While it is too early in the season to begin speculating about Ivy League standings, a Yale win on Saturday will get the team going in the right direction. If the Elis are to beat Cornell for the sixth time in nine years, they must tighten up coverage on the perimeter, pressure the quarterback and rediscover their ground game.
TIGHTEN UP THE SECONDARY
Saturday’s loss revealed the glaring deficiencies in Yale’s secondary. Employing soft coverage against a team that possesses vertical threats is, the team discovered, ineffective: Last week, Colgate quarterback Jake Melville mercilessly picked on the Elis’ young corners, completing five passes — three of which went for touchdowns — of at least 20 yards.
As challenging as it is to effectively cover wide receivers in a zone defense, Yale’s primary defensive scheme, the Bulldog corners need to stick closer to their men and play more physical coverage than they did last week. Starting 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, as the Eli defense did against Colgate, creates too much room for players like Collin Shaw, a Big Red receiver who picked up 114 yards on seven catches against Yale last year.
Even if the cornerbacks keep their men in front of them, Yale will struggle to slow down the Cornell offensive attack if Big Red quarterback Dalton Banks can set his feet and throw. Forcing Cornell to rely on its run game is advantageous, as the Elis have an experienced defensive line that is more than capable of compensating for the more youthful secondary.
As Banks is just a sophomore, early pressure has the potential added benefit of rattling the young quarterback. Of course, this goes both ways — in his first formal start, Rafe Chapple ’18, who has struggled to release the ball quickly, will also need to be protected from the Big Red rush.
STICK TO YOUR STRENGTHS
The absence of a strong running game, usually a hallmark of Reno’s teams, was conspicuous last week. Although Yale did its best to pick on Colgate’s relatively weak secondary, the inexperience at quarterback is such that airing the ball out might not be the best course of action.
Returning to the ground game, and to a trio of proven playmakers, is a safer way to effectively move the ball.
Last week, running back Dale Harris ’17 plunged into the line 11 times, picking up just 39 yards. One of the fastest athletes on the team, Harris was remarkably effective on the perimeter last season — Yale will need him to bounce outside if he is to move the chains. Teammates Deshawn Salter ’18 and Candler Rich ’17 are more effective as power backs, so if each of the three running backs play to their strengths, the ground game will be more efficient and give Yale its best chance at winning.