September 19, 2006

Yale Kicking Off Ivy Campaign at Cornell

Sept. 19, 2006

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The Yale football team looks to improve on its season opening effort this Saturday at Ithaca, N.Y., with the Ivy League opener against Cornell. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.at Schoellkopf Field.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).

Red vs. Blue

Yale leads 40-26-2 in a series that began in 1889 and has been played 68 times. However, the Elis are 13-14-2 at Ithaca and have dropped two of the last three at Schoellkopf Field.

Last Year

QB Jeff Mroz tied a school record with five TD tosses and WR Ashley Wright tied the Yale record with three TD catches as the Bulldogs cruised to a 37-17 win over the Red at the Bowl.

The Coaches

Jack Siedlecki, in his 10th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale. He is 103-65-2 as a collegiate head coach, 47-43 at Yale and 6-3 against Cornell. Jim Knowles (10-11 at Cornell in two-plus years) is 1-1 against the Bulldogs with the Big Red. This is his first collegiate head coach job but his 16th season working with Cornell.

Siedlecki Says After USD Game

"There's no question their quarterback (Josh Johnson) is a very special player. He put the ball on the money and they made some spectacular catches. Matt Polhemus did the things that we expected. He showed what kind of quarterback we expect him to be. He made some plays with his feet. We've got to make more connections, obviously, in the passing game, but it was his first game as the varsity quarterback. We've got to become a lot better. We've got to become a better football team."

USD Passes Bulldogs

A San Diego team riding a 10-game winning streak proved to be too much for Yale last Saturday in a 43-17 decision at Yale Bowl. Torero quarterback Josh Johnson threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns, adding 70 yards and a touchdown on the ground, as USD converted nine of 13 third downs and outgained the Blue 567 to 296 in total offense. The visitors jumped out to a 13-0 lead before Steve Santoro returned a kickoff 94 yards to cut the margin to 13-7. That was as close as the Bulldogs would get. Matt Polhemus, making his first start at QB, completed 11 of 28 passes for 162 yards and gained 54 more on the ground. He connected six times with WR Chandler Henley and three times with WR Ashley Wright. LBs Chris Barry (7-1-8) and Bobby Abare (6-2-8) had solid defensive outings, while DBs Casey Gerald and Kevin Littleton each had a career-high five solos.

Yale's Awards From Week One

The Bulldog coaches came up with these awards after watching the USD game film: Offensive Line- Ed McCarthy; Offensive Back- Chandler Henley; Defensive Line- Stephen Schmalhofer; Defensive Back- Brendan Sponheimer (DE); Special Teams- Steve Santoro; Hammer- Joe Fuccillo.

Big Red Open With Loss to Bucknell

Junior RB Luke Siwula (13-105) recorded his seventh career 100-yard game, but Cornell came out flat and never recovered in dropping a 20-5 decision at Bucknell last Saturday night at Christy Mathewson Stadium. Cornell, which racked up 436 yards of total offense, was the last NCAA football school to kick off its season and it showed against the Bison (2-1). Big Red QB Nathan Ford (18-36, 202) made his first collegiate start and was picked off twice. Gus Krimm led the Cornell defense with seven solos and nine total tackles.

First Touch

Steve Santoro's first touch in a varsity game turned into a 94-yard kickoff return and Yale's first points of 2006 last Saturday in the second quarter. It was the sixth longest KOR in Yale history and the longest since David Knox went 96 yards in 2002 against Penn at the Bowl. That was also Knox's first KOR as a collegian.

Splitting Uprights

Alan Kimball booted a field goal from 48 yards out as time ran out in the first half. It was the fourth longest three-pointer in Yale history and the longest since Ed Perks hit from 52 in 1990. That was Kimball's only FG attempt against USD and he connected on both PATs.

Positive Spin

Last year Jeff Mroz had -36 yards rushing and was sacked 15 times for 83 yards. Matt Polhemus, sacked just once against USD, rushed for 54, including a 17-yard dash, and a 6.8 average. The junior signal-caller completed 11 of 28 tosses for 162 yards while hitting Ashley Wright on a 43-yard scoring play in his first varsity start.

Captain Returns

Senior WR Chandler Henley sat out the 2005 season with an injury and was anxious to get back into action last week. Yale's No. 8 led the Blue with six catches for 69 yards against the Toreros and earned Walter Camp Player of the Game honors. He snared a 24-yard toss from Matt Polhemus while catching more than half of the junior QB's completions.

Barry Nice

Senior LB Chris Barry, who earned Ivy League Honor Roll status this week, had a strong showing in the season opener that included a game-high seven solos and eight overall stops. Barry, who had Yale's only sack of elusive QB Josh Johnson, stopped a USD running back on their only fourth-down conversion attempt in the second half with a loss of four yards.

Wright Gets Less Work

Senior WR Ashley Wright, who was first-team All-New England and All-Ivy while catching 61 passes for 795 yards and 10 scores and serving as the punter, had just three catches last week and was not punting. The Mobile, Ala., native did haul in a 43-yard TD pass (12th of career) from Matt Polhemus. The 6-foot-4 Wright tied a school record with three TD catches and had 198 yards on seven grabs against the Big Red last fall.

Bulldog Bites

DE Chris Wright had a busy day with a career-best five tackles and five punt snaps... There are two Connecticut players on the Cornell roster this fall: Chi Chi Madu (Fairfield HS) and Ricky Ballou (Choate), who is from New Haven... 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. Schoellkopf Field has a modern form of AstroTurf... Harvard (No. 25) is the only 2006 Yale opponent ranked in the latest CNN I-AA poll.

Nutmeg State Connection

Connecticut has always provided talented athletes for the Yale football team, with offensive stars such as 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 (141) than anyone in college football history.

Bulldogs Love The Tube

Six of the 10 Yale games in 2006 will air live on TV, including five of the last six. The Buldogs are on YES twice and appear on WLVI/WGN, Comcast CN8 and CSTV.

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 and both of them played against USD.

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 Stephen 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).

Survey Says...

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 by landslide); Toughest (Larry Abare, Brandt Hollander); Best Musician (Mike McGinity); and Most Likely to Become U.S. President (Steve Bassermann, Kevin Littleton).

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, who began the year with 63 yards on 18 runs vs. USD, 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).

McCarthy Trio

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).

Looking Ahead

The Blue travels to Easton, Pa., next weekend to face Lafayette, the first meeting between the Ivy and Patriot League squads since 1991. The Leopards, who had climbed to No. 21 ranking, beat Sacred Heart and Bucknell before opening renovated Fisher Field with a 21-11 loss to Penn last week that knocked Lafayette out of the rankings.

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 (Lehigh) 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.

All In The Family

Senior Ed McCarthy (Fairfield, Conn.) was Yale's OL MVP eight times last year and took week No. 1 honors this season. McCarthy, 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's father, Rick, and uncle, Ed, played for the Bulldogs. 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 352-186-21 (559 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 WR Ashley Wright, LB Chris Barry and QB Matt Polhemus. Listen to the Galiette Luncheon interviews on Don Boyle's 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 and captain Chandler Henley (6 catches) earned the honor against USD. 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. 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. 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.

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