Yale (3-3, 1-2 Ivy) has so many weapons on offense — and yet somehow it has managed to drop into the bottom half of the league in almost every offensive category. As columnist Michael Menitove ’05 deftly pointed out yesterday, Yale’s offense should be good — it hasn’t been — and head coach Jack Siedlecki is the natural target of that criticism.
I don’t understand how the same coach can take essentially the same group of guys from last year’s offense and wind up with a unit that scores just over half as much as last year’s squad and averages 150 yards per game less on offense.
What happened to the play-caller who let Joe Walland ’00 air the ball out for the entire second half of the legendary 1999 Game? Yale was not wed to the run then, even with Rashad Bartholomew ’01 in the backfield.
The stalwarts of that 1999 team have a number of their Yale records in jeopardy. Alvin Cowan ’05 just broke Walland’s career passing touchdowns record, and Rob Carr ’05 has dispatched Bartholomew’s career rushing record. Ralph Plumb ’05 continues to creep up on Eric Johnson ’01, who holds the career receptions mark.
The irony is stifling. At the same time the current group of Eli gridders are breaking the records set by Walland and his Ivy championship teammates, Yale is struggling to break into the top half of the league.
Since injecting new energy into the program in the late 90s, Siedlecki hasn’t had an Ivy League season better than 4-3. That’s over .500, but it’s below expectations at a school that prides itself on a tradition of football excellence.
All I ask is to open up the offense again and bring some different looks — have faith in the talent on this team, because there is plenty of it! Let’s return to the days when Walland set the record for the most passes attempted in an Ivy League game with 67 against Harvard in the game that produced “The Catch.”
A 5-2 record in the Ivy League might not be what the Elis had hoped for — but no one has ever bemoaned a year that ended in victory over Harvard. It could be even sweeter this year because the Cantabs look like the team to beat in the Ancient Eight — and they can be beaten if Yale’s offense starts being a little more daring and a little less predictable.
Columbia (1-5, 1-2) is a team Yale should beat and a good opponent against which to set the offensive tone for the rest of the year — a year that still has an HYP championship at stake.
Complaining about Yale’s offense seems pretty selfish when you think about the poor fans of Columbia. The Lions are close to last in every offensive category and average only 14 points per game.
Rashad Biggers is the main rushing threat. Biggers is pretty good at running inside. He averages 4.1 yards per carry, which is impressive, especially since he’s running behind a subpar offensive line.
While wide receiver Brandon Bowser might lead the team in receptions, 6-foot-7 tight end Wade Fletcher is the best Columbia pass-catcher. Fletcher missed the first two games of the season, but has had over 90 yards receiving in eight of his 14 games with Columbia (he transferred from Northern Colorado).
Captain Michael Quarshie, a defensive tackle, leads the Ancient Eight in tackles for a loss. Despite Quarshie’s presence, Columbia is still very weak on run defense. The Lions allow more yards per game and more yards per carry than any other Ivy team.
Against the pass, the Lions are slightly better, but still weak. No team has fewer sacks, so Cowan should have plenty of time to find his targets.
While the Lions allow the third fewest passing yards per game in the league, that is partly due to the fact that everyone is so happy to run all over them. The statistic of pass defense efficiency attempts to take this into account; Columbia is third from the bottom using this measure.
Sophomore free safety Tad Crawford is tied with Yale safety Barton Simmons ’05 for the fourth most tackles in the Ivy League.
Yale 28, Columbia 14