Football ready for Brown
There seems to be some point of critical frustration for Dartmouth football this year.
Before getting to that angst-induced ignition line -- generally met when Dartmouth is facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit late in the game -- the Big Green can barely muster enough punch to pummel teams as toothless as the 1-7 Columbia Lions.
But after reaching a bench-kicking, Gatorade-bottle-throwing level of absolute ire, it's bad news for whoever happens to be on the other side of the football -- just ask Cornell, Harvard or Columbia, who have all seen double digit leads disappear before a Dartmouth offensive onslaught.
George Neos '93, Dartmouth's All-Ivy linebacker, might call it the "What the hell?" threshold.
"I was coming off the field after Columbia had scored a touchdown to go ahead 25-21," Neos said, "I ripped off my helmet and yelled, 'What the hell is going on here?' Then, after the offense had missed four chances to score on the goal line, I saw our center, Nat Cook '94, rip off his helmet and yell, 'What the hell is going on here?' It was just echoing everywhere."
And shortly thereafter, the only thing that was echoing was the ringing sound in the Lions ears.
"Sometimes it takes a while for us to get going," Coach John Lyons admitted. "But we really have done a good job in terms of points and yardage."
Unfortunately, so have Dartmouth's opponents.
And that's what has Lyons concerned as the Big Green, 5-3 overall, 4-1 Ivy League and riding a four-game winning streak, prepare for their game against Brown (3-5 over all, 2-3 Ivy League) at Memorial Field on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Especially after Brown thoroughly humiliated Harvard, 43-29, in a game that wasn't half as close as the score.
"Brown really looked good against Harvard," Lyons said. "They had as good an offensive performance as any Ivy League team has had against another this year."
The Bears literally ran right over Harvard, piling up 265 yards on the ground, including 128 by freshman tailback Marquis Jessie.
Probably the most crucial of those yards was the 53 gained by multi-talented quarterback Trevor Yankoff who, after starting the season second on Brown's depth charts, has emerged as a bona fide threat.
Yankoff is the kind of mobile quarterback that gives the Dartmouth defense fits. Yankoff also completed 13 passes in 20 attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns against Harvard.
Yankoff, Jessie and the whole Brown bunch will be picking on a Dartmouth defense that is as hobbled as it is frustrated by the kind of points it has allowed in the past three weeks.
The biggest hurt has been on the defensive line. Four of Dartmouth's top six linemen, Gerry LaMontagne '94, Ken Bower '94, Darius Kirksey '94 and Zack Lehman '95 will be watching Saturday's game from the bench.
It's no wonder that after starting the season as one of the league's best defenses -- the squad let in just 64 points over its first five games -- Dartmouth's defense has gone as soft as an aging Halloween pumpkin, allowing an average of nearly 30 points over the last three contests.
"In general, we've played really horrible defensively in the past three weeks," Neos said. "The defense kept us in games over the first five weeks, but it's been the offense that has won game for us in the past three."
Indeed, Dartmouth's ultra-octane offense has been purring, if somewhat inconsistently, over the past three weeks.
Jay Fiedler '94, who started the season with the most notorious slump of an otherwise brilliant career, has been making a late push for becoming a rare repeat winner of the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Player of the Year with his play of the past few weeks.
Against Columbia, he was 14 of 28 with 243 yards and three touchdowns, but those numbers would have been higher were it not for a half dozen dropped passes that scarred the Big Green aerial attack.
The only receiver who hasn't dropped passes is John Hyland '94, who had another typically outstanding week with six catches for 136 yards. Hyland, the league's second most prolific receiver, needs just five more catches to break the Dartmouth season reception mark and is also on track to break the school record in yardage.
But what truly de-clawed the Lions was Dartmouth's running attack, led by Pete Oberle '96, who slammed into Columbia's line with the force of a New York City taxi cab 31 times and stacked up 126 yards without a run of more than 11 yards.
If Dartmouth can get both its running and passing games working simultaneously and consistently, the only unit that will be wondering "What the hell?" is Brown's defense.