FOOTBALL: Bulldogs prep for season opener

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Photo by Brianne Bowen.

With September just around the corner, the Yale football team has begun preparing for its season opener against Lehigh September 20.

Perhaps the most interesting question facing the Bulldogs is the identity of their next signal-caller. Hank Furman ’14 started eight of the team’s 10 games last season, only missing games against Penn and Princeton due to injury. He led the team with 1466 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns against just four interceptions.

In his absence, the Elis will likely turn to one of two players: Logan Scott ’16, who helped orchestrate Yale’s game-winning drive to beat Brown last season, and Morgan Roberts ’16, a transfer from Clemson who finished second on the team in passing yards and started against Penn. Eric Williams ’16, who served as the starter for much of his freshman campaign, has been moved to wide receiver.

“Roberts and Scott have really stepped to the forefront of [the quarterback depth chart],” head coach Tony Reno said. “Morgan is in the number one spot. He’s done a good job and grown as a quarterback from the end of last season. He’s really understanding the offense and grasping the schemes better … I think the [quarterback] battle will continue.”

Reno also noted that Roberts has benefitted from spending a full year with the schemes and underpinnings of the Yale playbook. Several players, citing team policy, declined to comment about the quarterback battle.

But no matter who lines up under center, one constant remains in the Yale backfield: captain Deon Randall ’15. The unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection in 2013 was the team’s most dynamic option last season, catching 85 passes for 788 yards and eight touchdowns, all of which led the team. He also ran for 176 yards and three scores, including the game-winning 32-yard scamper against Brown last season.

“Deon has the ability to be a tailback and to be a slot receiver,” Reno said. “He gives us the ability to plug him into a lot of different roles and hopefully give some interesting problems to defenses.”

Randall added that he believes his role in the offense this year will be similar to what it was last year, both playing in the backfield and lining up in the slot.

Though Randall played some snaps on the defensive side of the ball last year, Reno said that he hopes not to have to use him there, citing the development of younger members of the secondary.

Indeed, one of the Bulldogs’ youngest areas last season was the defensive backfield. Second-team All-Ivy players Foyesade Oluokun ’17 and Cole Champion ’16 spearheaded the effort, combining for 137 tackles and three interceptions. Fellow underclassmen Spencer Rymiszewski ’17 and Robert Ries ’17 also played big roles.

Of course, with preseason camp comes unabated optimism, and much of this hope can be attributed to the incoming freshman class. One of the most heralded of the 31 total recruits, offensive lineman Jon Bezney ’18, passed up offers from Division-I powers Wisconsin, Louisville and Vanderbilt, among others. With the graduation of linemen John Oppenheimer ’14 and Wes Gavin ’14, Bezney could find himself in the mix from the get-go.

“The freshmen are a very talented class,” Randall said in an email to the News. “They’re all very passionate about football and work hard. I’m really excited to see what they will contribute.”

The first official on-field practice for the Bulldogs was held on Tuesday. Yale was picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League in the Ancient Eight’s annual preseason media poll.

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