Sunday, August 31, 2014

What Did We Learn?

How Dartmouth's opponents fared in Week One and what we learned:

Central Connecticut State 31, Towson 27
(Recap and links)
Quarterback Nick SanGiacomo and tailback Rob Holloman both played at another level before coming to Central Connecticut State and that's fitting because they played at another level yesterday in helping the Blue Devils to stunning win in their opener.

SanGiacomo, who came to Central Connecticut State a year ago from Tulane, completed 22-of-28 throws for 273 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions as the Blue Devils won a back-and-forth affair on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with Holloman running in from the 1 with 36 seconds left. Holloman, who began his career at Kent State, finished with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in addition to pulling in nine receptions for 48 yards. Also collecting a touchdown for CCSU was his brother Brandon, a transfer from Kansas, who caught a 5-yard pass for a score in the third quarter to give the Blue Devils their first lead, 13-7.

Towson beat No. 2 Eastern Illinois and No. 3 Eastern Washington last year before falling to No. 1 North Dakota State in the FCS national championship game. While they took a graduation hit they were still picked fifth in the powerful Colonial Athletic Association in the league's preseason poll.

Albany 14, Holy Cross 13
(Recap and links)
A year ago Holy Cross lost heartbreaker after heartbreaker, but that was nothing compared to what happened in this year's opener. With 44 seconds remaining, Albany safety Neil Morrison picked up a fumble and ran it back 79 yards for the score that with the extra point broke Holy Cross hearts once again.

The Crusaders got 323 yards and one touchdown passing from sophomore Peter Pujals, 75 yards rushing from Gabe Guild, 149 yards receiving from Jake Wieczorek and a solid defensive effort that limited Albany to 263 total yards. And they lost.

Toledo 54, New Hampshire 20
(Recap and links)
UNH had a 14-3 link over the Rockets midway through the second quarter and trailed by two points entering the third before the FBS team wore the Wildcats out. A touchdown with 4:33 left in the third pulled the visitors to within 30-20 but Toledo piled on 24 points in the final 16 minutes, capped by a field goal with 4:05 remaining.

While UNH had trouble running the ball (37 yards), quarterback Sean Goldrich was an efficient 27-for-39 for 291 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
What did we learn in Week One?

Central Connecticut State is what we thought they were, but probably better. This is a team with some serious weapons on offense and questions on defense.

Holy Cross is still a work in progress, but giving up one touchdown defensively is a strong showing against anyone.

As for UNH, the Chip Kelly offense that allowed the Wildcats to post all those wins over FBS teams has largely been figured out and while the feeling remains that their defense has improved, they will be in a lot of high scoring games this year. This always sounds a little silly, but the key to beating the 'Cats might just be outscoring them.
The local daily has a look at 6-foot-5 sophomore receiver Joseph Cook as well as a few notes out of practice HERE.
Check BGA Premium for coverage of yesterday's practice and be sure to come back this evening for a look at today's practice.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Worth Noting

A friend of BGA sent along a note that a Boston Globe story regarding the academic struggles of the UMass football team includes an Academic Progress Rate chart supporters of the Dartmouth program will appreciate. Here's the explanation that goes with the chart:
The University fo Massachusetts Amherst football team has struggled in average academic progress rate, threating its playoff eligibility for 2015-16. How the UMass football team's rate compares with other schools in the Mid-America Conference and around New England.
The chart has Dartmouth No. 1, Yale at 2, Brown at 3, Harvard at 6 and New Hampshire at 7.

Find the chart and the story HERE.
Depth charts in game notes can be notoriously fictitious, but there's still something to be gleaned from them about heights, weights and seniority. Here are the depth charts for Dartmouth's three nonconference opponents, who all open play today.


Click chart to enlarge and then click again.


UNH at TOLEDO, 7 p.m.

Full game notes for each opponent can be found at these links:

Central Connecticut StateHoly CrossUNH
Check BGA Premium this evening for another full report on today's practice. Yesterday's story took at look at the Big Green linebacking corps.

