Football | Tufts to scrimmage Bowdoin
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 12:09
For the first time this season, the Jumbos will line up on Bello Field tonight against an opponent other than themselves. That opponent is Bowdoin, a 4-4 team in 2011 that beat Tufts 27-6 last year. Though tonight’s contest is just a scrimmage, the Jumbos are hungry to prove that they’re not the same team that failed to win a game in 2011.
Here are five things to keep an eye on during the game:
The quarterback battle
As of mid-week, three players were still vying for the starting quarterback job: senior John Dodds, junior Jon Sobo and sophomore Jack Doll.
Of the three, only Dodds has any significant experience under center with the brown and blue, appearing in six games last year as the backup to Johnny Lindquist (LA ’12). Dodds completed 14 of 39 passes (35.9 percent) for 107 yards in 2011 but hasn’t had many other opportunities — in his freshman and sophomore years he backed up Anthony Fucillo (LA ’11), Tufts’ all-time single-season passing leader. But with Fucillo and Lindquist gone, it might finally be Dodds’ turn.
Doll was the Jumbos’ fourth-string quarterback in his freshman season, attempting just one pass for an 11-yard completion against Amherst. Last year on the depth chart, he sat beneath senior Matt Johnson, who this week began taking snaps at wide receiver instead of quarterback.
The dark horse is Sobo, who was a running back last season but only touched the ball three times. Sobo is incredibly versatile: In high school, he played quarterback, tailback and wide receiver — sometimes all in the same offensive series — and was also a standout defensive back.
Head coach Jay Civetti has not ruled out using more than one quarterback during the season, and one could envision Sobo being utilized in the Wildcat or in other QB-option scenarios. Still, the Jumbos haven’t revealed anything about their playbook just yet, so it will be interesting to see how the QBs are handled tonight — especially under the new system of first-year offensive coordinator Frank Hauser.
The new offense
After a season in which the Jumbos averaged just 9.4 points per game, Hauser will look to inject new life into the offense. The basic tenants will be the same — about a 50-50 split between the run and the pass, typically out of a pro-set — but there are still new plays, snap counts and play calls for the players to become familiar with. Tonight should reveal whether the Jumbos fully understand the new system while helping them figure out what still needs tweaking.
No matter what changes Hauser implements, the Jumbos won’t be abandoning the running game. They struggled at times last year to establish the run, but even if they don’t see immediate results, rest assured that the high-flying, pass-first offense of the Fucillo years is a thing of the past.
Junior Ryan Pollock carried the bulk of the workload out of the backfield last year, rushing for 438 yards and catching 22 passes, and is likely to remain the starter.
Experienced defensive backs, experienced wide receivers
While Civetti admits that depth may be a problem for his team this season, that should not be a problem at wide receiver or defensive back. Civetti called the backs the deepest group on the team, anchored by seniors Sam Diss, Austin Crittendon and Tommy Castle, a trio that combined for 130 tackles last year. All 11 defensive backs on the 2011 squad were non-seniors.
At wide receiver, the Jumbos bring back Mr. Reliable, senior tri-captain Dylan Haas, who will be an attractive target for whichever QB is under center. Haas led the team with 38 receptions last year and has 77 catches over the past two seasons.
Joining Haas will be seniors Marty Finnegan and Mike Howell and junior Pat Nee, each of whom had over 100 yards receiving last season. Tonight, they’ll try to make life a little easier for the quarterbacks as they adapt to a new offense.
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