy to deal with emotionally because of the development of freshman Chris Smith gives the Bulldogs a big-play threat on special teams and at receiver even if he isn't the one providing the game-breaking plays. If Yale was struggling to make plays in the passing, kickoff and punt return games, Christodoulou would be taking his absence much harder than he is at the current time.

"He's the future of Yale football," Christodoulou said of Smith. "I think he is going to be a great football player, he already is, and I try to help him out. Since I got most of the reps during spring and fall practice, I help him out with what I learned."

Right on cue, Smith had an impressive diving catch of a deep ball thrown by Patrick Witt for about a 40-yard gain during the scrimmage portion of Wednesday's practice.

There will be a story on Abare and Christodoulou in Thursday's Register and look for a piece in Saturday's paper about how the Bulldogs go about trying to fill the rather sizeable void left by Abare's absence.

The good news on the injury from is that offensive linemen Jake Koury, Alex Golubiewski and Nate Blair are all back at practice. I expect Koury and Golubiewski to be back in the starting lineup. At practice, there were a number of combinations seeing time with the first team offense. Cory Palmer, Golubiewski, Koury, Nathan Burow, Blair, Mike McInerney and Gabe Fernandez all took snaps with the starters.

Senior linebacker and captain Paul Rice did not practice to reach an aching knee but Rice said he will be good to go on Saturday when Yale plays at Penn.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The biggest loss

Yale coach Tom Williams mourned the loss of one of his former players, Marquis Cooper, who fell overboard on Mar. 1 when a boat he was a passenger on capsized in rough waters in Clearwater, Fla. So he knows a thing or two about tragedy but he admitted on Tuesday that he has no way of knowing how he would handle the situation at UConn.

Junior cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed to death outside UConn's Student Union early Sunday morning. There are reports that two of his teammates were with him when he was attacked. The UConn community, which held two candlelight vigils on Monday night, is still reeling from the loss.

"Obviously it is devastating," Williams said. "I would want to be in touch with the family, knowing we are there to support them and do anything we could to let them get through the crisis then I want to get our football family together, allow the guys to grieve, bring in a counselor. I am sure the guys who are closest to him are the ones affected the hardest and they need to grieve. It is not easy, there is no book on how to handle those situations, you just kind of deal with those situations as they come.

"We talk about our football family, we have 105 players and they are like my children and as my own children get older, you try to instill the values, the decision making and those things too get through life but ultimately they make decisions, they have to as they become adults and you can't watch them all the time."

Back on the subject of his Yale team, Williams said the flu bug which wreaked hsvoc on the squad in the last couple of weeks has just about run its course. Running back Jordan Farrell and offensive lineman Alex Golubiewski, who were among 10 players who did not make the trip, are doing much better.

Williams said he is waiting to hear the results of medical tests on the injured arm of senior safety Larry Abare while receiver Jordan Forney will be watched after suffering a concussion in Saturday's win at Lehigh.

Quarterback Patrick Witt, who was benched for the Oct. 10 game against Dartmouth and did not make the trip to Lehigh because of a violation of team rules, is back to practicing is expected to resume his duties as Brook Hart's top backup.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Ivy League awards

Senior linebacker Paul Rice was named to the honor roll after making five tackles and scoring the only touchdown of Saturday's 7-0 win at Lehigh on a 40-yard run off a fake punt.

Penn, which hosts the Bulldogs Saturday at 3:30 p.m., had two players honored. Sophomore linebacker was named the Ivy League defensive player of the week after recording a sack and interception in a win over Columbia. Punter Scott Lopano was named the Rookie of the Week after averaging 44.6 yards per punt. Lopano had a 73-yard punt but also put two punts inside the 20 including one which pinned Columbia on its own 1.

Just a note that we are not going to have the weekly live chat but it is scheduled to return next Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Youth is served

Following up on the story I wrote regarding the impact the freshman class is having on the Yale football team, I decided to do some number crunching.