Also, some of you have sent along a check or PayPal and still haven't finished the sign-up process. The guess here is I'll be hearing from you before the games begin, but don't wait. There's good stuff in the daily practice reports. Promise ;-)
No decision last night for Dartmouth alum Kyle Hendricks but another good start in his rookie season with the Chicago Cubs. After giving up two runs in the first inning Hendricks (5-1) threw five shutout frames as the Cubbies took a 7-2 win over the Cardinals. He was 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in August.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Looking Good

Kyle Bramble runs a drill.

One of the biggest questions coming into the season for followers of the Dartmouth football team was whether promising junior tailback Kyle Bramble would be ready to go after having ACL surgery at season's end for an injury suffered against Princeton.

Bramble, who averaged 73.3 yards per game over the final three contests of 2013 despite playing behind the now-graduated Dominick Pierre, is back taking first-team reps in camp. After practice yesterday he said, "I've never felt better."

Bramble showed a knack for the big play last year, posting long runs of 37, 70 and 41 in those final three games. Check BGA Premium for a full story about his return, and for coverage of yesterday's practice.

The Big Green will be back at it this morning and BGA Premium will have a full update later in the day.
To listen to a game-week interview with Pete Rossomando, head coach of Dartmouth Week One opponent Central Connecticut, click HERE. CCSU opens tomorrow night against Towson.
The Cornell Daily Sun has a story about quarterback James Few, the successor to Ivy League single-season and career passing leader Jeff Mathews. (LINK) Few may not have the arm of Mathews, recently cut by the Atlanta Falcons, but he's got the edge on his predecessor in another department. From the story:
“I’m definitely more mobile than [Jeff] is,” Few said with a small chuckle. “I’d say that to his face — it’s not a secret. I can move a little bit better. I’m smaller; he’s about 6’5’’, 6’6’’. I’m about 6’2’’. I kind of need to create those throwing lanes with my feet and that’s something that I feel is a strong point for me on mobility in and around the pocket.”
Boston College is the most popular football team in Massachusetts, right? Not if you believe an InfoGraphic put together by Ticket City, which says Harvard is the more popular team. (LINK)

Of course, if you look at attendance it's no contest. Let's see, BC drew 33,006 per game. Harvard drew 12,068.

The same graphic says Dartmouth is the most popular team in New Hampshire.
SB Nation's Boston College page, meanwhile, dissects the Whiplash offense in advance of BC's game against the University of Massachusetts. (LINK) Named for former Brown quarterback and head coach Mark Whipple, now the head coach at UMass, the Whiplash was the forerunner of the offense that has helped Brown evolve into an upper echelon Ivy League team.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ready, Set, Action!

Dartmouth football opened preseason practice Wednesday and here Defensive Coordinator Don Dobes works with a group on stripping the ball:

The official Dartmouth Sports Publicity site has a short blurb on practice with the schedule HERE, and the local daily has a report HERE.

Full coverage with photos and videos (including the one at the top of this page) was on BGA Premium last night.

Those of you who signed up for "alerts" should have received one last night. Keep in mind, the list was compiled using handwritten notes you sent along (unfortunately, those "a's" can look a lot like "e's" etc.), via emails with addresses (best), and in some cases by going back to the address you used to sign up in the first place. I mention that by way of saying the list is a work in progress.

If you signed up for the alert option and didn't receive one, email me the information. Thanks.

I'll be back at practice this morning and will post coverage later today.
Dartmouth's new alternate uniforms were unveiled during the Football 101 extravaganza. Now it's Penn's turn:

Green Alert Take: It's either a generational thing or the Penn Stater in me, or probably both, but I don't quite get it ;-) I can understand liking a new uniform, but to react as if you just won the Super Bowl on a last-second field goal?

