Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Catching Up

Josh Martin makes a tackle

First, a quick NFL update as Josh Martin '13 is back in New York after the Jets signed him to their active roster yesterday. Look for Josh to make an impact on special teams and maybe more.

Second, the All Ivy list is out and it's nice that eight Lions have been honored compared to the much smaller numbers we saw in 2013 and 2014. 

RB Cameron Molina's inclusion on the 1st Team is especially gratifying considering all he had to endure the last four years. And considering his non-eye popping stats, it was also nice to see Toba Akinleye make the 1st Team too.

Two of Columbia's All Ivy honorees will return for 2016, DB Jared Katz and P/K Cameron Nizialek. They'll both be seniors next season. 

But expect big changes in positional assignments in the coming months as Al Bagnoli and his staff now have a full off season to do their work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

With Praise Comes Information!

Taylor Weldon

A new piece lauding Columbia's recruiting efforts has just been published Hero Sports and it includes a brand new name to add to our unofficial list of incoming football commits.

That name is Taylor Weldon, a DE/TE who makes more sense for Columbia at the DE position.

Weldon comes from Southland Academy in Americus, Georgia maybe about 130 miles south of Atlanta. It looks like Weldon missed his senior season due to an ACL tear, but we'll see if he's healed in time for next year.

Based on my Lionfeeders recruiting database, Weldon would be the first Southland grad to come to Columbia football.

But the article in Hero Sports is really worth reading for more than the one added name. Our suspicions that getting 23 commits this early in the process was a good sign seem to have been confirmed. And the outspoken praise for Head Coach Al Bagnoli and the experience of playing Ivy Football are like cashing in dividends on a rising stock.

Here's our new list:

1) Kyle Baskin WR/DB 6-4 210 lbs. Quakertown HS Quakertown, PA

2) Parker Coogan OL/DT 6-2 270 lbs. Kingwood HS Houston, TX

3) Matt Dame QB 6-2 185 lbs. Suncoast HS Riviera Beach, FL

4) Chris Everett WR 6-2 200 lbs. Whitney Young HS Chicago, IL

5) Danny De Lorenzi LB 6-3 230 lbs. Bergen Catholic HS, Oradell, NJ 

6) John Fischer OL 6-3 290 lbs. Sacred Heart-Griffin HS Springfield, IL

7) Alex Gibson RB 5-10 195 lbs. Central Bucks High School East Doylestown, PA

8) LinDon Harris DE 6-2 215 lbs. Sidwell Friends Washington, DC

9) Ben Hill TE/DE 6-3 230 lbs. Christian Brothers HS Memphis, TN

10) Hogan Irwin RB 5-10 180 lbs. Central Cathedral HS San Diego, CA

11) Ben McKeighan WR/DB 6-0 187 lbs. Scottsdale Prep/Cheshire Academy (PG year) Scottsdale, AZ

12) Max Mullaney LB 6-2 225 lbs. Colts Neck HS Colts Neck, NJ

13) Michael Murphy LB 5-11 194 lbs. Plant HS Tampa, FL

14) Lamine Nouck-A-Nwal DE/OL  6-4 250 lbs. Central Bucks High School East Doylestown, PA

15) Will Ontiveros WR/DB 6-2 175 lbs. Assumption HS Davenport, IA

16) Hunter Petlansky QB 6-2 225 lbs. Modesto Central Catholic HS Modesto, CA 

17) Alex Robin DT 6-0 260 lbs. Vestavia Hills HS Vestavia Hills, AL 

18) Arman Samouk DT 6-2 270 lbs. Copley HS Copley, OH

19) Joseph Scowden OL 6-4 290 lbs. Montgomery Bell HS Nashville, TN

20) Tanner Thomas RB 5-10 183 lbs. Farragut HS Knoxville, TN 

21) Jonathon Webster DB  6-0 180 lbs. Eastside Catholic HS Sammamish, WA

22) Taylor Weldon DE/TE 6"2 240 lbs. Soutland Academy Americus, GA

23) Jalen Williams LB 6-0 215 lbs. Hewitt-Trussville HS, Trussville, AL

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rough Ending

Brown 28 Columbia 23

Why Brown Won

The Bears showed up. That's about it. I'd like to be more diplomatic about this and give more praise than is due to the decent blitzing package Brown used and some decent Bear defense in the red zone, but those were only minor factors compared to the three gift TD's Columbia handed their opponents on Friday night. Considering how accommodating the Lions were at crucial moments in this game, Brown should be embarrassed it didn't win by a lot more.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions gift wrapped three TD's to the Bears, two of them before the first minute in the game had elapsed. The Columbia offense also struggled in the red zone when it counted most. Failure to pick up Brown's outside blitzers on play after play also hurt.

