Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yale/Columbia recap

Just some idle thoughts from Saturday's game against Columbia.

I thought last year's game between the teams was a bit on the bizarre side but it was nothing compared to what I saw today.

If you take away the 89-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, Columbia would have managed 13 yards of total offense in the first half. Then in the second half, they were absolutely unstoppable. It's pretty evident that the Yale players were guilty in admiring their work and judging by the aura Yale coach Tom Williams was giving off in the post-game press conference, I wouldn't want to be there tomorrow when the coaches break down the game film with the players.

Defensive ends Tom McCarthy and Sean Williams were absolutely dominant at times. Having taped the game (a benefit of having the game on YES) McCarthy's forced fumble was something to behold as his bull rush literally pushed Columbia tackle Jeff Adams into quarterback Sean Brackett resulting in a fumble recovered by Williams.

Although Yale will lose Jordan Forney, there will be no lack of receiving options for Patrick Witt to throw to next year. Freshman Cameron Sandquist had never caught a pass in a varsity game and he two touchdown catches in a span 19 seconds in the first half while sophomore Allen Harris caught a TD for the second week in a row.

Outside of the costly fumble, Alex Thomas had a strong game rushing for 137 yards including a 42-yard TD. As I thought might be the case, freshman Deon Randall was more involved with nine touches in the game.

if anybody questioned Patrick Witt's toughness, they weren't at today's game. After a particularly big hit, Witt seemed to hurt his shoulder again but he did not miss a play. He also got whistled for a 15-yard penalty after throwing one of his three interceptions as he made a tackle by throw Calvin Otis down by the head and ripping off his helmet in the process. Witt showed what makes his such a good quarterback as well as his bad side today. He was firing on all cylinders in the first half but in the second half, his tendency to zone in on the primary receiver and try to force the ball into double or triple coverage led to some turnover issues.

I was surprised to see Matt Phelan get the start at defensive tackle. I did notice Phelan seeing plenty of time in Thursday's practice but didn't think he'd earn the start.

It was a memorable day for the Yale freshman class. Not only did Sandquist catch the two touchdown passes and Randall had 101 all-purpose yards but Wes Gavin started again at offensive tackle, defensive back Nick Okano had two tackles and was in the game late with Yale protecting a three-point lead, Elijah Thomas ran five times for 16 yards and had one catch for 16 yards and Greg Carlsen averaged 37.9 yards on seven punts including a clutch 51-yard effort which was downed at the 8 in the fourth quarter.

Yale wins 31-28

It wasn't pretty in the second half but Yale held on for 31-28 victory despite not scoring a point after half and committed four second-half turnovers

Yale 31, Columbia 7 at half

Aided by three Columbia fumbles which resulted in 17 points, Yale leads 31-7 at halftime.

Adam Money had recovered two of the fumbles while Sean Williams has a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Yale has 245 yards of offense as Patrick Witt is 16 of 20 for 187 yards. He had touchdown passes of 10 and 15 yards to freshman Cameron Sandquist and 16 yards to sophomore Allen Harris. Alex Thomas had a 42-yard touchdown run on Yale's second offensive play.

Columbia has 102 yards of offense and 89 of them came on one drive which was capped by former Griswold High star Sean Brackett throwing an 8-yard TD pass to ex-Staples standout Andrew Kennedy.

The story of the game other has to be the complete turnaround by Yale's offensive and defensive lines. Brackett has only been sacked once but has been under duress the entire first half while Witt has received great protection for the most part.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Williams weighs in on Notre Dame tragedy

As I'm sure it was in football locker room across the country, the members of the Yale football team couldn't help but talk about the tragic accident at Notre Dame when the tower used to film football practice toppled over killing 20-year-old Declan Sullivan yesterday.

"I found out about it this morning when I heard guys in the locker room talk about it," Yale coach Tom Williams said. "It sounds like the conditions were such that I would have had a hard time sending the kid up to the video. If it was 50 mile an hour winds which was what I was told. In Jacksonville (Williams was a defensive assistant with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars before taking the Yale job) it was one of the thunder/stormy Florida days. The wind was whipping up our video guy said 'Coach, I'm not sending those guys up there.' (Jaguars head coach) Jack (Del Rio) said 'I don't blame you, video's not that important.'

