Brown football is poised to make a run at the Ivy League title once again with the return of 10 All-Ivy players from last year's second place team that posted a 5-2 league mark. Head coach Phil Estes expects a strong passing game on offense, coupled with a talented veteran defense to allow the Bears to stay in the upper echelon of the league standings.
The Bears' offensive fortunes could hinge on the successful return of first team All-Ivy quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero, who was able to play in parts of just two games last year before being sidelined due to injury. Brown's offense also returns first team All-Ivy wide receiver Alexander Tounkara-Kone, senior honorable mention All-Ivy wide receiver Jimmy Saros, senior honorable mention All-Ivy tailback Mark Kachmer, and senior honorable mention All-Ivy center Jack Geiger.
A record-setting quarterback in 2009, Newhall-Caballero's 2010 season was almost over before it started. He broke his hand in the first week of pre-season camp, returned to play half of Brown's win over Harvard, and broke his wrist on the last play of regulation in Brown's third game against Rhode Island, missing the remainder of the season. He passed for 325 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams.
In 2009, Newhall-Caballero completed 259 of 413 passes for 2,709 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was second in the nation in completions (25.9 per game), 10th in total offense (281.4 yards per game), and 12th nationally in passing yards (270.9 yards per game). Newhall-Caballero's 259 completions in 2009 were seventh for a single season in the Ivy football history. He also set an Ivy League record with 46 completions against Holy Cross.
Newhall-Caballero will be backed up by junior Patrick Donnelly, a passing and running threat, who saw valuable action in 2010. Donnelly completed 43 of 81 passes for 411 yards and a touchdown, while running for 114 yards. Also competing for time under center are junior quarterback John Ryan, who passed for one touchdown and ran for another in the Spring Game, and junior Alexander Phelan.
A bevy of wide receivers return to the field, including Tounkara, who is considered an NFL prospect with good speed and a 6-4 frame. Tounkara, a first team All-New England selection for the Bears, ranked among the nation's top wide receivers with 61 receptions, 18th best in the country and second in the Ivy League. His 84.20 yards per game were also second in the Ivy League and 19th nationally. Tounkara made 12 catches for 160 yards against Stony Brook.
Saros, senior Jonah Fay, and senior Matthew Sudfeld also return to the lineup, along with junior Tellef Lundevall. Saros had a solid junior campaign, making 42 receptions for 481 yards and four touchdowns. Fay saw the first significant time of his career and responded with 22 catches for 204 yards. Lundevall improved as the season progressed and impressed the coaching staff with 32 catches for 370 yards and two touchdowns. Sudfield missed all of last season due to injury after making nine catches for 205 yards and a 20-yard touchdown reception. Senior Nicholas Faber will look to step into a starting role at tight end.
Brown's ground attack will be led by Kachmer, a versatile tailback, who led the Bears with 557 yards on the ground, sixth best in the Ivy League, while making 19 receptions for 131 yards. Kachmer rushed for a season high 89 yards in Brown's win over Harvard. Look for sophomore speedster John Spooney, the Ivy League Champion in the 100 and 200 meters, to also compete for playing time. At fullback, junior Jackson Freeman started all 10 games and is used primarily as a blocking back. He made six catches coming out of the backfield.
Brown's defensive unit returns six starters, including three All-Ivy players, led by first team All-Ivy junior defensive back AJ Cruz, senior second team All-Ivy safety Stephen Peyton and honorable mention All-Ivy defensive end Clayton McGrath.
Brown's defensive secondary ranked number one in the Ivy League in pass efficiency defense, and was led by Cruz came on strong at the end of the season after playing through injuries in the early going. A second team All-Ivy selection in 2009, Cruz made 33 tackles, led the Bears with eight pass break-ups, and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also returned kickoffs for the Bears, with 13 kickoff returns for 295 yards, including a 45-yard return against Princeton.
Peyton headed the Bears' defense in 2010 with 79 total tackles, 7th best in the Ivy League. He came up big in Ivy games with 10 tackles against Dartmouth, and 12 total hits against Penn. Peyton was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week for his dominating play against Rhode Island, where he seemed to be everywhere on the field, leading the Bears with a career high 20 tackles in the battle for the Governor's Cup.
Senior corner back Mel Farr is Brown's third returning starter in the secondary. He made 19 tackles for last year's team and picked off a pass. Senior Patrick Pakan (4 tackles), who missed all of last season due to injury, will challenge at safety.
The Bears graduated their entire linebacker corps, but will still have experience returning at all positions. Inside, senior Matthew O'Donnell and Brett Wyman turned in solid seasons. O'Donnell ranked 11th on the Brown team with 24 total tackles, including 18 solo stops, two tackles for a loss and an interception. Wyman came through with 14 tackles, seeing action in all 10 games.
Senior Shane Cooney and Daniel Smithwick look to step into starting roles at outside linebacker. Smithwick played in all 10 games a year ago and made 15 tackles. Cooney had 12 tackles a year ago, playing in eight games.
McGrath and senior Kyle Rettig earned starting roles on the Bears defensive line a year ago, while senior Luke Miller and juniors Ross Walthall, Stephen Fox and Patxi Colbern all saw considerable snaps.
At defensive end, McGrath was a key defensive force for the Bears, leading the Ivy League in tackles for a loss with 13.5 for a loss of 41 yards. His 6.0 sacks for the season led the Brown team and ranked third in the Ivies. McGrath was fifth on the Brown team with 42 total tackles. McGrath finished the season on a strong note with 3.5 tackles for a loss against Dartmouth and four more tackles for loss vs. Columbia. Also at defensive end, Miller registered four tackles, including 1.4 for a loss.
Rettig was second among the Bears' defensive tackles with 29 total hits, including 14 solo stops, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two quarterback sacks. Fox was also a force on the Bears front line with 17 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, while Colburn was impressive with 11 tackles, 3.5 for a loss and two quarterback sacks for a loss of 12 yards.
Norocea, the Ivy League's kick-scoring leader with 7.1 points per game, connected on 15 of 21 field goals and 26 of 27 extra points in his inaugural season with the Bears. He ranked seventh nationally in field goals with 1.50 per game. His 15 field goals rank second best in Brown football history, and seventh in the Ivy League record book, while his 71 kick-scoring points are 15th in Ivy history. Additionally, Norocea's 12 field goals in Ivy games are second best in Ivy history. A two-time Ivy League Rookie and Special Teams Player of the Week, Norocea booted a Brown record five field goals vs. Harvard, and a season long 45-yard field goal against Cornell.
A second team All-Ivy selection in 2009, Lovett ranked second in the Ivy League with an average of 42.1 yards per punt. He had four punts of 50 or more yards, including a season-long 57 yard boot against Harvard and 55-yards against Princeton. Lovett's strongest game came against Dartmouth where he punted for a 45.2 yards per punt average, with a 53-yard boot.
Emory Polley did a solid job of returning punts as a first year player for the Bears, fielding 26 punts for 177 yards. Kachmer was spectacular on kickoff returns, twice scoring touchdowns, first on a 91-yard return vs. Stony Brook, and then an 85-yard return against Penn. His 460 kickoff return yards rank eighth best in Brown football history.