With the 128th meeting of Yale and Harvard on the gridiron less than a week away, the News will be bringing you exclusive, one-on-one interviews with the player who will shape the course of the Game. First up: running back Deon Randall ’14.
After the Bulldogs claimed 33-24 victory over the Princeton Tigers on Saturday, the News sat down with running Randall to get his thoughts on football, the season and The Game.
Q: With touchdowns number two and three on the season yesterday against Princeton, what was it like to get in the endzone?
A: It was an exciting experience. In high school I scored a lot, but when I got to college I didn’t score, so I’ve been longing to score touchdowns. I scored one against Lehigh, so I thought they’d keep coming, but after that, I hit a dull point in the season. I knew that I was going to be able to get the start this week, knowing that Chris Smith ’13 wasn’t going to play, so I wanted to take advantage of my opportunity.
Q: Are you still running plays out of the wildcat?
A: I am. We change it up game-by-game, depending on the weak points in the defense we’re playing. I’ve been playing slot receiver and running back. I think the more versatile I am the more opportunities I’ll get to score.
Q: Coming to the last game of the season, how do you think the team has improved over the course of the year?
A: I think we’re more mature. We’ve had some setbacks, but we all understand the common goal and what’s at stake right now. We’re playing for pride, and we want to beat Harvard, just like everyone else wants to see us beat Harvard.
Q: What’s the transition been like from the high school game to the college game?
A: I stayed out here this summer, so the biggest thing for me was to keep getting bigger, faster and stronger. I spent some time breaking down film this summer to be more prepared for games. Coming into your freshman year, you just don’t know what to expect or how to play at that collegiate level. The time that college players improve most is from their freshman to sophomore year, so I’m trying to take advantage of that.
Q: On ESPN’s SportsCenter, Yale quarterback Patrick Witt ’12 said one of the biggest differences between Nebraska and Yale is that you don’t always have lots of screaming fans. You’ll definitely have a big crowd for Saturday’s game. Are you excited for it?
A: It means a lot. I think the fans have done a great job of coming out this year. We had much bigger crowds than we expected at the beginning of year. For this game it’s usually pretty packed, and it’s such a neat experience because that’s what college football is all about: playing in front of fans.
Q: Will your family be coming out for the game?
A: Yes, they will.
Q: What does the Harvard rivalry mean for you?
A: Last year, Harvard’s starting running back and I went to the same high school, and we ran the wildcat together. So last year it was more of a competition, but its always a personal rivalry because these are the same guys that recruited us. You always want to do well against people who recruited you, so you can show them you went to the right school. The fact that this is a big rivalry will only help us play better.
Q: Most Yale kids will say that as long as we beat Harvard nothing else matters. How do you guys feel about that?
A: In 2008, the team went 9-0 and were 11th in the country, but they lost to Harvard and everyone thought they had a bad season. Our perspective is that if we can get this one, a lot of people in New Haven and Yale alumni will be satisfied.
Q: After this season, what kinds of things are you looking to build on?
A: Since I started this year, I’m hoping to take even more of a leadership role next year going into my junior year. I think a lot of our younger guys taking on leadership roles will help our team for the years to come.
Q: How does a typical game week look for you guys?
A: Sunday we usually watch our game and install some of the special teams for the week to come. We’ll break down film on the offensive and defensive side, and we’ll review that to find our opponent’s weaknesses. On Monday we’ll install plays, and we’ll keep running them for the rest of the week.