After helping lead the Yale football team to a 31–23 victory over Columbia last Friday, quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 was named the starting quarterback on Tuesday for the Bulldogs’ Week 8 game against Brown.
Rawlings’ fellow quarterback Tre Moore ’19 started the previous five games for the Elis but put up lackluster numbers, totaling three touchdowns and five interceptions. Though Moore earned the start against the Lions, he was replaced in the second quarter by Rawlings, who fired three scores — and no picks — in the remainder of the game.
“I think Kurt played well,” safety Hayden Carlson ’18 said. “He played loose and looked like he was having fun back there distributing the ball to his playmakers.”
Rawlings’ success on Friday kept the Yale quarterback carousel in motion: Come Saturday, the freshman from Maryland will become the third different quarterback to start for Yale. This year, the Bulldogs have utilized Rafe Chapple ’18, Moore and Rawlings under center, and have featured multiple quarterbacks in five of their seven games thus far.
Chapple was the first Yale quarterback to be handed the ball, earning starts against both Colgate and Cornell to start the season. Though the junior produced a competent 51.2 percent completion rate, he struggled with turnovers and the ability to orchestrate productive offensive possessions as the Bulldogs started 0–2.
Following the 27–13 loss at the hands of the Big Red, Moore was named the starting quarterback for the Week 3 game against Lehigh. Moore’s 174-yard passing explosion in his second-half relief against Cornell contributed to his promotion. The dual-threat quarterback showed flashes of promise in his starts, including a victory against Dartmouth and a 102-yard rushing performance at Fordham, but his athletic prowess failed to overshadow his inability to consistently contribute in the passing game.
Most recently, the Bulldogs turned to Rawlings, who earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors after his performance against the Lions. Head coach Tony Reno highlighted his newest quarterback’s above-average mobility, high football IQ and pinpoint throwing accuracy.
“What Kurt brings to the table is the ability to make plays … with his feet and his arm,” Reno said. “The other thing we really like with Kurt is that in our offense you need accuracy and he is a very accurate passer. That makes a huge difference in what we are trying to do.”
However, Rawlings’ lack of experience on the collegiate gridiron is still a point of concern. Prior to Friday night, the freshman had seen little game action, competing in just four of the team’s first seven contests and never attempting more than six passes in any appearance.
But despite his sparse playing time, Rawlings displayed confidence in the pocket against Columbia’s stout pass rush, drawing on wisdom from his coaching staff and teammates to deliver a strong performance off the bench.
“One of the biggest things I’ve taken from senior [quarterback] Spencer McManes ’17 is to take every rep like you’re the starter whether you are or not,” Rawlings said. “If you’re prepared and you take every rep in practice and film like you’re the starter, it shouldn’t be anything new.”
Moving forward, Rawlings will join running back Alan Lamar ’20, wide receiver Reed Klubnik ’20 and defensive back Jaelin Alburg ’20 as a prominent first-year player on Yale’s roster. Captain and linebacker Darius Manora ’17 recognized the Bulldog freshman class’ intensity in preparation and their integral role on the team as Yale faces its remaining Ivy League opponents.
The Bulldogs will kick off against the Bears in Providence at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.