After undergoing almost a year of significant changes to the program, the football team is hoping to keep one tradition going strong: beating Georgetown in the first game of the season.
These changes will finally be tested for the first time tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Georgetown, as the Bulldogs open their 137th season in Washington.
For the third consecutive year Yale is opening its season against the Hoyas, and the Bulldogs are hoping to make it their third consecutive victory over Georgetown, which has already started its season 0-2.
Last season, the Bulldogs routed the Hoyas 47-7, but reporters have predicted that Yale — which graduated 35 seniors last year, including many of the team’s star players — will be weaker this season. Whereas last year the Elis were picked to tie for first place in the Ivy League Media Poll, this year’s poll has the team picked fourth.
Football head coach Tom Williams, however, dismisses the middling poll ranking as a product of the mistaken belief that the team is inexperienced.
“There’s a misconception that we have a team that hasn’t played a lot,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of guys that lettered; we just don’t have a lot of guys that started. That’s a big difference.”
Beyond the fact that many of last year’s substitutes are getting the chance to start, two of the Bulldogs’ biggest weapons — quarterback Patrick Witt ’12 and running back Jordan Farrell ’10 — did not appear in any of Yale’s games last year.
Witt, who transferred this year from Nebraska, spent the past month of camp competing with Brook Hart ’11 for the starting job. It was not until this week that Williams announced that Witt had landed the position, although he noted that Hart would also receive playing time on Saturday.
“I saw Coach had mentioned that he felt confident that we could win with [both of us] and I feel the same way,” Witt said. “I think we both improved through the competition.”
Behind Witt, Farrell — who sat out all of last season with an injured shoulder — will get to play for the first time since his sophomore year, when he appeared in six games, running for 239 yards and scoring four touchdowns.
Like Witt, Farrell had to face tough competition before being named tomorrow’s starter. Williams said that up to five running backs will receive significant playing time — a list that includes Farrell, Alex Thomas ’12, Rodney Reynolds ’10, Mordecai Cargill ’13 and Brandon Scott ’10.
“We feel like that [the running back spot] is our deepest position,” Williams said. “These five running backs have given us the opportunity to be deep at that position and create roles for them. We’re going to give the defense a lot of different looks.”
In terms of these different options, Farrell feels he is most useful in between the tackles.
“I would rather run someone over than make them miss,” Farrell said.
If Georgetown’s previous games are any indicator, both Witt and Farrell will have plenty of opportunities to showcase their abilities. In Georgetown’s past two games — a 20-7 loss to No. 25 Holy Cross and a 28-3 loss to Lafayette — the Hoyas have given up 519 and 464 yards of total offense, respectively.
Georgetown, which is returning 17 of its 22 starters, looks to be more experienced than last season’s (2-8, 0-5) team.
The Hoyas are expected to start junior James Brady, although two other quarterbacks have also received substantial playing time in the Hoyas’ previous two games.
Brady started the opener against Holy Cross, throwing for 77 yards and recording one touchdown and one interception. Against Lafayette, Brady passed for 113 yards, completing 14 of 29 passes. Replacements sophomore Scott Darby and freshman Isaiah Kempf have passed for 54 and 82 yards in their appearances.
Senior Charlie Houghton and junior Philip Oladeji will be looking to carry the football for Georgetown. In the past two games, they have run for 54 and 21 yards, respectively.
Kickoff for tomorrow’s game is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. It will be streamed online at guhoyas.com and can be heard on WYBC (AM-1340, wybc.com).