Last year when Yale lost at Fordham in the fifth game of the year, of the 49 players appeared on the game participation chart 20 were seniors while Jordan Haynes and Jake Stoller were the only freshmen to get into the game.

In Saturday's 7-0 win at Lehigh, again 49 players were entered into the game participation database. This time, however, nine were freshmen including starters Chris Smith (receiver), Jeff Marrs (offensive guard), Jordan Capellino (fullback) and Mordecai Cargill (tailback). I understand that the numbers were altered by the flu bug which hit the Yale team in the last week and a half but it is worth noting that in the fifth game last season, juniors and seniors accounted for 21 of the 22 offensive or defensive starters against Fordham. Sophomore receiver Jordan Forney was the only underclassman to start against the Rams.

In the Lehigh game, six seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen were the 22 starters on offense and defense.

Another thing I noticed from the boxscore were serious discrepancies in the defensive stats. Not only were Adam Money and Sean Williams not credited for forced fumbles, I found it curious that Yale was given eight assisted tackles while Lehigh defenders made 40 assisted tackles. At the risk of piling on, I had to chuckle when I saw that Lehigh had 32 solo tackles and 40 assists. If you have to wonder why tackles are not an official statistics in the NFL need only to look at the Yale-Lehigh boxscore.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yale 7, Lehigh 0

It wasn't the prettiest of wins, that's for sure but a Yale squad without its starting tailback Jordan Farrell (out with the flu) and starting center Jake Koury (bruised calf) and then dealt with safety Larry Abare and receiver Jordan Forney being knocked out of the game, wrapped up the non-conference portion of its schedule with a gutsy win.

The only touchdown came on a 40-yard run by linebacker Paul Rice on a fake punt. Yale had been whistled for delay of game making the call all the more surprising.

The most noteworthy aspect of the game in my opinion was the play of the defensive line. Tom McCarthy had two sacks and blocked a field goal. Pat Moran was also in the backfield on a regular basis while Sean Williams had another strong game, capped by him snaring the ball on a bad pitch by De'Vaughn Gordon on an attempted hook and lateral play. He also forced a fumble. With Lehigh having used all of its timeouts, all that remained was for quarterback Brook Hart to take a knee on three straight plays. On a day where offensive success was the exception and not the rule, even that proved to be a challenge. Lehigh claimed they recovered the ball on third down. The officials disagreed to allow Yale to run out the final few seconds.

Junior cornerback Adam Money caused a fumble and had an interception.

Until some strong runs by senior Rodney Reynolds in the second half, it seemed as if Rice would end up as Yale's leading rusher. Reynolds, the starter coming out of the spring, had seen limited time. With Mordecai Cargill managing 16 carries on 15 yards and Alex Thomas added 13 on seven rushes, Yale turned to Reynolds in an attempt to run out the clock. Reynolds carried the ball 11 times for 45 yards to not only help secure a win but likely play himself back into the picture at tailback.

Hart struggled, throwing three interceptions including two on consecutive second-half drives. His final interception came when he did something quarterbacks at every level are instructed not to do - throw the ball late down the middle. He was just 12 of 31 for 86 yards. John Sheffield caught seven passes for 55 yards and he is now tied with Ashley Wright for third on Yale's career reception list.

The offensive line shuffle continued. With Koury again not able to do, Gabe Fernandez started again at center, the guards were freshman Jeff Marrs and sophomore Mike McInerney while Cory Palmer and Nathan Burow.

Yale is now 3-2, 1-1 in the Ivy League heading into Saturday's game at Penn. The Quakers won 27-13 at Columbia.

A couple of reminders, tomorrow's JV game has been cancelled and my weekly live chat will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. Log in to to ask questions or just check it out.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday's practice report

It was a pretty uneventful but spirited practice this morning.

