With the status of starting quarterback Peter Lee ’02 questionable for Saturday’s contest against Fordham, Bulldog understudy T.J. Hyland ’02 may finally get the starting nod.
Hyland — who battled for the position with Lee last summer — has taken all of the snaps with the first-team offense in practice this week. And while nobody is certain if Lee’s ankle will prevent him from playing, the Bulldogs have confidence in Hyland.
“[Hyland] understands the offense, is a good athlete and is well respected by his teammates,” head coach Jack Siedlecki said.
If Hyland does get the call, his athletic ability will present the Bulldogs with some different opportunities offensively, including an option play.
“[Hyland] can run a little more than [Lee] can,” wide receiver Billy Brown ’02 said. “He is much more of a running quarterback.”
And despite not being a pure pocket-passer like Lee, the Bulldogs are confident that Hyland can do a serviceable job executing Yale’s offense, citing the closeness of last summer’s competition between the two.
“They really competed,” quarterback coach Joel Lamb said. “They both played really well in the summer, but [Lee] was ahead of [Hyland]. Lee started the Dayton game and played very, very well, and followed it up the following week.”
Although Hyland has not seen much playing time, his work ethic at practice has impressed his teammates and coaches.
“He has earned our respect because he has done everything that can be asked of a player despite not having much opportunity to play,” Siedlecki said.
This week in practice, Hyland’s hard work has helped the offense maintain its rhythm.
“We haven’t missed a beat with [Hyland],” Brown said. “We are preparing to play the game as if he was the starting quarterback — of course, it will be a game-time decision and we are not sure. But we will be ready either way.”
With Hyland under center, the receivers will need to make adjustments. Whereas Lee is a southpaw, Hyland throws right-handed, and Brown said the wide-outs will need to get used to seeing the ball from a different angle.
“The most important thing for us is to find where the quarterback is on the field,” Brown said. “Another factor is that [Hyland] is [five inches] shorter than Lee, so its just something we have to adjust to. It shouldn’t be much of a factor, though.”
Brown’s fellow wide receiver, P.J. Collins ’04 said that because Hyland normally sees a regular amount of snaps in practice anyway, the team is confident in his ability to run the offense.
“We are pretty much sticking to the basic offense, which both [Hyland] and [Lee] run effectively,” Collins said. “We have to concentrate on what we need to do to win. We are prepared to do well regardless of who starts.”