Last October, four turnovers by the Yale football team sealed its fate against Penn as the Bulldogs fell, 34–20. The Quakers (3–2, 2–0 Ivy) went on to capture the Ivy League championship and, thanks in part to a cadre of returning players, have won their first two Ancient Eight games of the 2016 season. For Yale (1–4, 1–1) to improve on last year’s results, the Elis must do a better job protecting the football, producing in the passing game and plugging holes in their secondary.
BEAT PENN, NOT YALE
Yale nearly won last week’s contest against Fordham, but two third-quarter turnovers proved to be the difference in Saturday’s seven-point loss. A fumble in the red zone by running back Dale Harris ’17 and a pick-six by quarterback Tre Moore ’19 cut short promising Yale drives in the midst of a comeback. While his one-turnover performance against Fordham was Moore’s best in terms of ball security this season, the sophomore will look to improve upon that yet again in order to top a hot Penn team. Aside from turnovers, Yale has done a good job of not beating itself, especially in the realm of penalties. The Elis have been penalized for the fewest yards of any Ivy League team, ceding just 180 yards to opponents this season.
YALE NEEDS MOORE GAINES
The Bulldogs have ridden their Ivy League-best rushing offense thus far, but this has not masked an ailing air attack. Moore has tossed four interceptions and two touchdowns so far this season and has not thrown for more than 181 yards in any game. However, this week’s matchup provides a prime opportunity for Moore to get on the same page as his receivers. Penn has the second-worst passing defense in the Ivy League, allowing 271.4 yards per game, and ranks sixth overall in terms of both points allowed and total yardage allowed. While Moore may be without his top option, wide receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez ’18, due to an ankle injury, the quarterback will still have receivers Myles Gaines ’17 and Robert Clemons III ’17 available. Gaines exploded for 106 yards against Dartmouth two weeks ago, while Clemons went for 99 yards against Penn in last year’s tilt.
WITH BIG PLAYS COME BIG RESPONSIBILITY
Even though Fordham’s Chase Edmonds is the second-most productive rusher in all of Division I football, the Rams offense hit hardest on its five passing touchdowns last weekend against the Bulldogs, demonstrating clearly how teams have chosen to attack the Eli defense all season. Big plays in the passing game have been Yale’s Achilles heel all year. While most of the serious damage in this sphere was done by the three explosive Patriot League offenses Yale has faced, Ivy League-rival Cornell also beat the Bulldogs with the deep ball in Week 2. Yale did improve in this aspect in its win against Dartmouth two weeks ago, a trend which will need to carry over against Penn. While the Quakers do not have a Lehigh-esque aerial attack, they still own the third-highest scoring offense in the Ivy League and a very capable quarterback in Alek Torgersen. Penn has a strong rushing offense, but the Quakers will undoubtedly attack the Yale secondary if it proves vulnerable to the deep ball.