Monday, July 17, 2017

2017 Opponent Preview: Dartmouth



Hunter Hagdorn snares a pass

Okay, so Dartmouth went from 6-1 and being a co-champion in the Ivies in 2015 to 1-6 and last place in 2016. 

But they also had some high points last year, including finally beating in-state rival UNH in week one. 

Be careful with underestimating these guys for this fall. 

OFFENSE

The first post-Dalyn Williams year for Dartmouth football did not end up being a disaster at the QB position, far from it. Jack Heneghan emerged as a very talented player and is poised for a great senior year. It helped that he had a super-talented receiving corps to work with that is also returning for 2017. Leading that crew is rising sophomore Hunter Hagdorn who won the Ivy Rookie of the Year award. Hagdorn had one of this best days in the Big Green’s loss to the Lions, so Columbia fans should remember him. They should also know that Drew Hunnicutt and Emory Thompson, Dartmouth’s #2 and #3 receivers by total receptions and yards, are also back. Starting TE Stephen Johnston is also coming back for his senior season.

The offensive line is more of a concern. 1st Team All Ivy honoree Dave Morrison and two other regular starters are gone to graduation. But Matt Kaskey is coming back after getting an All Ivy Honorable Mention nod last year as is fellow starter John Kilcommons and Phil Berton, who started much of the second half of the season.

Dartmouth didn’t run the ball very well for most of last year, but rising junior Miles Smith had back-to-back 100+ yard performances against Cornell and Brown at the end of the year.  I thought Ryder Stone, who is back this year too, would have a big junior year in 2016, but he only saw limited duty. #2 RB Rashaad Cooper is back. There’s room for improvement in the running game, but what else is new in a league where almost no team has a really potent traditional running attack? The Big Green will do as well in this area as the offensive line takes them.

DEFENSE

The knee jerk reaction many people have about the Big Green is that with the loss of super LB Folarin Orimolade, the defense will be really hurting this season.

Now losing a player who was your top tackler, sacker, fumble creator, and heart of the team is nothing to sneeze at. But look closer, and you’ll see that Dartmouth has a lot to be optimistic about on defense.

Three of the starters on what was a very good secondary last year are coming back for 2017, including Jarius Brown who broke up eight passes in 2016. The other two starting linebackers who played alongside Orimolade, Jake Moen and Eric Meile, are also back.

Arguably the best D-lineman from last year, Nick Tomkins, is still in Hanover too.And Jackson Perry, the 3-star recruit who switched his commitment from Vanderbilt to Dartmouth in 2015, made an impact his freshman year, but went down to injury in week one last year, is back too.  

I still expect the Dartmouth defense to be less effective than it was last year, at least during the first half of the season. But that does not mean it’s going to be poor or even below average.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker David Smith was an accurate placekicker last year, he just didn’t do so well for distance. He’s back this season, but punter Ben Kepley is gone to graduation. Hagdorn handled most of the kickoffs in 2016 and was unspectacular in that role. I can’t imagine the risk of continuing to use him in that position is worth it, so expect some new faces there.

Overall, I think Dartmouth will continue to be a work in progress in 2017 with some occasional greatness.  

1 comment:

oldlion said...

I thought that Wainwright should have been ROY and is a better WR than Hagdorn.