HANOVER, N.H. — The Dartmouth football team returns to the gridiron today for the first of 12 spring practices to prepare for making a run at the 2014 Ivy League title. Last fall, the Big Green finished a mere game behind the co-champions, Princeton and Harvard, with a 5-2 record.

Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens has starters returning at eight offensive positions and six defensive spots, as well as the kickers and return specialists. Of the 15 Big Green athletes to earn All-Ivy honors last season, eight will return to the field this fall. With that experience returning along with numerous reserves that saw time a year ago, Dartmouth has many of the pieces in place to challenge for its 18th Ivy crown.

Heading up the offense will be rising junior Dalyn Williams at quarterback who threw for 1,773 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 55.5 percent of his passes, plus ran for another 563 yards and five scores. Coach Teevens also has the luxury of having another quarterback who is more than capable of starting in rising senior Alex Park, owner of 1,701 career passing yards at a completion rate better than 60 percent.

The receiving corps will be flush with talent as a myriad of injuries last fall allowed numerous players gain experience at the position. The one receiver to start every game, Bo Patterson, will be back for one more season next fall after spending his spring on the baseball diamond. Last year he caught 25 passes for 395 yards and six touchdowns, all of which led the team. And with Ryan McManus, Victor Williams and Kirby Schoenthaler returning, as well as Jon Marc Carrier and Jordan Aré, Dalyn Williams and Park will have plenty of targets from which to choose.

For the first time in six years, Coach Teevens will not have either of the top two running backs in Dartmouth history to whom to hand the ball as Dominick Pierre finished up last fall and Nick Schwieger graduated two years ago. The leading candidate that had emerged was Kyle Bramble, but a knee injury in the final game last fall will keep him off the field this spring. That still leaves Brian Grove who averaged 4.5 yards on 28 carries and is a proven receiver out of the backfield. But the other backs will all get a good look, among them rising sophomores Abrm McQuarters and Jacob Siwicki.

On defense, the Big Green loses a pair of key linebackers in Michael Runger and Bronson Green, not to mention hard-hitting defensive backs Garrett Waggoner and Mike Banaciski, but thanks to Coach Teevens’ continuous rotations, he has players with experience to fill those slots. Up front, the entire starting line returns, including All-Ivy second-teamers Evan Chrustic and Cody Fulleton. Top cover man in cornerback Vernon Harris will be blanketing receivers again, and Eric Wickham and Will McNamara will be expected to anchor the linebacking corps.

Practices will take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 4:45 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 9:45 a.m. (tentatively as weather permits). The annual Green-White scrimmage will conclude the spring season on Saturday, May 3 at 10 a.m.