Gameday: Air attack critical for both sides, but ground game could prove crucial to an another Eli win
Last season Yale pounded Dartmouth 40-17. Dartmouth crammed the box to stop Rob Carr ’05. They contained Carr, but in the process opened themselves up for Alvin Cowan ’05 to throw for 318 yards and run for another 89. I expect Dartmouth will sell their souls to stop Carr again, so the Eli passing game will have to be ready. After scoring four receiving touchdowns last week, I think it will be.
Any offense as one-dimensional as Dartmouth’s is vulnerable.
Yale Pass vs. Dartmouth
Alvin Cowan ’05 erased memories of his first two outings with a clutch performance against Colgate. That, we all know, is the real Cowan. Of course, he’s “in good hands” (sorry) when passing to Chandler Henley ’06 and Ralph Plumb ’05. Third wide-out Will Blodgett ’06 proved himself to be a reliable option, too, with a key catch late in last weekend’s game. Tight end Alex Faherty ’05, who scored one of Yale’s four passing touchdowns against Colgate, is yet another option for the Eli’s record-breaking signal caller.
Dartmouth free safety Clayton Smith is a two-time All-Ivy honoree because he makes a lot of tackles. That’s not really the best thing for a safety to be doing, though, especially when some of those tackles happen because he’s not good at covering receivers. The Big Green is also last in the Ivy League for passing yards allowed.
Yale Run vs. Dartmouth
Dartmouth’s run defense hasn’t been too stellar — but let’s not forget who they have played so far. One game was against first-team All-Ivy Sam Matthews of the University of Pennsylvania, and in another the Big Green faced Jamaal Branch of Colgate, last year’s Walter Payton Award winner.
The problem for the Big Green is that it doesn’t get much easier this week. Rob Carr ’05 embarrassed a Colgate defense that had allowed only 95 yards a game on the ground. Carr went for 169 yards himself and, perhaps even more impressive, averaged seven yards per carry while doing it.
Dartmouth Pass vs. Yale
Three big names graduated from Dartmouth last season that together accounted for almost 80 percent of the Big Green’s receptions. Last year’s surprise quarterback Charlie Rittgers no longer has All-Ivy honorees Casey Cramer, Jay Barnard and Scott Wedum to throw to, but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped throwing.
Dartmouth has passed exactly twice as many times as it has run this season (for comparison, both Yale and its opponents thus far have run more often than they have passed). So it’s no surprise that Rittgers leads the Ancient Eight in passing yards per game. Dartmouth spreads the ball around, but no one receiver is particularly dominant.
Dartmouth Run vs. Yale
You might be wondering why Dartmouth passes so much. This is why: I have a better chance of seeing a Harvard co-ed featured in Playboy’s College Girls Special Edition than I do of watching a Dartmouth back go over 100 yards for the day.
It hasn’t happened yet this season. I only looked at the season’s total statistics, but I know it hasn’t happened in any single game because so far no one has 100 yards on the season.
Ray Rochester and Chris Little (that refers to the number of yards he carries the ball for) both average fewer than three yards per carry. Dartmouth has the worst rushing offense in the Ivy League. Yale has the third-best run defense.
After last weekend’s game, Andrew Sullivan ’05 is as close to a BMOC as one can get at Yale.
Yale and Dartmouth are fairly even in all aspects of special teams from kickoffs, punting and kick returns to field goals and PATs. The only exception is that Chandler Henley ’06 is a far better punt-return man than his Dartmouth counterpart.
Yale 30, Dartmouth 13