Friday, August 27, 2010

Intrasquad scrimmage is tomorrow

With a week's worth of practices in the books, the Bulldogs will let the fur fly in an intrasquad scrimmage from 2-4 p.m. at Clint Frank Field (next to Yale Field) and it is open to the public.

When I spoke with Yale coach Tom Williams after Thursday's practice "giddy" was the word he used to describe his state of mind at the first portion of fall camp.

While the performance in the controlled scrimmage won't be weighed any more heavily than the other practices, Williams said he is always interested to see how players react "when the lights go on."

I asked him which positions are the most intriguing in his eyes. He mentioned the tight end/fullback/h-back hybrid spot. Chris Blohm is solidifying a spot at tight end while while Yale will probably not use multiple tight ends or even a tight end and fullback as often as in years past, it will be interesting to see how players like Shane Bannon, Boise State transfer Trevor Peterson, last year's starter Caleb Smith, Jordan Capellino and freshman Beau Palin perform tomorrow.

The fourth and fifth receiving position is another spot worth watching. Highly-touted freshman Deon Randall has been impressive as have classmates Brandis Yarrington, Cameron Sandquist and Jackson Liguori have looked good in the three practices I have attended. Sophomores Allen Harris (who started one game as a freshman) and John Runk have made some solid catches during the first week of practice. Senior Jordan Forney, junior Gio Christodoulou and sophomore Chris Smith figure to be used together quite often this year to give quarterback Patrick Witt plenty of options.

Alex Thomas and Mordecai Cargill figure to handle a bulk of the work at tailback this season although freshman Elijah Thomas might be the most noticeable freshman in the days I have been at Yale's practices. He is following the path of Cargill who was so impressive in the early stages of fall camp as a freshman that the coaches had little choice but work him into the tailback rotation. The offensive line starters are Jake Koury at center, Mike McInerney and Gabe Fernandez at guards with Jeff Fell and John Pedersen at tackles. The offensive line depth has taken a bit of as former starter Nate Blair (knee) and promising prospects Luke Hartwig (ankle) and Justin Hymes (torn pec) are expected to be sidelined today as will tight end/h-back Mark Kaczor (back). The recovery process for Blair and Kaczor could be long-term ones while h-back/tight end Jordan Jefferson has been dealing with blood clotting issues which have put his football career in serious jeapordy.

At quarterback, Witt is the unquestioned No. 1 guy but I have been extremely impressed with freshman Henry Furman, who is pushing senior Brook Hart for the No. 2 spot. I will say that this group of freshmen quarterbacks have looked better and more ready for varsity time than last year's group did at this point of the fall camp.

Defensively, ends Tom McCarthy and Sean Williams return as starters. Chris Dooley and Jake Stoller are currently running a little bit ahead of a deep pool of tackles but they are being pushed by Joe Young and Reed Spiller among others.

Jordan Haynes will man the middle linebacker in the 4-3 joined by starters Will McHale at weak-side LB and Jesse Reising at the strong-side spot. Brian Leffler, a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school who received last interest from the FBS teams before reaffirming his commitment to Yale, always seems to make plays from sideline to sideline when I am at practice and after missing his entire freshman season with a knee injury, he looks ready to go and there will be some serious competition to make the two-deep spot at linebacker.

In the secondary, Geoff Dunham and converted cornerback Adam Money are the starters at safety while Drew Baldwin and Chris Stanley are running with the first team at cornerback. Stanley, who has made remarkable strides in the last year according to Williams, is being pushed by sophomore Kurt Stottlemyer while Collin Bibb, who is dealing with some injuries, is another corner who figures into the rotation. The wild cards could be how quick a bevy of talented freshman corners emerge with Chris Brady, Max Napolitano and Nick Okano seeing plenty of work during practice.

Williams said there won't be much work on the kicking game tomorrow so getting a grasp on the leaders in the field goal and punting departments will have to wait for a week.

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