HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days" where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs from June 17 to August 6. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 12-15. Today, we present … Yale.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country, with HERO Sports.
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Yale (5-5 IN 2018)
Ivy League (Yale T4th in 2018)
COACH: Tony Reno – At School: 8th Year (38-32) Overall: Same
2018 OFFENSE: 29.5 ppg (46th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 28.5 ppg (66th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 16 @ Princeton: Princeton won the conference title last year and looks solid entering 2019. With this being the second-to-last game of the season, the implications in this one are huge.
SUM IT UP: The Bulldogs went just 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the conference last year. So why did we preseason rank them No. 17, higher than any other Ivy League team? Well if you dive into the roster a little bit more than what's on the surface, there's a lot to like about this team.
Yale has starting experience returning at just about every position on offense and defense. And a number of those guys were hurt last year but played a key part in the Bulldogs going 9-1 and winning the conference title in 2017.
The offense is especially loaded. All-Conference quarterback Kurt Rawlings helped that Ivy League title run in 2017 as a rookie. He got hurt midway through last year and in stepped Griffin O’Connor, who ended up winning the Ivy Rookie of the Year award. That's a luxury rarely seen in a QB room at the FCS level. And the running back room has the same situation. Alan Lamar was a First Team All-Conference RB last year. Zane Dudek got that same honor in 2017 and was also named the conference's Rookie of the Year, but was limited last year due to injury.
The offensive line has six players with starting experience, led by All-Ivy League players Sterling Strother and Dieter Eiselen. Yale's top two receivers Reed Klubnik and JP Shohfi along with its top tight end JJ Howland are all back.
Defensively, things need to tighten up a little bit after being in the middle of the FCS pack with 28.5 points allowed a game. The defensive line should be the strength with All-Conference players Charles Callender and Spencer Matthaei back along with Air Force transfer Patrick Nauert. Malcolm Dixon is a talented player in the secondary and linebacker Noah Pope has a bright future after being named the team's rookie MVP last year.
OUR TAKE: Expectations are high for this program after a disappointing season. And if the Bulldogs do want to take their Ivy League title back, it'll be earned. Yale has to travel to Dartmouth and Princeton this year, the two top teams in last season's standings. If the offense can stay healthy and the defense can improve, though, this Yale team looks primed for another fantastic season.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./WR Reed Klubnik (First Team AC, 43 rec. for 1,143 yards and 9 TDs)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./RB Alan Lamar (First Team AC, 685 yards rushing and 9 TDs); So./QB Griffin O’Connor (Ivy Rookie of the Year, in 3 games threw for 1,229 yards with 8 TDs and 6 INT); Sr./QB Kurt Rawlings (AC HM, multi-year starter that got hurt last year); Sr./OL Dieter Eiselen (Second Team AC); Sr./OL Sterling Strother (Second Team AC); Sr./ WR JP Shohfi (Second Team AC, 55 rec. 836 yards and 6 TDs); Sr./DL Spencer Matthaei (Second Team AC, 24 tackles); Jr./TE JJ Howland (AC HM, 18 rec. for 326 yards and 2 TDs); Sr./LB Ryan Burke (AC HM, top tackler with 48); Jr./RB Zane Dudek (Hurt for part of last year, 2017 Ivy League Rookie of the Year)
TOP NEWCOMER: So./DT Patrick Nauert (Air Force transfer)
THE QUOTE: "I saw a lot of good things out here. We've grown since the first practice. I love the camaraderie and the leadership from the junior class. There's still a lot to work on. There were moments of brilliance and moments where we could see growth is needed. Good things happening on both sides of the ball." — Head Coach Tony Reno said during spring ball
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Yale Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The Ivy League
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast