1. Find an offense
The Yale defense is doing all it can to keep the Bulldogs in the game. The Eli defenders scored yet another touchdown in last weekend’s matchup against Fordham, the fourth defensive score this year. The Bulldogs also forced four turnovers, two interceptions and two fumbles. Despite having the game gift-wrapped to them by Bobby Abare ’09 and company, Mike McLeod ’09 and the Yale offense had another pathetic performance against Fordham. The Bulldogs converted only one of nine third downs, and were outgained 435-182 in total yards. With that kind of offensive ineptitude, even the ’85 Bears would be helpless.
2. Trust in Fodor
From the way the Yale offense has looked, one would never guess that the Bulldogs actually lead the Ivy League in passing efficiency. Ryan Fodor ’09 trails only Harvard quarterback Chris Pizzotti in efficiency, boasting an incredible 140.3 rating. With the rushing game stalled in neutral, you have to wonder why head coach Jack Siedlecki is so reluctant to turn the offense over to Fodor. The senior quarterback was the lone offensive bright spot against Fordham, finishing the game 10 for 16 for 120 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Although the Bulldogs have a former Ivy League MVP in the backfield, they won’t win many games unless they realize that driving an efficient Prius is much better than trying to sputter around in a broken Porsche.
3. Let McLeod rest
It’s become a recurring theme in Yale football — McLeod gets tackled, walks gingerly to the bench, talks to a trainer for a bit and comes back into the game. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that he’s not completely healed. Giving him 20+ carries every game doesn’t help, either. Even though McLeod may be the most talented — and toughest — Bulldog player of his generation, he’s not doing himself or his team any good by staying on the field. For the sake of both this season and the team’s future, Siedlecki needs to start giving his younger running backs more opportunities.
4. Limit the mistakes
Despite the Bulldogs’ abysmal showing against Fordham, the offense at least managed to hold onto the ball. The only turnover came in the second quarter, and the Rams failed to capitalize on it. With the offense already struggling, the Bulldogs can’t afford any miscues this weekend against an opportunistic Penn defense. In fact, all of the Quakers’ points in the team’s 15-10 win over Columbia were courtesy of the defense. Penn scored two field goals and a touchdown off of two fumbles and an interception, and then recorded a safety to seal the victory. The Quakers lead the Ivies in both points allowed and total defense.
5. Step up on third down
The Achilles’ heel of the Bulldog defense has been the third down. Despite ranking near the top in nearly every defensive statistical category, the Elis are in the bottom half when it comes to third down defense. Last week, the Bulldogs allowed Fordham to convert 12 of their 20 third downs, a key reason why the Rams held the ball for nearly 17 minutes longer than the Elis. If the Bulldogs let every team run over 90 plays like Fordham did, it’s not going to be too long before the vaunted Yale defense starts breaking down.