After disappointing starts to the season, Yale and Lehigh are both looking to continue what they started last week.
When the Bulldogs (2–2, 1–1 Ivy) and Mountain Hawks (1–4) take the field tomorrow afternoon in Bethlehem, Pa., it will be the last non-conference game of the season for both squads.
Although Lehigh’s only win was a 27–0 victory over Georgetown — a team the Elis defeated 31–10 in their season opener — the Mountain Hawks have had to face tough opponents. The four teams they lost to have a combined record of 13–6, and two of the games were won by a margin of seven points or less.
The Bulldogs are hoping that quarterback Brook Hart ’11 can pick up where he left off last Saturday. In his first start of the season, Hart exceeded all expectations, throwing for 390 yards — the sixth highest total in Yale history — against Dartmouth.
Statistically, the performance was the best for a Yale quarterback in recent memory.
“This past summer I worked to try to take some [speed] off of my short throws,” Hart said. “I’ve also been putting a huge emphasis on accuracy because that makes things a lot easier for the receivers.”
Tomorrow, though, Hart is expected to receive his toughest test thus far. Lehigh’s overall defense is much stronger than Dartmouth’s — the Mountain Hawks have given up an average of 179 passing yards per game compared to 223 yards for the Big Green — and it starts with defensive line.
In the past two games, the Mountain Hawks have recorded 14 sacks. Senior captain and linebacker Matt Cohen had three last week against Georgetown and leads the team with six overall.
The Yale offensive line, which has been a concern throughout the season, had a makeover last week against Dartmouth as center Jake Koury ’10 and left guard Nate Blair ’11 sat out with injuries. Left guard Jeff Marrs ’13 and center Gabriel Fernandez ’12 got their first starts of the season, and Alex Golubiewski ’11 and Cory Palmer ’10 changed their positions on the line, to left tackle and right guard, respectively.
Head coach Tom Williams said the line would continue to change as he sees fit.
“We’re still looking for football players,” Williams said. “I’ve said from day one that there is going to be competition for every position because that makes our football team better. We’re still learning about our team.”
Some proof of that has been the amount of playing time that freshmen have received. Tailback Mordecai Cargill ’13 and wide receiver Chris Smith ’13 have both appeared in all four games, with Cargill running for 120 yards and Smith having made 11 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown.
In addition, wide receiver Allen Harris ’13 had five receptions against Dartmouth — the most catches in a game that a Yale freshman has ever had.
“Those guys have shown us that they can handle not only the mental but the physical rigors of playing varsity football,” Williams said. “At this stage, they aren’t freshmen anymore.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Elis will look to take on a Lehigh team that likes to run a Wildcat offense — a scheme in which a skill position player besides the quarterback lines up in the quarterback position, adding the threat of a run from a direct snap.
“Every team we’ve played to date has done some version of the Wildcat offense,” Williams said. “You have to be prepared to deal with that, and I know that our defense spends a lot of time each week preparing for it.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The contest will be streamed on lehighsports.com and can be heard on WELI (AM-960, 960weli.com) and WYBC (AM-1340, wybc.com).