In advance of the preview series here is a lightly edited version of Dartmouth Coach Buddy Teevens' remarks from the Ivy League preseason media teleconference. Keep in mind these remarks are somewhat off-the-cuff and Teevens, who likes to mention a lot of players, had a limited amount of time ;-)
BUDDY TEEVENS' MEDIA DAY REMARKS
A lot of new faces and a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Guys see an opportunity to compete and play. There’s a great work ethic and attitude.
We did graduate a good number of people who were significant players and had played great roles with us. Philosophically, we like to play a lot of people. So we have younger guys who have snap time behind them and understand and have an appreciation of what it takes to play in a very, very competitive league.
It will be kind of a blend of old and young faces.
On our offensive line, we have two tackles who are very productive players, David Morrison and Matt Kaskey and they are joined by Zach Davis. (Morrison and Davis) have been starters for the better part of their careers. They are all good-sized guys that we feel can play. We need to fill some spots in between, but that’s a good start for us.
At tight end Stephen Johnston, who missed last year with an injury, is back. And Cameron Skaff had a very good year so we think we’re fairly solid at the tight end position. They’re joined by Blake Orvis, who has been with us for a bit.
At the running back position, Ryder Stone has been very solid. Abram McQuarters is a very good contributor as well. So we feel like we are OK at that position, with some experience.
At receiver, Jon Marc Carrier and Houston Brown have been solid. Charles Mack saw an awful lot of time last year, so we feel like we have very capable people in those positions.
Certainly the biggest question people will ask, and have asked, is about the quarterback spot. Dalyn Williams was really our guy during the course of the last three years. No one has really had snap time significantly behind him.
Bruce Dixon, a rising sophomore, had a great spring camp for us. And Jack Heneghan was very, very competitive as well. It will be a different spin, if you will, at that position, but we feel like we have two very capable and competent guys.
One of the nice things from a staff standpoint is there has been consistency over the course of recent years, so understanding the players, transitioning systems and so forth has gone fairly smoothly on the offensive side of the ball.
I would say the same for the defensive side of the football.
Up front Brandon Cooper has been a very steady player for us, a regular player for us. Zach Husain as well. Jackson Perry came in last year as a freshman and made his presence felt. He's a very talented guy. And Nick Tomkins. So we feel like we have a good core of people up front.
At the linebacker spot, Flo Orimolade has been on a lot of people’s watch lists. He’s a very talented guy. A good pass rusher. Alex McCrory and Brian Fordon have seen spot time at the second level.
At the backend, Charlie Miller has been a very steady player who has seen a lot of time with us. Danny McManus – I’m trying to recruit his sister who is a sophomore so we still have another McManus in the loop. He will be the last of the boys that will be here, and has been very solid as a return guy and also as a cover guy. Lucas Bavaro at strong safety is returning and he has been a solid player for us. And a young guy, Darius George, had a real good spring. We are excited about him.
In the specialty areas, punter Ben Kepley has been very solid. We need to resolve our kicking game. We’ll have some competition during (camp). We need to do a better job. We have capable guys but under duress we need to be productive.
The schedule is certainly a challenge this year. We’ve got the University of New Hampshire as the opener, perennially a top FCS team. And then Towson State a little bit later in the schedule was a national champion (finalist) a few years back as well. And then Holy Cross, which which has been consistent with us. So the nonleague calendar will certainly be a challenge. We expect to progress as a football team and be ready for play on the 17th.
Within the league, talent continues to come in. I think all the staffs have done a wonderful job recruiting. I say it often. I think people underestimate the quality, and the coaching, and the work ethic that goes into being a member of the Ivy League, both as a coach and as a player.
As Robin (Harris, Ivy League executive director) mentioned, 24 Ivy League kids in NFL camps is pretty impressive. You go out and talk to young guys who have dreams and aspirations that point to that, regardless of the team, and they have a chance because of the quality of play.
Certainly the television exposure has created a greater national attention and awareness. On the whole, the league continues to move forward, and I would like to think that we are keeping in step with it. But certainly, we have a very, very challenging schedule, and a challenging league to compete in.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
What surprised you during the spring season?
There were not a whole lot of surprises. Charlie Miller was very solid but we knew about him. He has seen some time and has been very productive. I thought Ryder Stone had a very solid spring. It was nice to see Matt Kaskey – he had been playing a bunch – but he really stepped up his play. On the defensive line, Nick Tomkins was a very strong performer. And then Flo Orimolade, not really a surprise but he’s a very, very intelligent young man. And the ways that you can get him on the field has been helpful for us.
Who are you looking to take a leadership role with the team this season other than quarterback?
It’s something that we stress across the board. Cameron Skaff and Stephen Johnston at the tight end position. The linemen that I touched on. Houston Brown at the wide receiver spot. Abram McQuarters has been a very good presence for us.
Defensively, Brandon Cooper and Flo Orimolade have been very, very solid. Lucas Bavaro.
You develop guys as you go and we’ve got a good community of players. It is very, very important to them. So the leadership I don’t worry about that much. We have got to play at a very high level and play well early and that will certainly be the preseason challenge for us.
What makes Flo Orimolade a special player? He has a low center of gravity and is a quick twitch guy. He loves to play. He’s a very productive tackler. He’s just a tough guy to block. You can move him around. He’s adept. Don Dobes does a great job defensively to keep people guessing as best we can. It’s just (Orimolade’s) natural athleticism and his love of the game. He’s a good, fun kid to coach. Happy, smiling, upbeat, but he always comes to play. He is inspiring to the guys around him as well. … We are hoping to keep people on their toes with him and that will open up opportunities as well with other people who play inside.
Is there an opposing player that really excites you in terms of being able to watch them on the field this season?
There’s a bunch, attested to by the number of guys in the NFL or in camps. There’s a guy or guys on everybody’s roster. That’s a fun thing about the league. You watch tapes and say, “Son of a gun, that dude can play.” Fortunately, we feel we’ve got a guy or two like that.
I wouldn’t single out any one of them. You can go right down the roster. On each team there’s guys that can play and play at a very high level. As a former Ivy League player I am proud of the fact that we have that caliber of people and players representing our conference.