"We obviously keep an eye on the weather. Lightning is our biggest concern here but if anything like that is going on, my responsibility as a head coach is to protect them as best I can."

Running back Mordecai Cargill was the only regular varsity player who did not practice Thursday morning. Cargill underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus last week and figures to miss at least the next two games.

Yale only had four tailbacks on the roster to begin with and with Cargill out of action, receiver Brandis Yarrington has taken some snaps at running back and fellow receiver Deon Randall ran some plays against Penn out of the backfield, something that should continue to happen. Tate Harshbarger, a freshman walk on, also saw some time at tailback in Thursday's practice.

I have kind of a funny story about Harshbarger. In both years that Williams has been the Yale head coach, he has asked myself and the Register's sports columnist Dave Solomon to speak to the Yale team before the season. This year I was waiting in the hallway outside the football offices when Tate came up to me and said he was interested in trying out for the team. It might be the first time I've been confused with being a football coach in my journalism career. When Steve Conn, Yale's SID, came upstairs I told him about Tate's inquiry and he sent him into one of the back rooms to meet with the coaches. I have seen him at practice but today was the first time I saw him taking part in drills. I'd expect to see him get some work in Sunday's JV game against Bridgton Academy (noon, Clint Frank Field). Harshbarger had 115 tackles and ran for 199 yards as a senior at El Rancho High in Pico Rivera, Calif.

One last bit of news. Although junior defensive end Matt Battaglia has practiced all week, Williams wasn't sure if he'll play on Saturday and mentioned that a decision may not be made until pre-game warmups on Saturday.

Columbia senior linebacker Alex Gross, the Ivy League's leading tackler, was named as one of the 16 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete. Gross, the only Ivy Leaguer so honored, will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and is a candidate for the Campbell Trophy, often referred to as the Academic Heisman.

Yale senior linebacker Jesse Reising was one of the 121 candidates but he did not make the list of 16 finalists.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cozza reflects on special weekend

My initial plan was to speak to former Yale football coach Carm Cozza at last Tuesday's Yale press gathering at Mory's about his upcoming induction into the Cradle of Coaches at Miami (Ohio) where Cozza both played and coached.

He was not in attendance last week but was there when I got there today so I was able to talk to him about the experiences when he was honored along with former LSU coach Paul Dietzel and the late Weeb Ewbank, who coached the New York Jets to victory in Super Bowl III.

"It was special. The statues were just amazing. They caught me kneeling down. I was kidding, I prayed a lot and I said that is why I was in the kneeling position. Paul's was standing up and so was Weeb's. They had a dinner there Friday night, a lot of my Miami friends were there because I coached there seven years. It was also the 60th anniversary of the (Miami team which beat Arizona State in the Salad Bowl).

"It really caught me. I thought back to my childhood. I would have given anything if my parents could have been there. I have to tell you, it took me until I got home for me to realize just how nice that was. When I think I was included with those people, Red Blaik, Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler, John Pont, Paul Dietzel, to be a part of that was really special."


Battaglia back at practice

Junior defensive end Matt Battaglia has returned to practice. Battaglia has missed four games this season with a knee injury and will be one of the defensive ends being asked to contain the running plays of Columbia quarterback Sean Brackett.

Other than tailback Mordecai Cargill, who figures to miss the next two games as he recovers from knee surgery, Yale should have all of its players available on Saturday.

Leading rusher Alex Thomas (ribs), center Jake Koury (knee) and Patrick Witt (shoulder) were held out of practice this morning as a precaution but all should return to practice on Wednesday.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Upon further review

One of the advantages of three straight Yale games being televised by YES is I can go back and look at specific plays or in this case calls by the officials.

There were four I was curious to see.

At first glance I thought offensive pass interference should have been called on a screen pass from Ryan Becker to Jeff Jack resulting in a 17-yard Penn touchdown in the second quarter. But the replay showed that the other receiver waited until Jack caught the ball before throwing his block.

