Big Green Question Mark
Eric Paul is back for the Big Green in 2008 (CREDIT: Dartmouth Sports)
Critics will point to Dartmouth's question marks at QB and the offensive line, and they are a big concern. But Dartmouth has something that just about every other Ivy team doesn't, a gamer at tailback in Milan Williams. Is Milan Williams going to make people forget about Mike McLeod at Yale? No. But I think he has a real shot at a 1,000-yard season. Columbia was lucky enough to play the Big Green last year during one of the two weeks Williams was out of the lineup.
The fact that Williams has been named a co-captain is another encouraging sign for this offense and Dartmouth fans in general.
As for the QB position, I think Alex Jenny, who played well in the Columbia game last year, will win the starting job and he has enough talent to lead.
The wide receiver corps does not instill the most confidence with a lot of new faces, but there is hope that Eric Paul will be back at 100% and challenge for All-Ivy status. Paul was out with an injury most of 2007. Phillip Galligan is the most experienced receiver back from last year.
Only one real starter is back on the offensive line, but he's a good one: Alex Rapp. This is a major concern though, and this problem more than any other will probably keep the Big Green out of the top three in the final standings.
Another top player who missed 2007 due to injury is a key to Dartmouth's hopes on defense. It's safety Ian Wilson who should help the Big Green improve on the 266 yards passing allowed per game, (7th in the league), last season.
Like just about every other Ivy, there isn't a lot of star power on the defensive line, but I like Max Copello, who certainly had a nice game against the Lions last year.
Andrew Dete leads the linebackers along with Joe Battaglia who is the top returning tackler on the team.
Senior Brian Scullin is a solid punter and Phil Galligan does a good job returning kickoffs, (not so much on punts).
But the real question is at placekicker, where the Big Green needs to fill an open slot due to graduation. Frankly, Dartmouth has not been strong kicking the ball since Tyler Lavin graduated a few years back. Getting lucky here with a new kicker could help the Big Green in a big way... or vice versa.
Buddy Teevens is in the 4th year of his second stint at Dartmouth and the team seems to be generally improving in a tough environment. I say tough because of the resurgence of Harvard as a power and that always seems to take something away from Big Green when it comes to regional recruiting and support.
The Teevens factor should loom large though, as he is someone who has already seen the "big time" college football world and come back. Any fears that he will bolt again or leave this program in general are probably more unfounded here than any other Ivy.
Jake's Overall Take
Perhaps I am overrating Milan Williams, or perhaps I'm overrating the value of a potential 1,000 yard rusher. But it just seems like Dartmouth has something so many other Ivies don't and I think Williams will step it up this year because he has something to prove.
But like every other team in this league other than Harvard, there are too many questions about the offensive and defensive lines to feel confident about picking the Big Green to do better than 5-5.