Football Preview | Keys to the game

1. Win the battle in the trenches

The Dartmouth defensive line weighs an average of 241 pounds. That’s 45 pounds less than the average Yale offensive lineman. Although Mike McLeod ’09 had his first 100-yard day in the past four games against Holy Cross, he only averaged 3.35 yards per carry. That may be enough for a double-overtime win against the Crusaders, but it’s not going to cut it in the Ivy League. If the Bulldog offensive line can’t open up holes against an undersized Big Green front seven, forget taking on Princeton and Harvard.

2. Play all 60 minutes

Against Cornell, the defense struggled early in the game before shutting down the Big Red offense. In last week’s game, the Elis held Holy Cross to just seven points on their first 11 drives while also forcing four turnovers. Unfortunately, the Bulldog defense let Holy Cross back into the game with two late touchdown drives of 91 and 90 yards, turning an easy 21-7 victory into a 31-28 double overtime squeaker. Consistency is what separates championship teams from also-rans.

3. Shut down the pass

Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph completed 41 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns against the Elis. Randolph’s numbers may seem great, but Yale quarterback Ryan Fodor ’09 actually finished with more yards per attempt (6.2 to 5.98) than the Crusaders’ Walter Payton award candidate. With Dartmouth’s rushing attack averaging just 61 yards per game on 2.2 yards per carry, the Bulldogs should have no trouble shutting down the Big Green offense if they can contain quarterback Alex Jenny.

4. Give the starters a breather

The Elis can’t afford to be running McLeod 39 times a game like they did against Holy Cross. Last year, his heavy workload resulted in a broken toe and diminished effectiveness as the season wore on, costing the Bulldogs a chance at a perfect season. Yale got a glimpse of the consequences of pushing their workhorse too hard when the Ivy MVP came limping to the bench late in the fourth quarter.

5. Win the turnover battle

After committing four turnovers against Cornell, the Eli offense played mistake-free football against Holy Cross. The offense did not turn the ball over a single time while the defense forced three interceptions and recovered a fumble. If the Bulldogs don’t beat themselves with costly turnovers, they should have no trouble leaving Hanover with their sixth straight victory against the Big Green.

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