September 25, 2007

No. 20/22 Bulldogs Head to Holy Cross

Sept. 25, 2007

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The No. 20/22 Yale football team (2-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy), coming off a 51-12 win over Cornell in its Ivy opener last week, goes on the road for the second time this fall with a noon kickoff this Saturday at Holy Cross (2-1, 1-0 Patriot) on Family Weekend. The game at Worcester's Fitton Field (23,500) airs live on both Comcast's CN8 and CN8.com. It can also be heard live on WELI (960-AM), WYBC (1340-AM) and on 960weli.com and wybc.com.

THE SERIES

The Elis, who won 11 straight against the purple and white at one point, may own a 25-4 advantage in the 104-year-old series, but the Crusaders have the last win. Holy Cross snapped the long skid with a 22-19 win at the Bowl in 2005. Yale, 6-0 at Worcester, is 19-4 at New Haven.

POLLS

The Bulldogs fell one place in the Sports Network Poll to No. 22 but moved up one spot to 20th in the FCS Coaches Poll. Yale has been ranked as high as No. 18 and as low as 25th in seven different FCS (formerly I-AA) polls this year.

RANKINGS

The Blue ranks fourth in the FCS in turnover margin at 2.0 and is eighth in rushing with 249 yards per game. Yale is 10th in scoring with a 39.5 mark while Holy Cross is 12th at 38.6.

TALE OF THE SCALE

Yale's starting offensive line, which has paved the way for the eighth ranked rushing attack in FCS and has yet to surrender a sack, averages 279 pounds compared to a Crusader defensive front that goes at 268 (11-pound difference). The Bulldog defensive front (247 lbs) faces a 44-pound disadvantage against a Holy Cross OL (291 lbs) that plowed over Georgetown for 55 points last week.

COACHES

Jack Siedlecki (Union '74), in his 11th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale, is 113-66-2 as a collegiate head coach, 57-44 at Yale. Siedlecki, who is 6-1 against the Crusaders, has coached in four of the oldest rivalries in college football (Lehigh-Lafayette, Yale-Princeton, Yale-Harvard and Amherst-Williams). Yale is 11-6 vs. Patriot League teams under Siedlecki. Tom Gilmore, a 1986 Penn graduate, is 18-18 at Worcester and overall as a head coach. Gilmore is 1-0 against Yale as a coach and 4-0 against the Bulldogs as a Quaker player (1982-85).

BLUE RACES PAST RED

Everything was clicking for the Bulldogs, who picked off three passes and wreaked havoc on a highly touted Big Red offense, while four different players scored TDs in Yale's 51-12 win at the Bowl on Sept. 22. Yale, which jumped out to a 16-0 intermission lead, quickly answered both Cornell scores on the way to a 35-point second half. Junior TB Mike McLeod (31-151) scored three times and led a Blue offense that racked up 436 yards of total offense, including 293 on the ground.

CRUSADERS CRUSH HOYAS

Holy Cross held Georgetown to 65 yards of total offense and a pair of first downs last Saturday in a 55-0 Crusader victory. QB Dominic Randolph completed 22 of 33 passes for 302 yards and two scores as Holy Cross rolled to 614 yards of total offense.

BLUE LIKES RED

The Bulldogs put points on the board all seven times they reached the red zone against Cornell. The Elis have scored on 11 of 12 attempts this fall.

McLEOD NAMED IVY PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Junior TB Mike McLeod earned Yale's first Ivy League Player of the Week honor when he shared the offensive award this week with Columbia junior RB Jordan Davis (22-177, 3 TDs). McLeod, a New Britain, Conn., native, garnered offensive player of the week honors twice in 2006. He is on the 2007 Payton Watch for the FCS player of the year.

STATS DON'T TELL THE STORY

Senior QB Matt Polhemus does not have gaudy stats other than his 10-2 record as a starter. He is averaging 160 yards passing and 43 more rushing, but you have to look at the play-by-play sheets to understand his impact. Polhemus, who had a 27-yard scamper against Cornell, comes up with big plays every week. He also connected with six different Yale receivers last week including his first scoring toss of 2007, a six-yarder to TE Langston Johnson.

