August 31, 2011

Opening Day Nears

Yale 17 Days From Opener with Hoyas

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Opening day is 17 days away for the 2011 Yale Football Team, which is in the middle of its pre-season workouts, and there is plenty of work to be done before Georgetown comes to Yale Bowl on Sept. 17.

There are 22 players on the roster with collegiate starts, but the feeling out on the practice fields is that everyone has to perform to win a job.
 "The competition is fierce. There are a lot of guys who have played a lot for us battling for positions," said Tom Williams, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Yale Football. "You can hear kids talking to each other about their expectations for this team. That's a good sign."
There have been a number of informal scrimmages, including one with officials running it last Saturday on Clint Frank Field.

"The players and coaches were very happy with the way that the scrimmage went.  You can't help but notice how different the team looks from a year ago.  We have guys who have been in the system for a few years now, and the team is light years ahead of where we were at this point last year, " said captain and LB Jordan Haynes (Folsom, Calif.).   

Hurricane (or tropical storm) Irene forced Williams to shift Saturday's scrimmage time and give the Elis Sunday off. There were no complaints.

"The day off due to the storm definitely allowed for some much needed rest for the team.  Guys had been out on the field getting after it for a few days in a row, and it was a great opportunity to rest the legs and get ready to get back on the field," said Haynes (in photo).

Thirty-one new Bulldogs joined the squad when the team reported to New Haven on Aug. 18. They've been learning about Yale on and off the field since.

"The freshmen have caught on very well to our system.  Several kids have stood out in practices, as well as the scrimmage, and there definitely will be a few who get a chance to compete for some playing time this season," said the captain.

The things that stand out most when watching the Bulldogs practice are high-tempo drills, constant movement, attention to detail, maximum effort and plenty of yelling. The defense consistently comes up with big plays, but the offense also has its moments.

"Our practices are just as competitive as any scrimmage might be.  The tempo and intensity of a practice is meant to mirror a game situation, which helps us to continue to maintain that "competitive" feeling even when we aren't having a scrimmage or game," said Haynes.

The new team t-shirts have the words "Armed and Dangerous" on the back. The arms may refer to senior Patrick Witt (Wylie, Texas) and sophomore John Whitelaw (Hinsdale, Ill.), a pair of talented QBs who are getting most of the reps and have balls flying in every direction at moving targets. Witt is the starter and Whitelaw has clearly positioned himself as the No. 2 heading toward the opener.

Other balls rocket off the feet of placekickers and punters or shoot out of tire launchers from point-blank-range at receivers' hands, while the Blue (offense) and white (defense) jerseys clash on every line of scrimmage.

The first opportunity to look at the new team against another colored jersey is Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. when the Bulldogs host Dean College for a scrimmage at the Bowl.

 

Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director

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