Friday, April 23, 2010

Look ahead to spring game

Yale wrapped up its 11th practice of the spring a couple hours ago. In preparation for Saturday's Blue-White Game, the Bulldogs practiced without pads.

It didn't stop receiver Jordan Forney from catching three touchdowns in the time I was there including a brilliant one-handed grab in the right corner of the end zone. Collin Bibb had one series where he broke up three plays and also got into it with Forney which seemed to be the emotional spark the coaches was looking for as the pace and intensity of the practice picked up after the pushing and shoving subsided.

There has been a string of injuries among the offensive linemen with Nate Blair, Nathan Burow, Alex Golubiewski and Justin Hymes all expected to be sidelined for the 2 p.m. spring game tomorrow at the Yale Bowl.

When I've been at practice, I've been impressed by the development of the freshmen and that is the focus of the story I filed for publication in Saturday's Register. Defensive tackle Chris Dooley has been the talk of the camp while Kurt Stottlemyer and fellow freshmen corners Bibb and Russell Perkins are playing well enough for the Bulldogs to move All-Ivy corner Adam Money to safety. Will McHale has played his way into a starting linebacker spot while Brian Leffler should figure into the mix at LB when he is fully recovered from a knee injury which sidelined him for the 2009 season.

After practice I caught up with 2009 Yale captain Paul Rice, who has been a volunteer assistant coach this spring. Rice worked out for the Cleveland Browns earlier this month and would love to get an invite to the team's rookie camp. If not, he is planning to join the coaching staff at Fairfield Prep in the fall.

I asked Rice his take on the development of the freshmen defensive stalwarts. Although space limitations precluded me from getting Rice's take in my story, here is what he had to say.

"Leffler and McHale will definitely push for playing time, at least in my eyes," Rice said. "Stottlemyer has gotten a lot of playing time, a lot of looks and I think he will have a good scrimmage. Dooley has had a phenomenal spring (camp), he has really opened a lot of eyes. It is a very good class. They are going to come in and do what they are supposed to do which is push for playing time and challenge the older guys.

"It’s a big jump (from being a freshman to becoming a sophomore) because you have a year of lifting, a year of film, a year of everything under your belt and now a lot more is expected out of you. It is an exciting time and these guys are up for it. You’ll see a lot of sophomores making impacts (in the fall) on special teams or even in starting roles."

I am heading that 2008 Yale football captain Bobby Abare is among the alumni expecting to return to the spring game. Although it has not been officially announced, Abare recently accepted a spot on the staff at Wesleyan after spending last season coaching at Wagner. Former Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be Wesleyan's offensive coordinator.

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