Sept. 11, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The 2006 Yale football season kicks off this Saturday when the University of San Diego (2-0), coached by former National Football League QB Jim Harbaugh, comes to Yale Bowl for a NOON start on Youth Day and Employee Day. The defending Pioneer League champions are riding an impressive win streak that began two weeks after upsetting the Bulldogs at San Diego last fall. Ron Vaccaro '04 and legendary Yale football coach Carm Cozza call the action on WELI (AM-960), while it can also be heard on WYBC (AM-1340). This game will not be televised nor will there be any video streaming available.
This is the fourth meeting and the second at Yale with the Bulldogs leading 2-1. The Elis won 17-6 at Torero Stadium in 1999 before taking the 2002 game at the Bowl 49-14. USD edged the Blue 17-14 back in San Diego last fall. The Bulldogs are 6-1 against Pioneer League teams, while USD's 2005 victory was its first over an Ivy school.
Last Year at San Diego
The Yale offense moved the ball in the first half and scored all of its points in the second quarter before San Diego came from behind to take a 17-14 game at Torero Stadium. The Blue jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half on a two-yard reception by TE Dave Miller and a nine-yard Mike McLeod (18-102) run before the Toreros got on the board with a field goal just before the half. It was the first of three straight three-pointers by Hutch Parker, who helped USD cut the margin to 14-9 by the end of the third. JT Rogan (7-47) snared a two-yard TD pass from Josh Johnson (22-34, 198 yds) in the final quarter for the game-winning points before San Diego added a two-point conversion. Yale QB Jeff Mroz (18-32, 181) threw two interceptions in his first start since 2002.
Blue Has Been True in Openers
Yale won its first 59 season openers before a scoreless tie with Bates in 1932. The first loss was to Columbia in 1934 by a 12-6 count. The Elis' overall record is 114-17-2 (with 76 shutouts), while they are 98-12-1 at home and 16-5-1 on the road. The Bulldogs have opened the year with Brown 26 times, by far the most meetings with any opponent. This is just the 13th time (but fourth in a row) in 133 years that Yale opens a season with a non-league contest.
Jack Siedlecki, in his 10th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale, earned his 100th win as a collegiate head coach against Cornell last Sept. 24. He is 103-64-2 as a collegiate head coach, 47-42 at Yale and 2-1 against USD. Jim Harbaugh (20-5 at USD), the former Michigan and NFL QB, directed the Toreros to an 11-1 campaign last fall and the PFL championship.
Bulldogs, Tigers Test Their Teeth
Yale and Princeton scrimmaged Aug. 31 on the new FieldTurf at Princeton Stadium and the Elis had a number of highlights. Mike McLeod reached the end zone on runs of 13 and 59 yards as the Bulldogs scored three TDs and gave up a pair. Junior starting QB Matt Polhemus connected on four of five passes and played the first two quarters. Sophomore Ryan Fodor, who completed eight of 13 passes over two periods, connected with TE Jordan Stevens from 15 yards out for the other Yale score. Freshman Richie Scudellari and sophomore Joe Dennison shared the fifth quarter behind center.
Toreros Pick Up 2005 Pace
While Yale has only a scrimmage from two weeks ago to go on, San Diego (11-1 and PFL champs), which has won 10 straight games, already has a pair of wins at home this fall. The 2-0 Toreros, who have yet to be tested, have outscored their opposition 68-7 in wins over Azuza Pacific and Dixie State and outpassed them by a combined 464 to 110 yards. Last Saturday at Torero Stadium Josh Johnson, who was named PFL Player of the Week, ran for a TD and connected on four scoring passes, including a pair to WR Wes Doyle in a 41-7 win. USD, outscoring opponents 37-0 in the second quarter and scoring 80% of the time in the red zone, also got TD receptions from Taber Lamarr and Ben Hannula while Hutch Parker booted two field goals.
Wright Of Way
Senior WR Ashley Wright was first-team All-New England and All-Ivy while catching 61 passes for 795 yards and 10 scores. The Mobile, Ala., native was also the starting punter (34.1 avg.) and had a 64-yard blast at USD. He had three catches for 43 yards against the Toreros last fall. Wright's opponent next week, Cornell, does not have fond memories of the 6-foot-4 Bulldog; he tied a school record with three TD catches and had 198 yards on seven grabs.
Walt Levering '33, who was believed to be the oldest living Yale football player, died at the age of 96 last summer. A new search is on for the oldest Bulldog... Six of the eight Ivy League playing surfaces are now synthetic; the Bulldogs and Brown are the only ones with real grass... USD had the ball for almost nine minutes more than Yale in the 2005 meeting... Youth Day activities on Saturday include clinics with Yale coaches and athletes, youth football games, a youth fair and more... All Yale employees can show a valid school ID and receive the following for free on Saturday: parking in Lot D, two GA tickets, lunch in hospitality village and give aways.
