Rough draft: Dartmouth football holds first intrasquad scrimmage

  • Dartmouth College quarterback Derek Kyler carries the ball past linebacker Nigel Alexander (9) and cuts back in front of safety John Pupel (35) during Tuesday's practice on Memorial Field. The Big Green opens its season Sept. 21 at Jacksonville (Fla.) University. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News file photograph — Tris Wykes

  • Dartmouth College football coach Buddy Teevens watches line drills during an Oct. 25, 2017, practice on Memorial Field. The Big Green hopes to keep its Ivy League title hopes alive with a victory at arch-rival Harvard on Saturday. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Purchase a reprint » Valley News file photograph — Tris Wykes

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/4/2021 9:21:15 PM
Modified: 9/4/2021 9:21:16 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College football held its first of two preseason intrasquad scrimmages Saturday at Memorial Field.

It wasn’t a true game — it was more drive-by-drive, with various groups of players on the field together, as well as several different game clock situations. But it was the closest thing to a real game Dartmouth has played in a long time.

Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s outing.

Some sloppy moments: The Big Green played in a simulated game environment for the first time in nearly two years. They had referees on hand, and they were needed.

Dartmouth committed many penalties throughout the scrimmage, from substitution infractions to pass interference and many in between. The most drastic was an unsportsmanlike conduct on senior offensive tackle Griff Lehman, who was scolded on the sideline and didn’t return to the field for the remainder of the scrimmage. But the bulk of the flags were easily correctable errors.

Some of the mistakes were simply shaking off cobwebs, but Teevens wasn’t pleased with them.

“We looked like we hadn’t played in two years,” Teevens said. “Organizationally, we couldn’t get substitutions in, too many guys on the field. Offensively, we just played with progressions too slow.

“And it’s coaches as well. Coaches haven’t done this for a while,” Teevens continued. “I made (mistakes); some of the other guys made them as well. So we can improve across the board, and that’s the nice thing. We get two weeks to do that.”

The players know there’s some cleaning up to do. Quarterback Derek Kyler said the penalties, particularly the dead-ball fouls and false starts, would be damaging in a real game.

But fifth-year guard Jake Guidone wasn’t overly concerned. He guessed that 75% to 80% of the errors were rust-related and will work themselves out.

“A lot of us haven’t played since 2019 vs. Brown,” Guidone said. “There were some serious things we need to work on, but just like with every other team, we’re going to nail them down before the first week. I think we had a good scrimmage.”

Kyler looks comfortable: With such a long time away, basically every Ivy League team will deal with some level of roster turnover. Dartmouth is no different, but the Big Green has an experienced returner at the most important position on the field.

Kyler, a fifth-year, approached this scrimmage as if it was a real game, and though he wasn’t able to do his full pre-game routine, it didn’t take him long to settle in. His throws were sharp from Saturday’s first play. It helped that the offensive line gave Kyler and the other quarterbacks ample time to work.

He looked notably confident when they worked on two-minute drills.

“That’s one of my favorite times to play the game,” Kyler said. “I think it becomes a lot simpler. Some people like to make it more complex, but I think you can make the game a lot simpler and just stay relaxed, poised and just move the ball down the field.”

Offensive line, running game promise: Dartmouth’s running game looked strong for much of the morning. The backs consistently had holes, and they exploded through them. Teevens said senior Zack Bair, who’s returning from a 2019 injury, looked good in the game environment, along with others like junior Noah Roper and senior Keegan McHugh.

The offensive line has two returning starters in fifth-year center Evan Hecimovich and senior tackle John Paul Flores. Guidone was a 2019 All-Ivy League honorable mention, but as a blocking tight end. This is his first year working with the line.

Senior guard Cal Atkeson played sparingly throughout 2019, and Lehman — and junior Adam Will, who played with the starters after Lehman’s penalty — only played in a few games that season.

Guidone said the line needs to improve its communication, which will come as they continue playing together. And he said the backs made the linemen look good. But he was largely pleased with the line play.

“I think the offense came out very well today,” Guidone said. “We started really strong. It’s definitely different; this is the first time I’ve been with the offensive line, and we’ve been working as a group together. So chemistry and getting on the same page is something we need to work on. But definitely came out strong today, happy with that.”

Roles available for wide receivers: Wideout may be the position on Dartmouth in terms of available playing time.

Graduate student Masaki Aerts is a shoo-in to start, and that much was clear Saturday in a few solid plays and his connection with Kyler. But aside from him, much of the position group on the Big Green roster is in competition.

Wide receivers coach Dave Shula said that of the 13 wideouts on the roster, as many as two-thirds or three-fourths of the group is still in the mix to travel to Valparaiso in two weeks and receive serious playing time. He added that the coaches have a daily depth chart that they adjust after each practice or scrimmage, and they’ll have some tough decisions to make with a talented group of players.

Junior Jamal Cooney made one of the biggest plays of the day in the scrimmage, hauling in a long touchdown pass from Nick Howard.

Teevens and Shula both spoke highly of Cooney’s athleticism.

“Great quickness and speed. He made a really nice play today,” Shula said. “And he’s got a great spirit about him, and great energy to every day that he brings to us. And he’s got electric speed and quickness, and that’s been showing up.”

Sophomore Wade Williams stood out with some good plays later in the scrimmage. Sophomore Paxton Scott also made some nice catches Saturday and has caught his coaches’ attention as well.

“Coming from a small school program, but in a big city in Dallas, he impressed us when he came here for camp before 2019. And he has just come in and made a lot of plays,” Shula said. “He has picked up all the positions, which is rare for a young guy. And he’s been showing up when he gets an opportunity. He’s been taking it.”

Seth Tow can be reached at

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