Thursday, November 26, 2009

Winning the biggest battle

Back in April I wrote a story about a marrow donor drive the members of the Yale football team was taking part of. The inspiration in what proved to be an extraordinarily successful event was Yale women's hockey player Mandi Schwartz.

As I wrote the story, I had no way of knowing how it would all turn out. Leukemia is a tough obstacle for anybody to overcome but it warmed my heart when Sam Rubin of the Yale sports publicity department provided an update on Mandi's situation. I doubt that even her staunchest supporters expected to hear that she would be healthy and ready to enroll back at Yale in January or that she is planning to resume her playing career next season.

But that is exactly what is happening. With the news coming out right around Thanksgiving, I am sure than more than a few people affiliated with the Bulldogs' football and women's hockey programs cited Schwartz's remarkable recovery as a reason to be thankful.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All-Ivy selections

Yale punter Tom Mante, defensive back Adam Money, linebacker Paul Rice and tight end John Sheffield were named to the All-Ivy League first team on Tuesday.

Mante, one of eight unanimous first team selections, led the league with a 41.2 punting average and had 10 punts of at least 50 yards.

Money, the first Yale junior named to the first team since running back Mike McLeod and linebacker Bobby Abare in 2007, had 43 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Rice led the 4-6 Bulldogs with 74 tackles and 9 1/2 tackles for losses while Sheffield had a team-leading 61 catches as a senior and his 126 career receptions is third all-time for the Bulldogs.

Defensive tackle Tom McCarthy was named to the second team as was Mante as a kicker while defensive lineman Joe Young and linebackers Travis Henry and Sean Williams were honorable mention selections.

Brown receiver Buddy Farnham and Penn linebacker Jake Lewko shared the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League player of the year while Harvard running back Treavor Scales was named the rookie of the year.

OK, that's the news of the day. Now for my two cents. The obvious Yale omissions were linebacker Tim Handlon (68 tackles, two interceptions and three forced fumbles), center Jake Koury and defensive lineman Pat Moran. I was also surprised to see Mante on the second team as a kicker. He did become the first Ivy Leaguer with 50-yard field goals in consecutive games but also lost his kicking duties to Alex Barnes and finished 4 for 12 on field goals.

Also, if I were to cast a vote for rookie of the year, it would go to Brown cornerback AJ Cruz.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

McCarthy named Yale's 133rd captain

When he was announced as Yale's 133rd football captain, defensive tackle Tom McCarthy sat in his seat at the front of the room and did not move for several seconds. After getting over the shock of surviving four rounds of voting and beating out cornerback Adam Money, McCarthy rose from his seat and received a huge round of applause from his teammates.

"I never really expected this," McCarthy said. "Just to be elected with this group of guys, it is absolutely amazing. It is an honor."

The ironic part is that McCarthy will not be able to take part in spring drills. He missed the entire 2006 season mononucleosis and was granted a fifth year of eligibility. However, Ivy League rules stipulate that student-athletes can only be enrolled in eight semesters so he will need to skip the spring semester so he can enroll in the fall.

The awards were also given out. John Sheffield was named the Ted Blair Award winner as the team MVP while Paul Rice earned the award annually given to Yale's captain.

Here's the complete list of other award winners
Jordan Olivar Award (given to a senior other than the captain who has earned the most respect from his teammates): Larry Abare
Woody Knapp Memorial Trophy (player who typifies the cheerful disposition, leadership qualities and unselfish disposition to others): Brandon Scott
Robert Gardner Anderson Award (combination of skill, spirit and pride in accomplishment): Reid Lathan and Max Newton.
Norman S. Hall Memorial Trophy (given to an individual for outstanding service to Yale football): Tim Handlon
Gregory Dubinetz Memorial Trophy (linemen who exemplified the spirit of Dubinetz): Cory Palmer
Charley Loftus Award (most valuable freshmen): Mordecai Cargill and John Powers
Chester J. Laroche Award (given to senior who did the most for Yale): Rich Scudellari
Ledyard Mitchell Award (for proficiency in kicking): Tom Mante
Ted Turner Award (top offensive lineman): Cory Palmer
Keppel Award (given to offensive back who exemplified Keppel's work ethic, pride and dedication to Yale football): Rodney Reynolds
LoProto Award (awarded to defensive back who exemplies LoProto's passion and competitive spirit): Adam Money

Also, Tom McCarthy was named the top defensive lineman, Mante the top specialist and Travis Henry the winner of the Hammer Award.

From former Yale star Jon Reese's empassioned remarks to Reynolds' comical impersonation of Yale running back coach Rod Plummer, it was a memorable event.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Yale coach Tom Williams addressed his decision to run a fake punt faced with a 4th-and-22 at the Yale 25 in the final 2 1/2 minutes. Williams has received plenty of criticism, including in this blog, for the decision.

Here is what he said to the invited guests at The Commons at Woolsey Hall.

"I take responsibilities for all those losses, not just the one yesterday but for the other five," Williams said. "The only regret I have is that there is a man who wears a ‘Y’ on his helmet who thinks their opportunity to win the football game was taken from them, that is the only regret I have. I want to sincerely apologize to those men because I worked very hard to earn their trust and I love these guys as if they are my own children."

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Just returned home from the Yale Bowl and won't soon forget what I saw today.

