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In last season’s matchup against Penn, Yale led for nearly 50 minutes. But the Quakers took over after an Andrew Samson field goal with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter and never looked back, holding on to win 9-7.

Unfortunately for Yale, this game was typical of their 2008 season. The defense yielded few points, while the offense struggled to score.

The Bulldogs hope to change that this season and improve upon a 6-4 record (4-3 Ivy) that led to a fourth-place finish in the Ancient Eight.

Yale boasted one of the top defenses in the League in 2008, finishing first in scoring defense and turnovers caused and second in total yards allowed per game.

Although only five of Yale’s thirteen defensive starters from last season return, its pass defense (also No. 1 in the conference last season) should remain at the top of the League again, as it is led by strong safety Larry Abare (second team All-Ivy) and linebacker Paul Rice (honorable mention All-Ivy), both seniors.

Yale’s offense, however, was less impressive. The team finished seventh in the League in both total offense and rushing offense and was fifth-best in pass offense.

Despite the loss of running back Mike McLeod (second in the Ivies in rushing yards in 2008) to graduation, the Bulldogs’ offense should see much improvement this season. Six-foot-5 quarterback Brook Hart returns as the starter, and the junior is expected to be one of the top performers in the Ivy League. Yale’s three starting wide receivers and two tight ends all return for this year’s campaign as well.

The main concern for Yale’s offense is an inexperienced offensive line, which returns only one starter. And with the graduation of McLeod, Yale also lacks experience at running back.

The Bulldogs will see a major change in leadership as Tom Williams took over as head coach in the offseason.

In addition to having professional coaching experience — Williams was a defensive assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars for the past two seasons — the new coach has experience as a player as well: he played linebacker for Stanford from 1989-92 and for the San Francisco 49ers in 1993.

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