Quarterback Brook Hart saw most of the time with the first team as you would expect for a guy planning for his second straight start. Dez Duron was in there quite a bit too but that was more to give the Yale defense a look at some of the stuff Lehigh likes to run.

There is more of the flu hitting the team. It limited safety Larry Abare and linebacker Travis Henry last week. There were a decent amount of key players missing as a result of getting IVs from the Yale medical staff while some had to do with class conflicts.

Tackle Alex Golubiewski, safety Geoff Dunham and receiver Allen Harris were among those who were not practicing. Perhaps the most impressive players at the practice were senior h-back tight end John Sheffield and junior cornerback Adam Money.

Thanks to those who took part in the third of the weekly live chats. Here's a link to see how it went

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hart to remain the starter

Considering that Brook Hart is coming off a game where he passed for 390 yards, it should come as little surprise that Yale coach Tom Williams said Hart would start on Saturday when Yale plays at Lehigh. It will be Hart's first game in his home state of Pennsylvania as a college player. Hart was a member of the JV team in 2007 when Yale won at Penn in the Bulldogs' last game in the Keystone State.

Patrick Witt, who started the first three games before being benched for a violation of team rules in last week's 38-7 win over Dartmouth, could earn some time depending on how well he practices the rest of the week.

With freshman Scott Williams moving to defense and his injured classmate Derek Russell not expected to see any action this season, Yale is down to four quarterbacks. Bryan Farris and Dawson Halliday, who split time at quarterback on Yale's junior varsity team as freshmen, both shifted to defense. Farris actually plays both ways with the JV team since freshman Dez Duron is the only other quarterback available to play in the JV games. When Duron needs a break, Farris still plays some quarterback while also seeing plenty of time at safety.

Not much new to report on the injury front. Receiver Gio Christodoulou is out again with foot and ankle injuries. Offensive linemen Jake Koury (bruised calf) and Nate Blair (knee) are both questionable.

The major changes on the Yale depth chart feature the Bulldogs' impressive freshman class. Allen Harris is listed along with Jordan Forney as a potential starter at one receiving position, Chris Smith is the starter at the other position while Jeff Marrs is listed as the starting left guard.

Tom Williams' dad was at the weekly press conference at the Yale bookstore. He spent plenty of time speaking with former Yale coach Carm Cozza. It turns out that when Cozza was coaching at Miami (Ohio) before heading to Yale, Williams' dad was an assistant coach at rival Kent State.

A few other notes, for those who like to head out to the JV games, Sunday's contest against Navy Prep has been cancelled.

Finally, the third of my weekly live chats is set for Wednesday at 2 p.m. Log in to

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dean College 35, Yale JV's 0

Just finishing compiling my stats from the junior varsity game against Dean College and the final score of Dean 35, Yale 0 is a little deceiving.

Yale drove the ball to the 1 both late in the first half and second half but time ran out before they could punch it into the end zone.

Leading the highlights for Yale has to be the Dez Duron-Chris Morris connections. Of the 17 passes Duron completed, 10 went to Morris. Duron finished 17 of 28 for 181 yards and two interceptions while Morris' 10 catches went for 124 yards.

Taylor Stib ran for a team-high 67 yards, 57 coming on the final drive. He also caught four passes.

Will McHale and Ben Ashcraft each recovered fumbled punts. McHale had 10 tackles and a forced fumble, Charles Holmes had nine tackles and one of Yale's two sacks (Nick Daffin had the other) and Ryan Falbo had eight tackles.

Anthony Baskerville was 16 for 22 for 198 yards and two touchdown passes and he ran for 78 yards on 19 carries. Andre Heyward ran for 66 yards and a touchdown and caught 4 passes for 56 yards and another touchdown.

Curtis Weatherspoon had three of Dean's seven sacks and Curtis McBride returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bulldogs roll

After two mediocre offensive efforts in home losses to Cornell and Lafayette, I received more than a few questions in my weekly Yale football online chat about what's up with the offense and when will the new staff open things up.