NEW SCOREBOARD NEEDED

A new scoreboard at the Bowl is on the way, and it might have to be rushed after the Bulldogs overworked the old one last week. Yale's 51 points were the most since tallying 62 against Towson in 2000 and the most in an Ivy contest since a 53-point outburst against Brown in 1972. Yale's 35 points in the second half were the most in a half since the Blue put up 35 in the first 30 minutes against Towson in 2000. The 39-point margin of victory was the most for the Blue over the Big Red since a 70-0 win in 1889 and the most overall since a 41-0 win over Columbia in 2000.

SPREADING THE WEALTH

Four different Elis scored TDs, the most since four Bulldogs reached the end zone (all TD passes from QB Alvin Cowan) in a 31-28 win over Colgate in 2004. Five Bulldogs scored TDs against Towson in 2000.

HARD KNOCKS

Senior WR Chris Denny-Brown left the Cornell game with an injury after making one catch. Sophomore Reid Lathan took over Denny-Brown's punt return duties and had four for 24 yards, including an 18-yard scamper. Freshman Jordan Forney got a chance to run some patterns and hauled in his first varsity catch for eight yards. Junior DE Larry Abare (3 solos) also left early and second-year man Max Newton (5-1-6) filled in well.

TAKE YOUR PICK

The Bulldogs had one (DB Steven Santoro) interception at Georgetown. Three LBs snared Cornell passes last week including Bobby Abare, Lee Driftmier and Jay Pilkerton (first of career). Driftmier had a team-high five in 2005 but missed all of last fall with an injury. Abare snagged four balls in 2006. Those three LBs combine for 12 career picks.

BUSY FOOT

Senior PK Alan Kimball, who worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., last summer, put his foot on the ball 19 times last Saturday. He split the uprights on all three FG attempts and all six PATs while booting 10 kickoffs. His three FGs (at Columbia '05) equaled a career-high and his 15 points surpassed another. He now has 20 FGs, which is 16 behind career leader Mike Murawczyk (36).

MANTE UP

Sophomore punter Tom Mante had one of his best days as a collegian with a 43.7 average on six punts that include a career-best 62-yarder and three boots inside the Cornell 20. He is 14th in FCS punting with a 42.3 average. His best average in a game was 51.0 at Dartmouth last fall.

BULLDOG BITES

Junior TB Mike McLeod is two TDs shy of equaling the Yale career record for rushing scores (34) set by John Pagliaro '78, whose son, John Pagliaro III., is a freshman on the Yale team and had a big debut against Springfield in the Sept.23 JV game... Senior TE Langston Johnson (3-67) snared his first career TD pass and his longest reception (61) as a collegian against the Big Red. Johnson had just four catches for 58 yards in 2006... Senior FB Joe Fuccillo, who shared the hammer award with DB Matt Coombs, made a number of big blocks last week...

NFL EYES ON ELIS

The Colts, Falcons and Dolphins each had scouts in the pressbox on Saturday

JV PLAY OF THE WEEK

Freshman DB Gio Christodoulou raced over to snare a punt along the left sideline at his own 10-yard line in the second quarter of a win against Springfield last Sunday at Clint Frank Field. The rookie speedster from Miami, Fla., made a few defenders miss before sprinting up the sideline for a 80-yard TD. Yale won handily over Springfield.

SIEDLECKI ON CORNELL GAME

"We played one of the best games I've seen a Yale team, and that is in every facet. We physically dominated them all over the field. The lead at halftime could have been a lot bigger, especially with our scoring seven times in as many tries in the red zone. That is pretty dominant. I was surprised to see how well our offensive line picked up the blitzes given our three new starters. They handled everything that was thrown at them. Our defensive intensity was incredible the entire game. Cornell didn't run the ball at all. That Cornell back (Siwula) has had some good days against us the last two years."

CENTER OF IT ALL

Junior Ty Davis made his first career start a memorable one. Joined by first-year starters G Stephen Morse and T Bryan Kana, Davis and the Yale offensive line helped Yale rack up 436 yards. Senior center Nick Wachtler, a 2006 honorable mention All-Ivy pick, was injured in the opener and was not available against Cornell. Fortunately, the Bulldogs also have senior All-Ivy guard Jeff Monaco and standout junior Darius Dale.

