Bulldogs Kick Off 2008 With Georgetown

Sept. 15, 2008

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The official unveiling of the 2008 Yale Football Team takes place this Saturday at 12:30 when Patriot League foe Georgetown (1-1) comes to Yale Bowl and the Class of 1954 Field. Yale's 136th season opener can be heard live on WELI-AM 960 (960weli.com) and WYBC-AM 1340 (wybc.com).

SERIES

The first-ever meeting was a 28-14 Yale win a year ago at Georgetown. Mike McLeod (31-159) scored all four of the Bulldog TDs and the Eli defense came up with a pair of goal-line stands to take the 2007 Yale season opener. LB Jay Pilkerton (Nashville, Tenn.) led all tacklers with 5-13-18. Charlie Houghton rushed for 98 yards on 19 attempts, while QB Matt Bassuener (27-of-37, 181) threw a pair of TD passes.

TRUE BLUE 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 115-18-2 (with 76 shutouts), while they are 98-13-1 at home and 17-5-1 on the road. The Bulldogs have opened the year with Brown 26 times, by far the most meetings with any opening-day opponent. This is just the 14th time (but sixth in a row) in 136 years that Yale opens a season with a non-league contest.

HOYAS PLAYING 3RD GAME

Georgetown, which beat Howard 12-7 in its opener, lost last Saturday at Lafayette, 24-6. The QB combo of Keerome Lawrence (9-12, 65 yards), who led the team with 42 rushing yards, and James Brady (12-28, 141) kept the Hoyas in the game despite four Lafayette sacks. Nick Parrish led Georgetown with 3-9-12, including two sacks and a forced fumble.

TESTING TIGERS

Yale's annual pre-season scrimmage with Princeton took place at Princeton Stadium on Sept. 5. After the Tigers scored on a four-yard pass, the Bulldogs tallied the last four TDs, including runs by senior TB Mike McLeod (6 yards) and junior backup TB Brandon Scott (7) and two long pass plays. Senior QB Ryan Fodor connected with senior WR Ken Ebeling (Mahwah, NJ) on a 65-yard pass play before rookie QB Dawson Halliday (Knoxville, Tenn.) and sophomore backup FB Shane Bannon (Southbury, Conn.) had a 36-yard scoring play. Freshman LB Jordan Haynes (Folsom, Calif., 3-1-4) and senior DT Kyle Hawari (Plano, Texas, 3 solos, 1 sack) led the Eli defense.

TAIL OF THE SCALE

The Georgetown offensive line averages 258 pounds and is seven pounds heavier than the average of the Yale defensive front. The Eli OL has one pound on the Hoyas offensive front and seven pounds on the GU defensive line.

MEDIA LIKES H-Y

The Ivy League Pre-Season Media Poll had Harvard and Yale tied at first with 124 points and eight first-place votes. The rest of the poll included 3. Brown (99), 4. Penn (85), 5. Princeton (58), 6. Cornell (54), 7. Dartmouth (47), 8. Columbia (21).

MCLEOD FOR PAYTON

Yale senior RB Mike McLeod (New Britain, Conn.), who made three different All-America lists and was a finalist for the 2007 Payton Award, has been named one of the three runners on the second team of The Sports Network's 2008 All-America pre-season list and is on the Payton Watch List again. McLeod, who played the second half of the 2007 campaign with a broken toe, rushed for a school-record 1,619 yards and 23 TDs. He tied the Yale record with five scores while rambling for 256 yards at Holy Cross and smashed his own school record for yards in a game with 276 against Lehigh in the Bowl. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound RB, who was the 2007 Ivy League MVP, already owns all the major Yale career rushing records including TDs (49) and rushing yards (3,672). He has gone over 100 yards 18 times, second among active FCS runners.

COACHES

Third-year Hoyas head coach Kevin Kelly (4-20), who had been an assistant at seven other schools including Dartmouth, takes on 12th year Yale mentor Jack Siedlecki (64-45), who enters his 21st season as a college head coach.

CAPTAIN BLUE

Yale senior captain and LB Bobby Abare (Acton, Mass.) is a two-time first-team all-league pick who was honorable mention All-America last fall. He has six career interceptions, including two for scores. He and Harvard captain Matt Curtis threw out first pitches on Sept. 2 at Fenway Park before a Red Sox game to promote the 125th playing of The Game this November at Boston.

BEHIND CENTER?

The 2008 pre-season shaped up as a close battle for the starting QB job between senior Ryan Fodor (Madison, Conn.) and sophomore Brook Hart (State College, Pa.). Fodor (2-for-5, 29 yards in 2007) is a 6-foot-2, 206-pound righty who could be the first QB to make his first start as a senior since Blake Kendall in 1996, which was Carm Cozza's last season as head coach. Hart (6-5, 210) is a lefty who played JV last fall. If he gets the nod, he will be the youngest starting QB for Yale since Jeff Mroz started as a sophomore in 2002.

