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Dartmouth Football Notes: No Tackling Allowed at Practice, but the Temptation’s There

  • The ball was up for grabs Saturday during a Dartmouth College intrasquad scrimmage on Memorial Field. Among those pursuing the airborne pigskin were Micah Croom (14), Tanner Cross (53), Hamilton Day (38) and Robbie Mangas (43). The Big Green opens its season by hosting Georgetown on Sept. 15. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College defensive lineman Bobby Jefferson lifts offensive tackle John Paul Flores up and backwards during a Friday practice drill on Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College tight end J.J. Jones III lands on a crash pad Friday after making contact with a pad held by coach Cheston Blackshear. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College defensive lineman Alex Schmidt throws a "swim move" on teammate Calvin Atkeson during an Aug. 26, 2018, practice on the Blackman Fields. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Freshman running back Keegan McHugh attempts to stay in bounds while navigating a line of teammates wielding blocking pads during an Aug. 26, 2018, practice on the Blackman Fields. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, September 02, 2018

Hanover — Dartmouth College’s football players knew the deal when they committed to play for the Big Green: no tackling each other to the ground in either practices or scrimmages.

When you’re battling for a starting spot, however, and the ball carrier turns the corner at high speed … sometimes instinct takes over. That produces a collision like the one that happened between linebacker Nigel Alexander and running back Miles Smith during Saturday’s intrasquad game. The crash left Smith flattened and Alexander feeling the heat.

“Get him out!” shouted Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, who continues to receive frequent and national media attention for his trailblazing effort on the noncontact front. Alexander was yanked from the action for a series or two, but later heard about it from position mate Jack Traynor when he failed to stop a quarterback scramble.

Frustrated and caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Alexander threw his arms in the air. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound junior said he supports Teevens’ policy and has refined his tackling form at Dartmouth. The collision with Miles happened after the running back stumbled forward, Alexander added.

“It’s a self-control thing, but we’ll take the lid off in the games and completely follow through,” said Alexander, who started playing tackle football at age 5 in Georgia. “The offensive guys might talk on the field about how they just scored but we all watch the film together and we know what really happened.”

Traynor, perhaps the Ivy League’s best linebacker and the Illinois high school record-holder in career tackles, said Dartmouth’s defenders are instructed not to leave their feet during offense-defense matchups, which makes success more about getting to the right spot at the right time.

“You have to get your feet and hips there and then there’s no contact, which is tough,” Traynor said. “Especially for the freshmen and sophomores. You have to think about things before you come out here and pin your ears back and fly around. You can’t be out of control.

“We’re all competitive guys with our juices flowing and there’s good competition out here, but it has to be smart.”

Said Teevens: “Some of the kids get hot and bothered, and Nigel lost his mind and blew up one of our running backs. But Dartmouth wins in a situation like today, because we work our systems, but nobody gets hurt.”

The competition for the starting quarterback job is down to sophomore Jared Gerbino and sophomore Derek Kyler.

Gerbino showed formidable running prowess out of the Wildcat formation last year, but the question is whether he can compete enough passes to prevent opponents from stacking the line of scrimmage against him. Kyler appears the better passer, but has shown exciting lateral mobility, escaping the pocket and scrambling with nerve and intelligence.

“Right now, we need a guy to just kind of emerge,” said Teevens, who expects both men to play during the Sept. 15 opener against Georgetown. “They are two different quarterbacks. Right now, I can say ‘Hey, we’ve got two starters.’ ”

Third-stringer Jake Pallotta, last season’s backup, looked sharp during the scrimmage. It appears Jake Allen, the freshman transfer from the University of Florida, is fourth on the current depth chart.

Not scrimmaging Saturday after missing Friday’s practice was offensive tackle Matt Kaskey. The senior starter walked around in shorts and with an outline vaguely in the shape of a key drawn on the inside of his lower left leg with marker.

Kaskey said he has cellulitis, described by the Mayo Clinic’s webpage as “a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection.”

“Left untreated, the infection can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream and rapidly become life-threatening. It usually isn’t spread from person to person,” continues the text, which also notes that a crack in the skin is what usually allows bacteria to enter.

Dartmouth’s medical staff outlined red marks on Kaskey’s leg so they’d know if others showed up outside the ink. The condition is treated with antibiotics.

Notre Dame beat visiting Michigan Saturday night with senior defensive end Jerry Tillery causing a fumble to seal the prime-time victory. Tillery has played well overall, but drew national criticism in 2016 for intentionally dirty play. He was suspended for the Fighting Irish’s bowl game that season.

Tillery figures to be in the NFL at this time next season. But he took a recruiting trip to Dartmouth as a high school senior and has said in the past he might study medicine. The Louisiana native has studied abroad in South Africa and Ireland, spent vacations in Germany and Canada and visited Hawaii four times. He completed a two-week business program in Japan earlier this year.

“My dream is to go and order a meal in Japanese in Japan,” Tillery, who has only one class to take this fall to earn his undergraduate degree, told 247sports.com. “So we’ll see if my professors here have adequately prepared me.”

Notes: Jack Heneghan, Dartmouth’s starting quarterback the past two years, shined during the San Francisco 49ers’ last preseason game, but was cut soon after. … Running back and 2018 graduate Ryder Stone and defensive end and 2017 graduate Forlarin Orimolade are playing in the Canadian Football League with Montreal and Calgary, respectively. … Georgetown, 1-10 last season, beat Marist, 39-14, Saturday in its season opener. … Dartmouth’s players enjoyed their annual trip to Hanover’s Storrs Pond Recreation Area last week, getting in some swimming and boating, along with games like dominoes and spikeball. … 2015 Dartmouth graduate and football and baseball player Bo Patterson is going to run a November marathon in Georgia without any training as part of a fundraising effort for military members and veterans.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.