"There are a lot of wide receivers at Brown," said Jonah Fay '12. "They don't tell you that when you come here."
At "Wide Receiver U.," as Alex Tounkara-Kone '11.5 calls it, the Brown offense returns in 2011 with a loaded depth chart at wide receiver and an All-Ivy quarterback back at the helm determined to atone for a 2010 season lost to injury. The offense is poised to produce a high-powered attack that aims to leave opposing defenses gasping for air.
An Aug. 27 New York Times article dubbed the 2011 Ivy League football season the "Year of the Quarterback." Largely responsible for that notion is quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11.5.
In 2009, Newhall-Caballero was a First Team All-Ivy member, but after breaking his wrist in the fourth quarter of the season's third game, he was forced to watch the remainder of the 2010 campaign from the sidelines. After taking the spring semester off to intern at a private equity firm in New York and spending his summer working out in Providence, Newhall-Caballero returns not only as the team's starting quarterback, but also as a two-year captain.
"It's never happened in Brown history that I know of that a guy was a two-year captain, and after taking the spring off he was voted unanimously back to being the captain again," said Head Coach Phil Estes in the Ivy League Football Media Day Teleconference. "So I think that says an awful lot about his leadership."
Newhall-Caballero will have a stocked arsenal of weapons at his disposal, foremost among them a receiving unit spearheaded by Tounkara-Kone. Tounkara-Kone capitalized on his first starting role in 2010 with a breakout year, coming up with 61 receptions for 842 yards. The 6-foot-4-inch, fifth-year senior offers a dangerous combination of size and speed that enables him to get behind defenses in a flash. As a deep threat, he should be able to stretch the offense and open up passing lanes, allowing Newhall-Caballero to pick apart defenses underneath.
Behind Tounkara-Kone, the receiving corps is one of the deepest Brown has seen in years. Jimmy Saros '12, Tellef Lundevall '13 and Fay rounded out the top wideouts in 2010, and all are back for 2011. Matt Sudfeld '11.5 is another name to watch out for. The fifth-year senior looked to top the depth chart last season, but an injury in preseason kept him on the sidelines for every game.
"Right now, we have probably seven or eight guys who can definitely play at the varsity level and would start if we did not have eight really good receivers," Newhall-Caballero said. "That's a definite luxury we have right now, and if a guy goes down, we have another very capable guy to step up and fill that role."
"He has some great targets to throw to," Estes said, "which gives us a very potent weapon on offense."
A strong rushing attack will complement the standout receiving corps. Mark Kachmer '13 returns as the team's leading rusher after an All-Ivy 2010 where he contributed 688 yards of total offense. While the team will miss Zach Tronti '11, the lightning-quick John Spooney '14, who also runs track, looks poised to further energize the attack.
"He's only a sophomore, but he gives us tremendous speed on the outside," Estes said. "We're looking to really run the ball and take advantage of making people stop the run."
Speed, both in the players' physical abilities and the way the team runs the offense, is a theme the Bears hope will define their attack. "We want to be fast and versatile," Newhall-Caballero said. "We want to raise the tempo a little bit and force the defense to be ready to play and not let them align."
"We want to have discipline as a team and be focused and be able to switch up the pace of the tempo and control how the game flows," Tounkara-Kone said.
Protecting Newhall-Caballero and opening holes for Kachmer and Spooney will be an offensive line that has lost a lot of muscle following the graduations of Pat Conroy '11 and Brian Ellixson '11, who were both All-Ivy. But the unit, led by center Jack Geiger '12, is deep, and Newhall-Caballero said he is confident that his line can replace the lost production.
"We have four guys with experience coming back," Newhall-Cabellero said. "It looks good. We have guys who are more than capable and some others who are ready to take that next step and start."
Alex Norocea '14 will again handle kicking duties. The sophomore, who has "ice in his veins," according to Estes, tied the school record for most field goals in a game with five in last year's homecoming victory over Harvard and should be a valuable weapon, especially late in close games.
The Bears' experience and cohesion will likely prove to be valuable assets this season. With experience at all positions, rapports that have been developing for three or four years and an established familiarity with the playbook and system, the offense is positioned to turn heads around the league.
"We've got the system down. We've got the fundamentals down," Newhall-Caballero said. "Now, come game weeks, we can install different things for different defenses. We're not basic. We can install a level of complexity because we know the system so well."