DON’T LET MATHEWS BEAT YOU
Although it is only their first Ivy League game, the Bulldogs will face possibly the most talented player they will see this season in Cornell University’s Jeff Mathews. As last year’s Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, he has shown no signs of a recession this season. Mathews threw for 489 yards and three scores while rushing for another touchdown against Fordham University last weekend. If the Bulldogs want to win in Ithaca tomorrow, they are going to have to disrupt Mathews and keep the Big Red on the ground. Cornell managed just 29 rushing yards last week, so if the Elis can make this weekend a ground game, the duo of running backs Tyler Varga ’16 and Mordecai Cargill ’13 can help Yale steal a win on the road. The key to all of this is taking the ball out of Mathews’ hands. Not only will the pass rush have to get to Mathews before he can pick apart the secondary, but the offense will also have to make sustained, time-consuming drives. Mathews cannot score when he is not on the field, so keeping him on the sidelines will be crucial.
TAKE CHANCES ON OFFENSE
Head coach Tony Reno made several bold play calls last weekend, and they worked out for the Bulldogs. Reno called for a deep pass instead of trying to run and get breathing room from the Yale two-yard line. He was rewarded with the longest play from scrimmage in Yale history when receiver Cameron Sandquist ’14 hauled in the tipped pass from Eric Williams ’16 for a 98-yard score. Earlier in the game he called for a fake punt, and safety John Powers ’13 — the same player who ran the fake punt in the infamous “fourth-and-22” play against Harvard three years ago — dashed for 24 yards. The irony of Powers gaining the yardage that would have vindicated former head Coach Tom Williams in The Game notwithstanding, Reno displayed a knack for taking risks at the right time. That could come in handy against an inexperienced Cornell secondary that is starting two freshmen at corner.
EXECUTE ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Last week Yale won because kicker Philippe Panico ’13 made his field goal while his Hoya counterpart missed both of his attempts. With the exception of giving up a punt return for a touchdown when Kyle Cazzetta ’15 outkicked the coverage, the Elis played well on special teams, but this week they will need to be mistake-free. Giving a quarterback like Mathews a short field to work with does your defense no favors, so the Bulldogs must focus on pinning Cornell deep within its own territory on punts and kickoffs. Last week showed the Elis the difference between scoring a touchdown and settling for a field goal attempt, and they need to take that to heart.