Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Yale looking to move forward after first loss

It's safe to say that the bus ride down to Lehigh wasn't nearly as emotionally-wrenching as the return trip.

The Bulldogs went into Saturday's road opener looking to improve to 3-0 and remain the only undefeated team in the Ivy League. With a win, Yale figured to move up the ladder and be on the verge of breaking into the top 25 in the national Football Championship Subdivision rankings.

Instead, the Yale players and coaches are left licking their collective wounds following a humbling 37-7 Lehigh victory.

With a much-improved Dartmouth squad, which nearly knocked off two-time defending Ivy League champion Penn on Saturday, coming to the Yale Bowl on Saturday there is little time for the Bulldogs to feel sorry for themselves.

"We put it to bed," Yale senior quarterback Patrick Witt said after Tuesday's practice. "We watched the film yesterday, it wasn’t good but there were a lot of plays out there that we made. We made some critical mistakes and against a good team, you are going to get beat by 30 points. Against a bad team, you are going to get beat by seven. You just can’t do that. We come out here today and really want to put it behind us, the quickest way to forget about that game is to go out and have a great game against Dartmouth and that is what we intend to do on Saturday."

Yale football coach Tom Williams has been known to utilize props to motivate his team and Tuesday was no different. In the first practice of the week, Williams had a couple bottles of Febreze he sprayed on his players because "we have the smell of not playing very well on us." I used (Pittsburgh Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin’s line after they lost to Baltimore. He said until we get a chance to play some more football games right now, we just stink and we have to get that stink off of us.

"We have a bad taste in our mouth and the only way you can get it out is to play and win a game. I wouldn’t say that we have any extra pressure to do that but we are anxious. We could play the game today and be OK but with a week’s preparation, I know we will be hungry to go play a game. It doesn’t matter who it is but it happens to be a conference opponent at home and we will be ready to play."

Yale committed five turnovers and by the coaching staff's count, dropped eight passes. That led to the score getting out of hand and also putting the beleaguered Yale defense back on the field against the potent Lehigh offense.

"The two things that stood out to me the most were the turnovers and the dropped passes," Williams said. "I think we counted eight dropped passes and at least two of those would have been potential touchdowns. Another two of them would have been first downs, would have kept the chains moving. It is demoralizing because we are moving the ball and we had opportunities to score points. All of a sudden, we have these drops and we are saying ‘what is going on?’ You talk about making plays, those are plays that we made the first two weeks and then we didn’t make them in this game. As I said to the team, when you have the combination of turnovers and missed opportunities against any team, you are putting yourself in jeopardy of losing. When you are playing a team as good as Lehigh, that is when the score ends up being a 30-point difference."

The good news is that everybody who should have been practicing was on the field. That includes junior receiver/kick returner Chris Smith who missed the Lehigh game with a strained hamstring.

Switching gears, a rep from the Oakland Raiders was at Tuesday's practice. Now 20 NFL teams have sent scouts to Yale's practices. Speaking of the pros, Williams believes 2010 Yale captain Tom McCarthy has a chance to get promoted from the practice squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars have been hit hard by injuries at defensive end although reports have Aaron Kampman likely to return to the practice field this week. Still, Williams believes McCarthy (who was in attendance at the Yale/Lehigh game) could get a shot.

"He has a chance to get back up there with injuries," Williams said. "The season is long and he has an opportunity to step up. If you are ready to play, they will put you out there. Aaron Kampman hasn’t practiced or played all season so I would imagine Tommy’s opportunity is coming soon."

Also, former Yale punter Tom Mante had one punt for 39 yards in his second game with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League as Nighthawks defeated the Sacramento Mountain Lions.

I've gotten some questions about Yale's future schedules. Here's the deal for the next three seasons.

In 2012, Yale opens by hosting Georgetown on Sept. 15 and also host non-conference games against Colgate (Sep. 29) and Lafayette (Oct. 13).

Yale will travel to Colgate for the 2013 opener on Sept. 21, play at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo on Oct. 5 and hosts Fordham on Oct. 19. The highlight of the 2014 non-conference schedule is a Sept. 27 home game against Army. The contest was set up as a way to honor the 100th anniversary of the Yale Bowl. The Bulldogs also host Lehigh on Sept. 20 and Colgate on Oct. 18.

Speaking of the schedule, Yale has called off its JV games against Milford Academy on Sunday and Bridgton Academy on Oct. 30. No official word was given although I would imagine that the number of injuries suffered by Yale's freshman class could have played a role in the decision. I will get a definitive answer when I head off to Yale's weekly press gathering in about an hour.

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Anonymous John Walsh said...

Re: 2014 schedule. Is Yale opening with 2 OOC games? Lehigh on Sept 20 and Army on the 27th?

Usually, at least recently, Cornell has been the 2nd game of the year.

By the way, have you heard anything about the possibility of an 11th game. The Ivies are so far behind the times and this starting 3 weeks after everyone else really is hurting the league

3:20 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

That is correct, Cornell will be the third game of the season and the Ivy opener.

I haven't heard anything new about an 11th game

4:03 PM 
Anonymous Trey said...

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7:44 AM 

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