FOOTBALL: Keys to the game vs. Fordham

FORCE AND STOP THE RUN

Tomorrow at noon, the Bulldogs (3–1, 1–1 Ivy) will face the No. 8 Fordham Rams (7–0, 2–0 Patriot), a team that averages 40.6 points per game. For the Elis to stop the potent Fordham offense, they must force the run. The Rams’ hyper-productive attack is led by junior quarterback Michael Neibrich, who boasts a 74 percent completion rate — the best in the FCS. Neibrich, who is on the watch list for the Peyton award, has passed for a total of 62 percent of the Rams’ 3,487 total offensive yards this season. But the Eli defense is more than capable of shutting down a productive passing offense. Against Cornell, the Bulldogs forced quarterback Jeff Mathews, 2011 Ivy League Player of the year, to scramble frequently, and the team effectively contained the Cornell passing offense. In addition, Yale’s run-stuffing linebackers have held opponents to an average of 18.8 points per game, just under half of what Fordham has accumulated on the scoreboard each week on average.

SET UP VARGA

Yale’s offense has disheartened its opponents this season — when the Bulldogs start to score, their opponents have shut down. While the Yale offense scored first against Cal Poly in their first-ever West Coast contest, the Bulldogs were shutout in the second quarter before opening the floodgates in the third and fourth quarters with three unanswered scores to take the game. At the helm of Yale’s driving offense is tailback Tyler Varga ’15, who averaged 2.8 possessions per drive against Colgate in the first game of the season and had two drives with 6 possessions in the first quarter to start the game. Varga also powered through the Colgate defense at the end of the game with two drives with four possessions, a drive with six possessions and a drive with two possessions. By keeping the ball on the ground and grinding down the Fordham defense, Yale will be able to progress up the field.

DO THE LITTLE THINGS

Playing a ranked team is always difficult, but Yale has done it this season and won, traveling on the road to take down Cal Poly two weeks ago. One of the most important aspects in beating a talented team is ensuring that both the defense and offense play as cohesive units and mistakes are avoided. The Bulldogs will, as head coach Tony Reno would say, need to control the controllables, and focus on details such as not turning over the ball. The difference between good teams and great teams is that good teams will let mistakes slip past and great teams will make you pay for them. The small benefits of holding on to the football just a little bit tighter and taking the extra step to make the tackle will accumulate over the game on Saturday. Between Yale and Fordham, the team that does the fundamentals best will come out on top tomorrow.

Comments