Well, there were some new wrinkles in the 38-7 win over lowly Dartmouth. First, Yale coach Tom Williams and I have a different opinion on what constitutes a new wrinkle. I consider it to be something that has not been utilized in game action while is definition is something that wasn't worked on in practice.

While many of the dimensions Yale used en route to rolling up 520 yards I have seen in my weekly trips to practice, actually seeing them utilized in games was an encouraging sign of progress.

The no-huddle offense caught Dartmouth off guard. Then again, so did the fake punt, onsides kick, quarterback draw and so on and so forth. Yale was 7 for 14 on 3rd down conversion and if Brook Hart had not short-hopped a throw to John Sheffield, the Bulldogs would have been 2 for 2 on 4th down conversations. I also liked seeing Chris Smith getting the ball on reverses and the swing passes to the running backs.

The screen game, which Williams and offensive coordinator Brian Stark said would be a key component, was executed better today than it had been in the last two home outings. Brook Hart hooking up with freshman Chris Smith with a deep ball which turned into a 73-yard touchdown pass on a perfect pitch was also encouraging. Actually, I applaud the first deep ball which was incomplete but at least put into the mind of the Dartmouth coaches that Yale would at least consider throwing the ball down the field.

Any play that includes throwing the ball to tight end John Sheffield is a good play in my eyes. Sheffield caught a team-high eight passes, pushing his team-leading total of 25. He also passed a host of players including Curt Grieve and former NFL stars Gary Fencik and John Spagnola to move into seventh place on Yale's career reception list with 90 catches.

Sheffield broke three tackles on a 3rd and 9 play for a first down to set up Yale's first touchdown. With the emergence of freshmen Chris Smith and Allen Harris, the reliable Jordan Forney and big-play specialist Peter Balsam requiring attention from opposing defenses, I would expect Sheffield to have even more room to operate.

The quarterback plan of having Hart and Patrick Witt split time ended when Witt was benched for a violation of team rules. All Hart did was complete 28 of 40 passes for 390 yards and three touchdowns. I know it was against Dartmouth but you couldn't help but think Hart moved ahead in the quarterback competition. Hart is showing more pocket presence and the Yale staff is encouraging him to limit his options leading to him cutting down on mistakes. Hart was sacked once, on Yale's first offensive play, but Williams blamed that on a receiver running the wrong route.

Even more than his gun of a left arm, I have been impressed by the way Hart handled a difficult situation. He set a Yale single-season record by completing 62.1 percent of his passes as a sophomore before being beaten out by Witt. With Witt having issues with turnovers and making some questionable decisions, Hart kept putting in the work and has been - by all accounts - the model teammate. All you need to know about Hart you can find out by watching the way his teammates celebrated with him. They know he could have rocked the boat but put the team's goals ahead of his own but he showed remarkable class and poise in the way he dealt with everything.

"That is a testament to Brook," Sheffield said. "That is kind of the (attitude) we have had as a team is to put the team first. We was battling when Witt was the starter and he only had two reps, he made the most of it. Last week he comes in and did whatever he needed to make the most of it. As you saw today, that was an achievement and hopefully that is not the last achievement that he has."

If not for an extremely late flag thrown on Adam Money for defensive holding, Yale likely would have had a shutout. If my eyes did not deceive me, the flag on Money was not thrown until the junior cornerback neared midfield on what appeared to be his second interception of the season. If he did tug the shirt of the intended receiver, why not throw the flag before the ball in thrown because once it is in the air, it should be called pass interference. Was it a good call? I am not sure. But it was a late, really, really late call and should not have been the case.

Four Yale freshmen played few roles in Yale's offensive outburst.

Mordacei Cargill ran for a team-high 52 yards, Smith (3 catches, 82 yards) and Allen Harris (5 catches, 76 yardd) made some big plays and Jeff Marrs saw plenty of time at guard.

