After exceeding expectations en route to a 6-4 (4-3 Ivy League) mark last season, Yale has ridden a powerful offense and a stout performance from a maligned defensive unit to a 2-0 (1-0 Ivy) start.

“We expect nothing short of beating Harvard and winning the Ivy League championship,” linebacker Ken Estrera ’04 said.

Returning 10 starters and all the top skill position players to a team that averaged 25.7 points and had the nation’s fewest turnovers, the Bulldogs should have all the necessary tools to outgun the opposition — and have succeeded in doing so against Towson (62-28) and Cornell (21-7).

Captain Alvin Cowan ’04 has returned to the lineup, while Yale’s ground attack has featured a two-headed monster in the form of Robert Carr ’05 and David Knox ’06.

Carr has four touchdowns and is second in the league in rushing with 117.5 yards-per-game on 6.0 yards-per-carry. Cowan is seventh in the league in rushing (55.5 yards-per-game), and Knox is 10th (42.5).

On the defensive side of the ball, in holding Cornell to a mere touchdown, Yale has shown that its defense might not be as porous as initially feared.

Unlike their counterparts on the defensive line who had to replace four graduated veterans, the Yale linebackers have had few question marks surrounding them. Ken Estrera ’04 and Ben Breunig ’05 were the team’s top two tacklers last season. Against the Big Red Saturday, Breunig intercepted a pass to end a late Cornell drive and seal the Bulldogs’ win.

In the secondary, the Elis will have to compensate for the loss of all-Ivy second-teamer Barton Simmons ’04 to a knee injury.

With so much skill on offense and a revamped defense that has already shown it can compete in the Ivy League, the Elis are expecting big things this season.

“The team’s expectation for this upcoming season is flat-out to win the Ivy League title and go undefeated,” Dieffenbacher said. “We have the talent and experience to realistically expect this out of this year’s team.”