After blanking two-time defending Ivy League champion Penn at home in the freezing rain Saturday, the football team will look to keep riding its wave of momentum against Yale on the road.
Since 2001, Bruno (6-1, 3-1 Ivy) has had more success against the Bulldogs (4-3, 3-1) on the road than at Brown Stadium. Four of the Bears' past five victories against Yale have come at the Yale Bowl.
"I think the players do enjoy the atmosphere of the bowl, but I can't put my finger on exactly why," said Head Coach Phil Estes. "I think any time that you play on the road, you try to find a comfort level."
The Bulldogs have established a rhythm on their turf and are a perfect 3-0 at home this year. Their lone away victory came last weekend at Columbia (0-7, 0-4), where they successfully battled through the snow to eke out a 16-13 win. But the Bears are also on a roll with five wins in a row and two shutouts in their last three games. No Brown team has blanked two opponents in a season since 1985. One of the winning streaks will be broken tomorrow.
"I think when you win five games in a row, people are definitely aware of that," said quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11.5. "Going into this game, we're not going to sneak up on Yale. They're going to be well-prepared to play us."
Estes called Elis' quarterback Patrick Witt a major threat. Though the snow rendered Witt ineffective against Columbia, the senior holds Yale's record for most completions. He also has the second-most career passing yards in Bulldogs' history. This year, he has completed 115 passes for 1,393 yards.
"We're going to have to try to find ways to disguise our coverages and to break down their protection," Estes said. "It's going to be important for us to make him throw the ball and make hot reads."
Yale has proven to be an offensive powerhouse this year with a balanced aerial and ground attack. Bulldog running back Mordecai Cargill was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week after trucking for 230 yards through the snow Saturday in the win over Columbia. Cargill, who has run for 477 yards and five touchdowns this season, stepped up in the absence of the Bulldogs' leading rusher, Alex Thomas, who is battling a knee injury.
Estes said Yale's rushing attack is not going to be easy to contain. "We have to play our responsibilities and make tackles. We have been very good defensively. We've stopped teams with good rushing, like Penn," he said. "I think the defense has done a very good job of containing the run."
Brown's defense leads the Ivy League and is third in the nation in scoring defense, with opponents only managing an average of 14.57 points per game. The defense kept the Quakers off the board to secure Bruno's slim 6-0 lead that snapped Penn's 18-game Ivy win streak. Outside linebacker Daniel Smithwick '12 spearheaded the effort with seven tackles, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble and an interception, which made him the league leader in interceptions with three. His aggressive play in tough conditions earned Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors.
On the other side of the ball, the Bears are dealing with two key injuries. Against Penn (4-3, 3-1), Bruno was without its two top rushers, Mark Kachmer '13 and John Spooney '14. Spooney ran for over 150 yards in Brown's win over Cornell (3-4, 1-3), but suffered a concussion toward the end of the game. Kachmer was also injured in that matchup and is battling turf toe. Estes and Newhall-Caballero said the status of both running backs for tomorrow is questionable.
Like Witt, Newhall-Caballero had difficulty throwing the slick ball in the inclement weather last game and completed only 14 of 32 attempts for 140 yards. But the second-semester senior has been the offensive anchor throughout the season and has had two four-touchdown days this year. While he prefers making plays through the air, he has proven time and again that he can also be dangerous with his feet.
Estes praised how supportive the defense and offense have been of each other throughout the season.
"I think that we've done a very good job of one helping out the other," he said.
For both teams, this game is vital. Yale, Brown and Penn are all tied for second place, with Harvard (6-1, 4-0) reigning atop the league standings. The Bears' lone loss came at the hands of the Crimson, but the Bulldogs will not take on Harvard until their final game of the season, which Witt may have to miss because of a Rhodes Scholarship interview scheduled for the same date. Though Bruno's hopes of an Ivy title could potentially rest on Yale's shoulders, Newhall-Caballero said the team is only focusing on things it can control — like beating the Bulldogs.
"They've got a lot at stake, and we've got a lot at stake," he said. "Hopefully we can distinguish ourselves as second place at this point."
Kickoff is set for noon.