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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