FIRST SINCE HETHERINGTON?

Senior Ryan Fodor (Madison, CT) could become the first Yale starting QB from the Nutmeg State since ex-NFL fullback Chris Hetherington lined up behind center for the 1995 Elis. The Bulldogs started Connecticut QBs for four straight seasons (Steve Mills, 1992-93, Hetherington, 1994-95).

REPLACING FEARSOME FOURSOME

The Yale defensive front, the area hit hardest by graduation, has lost All-Ivy players Brandt Hollander, Jared Hamilton and Kirk Porter and another regular standout, Stephen Schmalhofer. Seniors Kyle Hawari (Plano, Texas), who moved inside from DE, and Joe Hathaway (Clifton, NJ) and junior Tom McCarthy (Chester, NJ) form the new, lighter but quicker defensive front.

TEAMMATES TURNED FOES

There are four high schools from three states that are shared by Bulldogs and Hoyas.

Phillips Academy (Mass.): Y, Bryan Farris QB FR/GU, Charlie Houghton RB JR St. Ignatius (CA): Y, Chris Blohm TE SO/GU, Edward Hesselgren OL FR St. Ignatius Prep (Ohio): Y, Jason Palumbo LB SR/GU, Collin Meador TE SR St. John's Prep (Mass.): Y, Joe Young DL SO/GU, Scott Darby QB FR & Travis Zorrilla DE SR

FORMER HOYAS

Yale assistant coaches Shawn Halloran and John Walsh coached at Georgetown before coming to New Haven. Halloran was the offensive coordinator for the Hoyas from 1993 to 1996. Walsh was an assistant in D.C. from 1998 to 2001.

TSN POLL

The Sports Network's final 2007 rankings included Yale at No. 22 after the Elis had been as high as 11th during the season. The Blue received 107 votes but did not crack TSN's 2008 pre-season Top 25. Harvard (316) did and was No. 24. Just in case you are wondering... Yale's last ranking in a Division I-A final poll was in 1960 (14th AP, 18th UPI). The last Ivy team to earn a national ranking among the big boys was Dartmouth (14th AP and UPI) in 1970.

KENNEY FAMILY

The construction that will occur around the press box and halftime room is the start of the Kenney Family Field Center, which will include team meeting rooms, an alumni room with views of the field and a rooftop terrace.

GRAND ENTRANCE

Coming soon to the Bowl area is the Jensen Plaza, the grand entrance to the venue that will have names of every student-athlete who suited up for the gridiron Bulldogs.

SWITCHING SHIRTS

Four Elis who saw regular duty in 2007 have switched uniform numbers this fall. H-Back John Sheffield (Portland, Ore.), who had career-highs (8-115) at Georgetown last fall, went from No. 80 to No. 2. WR and return man Reid Lathan (Santa Barbara, Calif.) turned in No. 27 for No. 11. DT Tom McCarthy (Chester, NJ) went from 89 to 48 while Travis Henry (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) switched numbers (29 for 10) and positions (DB for DE).

BOOTING BULLDOG

Junior Tom Mante (Westford, Mass.), whose 41.2 yard punting average last fall was the best at Yale since 1955, has the top PK duties as well this fall. Mante, who has never done any PK work in college, connected on all 47 PATs at Bishop Guertin (NH) High School and had two game-winning FGs.

17-3

Yale's 17-3 record over the last two seasons is the best two-year run by any Bulldog teams since the 1980 and 1981 squads had the same mark with a pair of Ivy titles.

BULLDOG BITES

Yale junior Matt Kelleher (Southington, Conn.) spent the last two years trying to get healthy while competing for a QB job after being Connecticut's Gatorade Player of the Year. Now he is second on the depth chart as a 225-pound defensive tackle and long snapper... Yale has four players at 300 or more pounds including senior 313-pound OL Stephen Morse (Pittsburgh, Pa), the heaviest on the team, sophomore OL Nathan Burrow (Huntsville, Ala.) and freshmen OL Colin Kruger (Sarasota, Fla.) and David Bollweg (Naperville, Ill.)... Sophomore DE Sean Williams (Portland, Ore), who transferred from Navy two summers ago, is the son of former NFL player Larry Williams.

CASEY IN POINT

Senior Casey Gerald (Dallas, Texas), who is a Gates Scholar with a 3.68 GPA in political science, has been nominated for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award. Gerald, who is applying for a Rhodes Scholarship (interested in philosophy and development studies), has already been admitted to Harvard Business School (MBA). He received the 2008 Levi Jackson (former Yale captain) Scholarship for character, intellect, achievement and leadership.