I mentioned the questionable spot on Adam Money's interception return and believed it cost Yale 10 yards. I stand by that statement after seeing the flag for an illegal block on the 33 yard line. If Yale was penalized from that spot and then the 15 yards were marked off for Penn's personal-foul penalty, the Bulldogs should have received the ball at the 28 instead of the 38.

I wasn't sure about the pass interference called on Yale's first scoring drive of the fourth quarter. The only issue was that the official called out No. 2 as the party responsible for the pass interference when it was evident that it was No. 37 Jim McGoldrick guilty of practically undressing Yale's Jordan Forney and forcing him out of bounds while the ball was in the air.

Now for the holding call on Alex Golubiewski late in the first half which negated a 33-yard completion to the Penn 2, the replay was inconclusive. You could see Golubiewski turning Brandon Copeland but couldn't tell if Golubiewski's hands were outside Copeland's shoulder pads or if he did anything after the final portion of his block was not visible on camera.

That being said, the officiating did not decide this game. Three turnovers, costly penalties and giving up a punt return touchdown had a bigger impact on the game's outcome rather than any one official's call. Inconsistency on first down didn't help. Nine times Yale had a double-digit gain on first down but 12 times out of the 32 first down plays the first-down play went for either no gain or negative yardage.

Also, if you count the two sacks as passing plays (as they were obviously designed to be) instead of running plays as they go down as, Yale threw or attempted to throw the ball 56 times on 74 offensive plays. Considering that quarterback Patrick Witt missed the previous game with a shoulder injury and has dealt with hand and wrist injuries, it's amazing he was able to walk off the field under his own power. A power back like Mordecai Cargill (who missed the game after undergoing knee surgery) could have made a difference in establishing the run. But he's going to miss at least one more game. Yale ran the ball on half of its first 12 offensive plays and had eight designed rushing attempts by the end of the first quarter but 10 for the rest of the game. Nobody expected Yale to attempt to shove the ball down the throats of a Penn defense coming into the game ranked first in FCS in rushing defense but when the opponent doesn't have to respect the run, you might as well put a target on Witt's jersey.

Back on the topic of Money, here's the story I wrote on the senior safety

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Game story, column

Here is the game story and Dave Solomon's column on the Yale-Penn game.

Game story

Solomon column

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Penn 27, Yale 20

Three costly turnovers and a punt return touchdown proved to be too much to overcome as Yale lost to Penn 27-20 to fall out of a first place tie in the Ivy League.

Patrick Witt completed 34 of 54 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

Jordan Forney caught 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown while Gio Christodoulou had 8 catches for 108 yards. Safety Adam Money had an interception and recovered an onsides kick.

Penn 13, Yale 3 at half

Bradford Blackmon's 53-yard punt return and a 17-yard pass from Ryan Becker to Jeff Jack have staked Penn to a 13-3 over Yale at halftime.

Yale was flagged for a costly holding penalty late in the first half which wiped out a 33-yard completion from Patrick Witt to Chris Smith. Instead of 1st and goal at the 2, the Bulldogs faced 2nd and 30 from the 45 and did not score.

Philippe Panico did give Yale a 3-0 lead with a 39-yard field goal but even with the return of Alex Thomas and starting linemen Jake Koury and Gabe Fernandez, Yale running backs have just 19 yards on 11 carries.

Witt completed his first 10 passes and is 16 of 22 for 141 yards but he was sacked twice.

Penn has already attempted a successful onsides kick.

All systems go

Yale's first team offense just warmed up with Patrick Witt at quarterback, Alex Thomas at tailback, Jake Koury at center and Gabe Fernandez at guard.

It will be the first time since the Albany game that Yale has its entire starting unit available to go.

It looks like the only starter out is defensive end Matt Battaglia, who will miss his fifth straight game with a knee injury. Indications are he could be back for next week's Columbia game.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Painful memories for Smith

Sophomore receiver Chris Smith, who leads Yale with a team-high 23 catches, remembers last year's 9-0 loss at Penn for all the wrong reasons.