We're not only going to start with Tom Williams' decision to attempt a fake punt leading by three points in the fourth quarter, we are going to finish with it as well. I'm not going to sugarcoat this, it was a reckless decision. In the 20 years I have been a sports reporter, I can't remember a coaching decision I disagreed any more strongly than this one. I am not alone. When I checked my phone, I had four missed messages in the hour after the game from people wanting to know why he wouldn't punt the ball and put the game in the hands of his defense.

This Yale team had been through so much this year, disappointing losses to Cornell and Princeton, so many injuries, a constantly changing lineup and a nearly completely new coaching staff. They could easily have had their eyes elsewhere especially in an academic setting like the one they reside in at Yale. But they didn't. They were on the verge of their most complete effort of the season and only needed for their coaching staff to demonstrate a little self restraint.

Faced with 4th-and-22 at their own 25 and Harvard out of timeouts, Tom Mante trotted onto the field to punt. All Mante did was average 51.3 yards on his previous three punts to clinch the Ivy League punting crown. Harvard had enough respect for Mante that their returner lined up 50 yards from the line of scrimmage when Mante dropped back to punt. But he never got the chance. The designed fake was snapped to up back Paul Rice, who twice this season got the call on successful fake punt calls who pitched the ball to freshman safety John Powers. Powers, a former dual-threat runner and passer during his days as the starting quarterback at Hopkins, nearly got the first down but was tackled seven yards short of the first down. Rather than Harvard needed to drive somewhere between 60-80 yards for the winning TD, it only needed to go 40.

There is no defending the decision. If Williams ponders a decision in that situation again that he will remember the post-game scene. Senior linebacker Travis Henry, one of the truly class acts on the team, kneeled on the 50 by himself for what seemed like an eternity or some of the seniors wandering slowly around the field as if they were trying to comprehend what had just transpired. Henry and the other seniors bought into Williams' deal from the outset. Even when some of them saw their playing time cut or their roles diminished, there seemed to be little discord in the program (at least none I discovered). Instead of walking off the field snapping a two-game losing streak to Harvard, the departing seniors were left to deal with a bitter end to their collegiate careers. Many of them will never play in a football game again and this was not the ending they envisioned or deserved.

I have gone on the record saying I am impressed with the job this coaching staff has done but there is no defending a decision like this. If you want to try it in a JV game or spring it early on Harvard, fine but not in the final quarter against your greatest rival. I compare it to fouling a 90 percent free throw shooter with a 1-point lead with 5 seconds to play in a basketball game. The risks simply outnumber the reward but such a large margin that you just don't do it. I also found it ironic that on a day when Yale ran the ball so well, the Bulldogs resorted to a gimmick with their version of the Wildcat formation. Williams scoffed at the impact of the Wildcat when asked about after the Penn game and yet they went to it. Why?

The sad part is that it all seemed to be coming together for this team. They shook the turnover bug, discovered a running game in sophomore Alex Thomas, the offensive line was playing better than it had all season even if the Bulldogs' two best linemen (Jake Koury and Cory Palmer) were dealing with injury issues. Defensively, Yale resembled the stingy unit of the last couple of years. All of that ended with one call which was simply to risky to justify.

The good news is the future is bright. Replacing John Sheffield, who finished third on Yale's career receiving list, and the entire starting linebacking corps will not be easy. But with Alex Thomas and Mordecai Cargill, the Bulldogs have two talented running backs. Speedy receivers Gio Christodoulou and Chris Smith return after dealing with injury-shortened seasons. Four offensive line starters are back and with the development of Chris Stanley and Kurt Stottlemyer, Adam Money should be able to move to safety to help fill the void left by Larry Abare's graduation. I think Yale could compete for the Ivy League title with an experienced group of returning players.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yale 10, Harvard 0 at halftime

Things couldn't have gone much better for Yale in the first half.

Sophomore Alex Thomas provided the running attack with 69 yards on 14 carries and the Bulldogs had almost as many yards on its first drive (61) as they did in last year's loss to Harvard.

Yale scored on its first two drives, Alex Barnes booting a 26-yard field goal and Rodney Reynolds scoring from 3 yards out. The only turnover went to Yale as Adam Money recovered a Collier Winters fumble leading to Reynolds' first career varsity touchdown.

Captain Paul Rice is leading the way with seven tackles including a key stop, throwing Gino Gordon for a 5-yard loss on a screen pass on third down when Harvard drove into the red zone.

Senior safety, playing for the first time since breaking two bones in his right forearm against Lehigh, came up huge tipping a pass by Matt Simpson on a fake field goal in the second quarter.

Senior punter Tom Mante had a 69 yarder on his only punter and had a chance at an Ivy League record 63-yard field goal on the final play of the half. The kick was just short and also wide left but Mante was greeted by Yale coach Tom Williams who gave Mante a huge hug.

From a personnel standpoint, the biggest surprise may be the lack of playing time of the freshmen aside from special teams. Mordecai Cargill, Yale's leading rusher coming into the game, has not played and my prediction that Kurt Stottlemyer and Chris Dooley would see time on defense has not panned out. Instead, sophomore Jake Stoller has seen a ton of time on the defensive line and junior Chris Stanley has been the third corner.

