This weekend, Yale football travels north to take on Maine for the first time in 78 years. The Elis have a chance to rebound from their first loss before moving into five crucial weeks of Ivy League play. If the team can hit its stride, continue to stop the run and gain yards on the ground itself, Yale can leave Maine content with a 4–1 record.
GET BACK ON TRACK
A week removed from a brutal 35–3 beatdown in Hanover, the Elis had just six days to prepare before leaving on Friday for the six-hour trip to Orono, Maine. After the Maine trip, Yale faces a short week as it takes on Penn the following Friday night.
Halfway through the season, one major impediment has been a bad string of luck in the injury department. A whopping seven starters were inactive against Dartmouth, the most head coach Tony Reno said he could recall during his four years in New Haven. More worrisome is that many of those injured do not have official timelines to return. Those who do fail to inspire much hope: wide receiver Bo Hines ’18 said he will not play against Maine after missing four consecutive games and defensive back Foye Oluokun ’17 said he is out for the season. Even though the Bulldogs have demonstrated their resilient depth, Yale’s ceiling is limited if some of its top contributors cannot return to the gridiron.
In its 32-point loss to Dartmouth last weekend, the scoreline could very well have been even more lopsided. Dartmouth failed to convert any of Yale’s three red-zone turnovers into points.
The week prior, Yale again ceded two costly turnovers near the goal line. While they ultimately had little impact on the outcome of the Bulldogs’ 27–12 win, Yale cannot afford such mistakes moving forward.
More specifically, the Elis cannot expect to be bailed out again this weekend as Maine has a tendency of making its opponents pay for coughing up the football. Maine averages nearly seven points per game off of turnovers.
CLEAR RUNNING ROOM
As this season’s results have indicated, Yale football does best when its aerial attack is offset by a solid running game. With running back Candler Rich ’17 out for an undisclosed amount of time, the burden falls to Deshawn Salter ’18, who proved he was more than up to the task against Lehigh. The sophomore dashed for 233 yards against the Mountain Hawks, averaging eight yards per carry, but was stifled against Dartmouth in his encore performance. Salter managed a measly 2.4 yards per carry against the Big Green, good for just 45 yards on the ground.
However, Maine does not have the same level of experience in its linebacking corps as Dartmouth, and if Salter and the offensive line can get in sync as they did two weeks ago, the Bulldogs should be able to leverage a balanced, effective attack.