Smith had just caught a 19-yard pass - his team-best fifth catch of the game - late in the fourth quarter only to suffer a hip injury which would bring an end to his freshman season.

"I was running a post route and it was towards the end of the game," Smith said. "I think we were in a two-minute, hurry up offense to try to put a quick score on the board. I ran across the middle. Pat threw me a good ball. I dove, I caught it. The guy was a little behind me and his helmet kind of came in and caught me on the hip. I held onto the ball but I remember getting up and I couldn’t really put any weight on the leg. I was trying to get back to the line of scrimmage and that wasn’t working."

Although he knew he was injured, Smith's plan was to keep playing until the Yale coaches and medical staff had other ideas.

"When Chris got hurt, the thing I remember most about that injury and he tried to get up and get back in the huddle, go and run the next play with a broken hip," Yale coach Tom Williams said. "He was mad that we wouldn’t let him do it. At that point, I said this freshman guy is pretty tough and I am glad he is on our football team."

Shortly after boarding the team bus for the trip home, Smith got the bad news that the injury was a season-ending one.

"After the game I actually got x-rayed at Penn and showed a break in my hip," Smith said. "On that bus ride home, I remember I didn’t talk to many people on the bus. I was collecting my thoughts, it was definitely tough. I thought I was having a good year and I thought we were coming together as an offense and as a team."

The Yale/Penn game will begin a couple minutes after noon and will the second of three straight games aired live on YES. I will provide some updates on my blog, as I usually attempt to do, as well as on twitter @nhrjimfuller

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Surgery for Cargill

Yale sophomore running back Mordecai Cargill underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Wednesday morning according to Yale football coach Tom Williams. Obviously, Cargill was not at practice on Wednesday morning as the surgery was being done by Dr. Pat Ruwe. Cargill will miss this week's game against Penn and figures to be out for at last one more game.

Cargill, who missed last week's win over Fordham, is second on the Bulldogs with 234 yards rushing while his 5.7 average per carry is the best among any Yale player with more than one carry.

"The sooner we could get into it, the better," Yale coach Tom Williams said. "The hope is he can be back in 10 days."

Alex Thomas, who has run for a team-high 284 yards, has been back at practice after missing the Fordham game with bruised ribs. Williams said that the week that Thomas was held out of practice helped rest his legs and he looks fresher and sharper than he has in a couple of weeks. Sophomore Javi Sosa, who ran for a career-high 74 yards against Fordham, will serve as Thomas' top backup.

Quarterback Patrick Witt served a one-game suspension because he accepted a ticket to an NFL game without paying for the ticket in advance.

The NCAA ruled that Yale was guilty of a secondary infraction and although Witt later paid for the ticket, he was suspended for Saturday's game against Fordham. The irony of it was that Witt's throwing shoulder was so banged up that he was not going to be able to play.

"We appealed and sent it to the NCAA," Williams said. "They issued a suspension. He paid his restitution and in their eyes he was absolved (after serving the one-game suspension.

"It is standard protocol, we want to be squeaky clean. Normally, from what I understand, once you pay the cost of the ticket you are immediately reinstated but if it goes over a certain price, they can suspend you. In this case, they chose to do that."

Witt has been able to practice without restriction this week and appears on course to start in Saturday's game against Penn.

Freshman Greg Carlsen, who delivered a 55-yard punt under duress late in Saturday's game against Fordham, is expected to handle the punting duties against the Quakers.
Former starting punter Alex Barnes will still do the kicking off while Philippe Panico is the field goal and extra point specialist although his grip on that job does not sound like it is unbreakable.

"Philippe, today is still our field goal guy," Williams said. "Tomorrow after practice I may feel differently but based what I saw today and the last couple of days, that is the way we'll go on Saturday."

For those who missed it, here's a link to the feature on senior linebacker Jesse Reising which ran in today's Register.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yale getting healthier

Quarterback Patrick Witt, running back Alex Thomas and guard Gabe Fernandez are all back at practice and perhaps the biggest news of all is that center Jake Koury is expected to cleared to return to practice as soon as tonight and should be back after missing the last two games with a knee injury.

