Monday, July 28, 2014

Spying on the Weak

Schoelkopf Selfie

I visited Ithaca this weekend with my family and managed to do a few jogs up and down the steps of Schoelkopf Field.

During my little jog, I got a look at one of the informal Big Red practices going on.

NOTE TO THE IVY/NCAA POLICE: I had NO idea a Cornell informal practice would be going on when I jogged over to Schoelkopf and this was not a spying trip. However, the gates were open and nobody said a word to me as I took pictures, etc. PLUS, I think it should be obvious by now that I in no way work for or with the CU football program. 

A couple of notes on what I saw:

1)      Instead of “Omaha,” the defensive player calling out the signals yells, “Roar, roar, roar!” I took offense to that!
2)      Longtime Ivy fans are pretty familiar with the maddening practice many teams follow of throwing many sideways passes every game. Well, now I see why. For about an hour at Schoelkopf, ALL I SAW WAS SIDEWAYS PASSING DRILLS!. Seriously, it was pathetic, and I am now convinced that Cornell doesn’t even have a QB who can decently throw the ball downfield.
3)      Most of the players were too small, and NO I was not watching a Sprint Football practice. The guys were in shape, but the skill players were puny.
4)      I have said the Cornell game is Columbia’s best chance to win one this year, and now I’m even more convinced.
5)      The Cornell campus is huge and big and getting overbuilt… but it’s STILL a breeze for all the players to get to Schoelkopf and practice. And yet… it looked like a lot of them drove to the field and parked their cars on the track behind the end zone.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know a lot of Cornell students live off campus... but not that far. AND I guarantee you that every Columbia player would LOVE to have the opportunity to walk to practice of any kind. So, I think the walk up the hill from the locker rooms back onto the field at Wien Stadium may be too much for Cornell at halftime. We should look into making the hills steeper or something.

Now, I've visited Cornell 6-7 times now and I think I can honestly say there is NO Ivy school more UNLIKE Columbia. It's a totally different world, with the small exception of the shrinking Arts Quad, which is shrinking because all the construction around it makes it look tiny. Even Dartmouth is more like Columbia than Cornell.

This revelation puts the Pete Mangurian hire into perspective. Yes, I was happy that Columbia had made that very rare move to hire a new coach who had coached in the Ivies before.  But having coached at Cornell is almost useless by Columbia standards. It's not at all like coaching here, and Mangurian's learning curve has been just as steep as someone who never heard of the AI or the Subway.

*Just another few thoughts on the sideways passing thing.

I really, hate hate hate that play. It’s okay to use it once in a while to catch the defense off guard and use like a screen. But the chances of the ball being slightly off and intercepted for a pick six are too high and it seems really wimpy not to throw the ball down the field much more often. Also if the ball doesn’t go forward and it’s dropped, it’s technically a fumbled lateral and a free ball on the ground.

It’s just weak. And Columbia, for decades it seems, has used the play a lot. Vinny Marino loved that play and it was scary every time. I can’t think of any time where it really worked either.  So I encourage Cornell to continue practicing this dicey play all summer and use it a lot this fall. Good luck with that. 

Yes, Coach Archer I AM tweaking you. The fact is, the Ivies have enough of a wimpy reputation, (undeserved mostly), as it is. We don't need teams going the "full wuss" and sideways passing... even if it was just for practice... anymore! It makes the whole league look bad. And remember, this is a Columbia fan saying this, so you KNOW it looks really bad.

Ed Marinaro isn't even dead yet, but he must be rolling over in his grave. When he played for Cornell, he took personal exception to the "Ivies are pansies" talk and loved playing a hard nosed game. He was a tough son of a bitch if there ever was one. Now, he gets to see his team throwing the ball around like a bunch of toddlers in day care. Yikes. 

How about we man up and go for power running or get really wacky and be like the WAC Conference in the 1990's and just pass all the time, but DOWN THE FIELD? 

Let's have fun and stop being so afraid.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Monmouth Tickets UPDATE Link FOUND!

As disappointed as I am by the coaching staff and Columbia administration, I still want to be as helpful as I can to CU football fans new and old when it comes to practical matters.

To that end, I wanted to pass along some info on Columbia’s second road game of the season which is at Monmouth on October 11th.

Tickets for the game are $10 each for adults and they are on sale now, info here. 

UPDATE: THIS IS THE LINK to actually buy tickets for the CU-Monmouth game. 

This game will be Homecoming for Monmouth, so I suggest buying the tickets now.