SURVEY SAYS

The Yale team poll revealed some interesting facts about the Bulldogs. QB Richie Scudellari and LB Bobby Abare are considered the hardest working players. DT Stephen Schmalhofer is the funniest, DE Matt Plummer the smartest and TB Mike McLeod the most athletic. The best leader other than the captain is QB Matt Polhemus, while captain Brandt Hollander was voted the strongest. Bobby Abare has been named the toughest. WR Jarren Simmons (most musical), RB Dave Silberstein (community service) and DB Tim Handlon (most likely to be U.S. President) also were listed the most.

MORE FUN STUFF

DE Joe Hathaway was named the player with the most unique hobbies (Star Wars trivia knowledge, WWE fanaticism)... LBs Shebby Swett and Jay Pilkerton were voted the guys most players would want their sisters to date... Seventy percent of the team lives on campus... No player owns a bulldog but 91 percent of the team prefers dogs over cats... The favorite New Haven restaurant among the Elis is Yorkside Pizza & Restaurant... Carmen Anthony (Steak House) came in second.

FRATERNAL TWINS

Junior fraternal twins LB Bobby and DE Larry Abare (started as a DB in 2006) are possibly the only twins in college football starting together on defense. Public address announcers around the league are familiar with the last name. The Abares led the Blue in tackles and combined for five interceptions in 2006.

CAPTAIN CRUNCH

Yale captain Brandt Hollander sat out the season opener with an injury but was back at NG against Cornell and had one tackle. He did not suit up against the Hoyas, so seniors Louis Gresham, Kirk Porter and Joe Fuccillo, all from the D.C. area, served as honorary captains. Hollander was voted by the players as the strongest (bench press of 480, hang clean 368) guy on the team. He is a senior from Indianapolis.

STILL LEAD 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 football team of any kind to win 800 games but have since been overtaken by Michigan.

IT'S JUST 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 (Yale Field) and inside the outdoor track. Inclement weather could bring the team inside to either Coxe Cage or the Lanman Center (back of Payne Whitney Gym). 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 or coach.

BULLDOGS LOVE BOWL

Despite suffering both 2006 losses on the Class of '54 Field, the Yale Bowl has been a happy place for Bulldogs. Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914 with a 36-0 loss to Harvard, the Blue has gone 356-187-21 (564 games) at home. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 118-74-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home.

OH BROTHER

There are five sets of brothers on the 2007 Yale roster: LB Bobby and DE Larry Abare; DBs Matt and John Coombs; DE Eric and OL Louis Gresham; DE Brady and QB Brook Hart; FB Jack and DB Marcus Wallace and student assistant coach Kevin and DL Tom McCarthy. LB Tim Handlon, DB Rylan Spence and student assistant coach Mike Cautero had brothers that used to play football at Yale.

CONNECTICUT CONNECTION

Connecticut has always provided talented athletes for the Yale football team with offensive stars such as Rich Diana (Hamden High) and John Pagliaro (Derby High), and 2007 is no exception. QBs Ryan Fodor (Hand of Madison) and Matt Kelleher (Southington High) both earned state player of the year honors as seniors. In addition, RB Mike McLeod (New Britain High) was the New Haven Register's player of the year. Pagliaro's son, John III, came to Yale this fall from Maryland.

GALIETTE MEDIA LUNCHEON

This Tuesday at noon, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be joined by seniors RG Jeff Monaco and SS Nick Solakian. The Galiette Luncheon interviews can be heard (usually posted by Wednesday) on Don Boyle's sportingnewsct.com. Yale's weekly media luncheon was named after legendary play-by-play announcer Dick Galiette, who called Yale Football for 33 seasons until his death in 2005.

FORMER BLUE ON SUNDAYS

Eric Johnson '01, starting TE for the 0-3 New Orleans Saints, opened the season with eight catches for 57 yards against the Colts and then added three and a fumble recovery against Tampa Bay. Johnson, who has Drew Brees throwing balls to him, is second on the team with 16 catches behind Marques Colston (18)... Nate Lawrie '04 is listed as the third-string TE for the offensive-minded Cincinnati Bengals (1-2), who opened with a win over Baltimore before losing a shootout with Cleveland and then falling to Seattle... Dick Jauron '73 is in his second season as head coach of the Buffalo Bills (0-3)... Mike McDaniel '05, a former Yale WR, is an offensive assistant with the 2-1 Houston Texans.

