Milk the clock
The Yale football team faces its last non-Ivy test Saturday at noon when the Fordham Rams come to the Yale Bowl. The Rams bring in a young and talented offense, led by sophomore quarterback Blake Wayne. Wayne has been impressive the past two weeks, especially last Saturday when he torched the Lehigh defense, completing 24 out of 41 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown. The week before, he became part of Fordham history when he rushed for 108 yards on 20 carries, becoming the first Fordham quarterback to rush for over 100 yards in a game. The Rams are second in the Patriot League in rushing and total offense. To win this week’s game, the Bulldogs have to either control the time of possession or play lights out defense. The linebacking corps, led by Jordan Haynes ’12 and William V. Campbell trophy semifinalist Jesse Reising ’11, will have to maintain a great level of discipline to face this tough task of defending the dual-threat Wayne. Haynes has made the most of his first year as a starter, showing a great nose for the football and leading the Bulldogs in tackles and recovered fumbles.
Spread the ball around early
The Yale offensive line has proven to be a well-oiled machine. The linemen have allowed only two sacks in four games, 12 fewer than last year’s line had allowed after the first four games of the 2009 season. The Bulldogs have game-breakers in the backfield and on the perimeter, and quarterback Patrick Witt ’12 is proving to be a gunslinger, ranking 14th in the FCS in total offense. Witt has shown mobility as well, rushing for two touchdowns. With the emergence of Mordecai Cargill ’13 along with workhorse Alex Thomas ’12, the Bulldogs offense is clicking right before they begin their Ivy League stretch. However, Cargill and Thomas will may both be sitting this game out, meaning Javi Sosa ’13 may get his first start. Sosa showed signs of being a serviceable backup in Hanover last
week, but will he be able to carry the load in the Bowl on Saturday? If not, Witt should be able to spread the ball around, establishing every option as legitimate so that the defense is kept off-balance. When the defense is flustered, offensive coordinators can go for the big play every time the ball is snapped. Putting points on the board early can make this a comfortable win for the Elis, and Witt has shown that he’s up to the task, hitting more than eight receivers in each of the past few weeks. A total of six Bulldogs have caught touchdown passes this year.
Be opportunistic on defense
Along with being disciplined, the Yale defense must make some plays to win the turnover margin. This is probably the most important key, because even if the Bulldogs control the time of possession and keep the Rams’ defense off-balance, one mistimed throw by Witt or fumble by Thomas could turn the game on its head. Turnovers create momentum, which is regarded as one of the most important intangibles in college football. Haynes, along with defensive backs Adam Money ’11 and Chris Stanley ’11 have all shown the ability to force turnovers on defense. So far, Fordham and Yale’s turnover ratios are -2 and -4 respectively. Tom McCarthy ’11 is coming off an injury, but made nine total tackles against Dartmouth. McCarthy, Sean Williams ’11, Reed Spiller ’12 and Jake Stoller ’12 have been the most effective defensive linemen in terms of stopping plays in the backfield. They will have to be mindful of the extra running threat Fordham has in their quarterback.
Series history: This is the 6th meeting between the two schools. Yale leads the series 4-1. The last time they met, Fordham won 12-10 in 2008, snapping the Bulldogs’ four-game winning streak.