The news on Dartmouth quarterback Alex Jenny, knocked out of the game with an injured elbow on a cornerback blitz by Money, was not encouraging. Sounds like he could be out for a while.

Yale appeared to be OK health wise.

Drew Baldwin, who has top-flight ball skills, made a sensational interception for Yale's only turnover. Sean Williams, who continues to impress me, Tom McCarthy and Reed Spiller each had sacks while Geoff Dunham had a team-high six tackles including one of the bone-crunching variety on running back Nick Schwieger.

Sophomore Alex Thomas is finally healthy enough to make an impact. The former Ansonia High star ran four times for 28 yards including his first career varsity touchdown and had three catches for 26 yards.

Yale's football weekend will conclude with a 1 p.m. JV game against Dean College Sunday at Clint Frank Field. Among the players on Dean's squad are former New Haven area products Michael Mainiero (Shelton), Marvin McClendon (Hillhouse), Rodney Williams (Hyde), Ron Vece (Amity) and Dan Mazzacane (Cheshire).

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Thursday's practice report

The first thing I noticed once Yale began the scrimmage portion of practice was Max Newton was in at linebacker and John Pagliaro playing safety. They got the call in place of starters Travis Henry and Larry Abare who were dealing with flu-like symptoms, were getting medical treatment and where not at practice. Yale coach Tom Williams said he expects both will be good to go on Saturday.

Jeff Marrs saw the bulk of time at left guard with Yale's top offensive line unit and appears primed to make his first start. Marrs saw time with the No. 1 line during the preseason but his inconsistent play led the coaching staff to take their time getting Marrs ready to start. He would be the third freshman to start on offense for Yale joining fullback Jordan Capellino and receiver Chris Smith.

As promised, quarterbacks Patrick Witt and Brook Hart split time in practice. Witt had his best practice of the ones I have witnessed. He showed off his arm with long touchdown passes to freshmen Smith and Allen Harris in consecutive series. His best throw, however, may have come on a deep sideline out even though he lost his footing. Hart also had a solid practice and scrambled for a first down as he continues to prove he can make plays with his feet. There are no questions about Hart's arm strength.

Williams is encouraged by not only the play of Hart and Witt but also the way they have handled the situation with no clear-cut starter for Saturday's noon game against Dartmouth.

"We think they are both playing pretty well and the competition is on," Williams said. "We really haven't talked about it. I'll sit down with (Brian Stark, Yale's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach) and see what we are going to do.

"They have healthy demeanors. They are both team guys and both want to help the team and what's best for the program. They see the tape too, they can evaluate each other and have an understanding that it is really close, it is not a runaway by any stretch of the imagination. I think they both have earned the opportunity to play, we just have to figure out what the formula is going to be."

Freshman Dez Duron saw almost as much time but it was because he is the quarterback most similar to Dartmouth's Alex Jenny and Williams wanted Yale's defense to get to practice against a QB comfortable throwing on the run. Duron had his moments - both positively and negatively.

Fullback Josh Kozel is back at practice. Kozel injured his ankle in Yale's scrimmage against Union and returned to practice for the first time this week. Starting center Jake Koury was held out of practice as he is still bothered by a bruised calf. He practiced sparingly on Tuesday and Wednesday and his status is up in the air. If he can't go, Gabe Fernandez will start at center. Receiver Gio Christodoulou will miss his second straight game with an ankle and foot injury.

Williams said highly-touted freshman linebacker Brian Leffler will undergo knee surgery. Ironically. Leffler was practicing on Thursday and made an interception. With Leffler likely not to be at 100 percent, the decision was made to schedule the surgery to allow Leffler to return in the fall with four years of eligibility.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Just chatting

Thanks for all the questions on the Yale football chat. I sense a bit of an impatient tone with the questions which is understandable since Yale fans did not plan on being 1-2.

