The Bulldogs (5–4, 3–3 Ivy) head into Fenway Park having fallen to a still-undefeated and probable-champion Princeton squad. Looking to salvage some positivity after being forced to give up its trophy, Yale will take on rival Harvard (5–4, 3–3), a team rolling into Saturday’s contest with a two-game winning streak after downing Columbia and Penn in consecutive weeks. After a season of ups and downs, the Elis must focus on a few aspects of their game to end the season with a win against the Crimson.
Yale, who graduated numerous key players on the defensive side of the ball — including linebacker Foye Oluokun ’18 who now plays for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons — has struggled during the 2018 campaign. The Elis have allowed 240 points this season, the sixth most in the Ancient Eight. In the last few weeks of the season, head coach Tony Reno was adamant about capitalizing on turnover opportunities as the Bulldogs rank dead last in the Ivy League in interceptions — the team has only picked off opposing quarterbacks twice. The rest of the league has at least five interceptions or higher. Forcing the Crimson to give up the ball will allow the Elis’ high-powered offense to operate without the pressure of having to score on every possession to maintain a lead.
Let the Griffin take flight
Despite losing star quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 and Phil Steele FCS Offensive Freshman of the Year and First Team Freshman All-American running back Zane Dudek ’21 to injuries, the Ellis still possess a plethora of weapons on offense. Rookie quarterback Griffin O’Connor ’22 has racked up seven touchdowns and 901 yards in just his first two starts. His favorite two receivers, Reed Klubnik ’20 and JP Shohfi ’20 have combined for a total of 1,761 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Running back Alan Lamar ’20 has also stepped up in the midst of Dudek’s injury with 684 yards and five touchdowns in 2018. After posting 43 points on a Princeton squad that boasts the best defense in the league — allowing a mere nine points per game — Yale could run out to a quick lead against Harvard and never look back.
Fair play wins the day
Yale has been plagued by the consequences of numerous penalties this season and have tallied 61 infractions for a grand total of 547 yards. The defense, while striving to force and capitalize on turnover opportunities, cannot afford to rack up holding or pass interference calls, which will give the Crimson a chance to rejuvenate a sputtering drive. On the offensive end, false starts and other infringements can give long yardage situations, which would raise the chances of a punt and unsuccessful series. A clean 60 minutes of football would allow the Elis to stick to the offensive and defensive game plan without much worry.
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