FOOTBALL: Furman ripe for the job

When back in the pocket, it helps a quarterback to know exactly what his receivers are thinking. After spending most of his junior season at wide receiver, quarterback Hank Furman ’14 has the extra experience it takes to lead the Bulldogs down the field every drive.

Two games into the season, Furman has run in four touchdowns and completed 75.5-percent of his passes for 482 yards and three touchdowns. Furman had one start at quarterback last season against Princeton, where he went 18-for-28, but his ability as a quarterback blossomed in a late comeback against Harvard. Furman completed 13 of 20 passes in The Game, including a 46-yard bomb to wide receiver Cameron Sandquist ’14 that led to a touchdown. Sandquist spent hours with Furman and ran many of the same plays as him when they were both part of the receiving corps.

“Him experiencing [being a receiver] and then switching back to quarterback makes it that much easier to communicate,” Sandquist said. “He understands how to move the ball better and he’s able to translate things from his quarterback knowledge into a way that receivers understand.”

Teammates are excited to see Furman back under center for the Bulldogs, especially wide receiver Deon Randall ’15. Randall tied a Yale receiving touchdown record last weekend with three receptions against Cornell; all three passes came from Furman.

“It’s great to see Hank back at the position he was recruited at,” Randall said. “He’s really worked hard to be the quarterback he is and he’s doing a tremendous job.”

By the numbers, the Bulldogs have a balanced attack, with 563 total passing yards and 540 rushing yards on the season through just two games. The Yale offense has been successful on the ground and through the air because of its ability to control the tempo of play with the no-huddle offense. Furman said he likes the versatility of the Eli’s attack and that he does not have a preference between running and passing the ball.

“Our most basic offensive play has three options: handoff to Tyler Varga ’15, quick pass to Deon Randall or a quarterback keep,” Furman said. “The defense can’t possibly guard against all three. If there’s an opportunity to pass downfield, Chris Smith ’14, Cameron Sandquist, Keith Coty ’14 and Grant Wallace ’15 do a great job of finding open windows.”

When there are so many options on a given play, it takes an intelligent, versatile and composed quarterback to make the right decision. Receivers need to trust their quarterback and have confidence in their decision-making. Randall noted these characteristics, as what he thinks are the most important traits of a quarterback.

“What is important to me in a quarterback is how he responds when something bad happens,” Randall said. “I think it’s important for a quarterback to be a tremendous leader who stays positive, but also keeps his cool when the game isn’t going as planned. It’s football, things happen.”

Sandquist identified Furman as a natural born leader who knows how to make good decisions as the head of the offense. He added that Furman plays well under pressure and understands the team dynamic.According to Sandquist, chemistry is something that takes work to develop. He and Furman believe the Bulldogs’ chemistry levels are at an all-time high.

“This season has been extremely different than my first three years at Yale,” Furman said. “There’s a continuity, a brotherhood that’s been missing in years past. I’ve never had so much fun on the football field.”

Between a pace-setting offense, a quarterback homecoming and a team that is tighter than ever before, the Bulldogs put themselves in a position to achieve their season goals as a cohesive unit.

Several of the Bulldogs said that while the team has long-term goals, the team’s focus is always on the short term. This week, the attention of the 2013 Bulldog football program is centered on their first-ever contest against Cal Poly on the west coast on Saturday.

“They’ve never played an Ivy League team and apparently the game is sold out,” Furman said. “Ivy football is often called slow and boring; we can’t wait to prove them wrong.”

Furman is a Portland, Ore. native and is an English major in Trumbull College.

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