Abare looks ready to roll

One of the first things I saw when the players came out onto the field was Larry Abare in uniform and warming up. He has a sizeable cast on his right arm to protect his broken right arm but he will be able to go.

Receiver Chris Smith is standing on the sidelines in crutches so he obviously won't be able to go, which is not a surprise.

Judging by what I saw earlier in the week in practice, I would expect Alex Thomas will see plenty of work at tailback and don't be surprised if freshmen Chris Dooley and Kurt Stottlemyer will see a decent number of snaps today.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Harvard wins JV game

Harvard used the big play to defeat Yale in the junior varsity game this afternoon at Clint Frank Field.

Aaron Thomas intercepted Javier Sosa's halfback option pass and returned it 18 yards for the first touchdown in a 35-26 victory. Colton Chapple's first completion went for a 24-yard TD to Curtis Ross. Alex Sarkisian, who split time between receiver and quarterback, caught a 65-yard touchdown pass and threw a 30-yard touchdown pass while Rich Zaleski had a 75-yard scoring run for the Crimson.

Chris Morris had 6 and 34-yard touchdown catches, Dez Duron was 15 of 28 for 141 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Taylor Stib ran 17 times for 48 yards and Sosa had 30 yards on 11 carries and a 3-yard TD while Philippe Panico had a pair of field goals.

Defensively, Ben Ashcraft had 12 tackles, Austin Pulsipher made 10 tackles, Matt Battaglia had nine tackles, an interception, two quarterback pressures and broke up two passes, Charles Holmes had three quarterback pressures and five tackles and Chris Dooley had seven tackles for Yale.

Brian Reilly had seven tackles to lead Harvard while Zaleski ran for 144 yards.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More on parking

Here's some info on the shuttle system for Saturday courtesy of Yale.

Shuttle System Set For Saturday

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - All parking lots at Yale Bowl for this Saturday's Yale-Harvard football game are completely SOLD OUT. There will not be parking available on game day at Yale Bowl without a parking pass. Visitors to the Bowl on Nov. 21 who were not able to secure a parking pass in advance, should not come to the Bowl expecting to park on-site. Instead, there are numerous convenient parking options available to fans and FREE shuttle bus service to and from the Bowl is provided from two downtown locations. There is also a park and walk option available to fans in lots within one mile of the Yale Bowl. All of these options are detailed below.

Yale Athletics has partnered with the City of New Haven and the New Haven Parking Authority to provide parking options downtown. The following parking is available in Yale University lots FREE of charge on a first come-first served basis:

Lot 77: Ray Tompkins House - Located at the corner of Dixwell Ave , Tower Parkway, and Lake Place. Access from Tower Parkway between Payne Whitney Gym and the Ray Tompkins House.

Lot 78 and 78W: PWG - Lots located behind Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Access from Ashmun Street and Lake Place.

Pierson-Sage Garage - Located on corner of Whitney and Edwards Street. Access from Whitney/Humphrey or 340 Edwards Street.

Lots 16 and 22: Gibbs Laboratory - Located on Whitney Ave. Access across from Humphrey Street.

Science Hill Garage at Ingalls Rink - Located on Prospect Street. Access from Prospect Street near corner of Prospect and Sachem.

Lot 19: Ingalls Rink - Located at Sachem and Mansfield Streets. Access on Mansfield Street, North of Sachem Street.

Lot 51: Hendrie Hall - Located between Wall and Elm Streets. Access from Temple Street, south of Grove Street.

Howe Street Garage - Located on Howe Street between Chapel Street and Edgewood Ave. Access on Howe Street.

A complete Yale University parking map with lot designations can be found here .

Parking is also available from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm on Nov. 21 at two downtown New Haven Parking Authority 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. Yale has negotiated $3.00 daily rates at these two garages with the New Haven Parking Authority. Fans always have the option to park in other public parking lots. A parking map for the New Haven Parking Authority lots can be found here .

Yale Athletics and the City of New Haven are asking fans to avoid on-street metered parking in downtown New Haven. Metered parking is enforced on Saturdays and is not available as a full-day option. In addition, parking in the Westville neighborhood adjacent to Yale Bowl is reserved for the residents of Westville. Vehicles that violate either of these mandates risk being ticketed on Nov. 21.

The City of New Haven will open additional parking lots within walking distance to Yale Bowl on Nov. 21. The Sherman/Orchard Lot and Tyler/Sherman Lot will open at 8:30 a.m. Both lots are located between North and South Frontage Roads approximately 1.0 mile from Yale Bowl. The daily fee to park in these lots is $10.00. To see the walking route to Yale Bowl on a map, click here.

Starting at 8:00 a.m. 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 one downtown location at the corner of Chapel and York Streets. 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.

For further questions and information visit The Game website or call the Yale Athletics Ticket Office at (203) 432-1400.

Yale Athletics encourages fans to prepare final travel plans in advance of Nov. 21 and wishes all fans safe travel to New Haven.

Governor M. Jodi Rell began the home part of the season with a proclamation for "Tom Williams Day." Now word comes that Thursday will be "Yale Day" with a pep rally set for Yale's Old Campus at 9 p.m.

Ticket update

At last report, more than 40,000 tickets have been distributed for Saturday's game and all the parking passes have been given out. With decent weather predicted, it will be interesting to see the final turnout.

