Fordham is no pushover, but Dartmouth is the real test

Defensive back Jason Alessi '18 had one of two Bulldog interceptions against Brown.

Heading into a match-up with Fordham this Saturday, the Yale football team has blown out two opponents in a row. Head coach Tony Reno called Fordham the toughest opponent on the schedule so far, above a Lehigh offense which hung 63 points on the Elis last year. Yet, the real contest might come against Dartmouth in two weeks.

As Yale approaches the meat of its schedule — with only one nonconference game to be played after this Fordham — there are several questions that remain about Team 145: namely if its prolific rushing attack is sustainable, and if the pass defense can continue to improve. These questions might be better answered in a contest with Dartmouth in two weeks, which matches up better against the Elis than Fordham.

Scoring over 52 points per game is not sustainable for any football team. Thus, it remains to be seen what the Bulldogs look like on a night where there offense — particularly their rushing attack, which is the fourth-best in the FCS — does not blow the opponent out of the water. Fordham might not provide this answer, since its a team which the Bulldogs scored 37 on last season: their highest output of the year. Running back Dale Harris ’17 scored four touchdowns in that game.

While the Yale passing defense has carried over some of the positive momentum from last season, it is still averaging 320 yards and 26 points allowed per contest. When Yale begins to face stingier rush defenses (like Dartmouth), it will likely need its own defense to step up a bit more. Dartmouth boasts a top-20 rushing and scoring defense so far through two games (which they won). Yale’s Oct. 7 matchup with Dartmouth would be even more menacing if the Big Green fare well this week against defending Ivy-champion Penn.

Fordham has a formidable offense, and is even more dangerous if Chase Edmonds — one of the top running backs in the country — is able to suit up. Yet, the Bulldogs are still poised to succeed this week against an opponent with a vulnerable defense and a 1–3 record on the season. While football is played one game at a time, the definite answers about Team 145 might not come this week.