SCORE FIRST, SCORE FAST
Yale should try to prevent Columbia from scoring in the first quarter. The Lions have not scored in the second half in three out of their last four losses, which suggests they are not a great comeback team. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs cannot afford to start slowly like they have in previous games this season. In last week’s game against the Quakers, the Bulldogs had a slow start, giving up a field goal and a touchdown in just two minutes. This momentary first-quarter mental lapse determined their defeat. Even when the Bulldogs trounced Dartmouth 38–7, Yale did not score until three minutes into the second quarter. If the Yale offense comes out strong on Saturday and the defense keeps doing its job, Yale should not have trouble defeating Columbia yet again.
IMPROVE THE RUNNING GAME
Yale matches up well with Columbia — although Columbia’s offense averages more than 21 points per game, Yale’s defense is No. 1 in the FCS for scoring and No. 5 in the nation for yards allowed per game. Yale’s powerful defense should be able to control the relatively strong Columbia offense. Additionally, the Bulldog offense, which has been faltering in the past two games, has the chance on Saturday to play against a weak defense — one that gives up more than 21 points per game. This weakness was evident in Columbia’s 28–6 loss to Dartmouth last week when Big Green running back Nick Schwieger set a Dartmouth single-game rushing record with 242 yards. Yale should take advantage of this porous rush defense and finally step up its running game. This will translate into more Bulldog possession time and will force the Lions to respect Yale’s passing game.
Yale has not allowed an offensive touchdown since its win over Dartmouth three games ago. A 15-yard interception touchdown return was the Quakers’ only touchdown last week and the Elis shut out Lehigh the week before. With such a formidable and consistent defense, it is unfortunate that one offensive turnover resulted in a loss — but if the Yale offense is not producing, one turnover could decide tomorrow’s game. Yale must protect the football on offense, especially when it is in its own end. Yale should also look to force turnovers from quarterback Millicent Olawale. He isn’t afraid to carry the ball, evidenced by his 94 rushing yards in last weeks loss to Dartmouth, but went 10-32 passing with two interceptions. If the Bulldog defense can force any turnovers, this would translate into offensive success.
Yale beat Columbia 27–12 at the Yale Bowl last year with running back Mike McLeod ’09 scoring on three goal-line rushes. Although Columbia gained more total offensive yards, the Bulldog defense held strong. In addition to some key sacks by defensive tackle Kyle Hawari ’09 and linebacker Bobby Abare ’09, the Yale defense recovered two fumbles and picked off a pass, giving Yale the edge in the match.