Bears Will Prove To Be Too Much
Dartmouth football travels to Brown on Saturday to continue the grim march toward the end that has come to characterize the last few games of every season of which the '02s have been a part. The campaign, which began with such promise and took a sharp downturn when QB Greg Smith '02 went down in week 3, is now officially lost.
Last week, against an absolutely toothless Cornell Big Red squad, the Big Green lost linebacker Matt Mercer '02, their captain, defensive signal-caller and best remaining player, to a broken ankle. The team also lost the game, turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions during the second half and handing the ball game to the inferior Ithaca contingent, 28-24.
The Green stands at 1-6, heading into Brown to play the third best team in the Ivy League. Not only is Dartmouth's defense, statistically atrocious to this point, missing its centerpiece, its offense has all but given up on any semblance of an effective passing attack.
After turning to Evan Love '05 in the wake of the Smith injury and sticking with him for three games, coach John Lyons switched over to Joe Kinder '03. Against Cornell. Kinder couldn't do much better than Love, going 11 for 23 with three picks for only 100 yards. The stellar corps of receivers and pass-catching tight ends that had flourished under Smith remained under-utilized.
There's no reason to think that will change at all against Brown. The Bears have the best pass offense in the Ancient Eight, giving up just under 200 yards a game through the air.
The Dartmouth running game, now the only effective option for moving the ball, has stepped it up. Mike Gratch '02 is having a standout season carrying the ball. He has rushed for 724 yards, averaging over 100 yards a game, to become the third best back in the Ivies.
Unfortunately, Brown can counter with bruising senior tailback Michael Malan, who is better than Gratch in all major statistical categories and has twice as many touchdowns (10) as his Dartmouth counterpart.
The real issue, though, is Brown's passing game. Senior Kyle Rowley is throwing for 284.7 yards per game, tops in the Ivies, and he should have no problem shredding the leaky Big Green secondary.
This is not a good match-up for Dartmouth, and it would take something else for the Big Green to pull out a win against such a high-powered offense. The season ender against lowly Princeton at Memorial Field could well be a victory, but Brown looks like too difficult a task for the battered Green. Let's say Brown 35, Dartmouth 14.