Reserve tailback Mordecai Cargill, dealing with ankle and knee injuries, and defensive end Matt Battaglia (knee) could be sidelined again this week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Defense on the Money

Senior safety Adam Money's interception gave the ball to Yale with less than 2 minutes to play and a 7-6 lead but the defense will have to make one more stand after three Javier Sosa runs netted one yard.

Greg Carlsen came onto the field for his first career punt. It was nearly blocked but he managed to pin Fordham at the 10.

When Drew Baldwin broke up backup quarterback Ryan Higgins' pass, Yale could finally celebrate a 7-6 win to improve to 4-1.

Fordham 3, Yale 0 at halftime

An offensive shootout this has not been.

We just went to half with Fordham holding a 3-0 lead and also having the edge in total yards 120-107.

The difference is a 46-yard field goal by Fordham's Patrick Murray with 5:12 left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs offense playing without four injured starters, were not able to take advantage of a Geoff Dunham interception or a fumble recovery late in the half (I couldn't tell from where I was sitting but Jordan Haynes was at the bottom of the pile). The turnover followed by a 15-yard penalty on Fordham's David Moore gave Yale a first down at the Fordham 23.

Yale went for it all but Brook Hart's first-down pass intended for Gio Christodoulou was out of the end zone. On second down Hart found Forney but despite a valiant attempt by the senior receiver, it was ruled that Forney was out of bounds. After a sack on third down, a 40-yard field goal attempt became a 48 yarder. As he was on a 50-yard effort a few minutes earlier, Philippe Panico's field goal attempt was not close.

Yale, playing without its top two tailbacks and two starting offensive linemen, have managed 36 yards on 19 carries and 11 of those came on a scramble by Hart.

Yale's offense unit will be undermanned

Starting guard Gabe Fernandez, who has been slowed by the flu this week, is out. It's a bit of a surprise since when I was at practice on Wednesday, he was in there and it looked good for him to go. John Pedersen will start in his place.

Tailback Alex Thomas is in uniform but Javi Sosa and Elijah Thomas are the running backs going through drills and it's looking like as if Brook Hart will get the start at QB for Patrick Witt.

What this means is that Yale will be down four offensive starters (Witt, Thomas, center Jake Koury, Fernandez).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Panico honored

Yale sophomore kicker Philippe Panico was named the Division I winner of the weekly New England Football Writers' Association Gold Helmet Award.

Panico's first career field goal was a 19-yarder on the final play of the game as Yale defeated Dartmouth 23-20.

Speaking on Panico, Yale football coach Tom Williams said he plans on having Panico handle the field goal and extra point duties again when Yale hosts Fordham on Saturday. Williams also said that punter Greg Carlsen will get a chance on Saturday. While he did not say Carlsen will be the regular punter, I would expect that to be the case.

Alex Barnes, who began the season handling every aspect of the kicking game, will still be kicking off.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some injury updates

Neither starting tailback Alex Thomas nor reserve Mordecai Cargill practiced today and both are questionable for Saturday's game against Fordham although Thomas would have to be considered more questionable than Cargill.

Thomas didn't return to Saturday's game against Dartmouth after injuring a rib while falling on the ball after a carry. Cargill was able to come back into the game despite dealing with an ankle injury.

"We'll wait and see," Yale coach Tom Williams said. "We have a few more days of practice. Our policy is you have to have some practice time before you play. He (Thomas) went to the doctor so we won't know more until later today. He fell on the ball awkwardly and they are going to have an MRI to see if there is any damage."

Williams also said that defensive end Matt Battaglia and center Jake Koury are unlikely to play against Fordham because of the knee injuries which they suffered against Albany.

One last item isn't so much of an injury update as it is a sign that Yale football players are cut from a different cloth than the usual college football player.

Starting offensive tackle Alex Golubiewski missed the Dartmouth game not because of injury or a lack of performance.

"He had to take the LSAT on Saturday," Williams said. "That's Yale. That's what Yale students do. He did reschedule and there was going to be a huge penalty at another time so he had to take it. He looked at every avenue and that was the only thing he could do. I told him I hoped he did really well but he said he thought he did really well."

