1. The quarterback.
The Elis will have a new man behind center this season after the departure of Matt Polhemus ’08. Although Polhemus finished the season ranked eighth in the Ivies in total rushing yards, he was far from a dual threat. The Bulldogs finished dead last in passing offense, averaging nearly 70 yards per game less than seventh-place Pennsylvania. Although neither Ryan Fodor ’09 nor Brook Hart ’11 — the two quarterback candidates — will be expected to carry the offense, they will need to do a better job of keeping defenses honest and taking the pressure off Mike McLeod ’09.
2. The defensive line.
The Bulldogs graduated all four of their starting defensive linemen, including All-Ivy First Team Brandt Hollander ’08. In last year’s season opener against Georgetown, the line came up big with two goal line stands that ended up providing the margin of victory in Yale’s 28-14 win. If the Bulldog front four cannot stop the Hoyas’ pitiful rushing attack, which has averaged just 2.5 yards per carry, the Elis will be in for a long season.
3. The new Brady.
Although he’s no Tom Brady, Georgetown freshman quarterback James Brady already has an honor of his own after his second game: Patriot League Rookie of the Week. Brady was one of the few bright spots in Georgetown’s 24-6 loss to Lafayette as he managed to string together a nine-play, 92-yard drive for the Hoyas’ only score of the night. He is the second half of a two-headed Georgetown passing attack that also features Hillhouse High School graduate Keerome Lawrence. Lawrence and Brady will need to minimize their mistakes against an aggressive Yale defense that finished first in the Ivies with 29 turnovers last year if the Hoyas want to pull off the upset.
4. Shaking off the rust.
Georgetown has the benefit of having played two conference games before heading to New Haven to take on the Elis. In comparison, the Bulldogs’ only live action this season was a scrimmage against Princeton several weeks ago. Last year, the heavily favored Elis came out shaky against a weak Georgetown team and needed two goal line stands to preserve a 28-14 victory. The Bulldogs will need to get rid of the rust in a hurry if they want to avoid another close contest.
5. The toe.
After completely rewriting Yale’s record books with a monstrous 2007 season, McLeod will again bear the burden of the team’s championship hopes. The 2007 Ivy League MVP was the main reason the Elis entered last season’s edition of The Game with a chance to go undefeated for the first time since 1960. Unfortunately, McLeod’s broken toe ruined Yale’s quest for perfection. With their workhorse averaging only 2.0 yards per carry, the Eli offense grinded to a halt as Harvard rolled to a 37-6 blowout victory. Look for Coach Siedlecki to be a little more cautious with McLeod this year and to rely a little more on the explosive Ricky Galvez ’10.