TELLING THE SCORE

The Bowl's old (unable to confirm its age) scoreboard was replaced in early September with a custom-made LED unit from Ad Art that will make following the game much easier on the eyes and ears.

GOLDEN STATE OF YALE

Members of the 2008 Yale team come from 24 different states and the District of Columbia. California has the most with 12 while Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and Ohio each have nine.

DOG TESTING

The 2008 Elis were tested the day after returning to campus. Here are some of the best-conditioned Dogs: FB Shebby Swett (hang clean, 379.5 lbs.); DB Marcus Wallace (pull-ups, 29); OL Steve Morse (bench press, 475 lbs.); DE Jesse Reising (vertical jump, 35.5 inches) and RB Brandon Scott (dips, 48).

BULLDOGS LOVE BOWL

Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914, the Blue has gone 359-188-21 (568 games) at home. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 120-75-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home. The 1955 Bulldogs (see bench photo) went 7-1 on the field recently named after the class of 1954.

BOWLing FOR PROMOS

Each 2008 Yale home game is a special day at the Bowl. The season opener is Yale Employee Day. Holy Cross comes to New Haven on Oct. 4 on Yale Youth Day. Three weeks later it's Parents Weekend with the Penn Quakers playing on the Class of 1954 Field. Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Day is Nov. 1 with Columbia in town, while the "Fill the Bowl" promotion highlights the Nov. 15 Princeton game. Contact Yale Assistant AD for Marketing Pat O'Neill (Patrick.oneill@yale.edu) or intern Bob Coppola (sports.marketing@yale.edu) for more details.

YALE ON YES

The 2008 Yale Football Team will have three straight Ivy League contests broadcast live on the YES Network as part of a package called Yale on YES. The YES games are Oct. 25 (Penn at Yale), Nov. 1 (Columbia at Yale) and Nov. 8 (Yale at Brown). All three telecasts begin at 12:30 p.m.

VERSUS HAS IVY

The Ivy League has an agreement with VERSUS for a 2008 football TV package. VERSUS (73 million homes) will televise five Ancient Eight games as the Ivy League Game of the Week, Presented by TIAA-CREF. This is the first time since the early 1990s that Ivy football has been packaged together nationally. Here are the TV games on Versus: Oct. 11 - Cornell at Harvard (noon); Oct. 25 - Dartmouth at Columbia (4:00); Nov. 1 - Brown at Penn (noon); Nov. 15: Princeton at Yale (noon); Nov. 22: Yale at Harvard (noon). Versus also airs Pac-10, Big-12 and Mountain West games.

COACHING PUPS

The Bulldogs have four former players and current undergraduates who are serving as student coaches this fall: Mike Cautero '09; John Coombs '09; Isaiah DeLeon-Mares '10 and Vedant Seeam '10.

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. (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.

OH BROTHER

There are three sets of brothers on the 2008 Yale roster: LB Bobby and SS Larry Abare; DE Brady and QB Brook Hart and FB Jack and DB Marcus Wallace.

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 2008 is no exception. Two current starters are from the Nutmeg State. QB Ryan Fodor (Hand of Madison) was the Coca-Cola Player of the Year in Connecticut while RB Mike McLeod (New Britain High) was the New Haven Register's Player of the Year. Pagliaro's son, John III, is a sophomore DB who played RB last fall.

GALIETTE MEDIA LUNCHEON

This Tuesday at noon, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be joined by senior captain and LB Bobby Abare and senior OL Stephen Morse. The Galiette Luncheon interviews can be seen live 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 and will be inducted into the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame this December.

FATHER OF FOOTBALL

For the 10th 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. 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.

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, who was part of NBC's Olympic coverage this past summer, is in his third year as play-by-play announcer. Yale football coaching legend Carm Cozza, a 2003 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, is in his 11th season as color commentator. WELI's George DeMaio begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party broadcast.

MUST SEE TV

The Bulldogs have six games on live TV this year. After playing at Dartmouth on NESN, "Yale on YES" airs three straight Ivy games before Versus covers the Princeton and Harvard tilts with the last of a five-game Ivy League Game of the Week package.

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. 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, 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). New this year are video netcasts which are taped at Mory's and available for viewing each week at yalebulldogs.com.

YOUTH DAY

Yale Youth Day is Saturday, Oct. 4, the day the Blue takes on Holy Cross at the Bowl. Included in the day are New Haven school children taking part in clinics with Yale coaches and student-athletes. There is also a youth fair and youth football teams (Wexler Grant vs. Roberto Clemente at 9 a.m., Branford vs. Old Saybrook after Yale game) play on the Class of 1954 Field.

Release filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director