By the way, in the video there's a mention of Penn's fourth different uniforms making it the, "Oregon of the Ivy League."
A friend of BGA shared a link I missed to new technology that a USA Today story (LINK) explains . . .
. . . takes an existing playbook – in this case, the plays given to the camp's quarterbacks – and layers it onto a wide range of defensive alignments, forcing users to digest and dissect formations and schemes in the seconds or split-seconds before the snap.
More from the story:
in a time when the NCAA and college conferences are strengthening limits on physical contact in practice, Axon's training boards preserve the body while sharpening the brain.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota uses the technology and had this to say:
"It's a great tool for college athletes. It provides an opportunity to kind of get live reps without going through practice. It's all visual stuff, and the game's like 80% mental anyway. So if you can get more mental reps, it will help prepare you for the season." 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Another Look At The Ivies

With Dartmouth football practice finally starting  on Memorial Field this morning (check BGA Premium for coverage later today) The Sports Network has posted its Ivy League preseason outlook. (LINK)

Here's how TSN sees the race:

1. Princeton
2. Harvard
3. Dartmouth
4. Yale
5. Penn
6. Brown
7. Cornell
8. Columbia

The only difference from the ranking that came out of media day is switching Yale and Penn. The media had the Quakers fourth and the Bulldogs fifth.

TSN has offensive lineman Scotty Whitmore, defensive linemen Evan Chrustic and Cody Fulleton, and corner Vernon Harris on its preseason All-Ivy League team.

The "kicker" from the Dartmouth capsule is hard to argue with:
Penn has frustrated the Big Green while their program has turned around, so a win over the Quakers to open the Ivy schedule is imperative. 
Green Alert Take: There are a lot of media outlets that don't have much of a clue about the Ivy League but TSN isn't one of them. Executive editor Craig Haley covered Princeton and the Ivies as a newspaper beat writer when I was covering Dartmouth for our local daily.
It doesn't happen often but occasionally an accepted recruit changes his mind and lands elsewhere. Such was the case with Jerry Uwaezuoke, a defensive tackle who would be a junior on Memorial Field today but instead is in the starting lineup at Tulsa. Ditto for kicker Wyatt Schmidt, who was expected to be starting his first Dartmouth camp but instead is at USC.

The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Uwaezuoke was originally part of a Dartmouth recruiting class, switched to Tulsa, and then seemed headed to Hanover after all before ending up at Tulsa. He started the last two games for the Hurricanes a year ago as a redshirt freshman and is listed as a starter for their opener against Tulane. Find his Tulsa bio HERE.

Schmidt, the brother of former Dartmouth standout Foley Schmidt, gave up his spot in the Big Green recruiting class to give big-time football a chance. He's listed third on the USC depth chart. Find his USC bio HERE.
Just in time, opponent previews wrapped up on BGA Premium last night with a look at New Hampshire. Researching the Wildcats, I was reminded about this history of FBS upsets that UNH pulled off:

2004 UNH 35, Rutgers 24
2006 UNH 34, Northwestern 17
2007 UNH 48, Marshall 35
2008 UNH 28, Army 10
2009 UNH 23, Ball State 16

UNH opens the season looking for another FBS skin Saturday night when it plays at Toledo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Log In And Watch The Action

If there was one question I was asked most frequently last night by freshman football parents, it was about whether games could be watched on the computer. The answer is yes.

Dartmouth's Big Green Insider is part of the Ivy League Digital Network (FAQs)

Packages include streaming access to all games (not just football), events and content. Here are the available packages with currently listed prices (LINK):

$119.95 Annual league-wide
$49.95 Four-month, league-wide
$15.95 Monthly league-wide

$89.95 Dartmouth annual
$34.95 Dartmouth four-month pass
$10.95 Dartmouth monthly
$9.95 Dartmouth day

Dartmouth home football games are carried in HD with replays, graphics and commentary carried over from the radio broadcast. (One caveat is that TV games are not carried live on the computer.)
The Sports Network picks Week One Dartmouth opponent Central Connecticut State to finish last in the Northeast Conference. (LINK) The story from TSN does, however, suggest that CCSU opponents could be in for a few surprises because . . .
"(Coach Pete) Rossomano is clearly building for the future, and has brought in a freshman class that could have not just one or two but a handful of impact performers this season . . .
Dartmouth 2014 opponents New Hampshire and Holy Cross have announced a four-game series to run from 2016-2019. (LINK)
Here's what is described as a "60-second promotional spot for Dartmouth athletics."