There is some video posted from Tuesday's press conference at the Yale Bookstore featuring Yale captain Paul Rice and head coach Tom Williams

Switching gears a bit

The first of the stories we are writing leading up to Saturday's Yale/Harvard game appeared in the paper today. As promised, it was a story on Yale senior safety Larry Abare's expected return to the field after missing 4 1/2 games with a broken arm.

But I thought it would be a good time to mention a couple of items from my interviews yesterday that have nothing to do with the Yale/Harvard game.

Considering that Yale coach Tom Williams was an assistant at San Jose State under Dick Tomey in 2005 and 2006, I asked Williams for a reaction to Tomey announcing his retirement after five seasons at San Jose State and 33 years as a Division I head coach.

"Coach and I talked earlier in the year and I know that this season has been grinding for him," Williams said. "I know he was expecting better results and I also know Coach (Tomey) is getting older and he has some grandchildren he wants to spend some time with. I had a feeling that this might be the last year for him but we are losing one of the greats in college football. He is one of the icons. He is president of the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) which is a very prestigious honor. I am sad to see him go but at the same time, I am excited for him to get some time with his family because he has earned it.

"I worked with a lot of really good coaches. I have talked about the Bill Walshes and Denny Greens but I would say that Coach (Tomey) is just as influential on me as those guys. He had been through a lot of wars, he had seen a lot of players come and go. He's seen a lot of schools, been around a lot of systems.

Going completely away from football, I have been the beat writer of the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament for the last six years before asking off because of all the conflicts with my other assignments. During my meeting with tournament director Anne Worcester, somehow the conversation turned to two-time defending Pilot Pen women's singles champion Caroline Wozniacki. As you may remember, Wozniacki and Flavia Pennetta filmed a commercial in which the Yale Bowl was turned into the world's largest tennis court. Williams thought it would be a good idea to have a professional athlete like Wozniacki speak to his team, which she did.

Anne Worcester told me that whenever she saw Wozniacki at the U.S. Open, she asked when she would be receiving the Yale football jersey she was promised. But it wasn't just any jersey she wanted, she desired the No. 8 jersey. I finally got around to asking Yale punter Tom Mante, who happens to wear No. 8 for the Bulldogs, what that was all about and if he stole Caroline's heart when she visited Yale's practice.

"I understand that she ended up being ranked No. 8 in the world at the time (of her visit) so I think that is why they gave it to her," Mante said with a laugh. "They say that I did (steal her heart), I didn’t meet her but she did see me from a distance."

Finally, a reminded that if you have DirecTV and plan on watching the Yale/Harvard game at home, you will need to go to Plan B. As I mentioned earlier this season, DirecTV dropped Versus from its channel package because of an issue DirecTV has with Comcast's fees for carrying the station. Comcast also took issue with the placement on Versus on the channel grid. The result is that if you are a DirecTV subscriber, you will not be able to see that Yale/Harvard game.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Abare eager to return

One of the most memorable scenes of the Yale football season I witnessed did not occur on the football field but at Yorkside Pizza on Monday night.

Yale's campus radio station WYBC has a live show every Monday from the restaurant and six Yale seniors went on the air including senior safety Larry Abare, who missed the last four games with two broken bones in his right forearm. Abare quietly informed fellow seniors Paul Rice, John Sheffield, A.J. Haase, Tim Handlon and Rich Scudellari that he received medical clearance to play.

Scudellari, the last of the six to arrive, raced over and gave Abare an exuberant hug. I was sitting down with Rice for a story on the Yale captain running later this week and about 20 feet away I heard a roar from the area where the Yale players were sitting. I didn't need to sneak a peek at who was on the air and what the topic of conversation was.

Abare played it cool when I spoke with him earlier on Monday about his status for Saturday's game against Harvard but clearly he wants to play in the worst way and it looks like he will get his chance.

All you need to know about Abare can be summed up by the reaction of his teammates and head coach Tom Williams to the latest development.

Here's a sampling of the quotes, most of which I couldn't get into the story I wrote about Abare for Wednesday's paper because of space considerations.

"When he told me there was a possibility he could play, I almost cried. I got goose bumps because I am so happy for the kid. If he can get out there for his last football game and have a positive experience, that is why we get into this (profession).

"Paul (Rice) would say it as well that Paul was voted captain but Larry is a co-captain in a lot of ways. Like Paul, Larry is a lead by example player and he provides so much energy and passion. Our guys love that and they feed off of that. They probably want him to be able to play even more than themselves to play. For him to have that opportunity would be huge for our entire team, he would give all of us a big lift."

"Larry Abare playing would just mean everything to this team. This program has benefitted tremendously with Larry being here more than words can ever express. For him to come back after a redshirt (season) and still get hurt, still stay with it and still be an active member of this team and now have a chance to play in his last Harvard game, just seeing Larry able to play and in shoulder pads will get this team fired up. Emotionally he is second to none in terms to what kind of emotion he brings to this team on defense and on special teams.

"I think I’ll keep a safe distance from Larry before the game just because he will be really excited and I know how he gets before games and especially the Harvard game, I will keep a safe distance."

"When he said that to me, I was so excited for him. Everything he has been through, getting hurt and take a redshirt and then to come back for a fifth year and have this happen, it’s terrible. I felt really terrible for him and for him to have one more chance in this game which is so much more important than any other game, that’s awesome."

