On Saturday, two undefeated Ivy League foes square off as the Yale football team takes on Dartmouth. The matchup has the potential to be an offensive shootout, as both the Bulldogs and the Big Green average more than 25 points per game. With Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year candidates — Yale’s Morgan Roberts ’16 and Dartmouth’s Dalyn Williams — potentially neutralizing each other at the quarterback position, the outcome of the game likely rests on the Bulldogs’ ability to contain Dartmouth’s fire-powered attack, rush the ball efficiently and win the special teams battle.
Prevent big plays
Williams has amassed 787 passing yards and 10 total touchdowns this season, six of which have come through the air. Williams’ top targets are Houston Brown and Victor Williams, the latter of whom has accounted for roughly half of Dartmouth’s receiving yards. Williams also leads the Big Green in receiving touchdowns with three. Along with the aforementioned wideout duo, Ryan McManus, who is reportedly returning from injury this weekend, averages 16.2 yards per catch and will pose a potent threat to the Bulldog secondary.
Yale’s defensive backs, led by captain and safety Cole Champion ’16 and corner Spencer Rymiszewski ’17, will be tasked with slowing the Big Green aerial attack. It is unclear whether defensive standout Foye Oluokun ’17 will suit up Saturday after leaving last week’s game due to what appeared to be a reaggravated left arm/wrist injury.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ front seven have to apply significant pressure in the pocket to the dual-threat Dartmouth signal caller. In addition to Williams’ passing prowess this season, he has rushed for 165 yards and four touchdowns.
Continue momentum on the ground
In last Saturday’s 27–12 victory over Lehigh, running back Deshawn Salter ’18 rushed for an impressive 233 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start. The breakout performance came after Salter, who opened the season as the second-string running back, accumulated 51 rushing yards during the first two games. The status of former starting running back Candler Rich ’17 is up in the air, after he left last weekend’s Cornell game early in the third quarter two weeks ago. Should Rich sit out, the rushing load will fall primarily on Salter’s shoulders yet again.
If Salter hopes to replicate last week’s colossal numbers, he must continue to run physically and take advantage of the rushing lanes created by his offensive line, led by center and lone senior Luke Longinotti ’16. Following last Saturday’s impressive performance by the O-line against Lehigh, the Big Green defense will prove a formidable opponent, as the unit has yet to surrender more than 112 yards rushing in a game this season.
Optimize field position
The Yale special teams played a major role in tipping the scales against Colgate and Cornell. The team leads Division I football with four blocked kicks, and kicker and punter Bryan Holmes ’17 has placed three punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. While the special teams did not make any game-changing plays a week ago, they will need to play a solid game against Dartmouth.
The Bulldogs cannot allow Big Green defensive back Danny McManus to rack up big yardage on punt returns and kick returns. McManus — the younger brother of Dartmouth’s senior wideout — has accounted for 175 yards on kick returns this season for Dartmouth, averaging 25 yards per return. The elder McManus has also been a threat for the Big Green on special teams this year as he has averaged 34 yards per punt return.
Yale’s equivalents — Jamal Locke ’18 and Jason Alessi ’18 — need to have big games for Yale and put the offense in prime field position to succeed. Locke did just that only two weeks ago, returning a kickoff for 84 yards against Cornell late in the first half, a play that catalyzed Yale’s comeback victory. Locke has amassed 204 yards in the kick return game, averaging 34 yards per attempt.