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Yale receiving votes in national poll

Yale is one of five Ivy League teams receiving votes in the latest The Sports Network FCS Top 25 national poll.

Penn checks in at No. 25 with 309 points while Harvard (19 points), Yale (6), Columbia (1) and Dartmouth (1) showed up in the others receiving votes category.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Sirius Radio carrying game

For those who have Sirius Radio, Saturday's Yale/Dartmouth game will be aired on channel 130 with the Dartmouth crew of Bob Lipman and Wayne Young handling the duties. WELI-960, as always, will be broadcasting the game as well with Rob Vaccaro and former Yale coach Carm Cozza on the call.

There wasn't much more off Thursday's practice worth reporting. Yale coach Tom Williams said he had yet to name a starting kicker but was impressed by the efforts of starter Alex Barnes and Philippe Panico. Williams reopened the competition following last week's fiasco when a field goal, punt and extra point were all blocked.

The one position where there will be a change is at center because a knee injury is sidelining starter Jake Koury. Jeff Fell will start in his place and is the focus on my advance to the game. Defensive end Matt Battaglia is also expected to miss the game with a knee injury but team captain Tom McCarthy will be back after missing the last two games with a calf strain.

Starting quarterback Patrick Witt injured his throwing hand in Saturday's loss to Albany but he threw the ball pretty well at the portion of practice I was at on Thursday. If he is limited at all, Yale has a pretty nice Plan B as reserve quarterback Brook Hart threw for 390 yards against Dartmouth last season.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Diana part of Elm City Legend class

Former Yale running back Rich Diana, who graduated in 1982 as Yale's second all-time leading rusher, is one of five inductees into the Elm City Legends Class of 2010.

Diana's 1,442 rushing yards in 1981 was a school record until Mike McLeod broke the mark in 2007. Diana's 222 yards against Princeton stood as a school record until Robert Carr ran for 235 yards against Cornell in 2002.

Diana, who also was the leadoff hitter of Yale's baseball team which played in the 1981 NCAA tournament and played for the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.

Here is Darling's bio from the release put out by the organization.

Dr. Richard Diana
Former NFL player, Miami Dolphins; two-sport All-American at Yale University
Dr. Richard Diana was a two-sport standout in baseball and football at Yale University, where he graduated from cum laude with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Diana went on to play professionally for the Miami Dolphins and is the only Orthopedic Surgeon to have ever played in the Super Bowl. An All-American on the gridiron at Yale, he was also named First-Team Academic All-American. On the diamond, he was an honorable mention All-American. Diana, who has been with Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists since 1993, was also an Orthopaedic consultant with the Boston Red Sox from 1992-97.

Tickets for the 2010 Elm City Legends, which will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, are now on sale at for $95 each or $180 per pair. Reserved tables of 10 are $900, and sponsorship packages are also available. For more information, call 860-815-9355.

Branford field hockey coach Cathy McGuirk, North Haven baseball coach Bob DeMayo, New Haven director of athletics Debbie Chin and Scott Burrell, a 10-year NBA veteran who was a former basketball star at UConn and a three-sport athlete at Hamden High, will also be a part of the third class being honored as Elm City Legends.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

McCarthy, Cargill back at practice

Yale senior defensive end Tom McCarthy (Achilles, calf strains) and sophomore running back Mordecai Cargill (hip flexor) are back at practice and should be good to go for Saturday's game at Dartmouth.

McCarthy hasn't played since the first quarter of the season opener against Georgetown and with a knee injury expected to keep the other starting defensive end Matt Battaglia out of Saturday's game, the timing of McCarthy's return could not be more ideal.

"Having your captain back for his first Ivy League game, we are hoping it will give us a boost," Yale coach Tom Williams said. "I know he is excited to play. I know the guys are excited that he is back. We hope all of those things will equate to a chance to win a game on Saturday."

Center Jake Koury will also be out against Dartmouth after suffering a knee injury. Jeff Fell will replace Koury in the starting lineup. Fell is also being pushed by Kyle Wittenauer for the starting long snapper role while Williams said he has reopened the kicking competition since Yale is 0 for 4 on field goals this season with three of the FGs being blocked. Alex Barnes is the incumbent while Philippe Panico is being given a 50-50 chance to earn the kicking job.

