After an up-and-down 2013 season that included a win over Cal Poly but blowout losses to Princeton and Harvard, the Yale football team hopes for a more consistent season this year. For no one is that more true than quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16, who was brand new to the team last season and is now fighting for a more stable starting spot in 2014.
The 6’3” quarterback came to New Haven last year as a transfer from national powerhouse Clemson and saw varying play time throughout the season. As Roberts transitions from his first year as a Bulldog to being the most experienced quarterback on the team, both captain Deon Randall ’15 and quarterback coach Kevin Cahill said that they have noticed a change in how he carries himself on the field.
“He went from a guy coming in last fall trying to get to know everybody, to now being established as much more of a leader,” Cahill said. “He and Deon Randall did a great job with the team this summer. We’re much more organized, and I think Morgan has done a nice job in the leadership role with that.”
Roberts was the third-string quarterback for Clemson’s 2012 squad, then the No. 11 team in the country, as a redshirt freshman. He got just one game of playing time, going 2–3 for 20 yards in a game against Ball State.
He then opted to move to a Division I-AA program to play alongside players with more of a team-based mentality, he said.
“[Top programs are] so much more cutthroat, so much more of a business,” Roberts said. “Yale is still a business program, without a doubt. But I think we play for the guy next to us. We play to represent Yale University.”
In his first Eli season, Roberts went 37–71 for 339 yards over the eight games in which he played behind center.
Against Penn, his only start, he went 20–34 and passed for 193 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions as the team lost 28–17.
“It was probably the worst season I’ve had statistically as a football player,” Roberts said. “That’s probably put on me for not understanding the offense well enough, but I do think the circumstances were a little different, coming in and playing right away. Now I’m well versed with this offense, with the timing of different receivers’ breaks, the speed of play.”
He added that over the past year, he has worked on his footwork and mindset in the pocket.
An athletic quarterback who even took a turn at wide receiver for a game last season, Roberts said that he has learned to be more dependent on his receiving unit.
“I don’t always have to be scrambling in the pocket, I can just throw it out to a guy with a lot of talent and let him do the rest,” Roberts said. “That’s what this offense is about, just utilizing your skill players. That’s how my mindset has changed.”
That improvement will not be seen on the field, however, if the junior quarterback does not see time under center.
Though Roberts has the most experience at the position on the team, Cahill said that the coaching staff is still deciding who will get the starting spot.
Ten quarterbacks are currently listed on Yale’s roster, including six freshmen. Last season, four of the six Eli quarterbacks got time behind center.
“We need to prepare number one, number two, number three, just like any other position,” Cahill said. “Some guys look better than other guys on certain days, but we need to make sure everyone’s getting the reps. Whoever’s best for the team, that’s the product we’re going to put out on the field.”
The Bulldogs kick off the season Sept. 20 against Lehigh at home.