Friday, September 3, 2010

2010 Ivy League Football Preview: Dartmouth

Editor's Note: This is a series that will be running in the lead-off to the start of the Ivy League football season. Members of the WHRB staff are writing up previews of each team, looking at the positives and negatives for all of the teams, and giving an overall impression if where the team was picked in the Ivy League football media day was correct. Our series started yesterday with Cornell, and continues today with the team picked to finish 7th in the Ivy League, Dartmouth.

Dartmouth Football Preview:
by Kara Hollis

The Big Green came in the polls this preseason as 7th in the Ancient Eight.  Head coach Buddy Teevens respectfully disagreed with the ranking, stating that voters were clearly missing the bigger picture. 

So what is in the big picture that everyone seems to be missing?  There are a number of things, but the three most important are coaching, experience, and offense. We'll take a look at those three keys after the jump.

Coaching: Dartmouth head coach Buddy Tevens will be in his sixth season as the leader of the Big Green.  Teevens, who has a resume of experience accumulated with impressive teams down south and out west (such as University of Florida and Stanford), is looking to finally turn a corner with the Big Green and make his mark by improving upon last season’s 2-8 record (2-5 in the league).  He has brought in help this year to make sure that the job gets done.  That help comes in the form of new offensive and defensive coordinators, Jim Pry and Don Dobes, respectively.  Pry is joining the Big Green from University of Illinois where he coached the receivers and slots, and developed a number of athletes who were able to enter the big leagues throughout his career.  Dobes is an Ancient Eight native, who recently changed his color scheme from orange and black to forest green.  Dobes made a name for himself at Princeton coaching linebackers for 16 years, where he produced 26 All-Ivy backs total.

Experience: 19 of 22 starters are returning to the Big Green, including junior QB Conner Kempe.  Focusing on the defense, two out of the three team captains will line up on the defensive side of the ball, namely defensive end, Charles Bay, and linebacker, Pat Scorah.  All-Ivy cornerback, Shawn Abuhoff, will likely make the biggest difference on defense due to his general athleticism (he also received All-New England FCS honors as a return specialist).  The key will be seeing how well Dobes can make a connection with his defensive unit.  Dartmouth’s defense finished much stronger than it started last year, as seen by the fact that it held 3 of its last 5 opponents to a single touchdown each during regulation; so it will be important to see if Dobes was able to build off of that momentum, or ended up interrupting it.

Offense:  On the offensive side of the ball is where Dartmouth needs the most work.  Junior QB Conner Kempe is all grown up, and now has a painful two years of experience under his belt.  The question will be what he is able to do with it.  The Big Green is hoping that with four returning offensive linemen, the answer will be: a lot.  Even if Kempe falters again this year, the team still has junior running back Nick Schwieger in its arsenal of weapons.  Schwieger led the league in 2009 in rushing yards per game, which won him a spot on the All-Ivy First Team.  Tri-captain Tim McManus will need to work with new offensive coordinator Jim Pry to revitalize the receiving core after missing the 2009 season with a broken leg.

Overall:  As bad as Dartmouth has proven that it can be, Ivy League voters may be underestimating them, for once.  New energy is being contributed to the program in the form of new offensive and defensive coordinators, and nearly all of last year’s starters are back this season with real-game experience and working knowledge of how they function together.  Considering all this, the Sports Network picked the Big Green to finish 4th in the league, rather than 7th.  I would stick with somewhere in between those two rankings.  Dartmouth still has to learn how to close out games and convert when it really matters to avoid the two overtime losses they experienced late in the 09 season.

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