Another item I brought up at the weekly press conference at Mory's was reaction to the arrest of former Yale football player Jordan Jefferson during a New Haven police department raid on the Elevate Lounge on Crown Street. The raid, in which some of those on site have accused the police of brutality, came two weeks after there was a shooting on Crown Street.

"We already talked about it as a team, (the importance of) making good decisions," Williams said. "We always talk about that but the one thing we said in light of
what happened downtown with the gunfire is that everybody is on edge. We can’t add fuel to the fire so if you are in the situation when an officer is talking to you about doing something, you’d better do it, you’d better do it right away.

"We had this conversation long before this happened with Jordan. Unfortunately he is not on our team right now so he missed that conversation. When you are under the circumstance that our police are under, you are edge so we don’t need to do
anything to add to that. We need to help diffuse those situations."

Jefferson was a freshman tight end on Yale's 2009 squad. He appeared in two varsity games and although he did not have a reception, he did make a tackle on special teams. He has a medical condition which kept him from being cleared to return to the football field.

While it is possible that Jefferson could play for the Bulldogs again, Williams said "I don’t know what the odds are so there is a chance, you never say never but based on the last conversation I had, it was slim."

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Connecticut QBs making an impact

I thought it was pretty interesting that the Ivy League's co-offensive players of the week happened to be a pair of sophomore quarterbacks from Connecticut.

Former Griswold High star Sean Brackett threw for 273 yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes in Columbia's 42-14 win over Princeton. Brackett also ran for 48 yards.

Cheshire's Billy Ragone ran for three touchdowns including the game winner in overtime and threw a touchdown pass in Penn's 35-28 win over Dartmouth. Ragone threw for 132 yards and ran for another 57.

Naturally, the play of the sophomores came up during Tuesday's weekly Ivy League football coaches' call.

"I guess the record has been around a while," Columbia coach Norries Wilson said. "We don't think Sean is out thre for personal accolades but, fort enough that he executes the plays.

"Sean is a guy who people have to defend and you also have to defend the pass. There are no designed runs for Sean. He will take off and run if everybody’s covered."

Ragone, who like Brackett got valuable playing time as a freshhman, fits the mold of the athletic dual-threat quarterback that veteran Penn coach Al Bagnoli, himself a Connecticut native, likes to have behind center.

"I think we kind of switched our philosophy," Bagnoli said. "We try to get a guy who can continue to play with their feet. Given all the gun run offenses, all the blitzes, given everything a quarterback has to encounter, he place a premium on kids who can throw the ball as well as run the ball."

While Yale does not have a Connecticut native among the eight quarterbacks on its roster, the Bulldogs have no complaints in the quarterbacking department as junior Patrick Witt is leading the Ivy League in passing offense with an average of 290 yards per game and is second in total offense (293.7).

Speaking of Ivy League stats, juniors Alex Thomas and Jordan Haynes are leading the league in rushing (81.3 yards per game) and solo tackles (23) respectively.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Injury and JV game update

While I'll have more info when I head to practice this week but the early word on the injured Yale players are:

Quarterback Patrick Witt had a bruised hand but should be OK.
Center Jake Koury has a strained MCL and figures to miss some time but the length of his absence is yet to be determined.
Defensive end Matt Battaglia suffered a knee cap dislocation but his knee injury is likely not as serious as Koury's.

Now for Yale's JV opener against Milford Academy, the final score was 39-20 in favor of Milford Academy who returned two interceptions for touchdowns, intercepted five passes and recovered a fumble. Milford Academy also got a rare defensive two-point conversion when Milford Academy blocked an extra point and what followed was a bizarre series of events ending with the Falcons' William Hayes intercepting a pass from kicker Philippe Panico and racing down the Milford Academy sideline to make it 23-20. Panico put in a request with me on the sidelines not to have his Garo Yepremian moment (to those younger readers, I suggest doing a google search on Garo Yepremian and Super Bowl VII) but that play was too bizarre not to make mention of it, sorry Philippe. On the positive side, it was a pretty good field across the field unlike Yepremian's bumbling pass attempt.

