After losing defensive stars Larry Abare ’10, Tim Handlon ’10 and Paul Rice ’10 this past spring, the Bulldogs are hoping defensive back Adam Money ’11 can help to keep Yale among the Ivy League’s toughest defenses.
Money had a breakout season last year as a cornerback, leading the team in interceptions and forced fumbles with three apiece, including a forced fumble that helped the Elis to pull off an improbable fourth-quarter comeback at Columbia. Having switched to safety for his senior season, Money talked with the News about the Yale defense’s new leaders and the importance of winning the turnover battle.
Q The defense lost a lot of its leaders last year to graduation. What has it been like without them, and who has been stepping up in their place?
A The way it goes in football is that guys graduate and guys have to step up. As far as our defensive line, we obviously have Tom McCarthy ’11, who is our captain. There’s sort of a leader at every position. [Defensive lineman] Joe Young ’11 takes up a leadership role with Tom, [linebacker] Jordan Haynes ’12 will be the starting middle back for us this year, and then I’m the veteran guy in the secondary. We each play a small role and make sure that everyone is on the same page working towards a common goal.
Q Could you talk about the strategic changes the defense has undergone this year?
A We’ve switched to a 4–3 this year instead of the 3–4 we were in last year. I think the coaches realize that our strength in terms of personnel really play into having four guys up front, who are going to become the most dominant in the Ivy League this year. Utilizing a 4–3 will make their job easier and gives them a chance to make more plays.
Q What is it about the way you play that makes you so good at forcing fumbles?
A I spent three years in high school as a starting quarterback, touching the ball every play. Playing defense here, you miss the ball after awhile, so I think it’s just me having an offensive mind on the defensive side of the ball.
Q By all accounts, the offense expects to be better this year. Do you think this puts less pressure on you guys as a defense?
A At the end of the day we’re a team. The better the offense is, the better we are. I don’t think [the offense’s] performance affects the pressure we put on ourselves to be a dominant defense.
Q Has the team started to get over the Harvard loss [at The Game], or can that only be done with a victory this year?
A In my three years here I’m, 0–3, so no, there’s not a whole lot that can make that pain go away other than a “W” this year. You just have to hope that everyone stays healthy and that we’re peaking at the right time — the end of the year is when we hit the bulk of the Ivy League schedule.
Q It’s the team’s second year with head coach Tom Williams. What’s the biggest difference from where the team was at this point last year?
A It’s just a familiarity with everything. Everybody knows everyone and their roles. It’s tough for everything to go smoothly at first when an entire new coaching staff comes in and they switch the entire system. Not only do you have to learn the schemes, but you have to understand your role in the defense, and not only where you are supposed to go, but where they want you to line up and what your job is. The second year everybody understands their role within the defense rather than just knowing, “Okay, on this play I have the flats or I have the deep-third.”
Q What is the most important thing the team has to improve on from last season if this year is going to be a success?
A On both sides of the ball we need to improve on turnovers. Speaking as a member of the secondary, we were one of the bottom of the league in interceptions. We need more turnovers out of our group, and the offense has to not turn the ball over. Coach Williams has five keys to victory and the first one is to win the turnover battle. If we can do that, then our team is going to do just fine.