Aerial attack will be key for Big Green in battle with Brown

by Rich Mezzasalma | 11/12/09 11:00pm

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by Zach Ingbretsen and Zachary Ingbretsen / The Dartmouth

The Big Green (2-6, 2-3 Ivy) can move into third place in the Ivy League with a win on Saturday, but will have to play a complete football game in order to have a shot against the heavily favored Bears.

Brown (5-3, 3-2 Ivy) was picked to finish third in the Ivy League preseason media poll, and is considered by many to be one of the strongest teams in the conference.

Despite their seemingly average record, the Bears are an experienced team that is loaded with upperclassmen who have proven themselves in big games. Plus, the Bear's two league losses were close contests against Ivy front-runners Penn and Harvard and were decided by a combined margin of just 10 points.

Although Brown is favored on paper, the Bears still will have to prepare well in order to succeed against a reloaded Dartmouth offense that can move the ball in a variety of ways.

With injuries to several starters this season, players like Conner Kempe '12 and Greg Patton '13 have been stepping up in a big way. Last week, Patton ran for 243 yards out of the wildcat formation, breaking the two-week old school record for most rushing yards set by Nick Schweiger '12.

Patton's performance won him Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week honors.

How head coach Buddy Teevens will choose to utilize Patton in the wildcat formation this week will be interesting, and could very much affect the outcome of the game.

Most likely, Brown will focus on defending Patton's offensive production, so a Big Green aerial attack will be critical to a Dartmouth victory.

Since assuming the starting role mid-season, Kempe has proven himself to be an adept passer, throwing for over 800 yards already this season. The quarterback will look to exploit Brown's secondary this weekend, which should help to provide a balance between the rush and the run.

Winning on the road will be a tall order and the Big Green has not had a win outside of Hanover since Oct. 21, 2006, at Columbia.

Probably the biggest improvement Dartmouth showed in last week's game was its ability to come up big on third-and-long.

For example, on a third-and-17 in the fourth quarter, Kempe completed a pass to extend the drive that ended with the game-tying field goal.

Kempe also completed another pass on third-and-28 in the second overtime that resulted in the game-winning kick.

"When your back's against the wall, and you can still take care of business, it gives you confidence," co-captain Pete Pidermann '10 said. "It sends a good message to the team, and everyone's confidence soars. You feed off that, and you play with no hesitation, and you know you're going to get the job done because you've done it before."

Equally impressive last week was the play of the special teams, which has been a strong point for the Big Green all season, even during its losing streak.

The team has seven blocked kicks on the season, including Pidermann's field goal block last week that prevented Cornell from winning the game in regulation.

Kicker Foley Schmidt '12 has also been a strong point for the Big Green. Last week, he garnered Ivy League Special Teems Player of the Week accolades.

Schmidt leads the Ivy League in field goal accuracy with a 71.4 -percent success rate.

"Obviously [special teams] are critical in terms of field position," Teevens said. "We put a lot of time into it, and the biggest thing is that we have athletes that can run and that's made all the difference. [The team] takes a lot of pride in it and have a lot of confidence in what they're doing. It'll be very important against Brown this week."

Another key to the Big Green's success last week was its ability to avoid giving up any big plays, a problem that hurt the team in its recent losses.

If Dartmouth is able to defend well and make the Bears work for points, the Big Green will be able to keep the game close and perhaps pull off a major upset.

"We have to focus on what we can control and not worry about the other team," Pidermann said. "At the end of the day, its playing the same sport you've played since you were a little kid, and that's how you've got go think about it in order to win."

The game is set to kick off at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in Providence.

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