"OLD" BLUE

Brian Clarke '74, a former Yale PK who played major roles in famous sitcoms and a well-known soap opera during his successful acting career, just finished an Amanda Bynes film called Sydney White... Former WR Eli Cooper '93 is the author of the memoir "Crawling: A Father's First Year," (out this fall in paperback) along with a bunch of children's books, none of which have anything to do with football (yet)... 1995 Yale captain Tony Mazurkiewicz is studying at Georgetown to become an ordained priest... Nick Sinatra '03, who was well known for both his football and his cooking for Bulldog teammates, works in the White House as the associate director of political affairs.

PHASE 1 AND DONE

Phase 1 restoration of Yale Bowl and the Class of '54 Field has been completed and a dedication event is scheduled for the Nov. 17 Harvard game. Phase 2, which begins next spring, includes 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 existing 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 (who will be honored by the Ivy Football Association in January), Brian R. '60, Robert D. '67 and Richard L. '71, and a son, Jeffrey S. '93.

FATHER OF FOOTBALL

For the ninth 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. Mike McLeod took the award vs. Georgetown with four TDs and 157 rushing yards. PK Alan Kimball earned the nod against Cornell with three FGs and six PATs. Walter Camp (class of 1880), commonly known as the father of American football, captained two Yale teams and coached five others. He compiled a 67-2-0 record and won three national titles as coach.

BLUE LEADERSHIP BALL HIGHLIGHTS FINAL WEEKEND

As always, there are numerous activities centered around The Game on Nov. 17. One of the highlights is the handing out of the George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Awards at the Blue Leadership Ball (Nov. 16). The honorees include Richard P. Cooley '44, Charles B. Johnson '54, Anne F. Keating '77, James McNerney '71 and Kurt L. Schmoke '71. Johnson and Schmoke played football at Yale. This year, Yale also celebrates the completion of phase one of the Yale Bowl, Class of '54 Field restoration with a dedication ceremony. In addition, there are many alumni functions.

ELIS ON ELI

NEWS/TALK 960 WELI will broadcast all 10 Yale football games this fall on 960-AM and online at 960WELI.com. Ron Vaccaro '04 returns for his second year as play-by-play announcer. Yale football coaching legend Carm Cozza, a 2003 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, returns for his 10th season as color commentator. WELI's Jerry Kristafer begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party broadcast. Kristafer, who has WELI's weekday morning show, speaks with Vaccaro about the Elis every Friday morning at 8:15.

WYBC ALSO AIRS

WYBC (1340-AM) also covers each game and has a 30-minute pre-game show. Bob Heussler, WYBC's Director of Football Radio Broadcasts, and Anthony Brooks, the station's sports coordinator, lead a talented group of Yale student broadcasters who can also be heard on wybc.com. WYBC also broadcasts Yale Sports Monday from 8-8:30pm, a show that wraps up each Yale football game and includes interviews with Jack Siedlecki, Yale's Joel E. Smilow ''54 Head Coach of Football, and the New Haven Register's Sean Barker. The show is hosted by Anthony Brooks, Sam Purdy, and Alex Jenson.

NETCASTS

Designed to keep Yale Athletics fans and alumni informed and entertained, the voice of the Elis, Ron Vaccaro '04 hosts a series of netcasts available via Apple iTunesU. This series will feature season previews, event coverage (such as Yale's Ivy title clinching defeat of Harvard in The Game last year), and commentary from coaches, players, and analysts, while also taking the fan inside special events such as the Blue Leadership Ball. You can download from iTunesU at yalebulldogs.com (see Yale Athletics Netcasts on right side of front page).

ON TV

The Blue has seven games on the tube this fall, three of which are at home. The Sept. 15 Georgetown game was a tape-delayed broadcast on Verizon Fios One in the D.C. area. Yale's Sept. 29 game at Holy Cross airs live on Comcast's CN8. The Oct. 6 game against Dartmouth on NESN is the ECAC Game of the Week. WFMZ-TV airs the Oct. 13 Lehigh game in the Bowl that also shows up on FSN Pittsburgh (DirecTV 628, Dish Network 428). The first of two road games on YES Network is Oct. 20 at Penn, the second is Nov. 10 at Princeton. The 124th edition of The Game will be carried on HDNet nation wide (available on DirecTV 79, Dish Network 9422 and various cable providers), SportsNet NY (New York), WPHL (Philadelphia), WLVI (Boston) and WTXX (Hartford). Jack Ford '72 will provide color on the broadcast after serving as master of ceremonies at the Blue Leadership Ball.

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