Tomorrow, the Bulldogs will host the Brown Bears for their 118th matchup on the gridiron. Both teams are riding on the momentum of record-breaking individual performances as well as lopsided scores. Running, defense and composure will all be essential for Yale to escape Week Eight with a victory.
A Tale of Tailbacks
Last weekend at the Yale Bowl, tailback Kahlil Keys ’15 broke a 57-year-old modern-day school record when he ran 94 yards for a touchdown. On the same day, Brown tailback and Ivy League Co-offensive player of the week John Spooney ran for a 93-yard touchdown, the then third-longest run in school. Then he ran for a 94-yard touchdown from scrimmage — the second longest run in Brown history. It is no surprise the Bulldogs will run the ball. Of the 2492 total offensive yards the Elis have gained this season, they have run for 1583 of them. It also comes as no surprise that Spooney will run the ball for the Bears. In last week’s 27–0 shutout of the Penn Quakers, Spooney ran for 232 of Brown’s 291 total rushing yards. Saturday’s matchup in New Haven will be a game of speed, and the team with the quicker feet will outrun their opponent on the scoreboard.
Shut them down fast
The Bears strike early. Brown has scored 70 percent of its points in the first half of their previous seven contests, according to head coach Tony Reno. In last week’s victory over Penn, Spooney’s first 90-plus yard run was on the opening play from scrimmage. The Bears start 11 seniors on offense, according to Reno, and have come to understand through experience the importance of a quick start. For the Bulldogs, every game they have won, they have scored first. The Bulldogs have lost every single game in which their opponent has scored first. Shutting down the Brown rushing attack early will help to carry the momentum in the opposite direction and will be crucial to the pace of the game tomorrow afternoon.
Kill the penalties
In seven games this season, the Bulldogs have taken a total of 41 penalties. By contrast, the Bears have accumulated 55 infractions. The extra five-yard penalty that forces a punt can make all the difference when both teams are inching their way up the field yard-by-yard. Both programs have similar red zone percentages; 86 percent for the Elis and 87 for the Bears. With similar success rates, taking a penalty in the red zone could be the difference between a field goal and a touchdown. In tomorrow’s matchup, every yard earned on the ground will count and the fewer penalties the Bulldogs take, the faster they can progress up the field.