The other unusual aspect of the game was the way Yale rotated quarterbacks on a series by series basis - all six of them. It was a far cry from a year ago when quarterback turned defensive back Bryan Farris moved back to quarterback just so Yale would have two QBs for the JV games.

The six quarterbacks were intercepted four times and tailback Elijah Thomas also threw an interception on a halfback option. They also threw three scoring passes as Kerr Taubler hooked up with McConnell Smith on a 17-yard touchdown, Henry Furman connected with Trevor Peterson on a 20-yard TD and John Whitelaw hit Cameron Sandquist for a 44-yard score.

If I had to pick Yale MVPs from the game, my picks would be Elijah Thomas (148 yards on 23 carries), linebacker Ben Ashcraft 11 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery and defensive end Dylan Drake who had eight tackles, a sack, another tackle for a loss and had another sack wiped out when Yale accepted a holding penalty. Other defensive stats (pretty unofficial since I was the one keeping them) worth mentioning were Brian Leffler and Josh Grizzard had seven tackles each while Scott Williams, Ryan Falbo and Kyle Aberton had five tackles each.

Milford Academy also benefitted from two failed Yale onsides kicks including one former Hyde star Andrew Greene returned 40 yards for a touchdown.

I spoke with Greene after the game about his touchdown and his decision to attend Milford Academy which could land him a scholarship with a BCS school.

"It was great to come to my hometown and be able to play one last time here and be able to make a big play," Greene said.

"It has been going pretty good. I am playing a new position out there, a safety but overall I have been picking it up prety fast and I have been getting some pretty good looks (from colleges). Temple, Pitt or Rutgers (are the schools he would like to attend) but I am waiting to see what happens. I don't have anything written in stone just yet.

"I knew when I was in high school that I wasn't going to be a linebacker all my life so when I got here, they showed me different coverages. This has given me an opportunity to show my athleticism."

Now completely off the subject, Yale lost a heartbreaking 23-20 game at Albany on Saturday but I'll give credit to junior defensive tackle Jake Stoller for graciously agreeing to pose for a photo with a couple of my friend Ann's sons after the game. Stoller is one of the most intense players on the Yale team and I am sure he took the defeat pretty hard as I would imagine nearly every Yale player did but it was a class move by Stoller to put his disappointment aside and make the day of the three kids who were in the picture with him.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Special teams are anything but special

When Alex Barnes had both of his field goals blocked in a season-opening win over Georgetown, Yale coach Tom Williams believed it was the result of one player not doing their job.

Williams was singing a different tune after today's special teams meltdown.

Barnes had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown, had an extra point blocked and field goal blocked. He also had a 23-yard punt while kicking out of his end zone which led to another Albany touchdown. Yale was called for holding penalties on a kickoff and punt return costing them valuable field position and Albany downed two punts inside the 5. Also, Williams said Barnes' onsides kick was not done properly. Although freshman Nick Okano got to the ball after it went at least 10 yards after Yale had pulled within 23-20, he could not control the ball before being forced out of bounds. Albany got possession and although the Great Danes did not score, they did run more time off the clock.

Williams expressed his concern regarding the special teams miscues calling it "a crisis."

There were a couple of impressive special teams plays. Jordan Forney ran 28 yards for a touchdown on a fake field goal on the final play of the first half and Barnes did a great job getting a punt off after a bad snap. Albany was called for roughing the kicker on the play allowing Yale to keep the ball.

There are some injuries concerns which I will be keeping an eye on. Center Jake Koury was seen leaving the field on crutches while quarterback Patrick Witt and defensive end Matt Battaglia were knocked out of the game. William said he did not have any injury updates.

McCarthy out again

Yale senior defensive end and captain Tom McCarthy is not wearing pads or going through pre-game drills so it's safe to say he will miss his second straight game.

Defensive end Matt Battaglia and running back Mordecai Cargill are out there so I'd assume they will be available although we'll have to see how much they are out there.

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