Saturday’s scrimmage against Division III Union College at the Yale Bowl went as many would expect. The Bulldogs unofficially beat their opponents, 36-14, as coaches got to see the team compete against another squad two weeks before the Elis’ Sept. 19 opener.
But the big question everyone is asking still has no answer.
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For the second consecutive season, Yale is closing in on its season opener against Georgetown with a close competition for the starting quarterback spot. Last year, it was southpaw Brook Hart ’11 and Ryan Fodor ’09 battling to start. This season, Hart, who last year started five of Yale’s 10 games, has some new competition: Nebraska transfer Patrick Witt ’12.
After the Bulldogs’ scrimmage last Saturday, the coaching staff posted the team’s first official depth chart. But that does not mean a quarterback was named the starter — Hart and Witt were listed as “1a.” and “1b.,” respectively.
It was Witt who got the start Saturday — and he delivered. The former Cornhusker completed eight passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns — a 54-yard screen pass to tailback Alex Thomas ’12 and a 16-yard score to wide receiver Peter Balsam ’11. Witt was under center for three of Yale’s scoring drives and got plenty of help from his backfield.
Jordan Farrell ’10, who is listed as the team’s starting tailback after missing the entire 2008 campaign due to a shoulder injury, had five rushes for 71 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown on the team’s first offensive play.
Hart got into the action after Witt and went four of nine for 59 yards.
After the contest, first-year head coach Tom Williams was noncommittal about the position.
“We had a depth chart coming into today,” Williams told reporters after the game. “Now we re-evaluate it and see where we are. Patrick did a nice job managing the team and moving the ball. Brook did a good job, too. I like the competition at that spot.”
Freshmen Thomas and Mordecai Cargill, who are listed second and third at tailback on the depth chart, each contributed. Along with his 54-yard touchdown reception, Thomas scored on the ground from two yards out. Cargill, who may be one of the few freshmen to see playing time for the Elis this season, had eight carries.
Gio Christodoulou ’11 started with Jordan Forney ’11 at wide receiver and had a 14-yard reception to go with a 51-yard punt return. He, like most starters, was only on the field for a couple of series.
“It was just good to get out there and play against another team for a change,” Christodoulou said. “I thought we played well, and we’re going in the right direction.”
Defensively, the Elis had no trouble with the Dutchmen. The Elis, who finished last season as Football Championship Subdivision’s top-scoring defense, intercepted three Union passes. Safety Larry Abare ’10 got it started with an interception that he returned 19 yards to set up Farrell’s touchdown scamper. Cornerbacks Drew Baldwin ’12 and John Pagliaro ’11 each intercepted passes before halftime as well.
If there was anything the Bulldogs didn’t do well, it was avoiding penalties. But Williams isn’t reading into that too much.
“It’s not uncommon to see a lot of penalties in a preseason scrimmage,” Williams said. “And many of ours were effort penalties, which are better than mental mistakes.”
The next competition for the Bulldogs will the real deal — their opener at Georgetown. The Hoyas opened their season Saturday with a 20-7 loss against No. 25 Holy Cross.