The 2014 BGA Premium preview package finishes later today with a look at the UNH Wildcats. Daily coverage of practice begins tomorrow so if you haven't signed up yet, don't wait. If you do, you may never catch up. As I told a few folks last night, in a typical year of BGA Premium the word count when the season is over is roughly equivalent to one of the early Harry Potter books ;-)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sign Him Up

John Perry, Dartmouth's innovative offensive coordinator from 1999-2004, is now the tight ends coach with the Houston Texans under good friend Bill O'Brien. In this outtake from an episode of the HBO series "Hard Knocks," Perry introduces his 12-year-old son to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who the younger Perry frequently watched in person when he played at Boston College and the Perrys lived in Massachusetts.

With encouragement from his dad, a former star receiver at New Hampshire, John Jr., runs down the field and makes a really terrific catch of a pass from Matty Ice, who is suitably impressed. Watch here:

The Dartmouth junior varsity football schedule is out and looks like this:

Thursday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. – at Harvard (toward the end of the preseason contest with the Crimson)

Saturday, Sept. 13, 1 p.m. – Middlebury at Dartmouth

Sunday, Oct. 5, 1 p.m. – Williams at Dartmouth

Sunday, Oct. 19, 1 p.m. – Norwich at Dartmouth (passing)
With the season beginning this week it's time for the weekly look at the national Sagarin Ratings (LINK), which rank every Division I team (FBS and FCS). They don't mean much early in the season and mean less right now, but here goes:

Ivy League
137 Princeton
149 Harvard
174 Dartmouth
184 Penn
194 Yale
195 Brown
219 Cornell
241 Columbia

Nonconference Opponents
84 New Hampshire
213 Holy Cross
225 Central Connecticut

252 Valparaiso
Remember those bee stings I wrote about last week? Well, it got a little crazy.

By Tuesday the pain was intense, the itch totally off the charts. The areas of the stings on both legs felt like I'd been hit by a hammer and, strangely, they were rock hard to the touch in a circle about the diameter of a baseball.

I suspected something on Wednesday when I struggled to pull on my hiking shoes, and had it confirmed on our drive to Happy Valley on Thursday when That Certain Nittany Lion pointed at my ankles and screamed. (OK, that last part isn't true but he did make a sound like, "yeccch.") My ankles were big. By the time we got to the Little League World Series both my ankles and the tops of my feet looked like they'd been over-inflated and were about to explode. Good thing I was in flip-flops because I'm not sure I could have squeezed my feet into Shaquille O'Neal's sneakers.

My feet are fine now but it was pretty weird. Nurse BGA said it was a nasty reaction to the bee venom that led to swelling, which eventually adhered to the laws of gravity, perhaps aided by my daily hike up the mountain. Pretty weird stuff but the pain is gone, the itching is gone, people are no longer pointing at my feet, and I'm not going anywhere near that bee hive until it's about 20 degrees below zero . . .

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Here We Go

While we weren't watching the 2014 college football season opened yesterday with No. 2 Eastern Washington topping No. 14 Sam Houston State in the FCS Kickoff game, 56-35. (LINK)

Dartmouth begins practice on Wednesday.

Here is the Dartmouth practice schedule, broken down by weeks. As always, there will be a story on BGA Premium following every practice.