Nutmeg State Connection
Connecticut has always provided talented athletes for the Yale football team, with offensive stars like Rich Diana (Hamden) and John Pagliaro (Derby), but historians would be challenged to find a Bulldog squad with more in-state accolades than the 2006 team. QBs Ryan Fodor (Madison) and Matt Kelleher (Southington) both earned state player of the year honors as seniors. RB Mike McLeod (New Britain) was the New Haven Register's player of the year while OT Ed McCarthy (Fairfield, above photo) and DE Brendan Sponheimer (Orange) were all-state players before coming to Yale.
A Twist On An Old Rivalry
The is only the second time, and the first since 1913, that Yale plays both Lafayette and Lehigh in the same fall. The Bulldogs blanked Lafayette (27-0) and Lehigh (37-0) 93 years ago. The Mountain Hawks and Leopards have played each other more times than anyone in college football history.
"USD is on a 10-game winning streak. They are playing with a great deal of confidence and have an exciting player at quarterback. We are looking forward to a great season- opening football game in the Bowl."
Cornering The Rookie Market
RB Mike McLeod became Yale's second Ivy League Rookie of the Year in three seasons when he earned the 2005 honor. The Bulldogs have had three since DB Todd Tomich became the school's first in 1997. The league began selecting its top rookies in 1981 but an Eli was not selected until 1997. Yale has two newcomers (DB Paul Rice, P Tom Mante) on the current two-deep depth chart.
Numbers Don't Lie
Yale Strength & Conditioning Coach Emil Johnson put the Elis to the test the first two days of practice and there were some interesting results. The following players topped the charts: DT Brandt Hollander (hang clean, 368.5 1bs); FB Steven Morse (bench, 445 lbs); WR Jarrett Drake (vertical jump, 35.5"); LB Jason Palumbo (40-yard, 4.6 sec.); Mike McLeod (dips, 52); and Jimmy Lewis (pullups, 32).
Yale players were surveyed about each other the day they returned to campus and here are the results: Hardest Working (Jordan Spence followed by Brandt Hollander); Funniest (Steve Bassermann for the 3rd straight year); Smartest (Ed McCarthy, Jimmy Lewis); Most Athletic (Mike McLeod, Ashley Wright); Best Leader other than captain (Ed McCarthy, Kevin Littleton); Strongest (Brandt Hollander, above photo, by landslide); Toughest (Larry Abare, Brandt Hollander); Best Musician (Mike McGinity); and Most Likely to Become U.S. President (Steve Bassermann, Kevin Littleton).
Lining Up Behind Center
Junior Matt Polhemus (Cape Cod, Mass.), whose only varsity action came in the second half of a blowout at Columbia last October, was named the starter a few days before the Aug. 31 scrimmage at Princeton. Sophomore Ryan Fodor (Madison, Conn.) saw equal time in the scrimmage and looked as effective.
All Those Interceptions
Defensively, the Bulldogs had a lot to look forward to with two seniors returning who picked off five passes each in 2005. Then both safety Nick Solakian and LB Lee Driftmier, who also combined for 154 tackles, had surgery and are out for the season.
McLeod of Dust
RB Mike McLeod is coming off an Ivy League Rookie of the Year campaign in which he rushed for 689 yards and six scores while catching three passes. The New Britain, Conn., native broke new ground for rookie runners at Yale last fall by becoming the first freshman runner to go over 100 rushing yards in his debut (102 at San Diego on Sept. 17).
It's not an Irish band but it's the most popular last name on the Yale roster this fall. The McCarthys, Ed the OT and DL brothers Kevin and Tom, are one of the five last names shared by multiple members of the team. There are at least two Yale players each with the following names: Wright, Spence (brothers Jordan and Rylan), Johnson, Coombs (brothers John and Matt) and Abare (twins Bobby and Larry).
Yale's week No. 3 opponent, Lafayette, is already 2-0 after thumping Patriot League foe Bucknell 31-0 last week. The Bulldogs and No. 21 ranked (CSN I-AA poll) Bucknell have not met since Carm Cozza was coaching the Blue.
