Don’t pass on throwing the football
A lot remains shrouded in mystery about Yale football this season, but one fact is as clear as day: The Bulldogs will run the pigskin. The ’Dawgs rolled for 327 yards on the ground on 53 attempts at Colgate last Saturday to win their season opener. It is no secret that Yale will run. Without the Elis brandishing the pass, particularly a deep threat, Cornell will be able to stack the box with defenders and make tailback Tyler Varga ’15 and company earn every bruising yard.
Last week Reno and his staff did a great job alternating their attacks through the ground and the air. Yale quarterbacks dropped back to pass 34 times and completed 20 throws for 210 yards while being sacked just once. Cornell conceded 230 rushing yards to Bucknell in its 45–13 victory, but it took the Bison six more rushing attempts to gain 97 less yards than Yale did against Colgate. Veteran wideouts Cameron Sandquist ’14, Deon Randall ’14 and Chris Smith ’14 should give quarterbacks Hank Furman ’14 and Morgan Roberts ’16 the weapons to spread the Cornell defense and open up running lanes.
Put Mathews on the Ground
Last year, Big Red quarterback Jeff Mathews picked apart Yale’s secondary for 340 yards and four touchdowns when the two teams met on Sept. 22. He was as precise and efficient as a surgeon, finding his mark on 29 of 39 throws for four touchdowns. Giving such a refined signal caller as Mathews time in the pocket to find open receivers is a death knell to opposing defenses. But even a pro-level prospect like Mathews cannot fire strikes across the gridiron when he is sitting on the turf. Last year a lone sack by defensive end Beau Palin ’14 was all that the Elis could do to pressure Mathews. Now the captain, Palin will have to lead the Eli pass rush to greater success in order to disrupt the Big Red offense on Saturday. Palin will be aided by defensive end Dylan Drake ’14, who made the Ivy League Honor Roll last week with six solo tackles, including a sack and three tackles for a loss as Yale triumphed over Colgate.
Six Elis have gone under center for Yale so far in the past two seasons, but one of them has towered above the crowd. Furman stands six feet, four-and-a-half inches tall and boasts a flowing blond mane, but he stands out for more than just his stature. Recruited as a quarterback by former head coach Tom Williams and then converted to a wide receiver under new head coach Tony Reno, Furman returned from the wings to nest in the pocket once again last fall when injuries decimated Yale’s quarterback corps. Since then, Furman has done nothing but impress as the Bulldogs’ signal caller. Starting his first collegiate game as quarterback against Princeton last fall, Furman went 18–28 for 184 yards and a touchdown, yet his performance did not earn him the start at Harvard the next weekend. After more than a half of football in which Yale’s offense looked anemic and scored just three points, Reno again called on Furman to jumpstart the Elis. Furman delivered by passing for 158 yards (13–20) and another score.
Given the start last week at Colgate, Furman did exactly what he has always done: run Yale’s offense better than anyone else for the past two seasons. He passed for 129 yards (11–17) and then showed off his dual-threat ability by rushing for 60 yards and three touchdowns on just four carries. Still, Furman split time with Clemson transfer Roberts for most of the first half before Furman’s day ended with a sprained ankle in the third quarter — Furman told the News in a message that he was kept out of the second half of the Colgate game as a precaution, but that his ankle was feeling much better. Now Roberts is an incredible athlete whose strong arm and quick feet were bottled up behind All-American quarterback Tajh Boyd at Clemson, but until Furman shows that he cannot handle Yale’s offense, he has earned the right to be called Yale’s starting quarterback.