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Yale has leaned heavily on its offense all season en route to its current 8–1 record, and quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16 will look to lead the team’s most prolific offense in decades to victory this weekend.
Roberts arrived on campus in the summer of 2013 as a transfer from Clemson shrouded in hype and high expectations. He shared the position last season with Henry Furman ’14, splitting time both quarterback and wide receiver. Since then, he has taken over the reins on offense and led the Bulldogs to one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, with a chance to clinch a share of the Ivy League title for the first time since 2006.
“He’s done a great job this year,” captain and wide receiver Deon Randall ’15 said. “He’s a confident guy back there. He tells you realistically what he likes, and what he doesn’t like. He’s just been a great leader, whether it be him helping you out with a pass concept or him taking the time off the field to make sure that you understand the offense. I think guys recognize that, and I think he’s done a tremendous job.”
But getting to this point has not been easy, and Robert Clemons III ’17 notes that Roberts took last year and the offseason to really learn the offense.
The quarterback has connected on 21 touchdowns this season to a number of different receivers, most notably Grant Wallace ’15, Randall and Clemons, each notching 25 or more receptions. Working with each other every day has strengthened their ties and maximized the team’s opportunities on offense.
“We all have a good relationship with Morgan and the quarterbacks,” Clemons said. “I think really practicing timing and route running, you get that feel for the tendencies between you and your quarterback. He knows where you’re going to be and you know where he’s going to throw it.”
Roberts remarked that the whole team put in a lot of work during the offseason, getting up early to lift, run and then watch film in the afternoon.
The work has certainly paid off, as the offense is averaging 43.0 points per game, and Yale is currently ranked as the fourth-best passing offense in the Football Championship Subdivision, averaging 325.7 yards in the air per game. Roberts ranks seventh in the FCS with 2,925 total yards so far this season, completing 68.7 percent of his passes.
A lot of the team’s success comes from Roberts’s ability to direct the offense, execute plays and complete drives.
“He’s a vocal guy and a funny guy,” Clemons said. “During games and practices, he’s the manager, the captain of our offense. He’s vocal, but he’s also cool, calm and collected … He’s always keeping us under control and making sure we know our jobs so that we can execute.”
Roberts recognizes that he is the point guard of the offense and that his job is to distribute the ball to playmakers. However, he credits the improvements in offense to working with the coaching staff, which has pushed him to make better reads. He also mentioned that the receivers have made it easy for him to look good, as he has numerous options at both wide receiver and tight end.
The offense has clicked for much of the season, and Roberts passed for a season-high 405 yards last weekend against Princeton. But with Harvard approaching tomorrow, the team has remained consistent in its preparation. Roberts has prepared by studying the opponent, paying attention to his fundamentals during practice and executing his reads.
“As this year has gone on, our whole team has done a good job of sticking to the process,” Roberts said. “This week is Yale-Harvard, but we understand what got us here was sticking to the process and working our tails off. The minute we start thinking about this game as anything more than an opportunity to play alongside each other is the minute we lose touch with what has made us successful.”
The season culminates tomorrow in Cambridge under the bright lights of national television, and the offense will look to Roberts to lead the way.