Although he is on the sidelines all game long, football head coach Jack Siedlecki needs to watch the game film to evaluate his team’s performance fully. And after watching the film from last weekend’s season opener versus Cornell, Siedlecki liked what he saw.
“I don’t want to exaggerate what we did, but we played extremely well,” the fifth-year Yale head coach said.
Coming off the impressive 40-13 rout of the Big Red, a satisfied Siedlecki will lead his Bulldogs (1-0) into Worcester, Mass., for a non-league contest against Holy Cross (2-0) at 12 p.m. Saturday (WYBC-AM 1340, WELI-AM 960). The Bulldogs will be looking to open the year 2-0 for the first time since 1994.
“We had a lot of guys step up and make big plays,” Siedlecki said. “I think we solidified the fact that we are a very good football team.”
Perhaps the only downsides of the Cornell game were the leg injuries suffered by Jay Schulze ’03 and Pat Bydume ’04, the Bulldogs’ top two running backs. Siedlecki described Schulze’s injury as a severe bruise, while Bydume has a more serious ankle sprain. He does not expect either to play this weekend.
Siedlecki said Robert Carr ’05, coming off a breakout game against Cornell in his college debut, will start at running back.
“All through training camp, he handled everything well,” Siedlecki said of the freshman tailback. “He wasn’t one of the ones [freshmen] who were overwhelmed by it all.”
With Schulze and Bydume out of the lineup, Carr was thrust into action against Cornell. While the 5-foot-7-inch, 185-pound Texan made some freshman mistakes in the game, including a fumble deep in Yale territory, he showed substantial promise. Carr carried the ball 16 times for 82 yards and a touchdown in the Eli victory.
But that was against a porous Cornell defense. The Holy Cross front line should offer a more formidable challenge. Siedlecki said that, much like his own team, Holy Cross brings a very talented defensive squad.
In two games, the Crusaders have given up only 16 points while allowing only 52 rushing yards per game and coming up with 22 tackles for a loss.
Carr and his backfield companions will seek to establish the Eli ground game to free up the passing attack and help the Yale defense by controlling time of possession.
Holy Cross has recorded eight sacks this year, but if the Crusaders stack eight or nine men near the line of scrimmage to stuff the run, the Elis should have success passing the football. Cornell blitzed Yale frequently, sacking quarterback Peter Lee ’02 four times. But this gave Lee the opportunity to pick apart the Big Red secondary, which could not contain Yale’s speedy receivers in man-to-man coverage.
“I don’t think anyone in this league can stay with our receivers in man coverage,” Lee said after the Cornell performance.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive back Ryan LoProto ’02 said the Bulldogs must be wary of Holy Cross’s playmaking ability.
“They have three or four guys who have the ability to take a 5-yard play, break tackles, and go all the way,” LoProto said.
LoProto learned that lesson last year, when Yale, cruising to an easy victory over Holy Cross with a 26-7 halftime lead, fell victim to a number of big plays. The Crusaders staged a furious second-half comeback but fell short, losing to the Elis 33-27.
The loss was the eighth straight for Holy Cross against Yale, a streak dating back to 1982. The Bulldogs have dominated the overall series, winning 22 of their 25 meetings.