No 1:00 Kickoffs at the Bowl
The normal starting time for games at Yale Bowl over the last 50 years has been 1 p.m., with recent Ivy League rules mandating no later than 12:30 kicks when daylight savings time begins. 2006 marks the first deviation from Yale's tradition, and it had nothing to do with last year's season finale playing on into dusk. USD asked for an earlier start to accommodate its travel needs, while YES Network and CN8 asked for earlier starts as well. Since the Nov. 11 game has to start before 1 p.m., it made sense for Yale officials to move up the remaining (Lafayette) game for consistency.
Yale Still Leads the Nation
Yale has not won a national football title since 1927, but the Bulldogs still have more championships (26) than any other school in the country. Notre Dame is second with 11 national titles. In addition, the Elis were the first collegiate football team to win 800 games but have since been overtaken by Michigan.
McCarthy Continues to Shine
Senior Ed McCarthy (Fairfield, Conn.), the 2003 Ivy Rookie of the Year as an OG and a second-team all-league center in 2004, was first-team All-Ivy at LT last fall. He is a pre-season All-America pick who has been getting looked at by pro scouts this fall. McCarthy, whose father, Rick, and uncle, Ed, played for the Bulldogs, was Yale's offensive line MVP in eight of the 10 games in 2005. He is the only offensive lineman in league history to earn rookie of the year honors.
Catching Bulldogs At Practice
The normal practice week is from Tuesday through Friday, 4:15 to 6:15. Note that Friday times could be altered on travel days. Practice is held on the fields behind the baseball stadium and inside the outdoor track. Inclement weather could bring the team inside to either Coxe Cage or the Lanman Center. Players might be available for interviews before/after practice around the Smilow Center or out on the fields. It is best to email Steve Conn to arrange a meeting at least a day before you would like to speak with a player.
Home Cooking in the Bowl
Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914 with a 36-0 loss to Harvard before a full house, the Bulldogs have gone 352-185-21 (558 games) in Yale Bowl. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 115-73-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home.
Galiette Luncheon at Yale Golf Course
The weekly Dick Galiette Football Media Luncheon was named last fall to honor the late voice of Yale Football. This Tuesday at noon, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be joined by captain Chandler Henley and DB Kevin Littleton, while Athletic Director Tom Beckett will speak about the Yale Bowl restoration project. Some of the Galiette Luncheon interviews can be heard on sportingnewsct.com.
Yale Bowl Restoration
The restoration of Yale Bowl is nearly complete with a number of additions planned in the near future. The playing surface has been named the Class of '54 Field to honor the majority gift for the project from former Yale football player Charlie Johnson and his class. One of the additions will be the Jensen Family Plaza, which will be located on the walkway to the Bowl from Central Avenue, and honors the Jensen brothers: Irving '54, Colin '57, Erik '63 and Mark '67. The welcoming plaza will serve as the perfect place for fans to gather before and after games. The Kenney Family Field Center, which includes renovations to the exisiting field center and halftime room and additional special event space, will also be completed in the next phase of Bowl renovations. It honors the Kenney brothers: Jerry P. '63, Brian R. '60, Robert D. '67 and Richard L. '71, and a son, Jeffrey S. '93.
Father of American Football
For the eighth straight season, the Walter Camp Football Foundation honors Yale's game MVP as the Walter Camp Yale Player of the Game. This award is handed out both at home and on the road. RB Mike McLeod won it against USD last fall in his debut but WR Ashley Wright had the most (3) game MVP honors. Walter Camp (class of 1880), commonly known as the father of American football, captained two Yale teams and coached five others.
Leaders Play for Yale
The Yale football team has always produced leaders of all types on and off the field and this year is no exception. The 2006 roster includes 67 players who captained their high school gridiron squads and 45 people who captained other teams. Eight members of this year's team were senior class valedictorians and two were salutatorians.
Radio, Internet, Home Page and Hotline
NEWS/TALK 960 WELI broadcasts Yale football this fall on 960-AM. Yale football coaching legend Carm Cozza and Ron Vaccaro '04 provide the call of the action. You can also listen on TEAMLINE by calling 800-846-4700 and entering Yale's code (5682). WELI's Jerry Kristafer begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party. Engineer Tom Ivanovich adds the finishing touches on the broadcasts.WYBC (1340-AM), the Yale student station, also covers each game and has a 30-minute pre-game show that includes an interview with Eli head coach Jack Siedlecki. Sports Coordinator Anthony Brooks and Director of Football Broadcasts Bob Heussler lead a talented student staff. Yale games can be heard live on the internet at www.960WELI.com and www.wybc.com. The latest scores and game information from Yale varsity athletics are available by calling 432-YALE. The Yale Sports Hotline is sponsored by Barnes & Noble at Yale University, which is located on Broadway. Call 1-888-730-YALE for a copy of the store's fall catalog.