In the fall, Yale football players spend most Sunday afternoons in front of the television, rooting for those gladiators of the professional gridiron.
This Sunday, they will get a chance to don their own helmets, take the field, and live out a common dream.
The Elis will host Dartmouth Sunday in a game that was rescheduled from Saturday to give the University time to tidy up after Friday night’s tercentennial celebration at the Yale Bowl. It will be the first Sunday contest in Yale’s 129-year football history. Both teams are aware of the logistical implications of the game.
“With all the hoopla surrounding this weekend and the game, we are really going to have to focus hard on beating Dartmouth,” wide receiver Billy Brown ’02 said.
The teams adjusted their practice times for both this week and next. Yale, which normally has Mondays off, did not start its on-field preparation until Wednesday this week.
Brown saw the extra day off as a double-edged sword.
“Mentally, you get a little more time to prepare for the other team,” Brown said. “[But] at the same time, it disrupts your routine.”
The longer week does aid the Bulldogs on the injury front, however. Defensive end Stuart Satullo ’03 is recuperating from a leg injury sustained earlier in the summer, but he has practiced all week, and Siedlecki said he may get some playing time Sunday. Siedlecki hopes the same is true of his tailbacks, Pat Bydume ’04 and Jay Schulze ’03, both of whom were injured in the opener against Cornell and missed last week’s game against Holy Cross.
“The extra time off will really help them,” Siedlecki said.
Dartmouth did not cancel Tuesday’s practice but instead took the field for a light workout.
“We wanted to simulate a normal week as close as possible,” Dartmouth head coach John Lyons said.
Next week will present more of a challenge for both teams. Yale usually view film on Sunday, and NCAA regulations stipulate having at least one day off per week, so Siedlecki and staff will be working overtime to juggle the Bulldogs’ schedule and prepare them for Fordham.
“There is no question that this game would not be played on Sunday if we both weren’t facing non-league opponents the following week,” Siedlecki said. “Dartmouth never would have agreed to it.”
Lyons — whose team travels to Holy Cross next Saturday — concurred with Siedlecki about the difficulties of a short week.
But as far as the players are concerned, Sunday is just another game.
“[Playing on Sunday] does not matter at all,” linebacker Tate Rich ’04 said. “We are just focusing on Dartmouth.”