Labels: , , , , ,

Parking passes sold out

Just returned from the last of the weekly Yale mid-week press conferences at the Yale Bookstore where there was actually a horde of media - do you think it has anything to do with the fact that Yale is playing Harvard this week?

First the news of the day.

All the parking passes sold out by 5 p.m. on Monday so if you plan on coming to the game and don't have one of the precious parking passes, I would go onto to see where the shuttle buses to and from the Yale Bowl are located because if you try to drive in and sweet talk yourself into a parking spot, you will be disappointed.

Turning to the football portion of the news update:

Senior safety Larry Abare has been medically cleared to play. I was at the last hour of this morning's practice and did not see Abare. He is being fitted for a cast that will protect the two broken bones in his right forearm but give himself range of motion to be able to play. There will be much more on Abare in Wednesday's edition of the Register. I found it interesting that Marcus Wallace, who had the unenviable task of trying to replace Abare at strong safety the last three games, showed up at practice wearing a cast on his right arm. He was able to practice so it is just a way of protecting his injured arm.

Freshman receiver Chris Smith "won't be ready" for Saturday according to Yale coach Tom Williams although more will be known on his status later in the week.

Other than that, Yale seems OK injury wise.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nothing at stake?

Found it interesting that as I was in the lobby of the Yale athletic department offices, I overheard a conversation of people standing in line waiting to buy either tickets or parking passes for "The Game" on Saturday.

One comment in particular caught my attention as one said to the other "there's nothing at stake."

Really? I understand what he meant but to say their is nothing at stake when Yale plays Harvard shows a definite lack of understanding of what the Yale/Harvard game is all about. Yale can not win the Ivy League title and Harvard would need a win and a Penn loss to Cornell to earn a share of the title so it's a little different than it is has been in the last few years. But try saying there is nothing at stake Saturday to Yale captain Paul Rice, leading receiver John Sheffield or safety Larry Abare, who is holding out hope that he gets to take the field on Saturday one final time as a Bulldogs assuming the Yale medical staff OKs his return after two broken bones in his right forearm forced him to miss the last three games. It will be their last game as a college player and depending on how their dreams of playing pro ball shake out, could be the last time they play football period.

Year in, year out, The Game is a season onto itself. The alumni will have a significantly different take on a 4-6 season with a loss to Harvard and a 5-5 season capped with a victory over the Crimson. Williams' predecessor Jack Siedlecki was 23-7 in the last three years but his struggles against Harvard led to alumni turning up the heat on his.

And let's get any silliness of Tom Williams has to win this game for job security sake. They didn't undergo a nation-wide search to send the 33rd coach in Yale football history packing after one year. Maybe I'm naive but I think this staff will get the job done. It won't be easy and certainly losses to Cornell and Princeton are bitter pills to swallow but when you look at who is coming back next year, there is reason for optimism. Yes, Yale has to replace its entire starting linebacking corps (I consider Sean Williams to be a defensive end regardless of what the depth chart or roster may say), filling the void left by the reliable Sheffield won't be easy but Yale returns the nucleus of this year's team. If the Bulldogs head into next year's Harvard game with a 4-5 record and sitting at 2-4 in the Ivy, Williams should rightfully be feeling the heat. Right now there is reason for any Yale coach, player, administrator, fan to be disappointed but it's a bit premature to be calling for his ouster.

I've been at least one practice a week every week this season and have seen the coaching staff at work. I think they are good teachers and good communicators. I do think they are a little quick with the hook, especially on offense, changing quarterbacks, running backs and offensive line combinations a little too much to suit me but I think any coach deserves to bring in a full rotation of recruits before all this craziness about making a coaching change gets brought up.

There will be no live chat this week but we will look to have an online presence with video of interviews and of course stories on our website.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Parking changes

Here is a link to a story about parking for The Game this week.

There have been changes made you need to know about.

Here is link to Yale site on changes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday's practice report

Not much to report from practice. Quarterback Patrick Witt took pretty much all the snaps when I was there except when Dez Duron ran scout team stuff. I didn't see Brook Hart take a snap in the hour or so I was at practice. H-back John Sheffield and receiver Reid Lathan caught everything thrown their way.

Adam Money was out there practicing without limitation while freshman cornerback Kurt Stottlemyer saw plenty of time with the first team.

It was not a great day for the kickers. Tom Mante and Alex Barnes had field goals blocked on consecutive tries and Mante followed up with a horrible shank on his next effort. They both settled down and made some kicks after that. Barnes will continue to handle the extra points and medium range field goals while Mante will punt, kick off and be called upon for long-range field goals.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday press conference highlights

A few things from the weekly Tuesday press conference at the Yale Bookstore.

First, Yale coach Tom Williams said junior cornerback Adam Money had a stinger late in Saturday's game against Brown but he has been cleared to practice and did just that on Tuesday morning.

There's no change in the injury status of receiver Chris Smith and safety Larry Abare. Williams said there is a chance Smith can play against Harvard while Abare has been trying to persuade the Yale medical staff to slap a cast on his broken right forearm so he can get back on the field. If Abare does manage to get back on the field for the Nov. 21 game against Harvard, I wouldn't want to be one of Harvard's receivers, running backs or the quarterback because Abare will have some lost time to make up for and will be chomping at the bit to hit somebody.