Monmouth’s Kessler Field can only hold about 4,600 fans, (some more seats can be added, but the all-time attendance record there is just above 6,000), so ticket availability could be a real issue especially if the Hawks have a good start to their season, (this game will be CU’s fourth but Monmouth’s sixth of 2014), it could be tight. 

And Kessler is one of those stadiums with just one side, so home and away fans have to sit together. 

Polled Out

Two of Columbia’s first three opponents are ranked in the Top 25 in the FCS Gameday Preseason Poll. 

Week one foe Fordham is #16 and week three opponent Princeton is #25.

Sporting News puts Fordham as high as #8 while Princeton is unranked in that poll.

Lindy’s also ranks the Rams at #8 and puts Princeton at #25.

Athlon ranks Fordham at #13.  

Meanwhile, yet another Fordham player has been named to the CFPA award watch list. He’s kick return specialist Jorge Solano. 

A fair question right now for Head Coach Pete Mangurian and his staff is this: “What are you SPECIFICALLY preparing to do to make sure the games against Fordham and Princeton don’t get out of hand and leave our team hopelessly demoralized so early in the season?”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Princeton Update

Anthony Gaffney may be the best player in the Ivies

Over the past two seasons, Princeton has defeated Columbia in both meetings by a combined score of 86-13.

QB Quinn Epperly, (who is back for his senior season this fall), has gone a combined 26 of 35 passing for 375 yards, five TD’s and no INT's. As a runner, he’s gone a combined 17 carries for 96 yards and two TD’s.

Well, the Lions shouldn’t be so ashamed because Epperly has been nothing short of a superstar for the Tigers for two years running. Last year, he won the Bushnell Cup after passing for 2,137 yards, running for 570 more, throwing for 25 TD’s with just three INT’s, and netting another 18 running touchdowns.

Yes, Epperly was responsible for a whopping 43 TD’s in 2013.

And he’s back, and judging by his Twitter account, he REALLY thinks he’s good too.

One possible hopeful note: for the last decade or so in Ivy play, juniors who have super blowout seasons have not tended to repeat those feats in their final years. Maybe the same jinx will afflict Epperly.

If only Quinn Epperly were the only returning player to worry about.

The Tigers also have possibly the best athlete in the entire league in CB Anthony Gaffney.

Lion fans should remember Gaffney as the guy who scored a TD the very first time he touched the ball in an Ivy game when he returned the opening kickoff for a TD against Columbia in 2012.

Since then, he’s only improved. Gaffney is considered a shutdown corner and opposing teams rarely test him anymore.

Both Gaffney and Epperly have been named preseason All-Americans.

In addition to the two big superstars, Princeton has a lot of returning talent. Senior OL Spencer Huston was 1st Team All Ivy last year. Junior RB DiAndre Atwater, who many believe still hasn’t really shown what he can do, was a 2nd Team All Ivy honoree in 2013. WR Seth DeValve was one of Epperly’s top targets and he’s back for a senior season. But his top WR from 2012 and 2013, Roman Wilson, is gone to graduation.

On defense, the Tigers will have to recover from some heavy graduation losses. Top of the list is DT Caraun Reid who is now in the NFL. They’ve also lost DB Phillip Bhaya and DL Greg Sotereanos.

But they do have LB Mike Zeulim a 2nd Team All Ivy who was the leading tackler for Princeton last year. And the Princeton secondary is still stacked. Along with Gaffney, the Tigers return All Ivy Honorable Mention Matt Arends and the talented Khamal Brown returns after missing a season and a half with an aneurysm.

The incoming freshmen class is simply stellar. DL Khalil Bryant is considered one of the top incoming college players in the country, not just the Ivies. LB Joe Percival is another standout.

But the best news for Princeton is that the Tigers get home field advantage against the other two best teams in the league, Harvard and Dartmouth.

Princeton was shocked by the Big Green in the 2013 finale, not so much because they lost but because they lost because of a weak day on offense. No one was supposed to be able to stop Epperly and co. and Dartmouth did.

But with the game shifting to New Jersey this fall, the Green will have a hard time repeating that feat.

So after beginning their season against one of the best teams in all of FCS football in Fordham, the Lions get to open their Ivy schedule with the team favored to repeat as Ivy champs.

When does it get easier?

And Now for Some Good News!

It's been a steady stream of bad PR for the Columbia football team for the past 15 months.

But today we have a very good PR moment and thank goodness for it!

Several incoming football freshmen have been helping to clean up NYC parks this summer.

Kudos to everyone who had a hand in arranging this.