1. Two-headed QB
Yale came into the season needing to decide between an untested senior and a strong-armed sophomore to take over for graduated quarterback Matt Polhemus ’08. The decision was so tough that head coach Jack Siedlecki went with both of them. The quarterbacks did not disappoint. In the 47-7 laugher against Georgetown, Ryan Fodor ’09 and Brook Hart ’11 combined for 359 yards and four touchdowns. We’ll find out if the two-headed monster is sustainable this week as the Elis take on a much tougher Big Red defense.
2. Mike McLeod ’09
Lost in the blowout against the Hoyas was the underwhelming performance of reigning Ivy League MVP Mike McLeod ’09. Georgetown limited the Bulldogs’ star tailback to just 78 yards on 22 carries. That gives him just 128 yards on 42 carries in his last two games. Although Fodor and Hart look promising, the Elis can go ahead and kiss their title hopes goodbye if McLeod isn’t able to find the comfort level he seemed to achieve throughout much of last season. He won’t have it easy against Cornell, either — the Big Red only gave up 46 rushing yards to Bucknell last week.
3. The trenches
Heading into the season, the Bulldogs’ biggest concern after the quarterback position was the defensive line. Defensive tackle Joe Hathaway ’09 answered any lingering questions the Elis may have had. The senior ended the game with three sacks, three tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a forced fumble. Although the stats may look gaudy, they actually don’t do Hathaway justice — he was in the Hoya backfield on nearly every play.
4. Limiting the mistakes
Yale’s 28-14 victory over Georgetown in Washington to kick off the 2007 season was a less-than-inspiring start to what turned out to be an impressive Eli campaign. No such slow start this year. If there were any questions about shaking off the rust, the Bulldogs answered them against Georgetown this time around. Yale did not commit a single turnover despite running over 73 plays. The Bulldogs will need to keep their hands on the ball against an opportunistic Cornell defense that forced four fumbles in their last game.
5. Special teams play
The most overlooked part of the game often turns out to be the most important. Cornell needed a blocked extra point to eke out a 21-20 win against Bucknell. The Elis’ special teams will be riding on the leg of junior Tom Mante ’10, who will handle both kicking and punting duties. Although Mante’s versatility allows Siedlecki flexibility with an extra roster spot, it means that the Bulldogs’ eggs are all in one basket. If Mante goes down, it’s time to hit the panic button.