Sporting a 3-1 record, the Elis seem on their way to another winning season on the gridiron. With three close games and a dramatic come-from-behind victory under their belt, the Bulldogs have proven they are a competitive team with a lot of heart.

But their one defeat, a 32-27 home loss to a mediocre Dartmouth team, may have ended any serious hopes the Bulldogs had for an Ancient Eight championship.

Special teams has been a concern of Yale’s squad since the beginning of the season. And while some worries have been put to rest, others still linger. Place-kicker Justin Davis ’02 allayed any fears about his ability to come through in the clutch with his game-winning field goal against Holy Cross in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.

While Nate Lawrie ’04 started the season as the punter, Davis has since assumed that responsibility as well, averaging 42.2 yards per punt on his five kicks. But three blocked punts and four blocked extra points illustrate the need for more improvements on special teams.

The emergence of freshman tailback Robert Carr ’05, who was thrust into action because of injuries, has bolstered the Bulldog ground game. The 5-foot-7-inch Texan showed his potential when he spun and stiff-armed his way to a 45-yard touchdown run against Cornell. He had a breakout game against Dartmouth, when he racked up 185 yards and two scores on 29 carries.

Last week, Jay Schulze ’03 — another Eli running back — returned from injury and subbed in for a sidelined Carr, barreling his way for 147 yards and three touchdowns against Fordham. With both now healthy, the hard-nosed Schulze and the hard-to-tackle Carr should make a formidable duo down the stretch.

Yale has had to deal with injuries at other key positions as well, including quarterback and defensive end. Quarterback Peter Lee ’02 suffered an ankle injury during the second quarter of the Dartmouth game. Despite completing that contest, the injury and the flu relegated him to the sidelines against Fordham. Luckily for the Bulldogs, backup T.J. Hyland ’02 stepped in and completed 20 of 28 passes. Lee — who has not been intercepted in his last 155 pass attempts — will be back in action this week against the University of Pennsylvania.

Starting defensive end and reigning Ivy League sack leader Stuart Satullo ’03 missed the season’s first two games due to a knee injury suffered during preseason. Satullo played more than half the downs against Fordham and is nearing his form of a year ago. The rush defense has been solid, ranking 12th in overall yardage allowed in Division I-AA. The pass defense, however, has not fared so well, allowing an average of 247 yards per game, 112th in the nation.

The Elis still control their own destiny — they can clinch the league title if they win the rest of their games. But with Penn, Brown and Harvard looming in the distance, Yale will need to play near-perfect football from here on out.