Head Coach: Buddy Teevens, 17th season (75-83-2, 109-160-2 overall)
Biggest strength in 2016: It is difficult to narrow down one strength of the coIvy League champion 2015 Dartmouth Big Green. Was it their dynamic, incredible playmaking QB? Was it their smothering defense, who gave up more than two touchdowns in a game last season only once? (All the Penn touchdowns in that game, a 41-20 spanking of Penn, happened on the Big Green’s backups.) The only thing for certain was that last year’s Dartmouth team was one of the best Big Green teams to come down the pike in a very long time.
Biggest Challenge In 2016: Clearly the biggest challenge will be replicating last season’s success with a team that loses nine of eleven starters on defense, their NFL-bound QB, their top two receiving targets, and two of their top offensive linemen. It’s possible that Buddy Teevens will simply reload, but there is an awful lot of spent shell casings on the ground.
Biggest Departures: There are so many I could spend several paragraphs listing them all, but the perfect place to start would be QB Dalyn Williams, robbed of the Bushnell cup two years running for the best offensive player in the Ivy League. Williams finished his time in Hanover as the record holder in passing yards (7,458), total yards (8,952), completions (620), completion percentage (62.7), and pass attempts (989). A dual-threat QB, he also added 225 yards on the ground and 5 TDs. To say that he will be missed seriously understates the word “miss”.
But that doesn’t do justice to Dartmouth’s six first team all-Ivy players that also graduate. One of the more underappreciated might be NG A.J. Zuttah (44 tackles, 7 tackles for loss), the type of athletic, 300lb nose guard opposing offenses are undoubtedly thrilled to see in a cap and gown at graduation.
Players To Watch: Two of the players that do return to the Big Green in 2016 were extremely productive players that did exceedingly well among the many seniors. On offense, 5’11, 205 lb RB Ryder Stone (575 all-purpose yards, 9 TDs) will be expected to build on last season, where he led the team in scoring.
Defensively, 5’11. 240 lb LB Folarin Orimolade could have been the best player on Dartmouth’s defense, notching 12 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. But will be he be as effective with so many new guys around him?
Biggest Game: vs. Penn, 10/1/2016. There should be a lot of excitement in Hanover this season – not only are their Big Green defending Ivy League champions, there’s a lot of excitement in terms of perennial CAA powerhouse New Hampshire finally returing to Memorial stadium to resume their in-state rivalry. But the first Ivy League game on the schedule, vs. one of last season’s other co-champions, Penn, should be even hotter. Penn will be out for blood after last year’s humiliation at home, hoping to repay the favor.
Rose-Colored Glasses Say:“Green is good! I mean really good! We had a championship team last season, and even though so much of them have left, Stone and Orimolade were first-team Ivy talent last season and in 2016 can certainly be a strong enough core to compete for the title for the second consecutive year. Buddy is in a place where he can just reload, and reload we will in 2016!”
Glass Half Empty Says:“Who loses nine defensive players, including five first team all-Ivy League players, and expects the same championship as last season, no questions asked? Sure, Buddy has turned it around completely from those 0-10 and 2-8 teams from the mid-noghties, but you have to expect some dropoff after losing a once-in-a-generation QB and so many members of a fantastic defense. Are we good? Sure. But are we great enough to always be in the Ivy League championship mix, year in and year out? I don’t know.”
Dartmouth In Two Sentences: It’s hard to imagine Dartmouth replicating their feat from last season with so many important pieces lost to graduation. Orimolade, Stone, and the next generation of Buddy’s buddies will probably be plenty good, but maybe not good enough to navigate a daunting early part of the schedule.