Football ends spring practices with Green-White scrimmage
The Green team won in a close 14-10 game, behind a valiant 170-yard, eight-of-12 passing effort from former starting quarterback Josh Cohen '09. Tom Bennewitz '07, who quarterbacked the White team, managed to move his team to the Green 10-yard line before the clock ran out.
The friendly scrimmage marked the end of a three-week-long spring practice and allowed players a chance to display the progress that they have made in the past weeks.
"I was really impressed [with spring practice]," head coach Buddy Teevens '79 said. "We had a high degree of consistency and I think a lot of that is a result of greater competition. We have more depth in positions, which forces people to come out and play at the same level. Otherwise, we will adjust the depth chart."
"Practices were very competitive. And every day, people came to work and to work to improve, which is a huge plus for us," Teevens added.
The team will continue to weight-lift and run throughout the remainder of the term but will not be conducting formal practices until the end of August, when summer camp starts.
"The team has made improvements across the board [this spring] but I feel like the biggest improvement is the team's overall mentality and ability to play together," Justin Cottrell '08 said.
"It's always a little difficult in the beginning of any spring session when you are trying to get used to playing with some new guys around you," Cottrell added. "But I couldn't be happier with [the] guys around me and I feel like the team as a whole really started to gel and play together by the end."
Following the game, Teevens announced the four captains who have been elected by their teammates to serve as team leaders for the upcoming football season.
Safety Ian Wilson '08 gave a concise but lofty acceptance speech. "Let's do it," he said. His words were received with chuckles from the spectator stands and loud cheers.
The other three elected captains -- Cottrell, Jared Dowdakin '08 and Taylor Layman '08 -- echoed sentiments similar to those expressed by Wilson.
After back-to-back 2-8 seasons, the football team under Teevens's guidance will look to restore Dartmouth's winning tradition this fall. Teevens's third recruiting class will seek to supplant players that have been inadequate in fulfilling their roles.
"We certainly struggled [in the last two years]," Teevens said. "Our record in the second year did not change appreciably, although the competitive level did. We had opportunities to win a few more games but we didn't do it. As I have told my players, it's time to have some of those wins that we have talked about and worked towards."
The 2007-08 football season also marks the 15th, 25th, 35th and 45th anniversaries of four Ivy Championship teams -- the 1962, 1972, 1982 and 1992 Big Green football teams, giving the current Dartmouth squad an extra incentive to play well in the hope of sharing the honors that those football alumni have earned.
The Big Green will have a lot of room for improvement, having defeated only two Ivy squads -- Brown and Columbia -- in the last season. And the chances of Dartmouth doing well against Ivy opponents look promising for the fall. Cohen, who earned the starting quarterback position near the end of his freshman season, was suspended last season for academic reasons, leaving a hole in the quarterback spot. The team adjusted fairly well to the loss of Cohen when Mike Fritz '07 took over as quarterback. However, Fritz will be graduating this spring and the starting job is again up for grabs.
"Tom [Bennewitz] was actually the starter last year and he was injured in the first game and Mike Fritz came in and did a tremendous job. So Tom has the capability to run our offense, he simply didn't have the chance to do it a year ago," Teevens said. "He did a nice job in the off-season and he has had a very strong spring performance. I also think he is very comfortable with the offense."
But Bennewitz has not been guaranteed the starting position, as he will continue to be challenged by Alex Jenny '10, who earned the spring award for Most Improved Quarterback, and by Cohen, who helped the Green squad to both victories during spring scrimmages.
"I feel that we have more depth in the quarterback position," Teevens said. "The nice thing is that the development of other aspects of our offense has helped to take pressure off the quarterback and allowed us to do a couple more things offensively."
Although consistency in performance continues to trouble both Dartmouth's offense and defense, Teevens noted that he has seen both consistency and added depth in the offense during spring practices with "greater regularity." And despite lacking physically larger players on the offensive line, Teevens hoped that the new recruiting class can fill those positions.
On the subject of defense, Teevens remarked that although there are areas, like the secondary, which require further improvement, he believed that there are enough experienced players in those positions to be competitive.
"As we go across the board, the big thing is that we have more depth and more competition in a variety of spots, which really lends itself to [getting] the best play out of people. Because they know that if they perform poorly, someone else can probably step in and perform for them," Teevens said.
"Some of our younger guys have become more experienced. Thankfully, we have more seniors this year -- a larger group than we have had any time since I have been here," he added.
Teevens discussed the Class of 2011 briefly, noting that he expects several first-year players to contribute immediately.
"We don't have a lot of tight ends in the programs, so the three freshman tight ends -- Chase Jensen '10, Mike Cummings '10 and Kevin Gallagher '10 -- will have a chance to contribute," Teevens said.
Teevens characterized the 31 incoming players, some of whom are not official recruits, as "more athletic" than those recruited in previous years. Teevens remarked that the size and athleticism of players were two features that he looked for in the Class of 2011.
"There's a good number of guys and we play a lot of young people, some out of necessity, some by philosophy. We think that developing the '11s with the '08s, '09s and '10s gives us greater opportunity for success," Teevens said.
The Big Green will open its 2007 campaign at home against Colgate on Sept. 15.