Click below to replay the chat and feel free to check in next Wednesday at 2 p.m. for the next chat.

src="" scrolling="no" height="550px" width="470px" frameBorder="0" >How can Yale Football get back on track? Join the Register's Jim Fuller

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Yale/Dartmouth game being streamed live

The Yale/Dartmouth game will be streamed live through

The cost is $6.95 or $49.95 as part of Yale's all-access package including basketball, hockey and volleyball games.

Former Cheshire High quarterback's freshman season is over after suffering a broken collarbone in Penn's win over Dartmouth.

Ironically, with injuries to the top two quarterbacks Keiffer Garton and Kyle Olson, Ragone was in position to see extended playing time for the rest of the season.

"He was playing terrific , had tremendous career at Cheshire High School and we were slowly integrating him into the offense," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "He was the perfect Wildcat (formation) type of quarterback. Not only can he run the football , but can also throw the ball.

"It's very unfortunate, he was going to have a significant impact from here on out."

Bagnoli said that Ragone could get an extra year of eligibility because he appeared in just two games before the injury. A decision on that won't have to be made for a couple of years.

Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens is nothing if not consistent.

When contacted by the Boston Globe for a feature on Yale coach Tom Williams, who Teevens hired when he was the head coach at Stanford, Teevens declined comment.

I asked Teevens about Williams on the weekly Ivy League conference call and his response was
"I just want to concentrate on the game." When I asked if that meant he had no comment on Williams, he said I was correct.

The second of the weekly Yale football live chats is set for Wednesday at 2 p.m. Visit to log in and ask a question.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Leopards tame Bulldogs

Considering that Lafayette beat Ivy League championship contender Penn last week, it's hardly shocking that the Leopards defeated a young Yale squad 31-14 Saturday at the Yale Bowl.

But the way it all went down caught my eye. I was struck by the jersey of Lafayette quarterback Rob Curley in the post-game press conference. Other than a patch of dirt on his left shoulder, the uniform was in pristine condition. This is after playing a game in the rain on a grass field. Curley was sacked once by linebacker Paul Rice. The defensive line barely got near Curley and Yale seemed content to let him play pitch and catch with his receivers. Curley took a nasty hit which knocked him out of the Penn game. With the Bulldogs struggling to stay with dangerous receiver Mark Layton, at times it appeared like it was akin to stealing candy from a baby. Curley targeted Layton 10 times on 28 throws and they hooked up 7 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

Yale coach Tom Williams disagreed with my assertion that the Bulldogs did not put pressure on Curley and credited the lack of sacks to the Leopards opting for short drops and quick throws. Well, the numbers (20 of 28 passing for 246 yards and two touchdowns) don't lie. The Bulldogs had no answers on defense against either Curley or running back Maurice White, who ran 21 times for 131 yards.

Lafayette, on the other hand, sacked Yale quarterbacks Patrick Witt and Brook Hart six times. Some of those can be attributed to the two Yale QBs holding onto the ball too long and it certainly didn't help that starting center Jake Koury's ailing left calf only allowed him to play a couple of series. Hart played one series in the first half and came into the game with Lafayette leading 24-7 in the fourth quarter.

Aided by Lafayette playing in a prevent mode on defense, willing to allow passes to be completed in the middle of the field so the clock would run. Hart was 13 of 17 for 154 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked four times which was his Achilles' heel last year. Hart has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long but when he gets the throws off, he is a remarkably accurate thrower with the strongest arm on the Yale team.

On Tuesday Williams said he had no plans to play Hart unless something happened to Witt. By Thursday, Williams and offensive coordinator Brian Stark met with Hart for 5-10 minutes after practice to chat. Now there is a bonafide quarterback controversy at Yale. Look for more on Hart in Monday's edition of the Register.

Regardless of who is under center against Dartmouth in the next game, getting improved play from the offensive line is a must. Ben Meyer, Jeff Marrs and Gabe Fernandez were among the reserves who saw time on the top offensive line on Saturday. One thing I noticed in the preseason is that Yale's starting offensive line kept changing from the intrasquad scrimmage to the scrimmage against Union and the practices I attended. That is usually not a good sign.

