Based on their past performances and positions they will take on the field Saturday, The following make up the players who will likely determine the outcome of this year’s edition of The Game.
Patrick Witt ’12: After passing up a shot at the Rhodes Scholarship, Witt will lead the Blue and White onto the field against Harvard. For Yale to win, Witt will need to be perfect. He has struggled at times with accuracy this season and has thrown 11 picks, tied for worst in the Ivy League. But when he is on, he can shred any secondary in the conference as he showed against Princeton last week when he threw for three touchdowns and 379 yards. The success of the Yale offense will depend on whether Witt brings his best game to the field.
Mordecai Cargill ’13: The junior back has been difficult to figure out this season. Some games, he runs all over the field and torments defenses with his punishing, tackle-breaking drives. Other games, he is practically absent from the box score. While he has turned in gems such as his 230-yard performance against Columbia, he has also had three games in which he carried the ball fewer than five times. We can expect a strong game from the consistent Alex Thomas ’12, but the Bulldogs’ offense is at its most threatening when both backs run the ball well.
Deon Randall ’14: Randall will lead the team’s receiving corps in the absense of wide receiver Chris Smith ’13, the team’s most explosive offensive threat of the season, who will be sidelined this weekend against Harvard with an injury. The rest of the corps will have to bring its A-game. Randall has been a threat all season. He has stepped up during the past two weeks when Smith was injured, and Randall compiled 179 receiving yards and two touchdowns during Yale’s games against Brown and Princeton.
Jake Stoller ’12: When it comes to rushing the quarterback, Stoller is the man for the Bulldogs. He has recorded 4.5 sacks on the season, a high for the team this season. Last weekend against Penn, Harvard quarterback Collier Winters was susceptible to the pass rush. He was sacked four times on the day and often looked indecisive in the face of a sack. While it does not appear that rushing Winters will necessarily create turnovers, it will keep Harvard from moving the ball and lead to Yale possession. To hold down the high octane Crimson passing attack, Stoller will have to keep Winters under pressure all game.
Jordan Haynes ’12: While most teams use tight ends primarily for blocking, Harvard has two who have been very effective as pass catchers. Cameron Brate and Kyle Juszczyk are both among Harvard’s top four players in receiving yards. Good tight ends create matchup problems for most teams. They are often too large and physical for cornerbacks to defend but too agile for linebackers. Team captain Haynes, who is tied for the Ivy League lead in tackles with 84, and the rest of the linebacker corps will be called on to hold these two in check.
Collier Winters: Winters is not the type of quarterback to shoot himself in the foot. After getting hurt earlier in the season, Winters has only participated in five games. But in those five games he has thrown four picks, and has thrown only two in his last four games. In addition to his precision through the air, Winters’s record shows he can move the Harvard offense with his feet. In a matchup with Dartmouth earlier this season, he ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns. No matter how you cut it, Winters is a tough matchup, and a Yale victory will depend on slowing him down.
Treavor Scales: Scales is Harvard’s leading member of the backfield and one of the most productive running backs in the Ivy League. He currently stands at third in the conference with 758 yards of total rushing. Last weekend against Penn, Harvard’s offense struggled until the second half, when its ground game got rolling. If Yale can keep the junior back in check, the team will have a chance to stall the Harvard offense and get ahead on the scoreboard.
Cameron Brate: Brate does not lead Harvard in receiving yards. In fact, he is fourth on that list. But like Yale wide-out Cameron Sandquist, Cameron Brate, Harvard’s tight end, has a nose for the end zone. Seven of his 22 receptions have been touchdowns, just shy of one third of Harvard’s total receiving touchdowns, currently at 24 for the season. When the ball is in the red zone, the Crimson will be looking for Brate. Keeping him out of the end zone could be crucial for the Bulldogs’ defense.
Josue Ortiz: Ortiz has arguably been the most dominant defensive player in the conference this season. He has recorded nine sacks, 14 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Against Penn last weekend he wreaked havoc. The defensive tackle caused a fumble and took down Penn quarterback Billy Ragone twice. Getting into a rhythm this weekend will require keeping Ortiz away from Witt and out of the Bulldogs’ backfield.
Alex Gedeon: Gedeon, Harvard’s team captain and top linebacker, has been making plays all season. With 83 tackles, he is tied for second in the Ivy League, and he has also contributed two interceptions and a sack. Gedeon can do it all and will likely be all over the field on Saturday. Running and throwing the ball away from Gedeon will take him out of the game and keep the chains moving for the Bulldogs.