Keys to the game: Yale vs. Brown

BE TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN

Third down situations often result in huge momentum swings, so converting on third downs is essential to winning any game.

But against Brown, moving the chains on third down is going to prove particularly difficult. The Bears have the best third down defense in the league, only conceding first down in 27.6 percent of these situations. That is over eight percentage points better than the Bulldogs’ current 35.9 percent mark.

Making matters more complicated is the fact that the Bears dominate third down on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Bears are second in the conference, converting third downs at a 40.4 percent rate. The Bears took advantage of their third down prowess last week by holding Penn to a 13 percent conversion rate on third downs en route to a shutout of the Quakers.

KEEP THE QB GUESSING

Brown’s quarterback, senior Kyle Newhall-Caballero, has been the most efficient and consistent passer in the Ivy League this year. He has completed almost 60 percent of his passes for 1618 yards, marks that are second in the conference for quarterbacks with at least 150 attempts on the season. Even more impressive is his 11:3 touchdown to interception ratio, the best in the league by far.

According to Yale’s head football coach Tom Williams, Brown finds success through the air by bringing in a lot of different packages and showing the defense many different looks offensively. Yale should counter by doing the same. Judging by Newhall-Caballero’s low interception rate and the league-best seven sacks allowed by Brown, opponents have not succeeded in making the Bears’ quarterback uncomfortable. Mixing up defensive packages and keeping blitzes unpredictable might make Newhall-Caballero more vulnerable than he has been all season, leading to turnovers and success for the Bulldogs.

HEALTH

Despite injuries to a few key players, the Bulldogs were able to hold off the Lions last weekend in New York City thanks in large part to a Herculean effort from running back Mordecai Cargill ’13.

This weekend, the Bulldogs should come out stronger with the expected returns of running back Alex Thomas ’12, offensive tackle Roy Collins ’13 and wide receiver Chris Smith ’13. Thomas leads the team with almost 600 yards of rushing while Smith leads the team in reception yards, with 557. In addition, Smith is the only player on the team with more than one touchdown reception: Through the team’s first six games, he has tallied six.

Recent trends do not portend well for the Bulldogs. Brown has won seven of the last 12 meetings between the two teams and the visiting team has won 12 of the last 15. But victory is the only choice for the Elis this week if they are to remain in Ivy League contention.

The action, which will be televised on the YES Network, kicks off at 12:00 noon on Saturday.

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