Injury wise, Williams said Rice - knocked out of the game after he was the recipient of a crushing block on a special teams return - could have come back in. The status of Koury will bear watching while kickoff returner Ricky Galvez was also knocked out of the game.

Defensively, Larry Abare had 11 tackles and forced a fumble on the opening kickoff. Tim Handlon had 10 tackles while Adam Money had seven tackles and an interception. Yale's defensive linemen finished with six solo tackles and should have been more involved. They were pushed off the ball on a regular basis by Lafayette.

The good news is that Lafayette might be the best team Yale sees this year and the loss does not hamper the Bulldogs' Ivy League championship hopes. The Bulldogs return to Ivy League play when they host Dartmouth on Oct. 10.

The offensive balance was much better for the Bulldogs who ran the ball 29 times and threw it 31 times. A 13-yard run showed the potential of freshman running back Mordecai Cargill while freshmen receivers Chris Smith and Allen Harris continue to work their way into the rotation.

One last note, I spoke with Yale's director of athletics Tom Beckett who said that the 2014 game against Army at the Yale Bowl will happen. There are details to be worked out but the two sides have agreed to play a game in the 100th anniversary season of football at the Yale Bowl.

Just a reminder that the second of my weekly live chats will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Go to to log in and ask questions.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Lawrie a Redwood

Former Yale tight end Nate Lawrie will be continuing his pro football career as a member of the California Redwoods of the United Football League.

Lawrie played for Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Cincinnati in his five-year NFL career. Lawrie played in 26 career games, starting five times, and had four catches for 43 yards.

The Redwoods open up on Thursday against the Los Vegas Locomotives.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thursday's practice report

Plenty of news to report out of a pretty solid practice.

Gio Christodoulou will not play on Saturday because of foot and ankle injuries suffered in the loss to Cornell. Yale coach Tom Williams said Christodoulou could be out "indefinitely." Reid Lathan is back and should make his 2009 debut against Lafayette on Saturday.

Sophomore Bryan Farris, who came out of spring ball running neck and neck with returning starter Brook Hart for the No. 1 quarterback job, has been moved to safety - at his request.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Farris saw plenty of action in the secondary today. The move was his idea. Seeing that he was behind classmate Patrick Witt and Hart, a junior, and with three freshmen quarterbacks joining the program, Farris decided to request the switch because he wants to play.

The irony is that Farris split time at quarterback on Yale's junior varsity team with Dawson Halliday and now they are both defensive backs. Halliday saw extensive action as an additional defensive back in the nickel package, a role filled so admirably by current starter Adam Money last season.

The biggest winner in all of this - other than Farris - could be freshman Dez Duron. The reigning Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year moved up to No. 4 on the depth chart. He was in there frequently today since a class conflict kept third-string quarterback Rich Scudellari out of practice.

With starting center Jake Koury battling a left calf injury and guard Nate Blair sidelined by a combination of a reaggravation of a previous knee injury and a class to attend, senior center Ben Meyer and freshman guard Jeff Marrs saw plenty of time practicing with the No. 1 offensive line.

Freshman Taylor Stib, coming off a strong effort in Yale's junior varsity opener against Milford Academy, was rewarded by getting a number of carries in the scrimmaging portion of practice. With Jordan Farrell, Alex Thomas, Mordecai Cargill, Brandon Scott, Rodney Reynolds and Ricky Galvez all options at tailback, it's uncertain how much varsity time Stib will get but he certainly did not look out of place when he got the call.

Finally, a bit of housecleaning. There are three uniform number changes. Smith goes from No. 4 to 21, freshman running back Javi Sosa, who used to wear No. 21, will now wear No. 39 and junior linebacker Andrew Pappas changes numbers from 51 to 36.

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