There will be no switch in kickers. Alex Barnes will continue to handle extra points and kicks while Tom Mante will punt, kick off and be called on for the long-distance field goals.

Williams was accompanied by junior receiver Peter Balsam. I spoke to Balsam and Williams about the amount of injuries the receiving corps has had to endure this season and that will be the Yale football story in Wednesday's edition of the Register.

Among the other topics I addressed with Balsam was his reaction to seeing Brown score late in the first half, aided by Balsam's 15-yard penalty on the kickoff after Money's 77-yard interception return. Rather than needing to drive the ball 72 yards, Brown only needed to go 57 yards. When Bears' quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero capped the drive with a 9-yard TD run, Balsam walked in the general vicinity of Williams who voiced his displeasure. Balsam expressed remorse at the role his penalty for retaliating had in aiding Brown's second touchdown.

"I felt terrible," Balsam said. "It is totally unacceptable, it was a totally selfish play and it can’t happen again. It would be one thing if it was the first time it happened but I got one against Lehigh as well. After an interception, I made a tackle and I got up and pushed the guy. In that case I don’t know what to do, I guess get up and clap in the guy’s face who is yelling at you because pushing is unacceptable. It doesn’t get caught all the time but usually it is the second person who does it that gets caught. You just have to keep your head on straight and realize that you are not playing for yourself, you are playing for your 100 and however many teammates. Those guys work just as hard as you and you can’t make that kind of a selfish play that will jeopardize that hard work."

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Brown 35, Yale 21 final

What a difference a year makes. In last year's Yale/Brown game defense ruled the day.

That was definitely not the story line on Saturday. Brown ripped through the Yale defense for nearly 500 yards of offense including 225 yards rushing.

Yale managed 345 yards of offense but three Patrick Witt interceptions proved costly as the Bulldogs were officially eliminated from contention for the Ivy League title.

Brown 14, Yale 12 at halftime

The first half came to an end with Tom Mante's line drive 51-yard field goal attempt sailing wide left allowing Brown to take a 14-12 lead into the break.

Yale's defense has done its job holding the explosive Brown offense in check. Kyle Newhall-Caballero threw a 10-yard scoring pass to Buddy Farnham and had a 5-yard scoring run.

Yale answered as Mordecai Cargill took a Patrick Witt screen pass and rumbled 41 yards for his first collegiate touchdown. Adam Money returned an interception 77 yards for the other score.

Special teams, outside of Mante's 57-yard punt, have not been special. Alex Barnes missed an extra point after the first score and Brook Hart was unable to haul in a 2-point conversion from fellow quarterback Witt.

Peter Balsam was called for a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the kickoff after Money's touchdown to allow Brown to start the drive at the 43 rather than the 28. When Newhall-Caballero scored, Balsam made the mistake of walking in the direction of Yale coach Tom Williams. Williams gave Balsam a serious dressing down about the penalty which likely prevented Yale from heading into halftime with a lead.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 06, 2009

Some future Bulldogs

It is still early in the recruiting process but Yale is off to a solid start with six committed players who have been accepted into the school.

Here's a look at the first six recruits for the Yale football Class of 2014.

Kyle Aberton, DB 5-10 175 Cottonwood High School, Murray, Utah: Had 72 tackles and five interceptions as a junior

Chris Brady, DB 6-0, 190 Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, N.J.: One of top defensive players for No. 2 ranked in USA Today national poll, he had key interception against rival Bergen Catholic

John Oppenheimer, OL/DL 6-0 250 Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton, Calif.: Two-way starting lineman helped squad average more than 350 rushing yards per game

Grant Stanley, DE 6-foot-5, 230 pounds San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno, Calif. Averaging about five tackles a game for 7-1 team

John Whitelaw, QB 6-2, 180 Hinsdale (Ill.) Central: Accounted for more than 3,000 yards of total offense and 35 touchdowns as a senior

Kyle Wittenauer, TE/DL 6-4, 240, St. Christopher’s, Richmond, Va.: Averaging more than 25 yards per reception and drew plenty of interest from BCS schools as a long snapper.

A little housecleaning

There are a few things I wanted to pass on regarding tomorrow's game.

First, the 1 p.m. game will be available via live video stream on The word is that Yale received plenty of positive feedback over its live streaming of the Dartmouth game.

Yale will have its pre-game walk from the Walter Camp Arch around 11:20 a.m. where fans can line up and greet the team as it makes the walk to the Yale Bowl.

Anybody wishing to take part in the Yale/Harvard festivities on Nov. 21 needs to purchase a parking pass or check up on the shuttles taking fans to and from the game since there will be no general admission parking. If you don't have a parking pass, you won't able to park.

Finally, while the dedication of the Kenney Center and Jensen Plaza won't take place until Nov. 21, they are both up and running and will be on display this weekend.

Here's the release I received from Yale about the project

Final Phase of Yale Bowl Restoration Complete

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A revered, 95-year-old American sports venue has received a grand entrance fitting its national historic landmark status. The Kenney Center and Jensen Plaza are finished and officially open this Saturday for the Yale-Brown football game at Yale Bowl and the Class of ’54 Field. These two additions, to be officially dedicated the morning of the Nov. 21 Yale-Harvard game, constitute the final phase of the $30 million restoration of the facility.