Wednesday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m. – Practice No. 1
Thursday, Aug. 28, 8:30 a.m. – Practice No. 2
Friday, Aug. 29, 8:30 a.m. – Practice No. 3
Saturday, Aug. 30, 8:30 a.m. – Practice No. 4

Sunday, Aug. 31, 10 a.m. – Practice No. 5
Monday, Sept. 1 8:30 a.m. – Practice No. 6
Monday, Sept. 1, 4:15 p.m. – Practice No. 7 (Blackman)
Tuesday, Sept. 2, 3 p.m. – Practice No. 8
Wednesday, Sept. 3, 8:30 a.m. – Practice No. 9/No. 10 TBA
Thursday, Sept. 4, 8:30 a.m. – Practice No. 11
Friday, Sept. 5, 8:30 a.m. – Practice No. 12
Saturday, Sept. 6, 1 p.m. – Practice No. 14 (Green-White Scrimmage)

Sunday, Sept. 7 – Off
Monday, Sept. 8, 8:30 a.m. – Practice No. 15
Monday, Sept. 8, 4:15 p.m. – Pracice No. 16 (Blackman)
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 3 p.m. – Practice No. 17
Wednesday, Sept. 10, 7 a.m. – Practice No. 18
Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2:30 p.m. – Practice No. 19 (Blackman)
Thursday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. – Scrimmage at Harvard
Friday, Sept. 12, 3:45 p.m. – Practice No. 21
Saturday, Sept. 13, 1 p.m. – Jayvees vs. Middlebury

Sunday, Sept. 14 – Off
Monday, Sept. 15, 3:45 p.m. – Practice No. 23
Tuesday, Sept. 16, 3:45 p.m. – Practice No. 24
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 3:45 p.m. – Practice No. 25
Thursday, Sept. 18, 3:45 p.m. – Practice No. 26
Friday, Sept. 19, 4:45 p.m. – Practice No. 27
Saturday, Sept. 20, 1:30 p.m. – Central Connecticut
Internet sleuths have discovered that Lyle Marsh has reappeared on the Penn football roster. (ROSTER) The oft-injured tailback was a second-team, All-Ivy League choice in 2009, played two games in 2010 before having his season ended by injury and lasted four games before he was hurt in 2011. In 2012 he was second-team All-Ivy again. Marsh missed 2013 because of non-football issues according to the Daily Pennsylvanian and only now has reappeared on the 2014 roster.

How rare is it to have an Ivy League athlete's career stretch over six years? Very, very rare.

Green Alert Take: The hope here is Marsh stays healthy and things work out for a kid for whom football is clearly very important. If he is on the field this fall and plays to the level he has been capable of when he was healthy, Penn becomes that much more dangerous.
The Sports Network picks Holy Cross fifth in the seven-team Patriot League, one spot behind old friend Colgate. (LINK)

The Worcester Telegram has a story about Holy Cross, Dartmouth's final nonconference opponent,  focused on dynamic quarterback Peter Pujals. (LINK)
The New York Post has a STORY in which New York Mets executive Dave Howard talks about the New York Jets General Manager John Idzik. Why post that here? The two had neighboring lockers as Dartmouth football players. Howard was a quarterback and Idzik a wide receiver. Both were Class of '82

Here's a funny outtake from the story:
“Lockers [were] arranged alphabetically,” Howard resaid, “so H and I is pretty close. I notice this tall blond guy laughs at a lot of my jokes. So I’m like, ‘Hey, I like the guy!’ ” 
It turned out to be the beginning of a lifelong friendship. 
“I recognized the name, I was a Jet fan so I knew that his dad was a coach, and we immediately hit it off,” Howard told The Post. “And when I tell that story in his presence, he’ll say, ‘Guys — I’m a wide receiver, he’s a quarterback. Of course I’m going to laugh at his jokes.’ ”
We got back to the Upper Valley from Happy Valley at 10 last night and I quickly sat down and posted the Yale season preview on BGA Premium. The series continues tonight with a look at Central Connecticut State. Holy Cross will go up tomorrow and New Hampshire on Tuesday. Then it's off to the races – or at least practices ;-)

And finally for your Sunday morning ... a peaceful view of horses grazing in the field alongside our campground near Penn State:
Click to enlarge