Walking in from a tailgate Saturday, fans will catch a glimpse of the grand, three-story Kenney Center as they leave a parking lot. The Kenney Center replaced the old halftime room and rises up and attaches to the press box. As they get closer to the perimeter of the Bowl at the main entrance, fans step onto the granite stones that contain the names of every Yale football letter winner since 1872 as part of the Jensen Plaza.

“One of the most storied programs in the history of college football has added to its lore with the addition of the Kenney Center and the Jensen Plaza,” said Tom Williams, the Joel E. Smilow ’54 Head Coach of Yale Football. “We look forward to adding to the history displayed at both venues.”

Athletic Director Tom Beckett added, “This facility and plaza is another example of the strong partnership between the University and our alumni that continues to provide a world-class experience for all affiliated with Yale Athletics.”

The Kenney Center contains three team meeting rooms, an alumni area with views to the field and a rooftop terrace that provides a panoramic look at most of the Yale athletic facilities around the Bowl. Jerome (Jerry) P. Kenney ’63, who provided the gift, is part of the only family to have five members play football at Yale and the only four-brother football combination in school history. Jerry’s brothers, Brian R. ’60, Robert D. ’67 and Richard L. ’71 all wore blue and white, while Robert’s son, Jeffrey S. ’93 also played for the Elis.

Fourteen different historical listings are displayed in the Kenney Center under the following headings:

Heisman Memorial Trophy Winners

National Football Foundation-College Hall of Fame Inductees


Rhodes Scholars

NCAA Silver Anniversary Award Winners

National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar-Athletes

National Academic All-Americans

First-Team All-Ivy Selections

Asa A. Bushnell Cup Winners (Ivy League MVP)

George "Bulger" Lowe Award Winners (Outstanding Player in New England)

Ivy League Rookie of the Year Selections

Yale Football Captains

National Championship Teams

Ivy League Championship Teams

"We were encouraged both by the University's decision to restore and modernize the Yale Bowl, which has been such an integral part of Yale's tradition, and also by the widespread support this initiative is receiving from other former players and alumni," said Jerry Kenney. "My three brothers and I collectively played football for 14 consecutive years for Yale and we've had a next generation player as well, so it has been an important part of our family's Yale experience. Since Yale has contributed so much to our lives and careers, we're pleased to be able to fund this center as part of the restoration project."

The Jensen Plaza, named after Irving ’54, Colin ’57, Eric ’63 and Mark Jensen’67, serves as a perfect place for fans to gather before and after games. Two of the Jensen brothers played for former Yale football head coach Jordan Olivar and earned Ivy League Championship rings. Colin, who had two letters, was part of the 1956 Bulldog squad that went 8-1, was undefeated in Ancient Eight play and cruised past Princeton and Harvard on the way to a title. Eric earned three football letters and was a member of Yale’s last perfect (9-0) team in 1960.

“We want to share memories with future Yale athletes and thought this would be a great way,” said Irving, who played on the Bulldog freshman squad. “We had a great experience and education at Yale, which has made my life what it is today. Much of what we learned as athletes at the school has been used in our business. It is very important to make the experience a great one for current and future Yale athletes.”


Looking ahead

The show stopper at Thursday's practice had to be freshman cornerback Kurt Stottlemyer.

During the scrimmaging portion of the practice, Stottlemyer intercepted two passes and saw plenty of time with the first team. When facing pass-happy Brown as Yale will on Saturday at the Yale Bowl, reserve cornerbacks find themselves in the mix a more regular basis as the Bulldogs can match up with the prolific Brown receivers.

Yale coach Tom Williams heaped significant praise on the Bothell, Washington native saying he was one of the freshmen who arrived ready both physically and mentally for varsity duty. The two reasons why Stottlemyer hasn't seen more action are Adam Money and Drew Baldwin, Yale's two starting corners. It should be noted that it was around this time last season when Baldwin began to see more work with the varsity.

"We haven't needed him to play until now," Williams said. "We had Money and Drew obviously but as far as his ability and his awareness as a freshman, there is no question in my mind that he could have been playing all year for us if we needed him to. Now he is going to get his chance and I'll tell you what, he is a good football player. He is one of those guys who has a natural feel for the game, just a knack for playing so I am excited to see what he does on Saturday"

Yale's secondary will be aided by the return of John Pagliaro, a reserve safety who missed last week's game against Columbia with a concussion.

Other than the continued absences of safety Larry Abare and receiver Chris Smith, the Bulldogs appear to be in good shape health wise.

It's just a hunch on my part but I have a feeling Reid Lathan is going to make a play on Saturday. Lathan was Yale's third-leading receiver last year but a shoulder injury set him back during the fall camp. He has yet to record a catch this season. Lathan made a spectacular catch over Stottlemyer on a deep ball and had a strong practice on Thursday. Lathan is also responsible for one of the most memorable moments of the practices I have been at. The offense was lined up when offensive coordinator Brian Stark said "Reid, you should be over there." Lathan obeyed his coach but said innocently "didn't you call ..." The exact name of the play and formation escapes me but Lathan was absolutely right. He was lined up in the right spot. Stark apologized and had a chuckle and you could hear Yale coach Tom Williams cracking up in the background as well.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tuesday press conference wrap

Just a recap of the weekly press conference at the Yale Bookstore.

Junior cornerback Adam Money was the player who joined Yale coach Tom Williams at the event and he admitted he was pretty surprised to be named the Ivy League's Defensive Player of the Week. When I was speaking with Money after the question and answer session, former Yale coach Carm Cozza came up and whispered that his tracking down Columbia Leon Ivery at the 2 yard line was one of the best hustle plays he has seen in his time at Yale.

Considering the impressive Hall of Fame credentials of Cozza, Money may never receive a greater compliment.

A few updates on the starting lineup. Williams said Patrick Witt will start at quarterback, the starting offensive line of Alex Golubiewski, Nathan Burow, Jake Koury, Gabe Fernandez and Cory Palmer will start for the second straight week and Alex Barnes will continue to handle field goals and extra points.

A clarification from my pre-game blog, there was a freshman receiver wearing No. 21 but it was not Chris Smith but Collin Bibb.

He also said that Smith and safety Larry Abare, out with knee and arm injuries respectively, will not play. Jordan Farrell, who started the first four games at tailback, is close to returning after being worn down by a case of the swine flu and then bronchitis.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, November 02, 2009

Money honored by Ivy League

Yale junior cornerback Adam Money was named the Ivy League's defensive player of the week. While other players in the league had gaudier stats than Money, his tackle of Columbia's Leon Ivery at the 2 yard line saved the game for the Bulldogs. He then caused and recovery a fumble to give Yale a chance to drive in for the game-winning touchdown with 58 seconds to play.

Money had five tackles, also had 99 yards on kickoff returns and other 49 on punt returns in a 23-22 Yale win.

Among the players he beat out for the award were Princeton's Steve Cody (15 tackles, 1 interception), Cornell's Chris Costello (14 tackles), Brown's James Develin (11 tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for losses) and teammate Paul Rice (15 tackles, a forced fumble).

Yale senior h-back/tight end John Sheffield, who had seven catches and 81 yards, was named to the honor roll along with Rice.

Labels: , ,

Focus on football

During their lengthy chat before Saturday's game, neither Yale football coach Tom Williams nor his Columbua counterpart Norries Wilson brought up the history-making achievement they were about to partake in.

In the long, storied history of Ivy League football, never has a conference game featured two African-American head coaches - until Saturday.

Wilson, in his fourth season, is the first black head football coach in Ivy League history. Williams, hired in January, is the second. Dr. C. Kevin Harrison, the Associate Director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics In Sport, was at Wien Stadium for the historic event. But for Williams and Wilson, the focus was on leading their teams to a much-needed win.

"The significance of the day is not lost on either one of us, we both appreciate the opportunities to be head coaches and African-American coaches," said Williams after his Yale team rallied from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs' first conference road win of the season. "I think we are both proud of our heritage, that is something we stand behind and are very proud of but at the end of the day it was Yale versus Columbia. It wasn't Tom Williams versus Norries Wilson. We are happy to take this win home for Yale, I am happy to be a representative of the African-American community but this is all about two universities and two football teams."

Before the game, Williams was introduced to Dr. Harrison by Wilson and a few photos were snapped. Then the two coaches went their separate ways to do what they were hired to do - coach their football teams.

"Before the game, we talked about Tom's kids, his wife getting acclimated to New Haven," Wilson said. "He's worried about how they are going to handle the winter. We didn't talk about that (coaching matchup). It is probably something for our kids to talk about when they grow up. He wants to win football games and I want to win football games. The bottom line is they don't put in the paper that a black coach won, they put in the paper that Yale won. It is an issue but it is not an issue for me and Coach Williams, we just have to go out and be the best coaches we can be for the young men we coach, for the young men who are trying to compete in the position we are in."


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Yale JVs run wild

Freshman running back Taylor Stib ran 14 times for 184 yards including scoring runs of 7 and 79 yards, caught three passes for 40 yards and completed a 56-yard pass to lead the Yale junior varsity team to a 34-26 win over Bridgton Academy Sunday at Clint Frank Field.

Stib also had three kickoff returns including one in which he ran over Bridgton's Christian Weeman, much to the delight of the Yale varsity players on the sideline.

Classmate Javi Sosa ran 17 times for 103 yards as the Bulldogs offensive line of sophomores Jeff Fell, Colin Kruger, Evan Ellis and freshmen Justin Hymes and Luke Hartwig paved the way for Yale to run for 283 yards.

Dez Duron was 10 of 23 for 106 yards including TD passes of 21 yards to Collin Bibb, 10 yards to Alex Birks and 4 yards to John Runk.

Defensively, freshman lineman Chris Dooley was sensational with 10 tackles, a fumble recovery, a sack and three tackles for losses. Ben Ashcraft had nine tackles, Josh Grizzard had an interception while Austin Pulsipher had seven tackles, Bryan Farris had Scott Williams had six tackles each. Defensive linemen Charles Holmes and Nick Daffin were both extremely active.

Yale's JV team is 2-2 heading into the season finale on Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. against Harvard at Clint Frank Field.

For Bridgton, which fell to 0-3 against Ivy League JV teams, Kenneth Brock 26 for 48 passing for 353 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Keith Williams 7 catches for 151 yards including touchdowns of 80 and 29 yards while Brent MacLeod had two sacks and Branford's Brandon Murphy had four tackles.