Key Turning Points

-After falling into a stunning 14-0 deficit less than a minute into the game, the Lions fought their way back into it and trailed just 14-7 with just over 10 minutes left in the half. But Columbia's promising drive to possibly tie the game ended when QB Skyler Mornhinweg bobbled a snap and Brown recovered at its 33 yard line.

-Early in the 3rd quarter and trailing 21-14, the Lions got burned by a brilliant Brown decision to line up WR Troy Doles as a running back. The play forced DE Hunter Little into deep sideline coverage of a speedy receiver and resulted in a TD with about nine minutes left in the quarter.

Columbia Positives

-RB Cameron Molina had an absolutely brilliant night, carrying the ball an unheard of in this day and age 40 times for 174 yards and a TD. He also caught five passes for 40 yards and another TD. Some of his runs were brilliant. His stellar performances that last two weeks of the season and his career gave him 805 total rushing yards for 2015, making his year one of the best ever for a RB in Columbia history.

-Despite all the mistakes, the Lions did fight back and never gave up on the game. The defense was mostly dominant, allowing just eight 1st downs the entire game. It also allowed just 97 yards passing in what was probably the first time any team kept the Bears under 100 yards passing in years.

Columbia Negatives

-It just seemed like the Lions thought the game started at 8pm and not 730pm. The opening minute lapses in run tackling, kickoff fielding, and snapping the ball left them down 14-0 before a lot of people even got to their seats.

-The tightness the offense goes into when it gets into the red zone is excruciating. Columbia needs to work on developing a killer instinct during the off season just as much as it needs to recruit new young talent to replace the seniors.

Columbia MVP

Cameron Molina was a true credit to Columbia and all of Ivy League football for playing the way he did on national TV. We will miss him.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Final Exam

Brown Bears at Columbia Lions

November 20, 2015

Kickoff: 7:30pm

Robert K. Kraft Field at Wien Stadium

Game Time Weather: 47 degrees, clear

The Spread: Brown is favored by three points

TV/Radio: The game is on national TV on the NBC Sports Network. But special recognition goes to Jerry Recco, who tonight will be calling his 100th game as the Columbia Football play-by-play man. I was Jerry's color guy for 30 of those games, and he is absolutely a master at his craft and a great person too. 

Leading Story Lines

1) Last Impressions

Everyone agrees the Lions are much improved, but after last week's very bitter loss at Cornell it definitely feels like the team needs a big boost going into that 300-day off season. A win here would provide a tremendous boost for the program going forward.

2) Last Impressions II

The 20 seniors playing their last games, especially impact players like RB Cameron Molina, DL's Niko Padilla, Chad Washington, Toba Akinleye, Hunter Little, JD Hurt, DB Travis Reim, OL Billy Lawrence and TE Nick Durham have one last chance to add a flourish to their time at Columbia. These guys have endured more rough times than most Lion football players over the decades, and that's saying a lot.

3) Look to the Future?

The last game of the season is often a time for some younger players to get some experience under their belts. I'm not expecting too much of a youth movement tonight, but you never know.

5 Columbia Players to Watch

-Junior LB Chris Conway #37. I expect Brown to try to open up the passing game with several QB runs to the outside by Kyle Moreno. Conway will be one of the guys most responsible for cutting him off.

-Senior RB Cameron Molina #31. Molina's career day last week could be just a warmup for the Bears and their questionable run defense.

-Senior DL Chad Washington #4. He, Padilla, Little, and Akinleye all have a lot to play for tonight, but I think Washington is the guy Brown will least be able to handle.

-Sophomore QB Anders Hill #12. With senior QB Skyler Mornhinweg battling some injuries, Hill might get a lot more time and more chances to burn the Bear defense with his feet.

-Senior DB Matt Cahal #20. Brown is going to go after him in the air, period. He better be ready.

5 Brown Players to Watch

-Junior QB Kyle Moreno #13. Moreno is a solid runner and he should get more time tonight as the passing of starter Marcus Fuller is sometimes shaky.

-Senior WR Troy Doles #82. He's a dangerous receiver in his final game for the Bears and it's on national TV. Look out!

-Senior DB Zachary Gillen #21. No matter what the CU offense tries, Gillen will be a key man to stop the pass and a running QB attack.

-Freshman DT Zach Genaway #90. A rarity in this league: a big freshman defensive tackle who is a rising star. If Columbia can get him out of the way, the running game will work. If not, oy.

-Junior WR Alex Jette #7. Jette can kille you as a receiver and as a returner.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Final Week Picks

Well, it was a bad week all around for me last week as I went 2-3 straight up and 2-3 against the spread. I am now 44-19 straight up and 29-34 ATS.

Onward, one last time in 2015:

Princeton +14 at Dartmouth

The Big Green win, but huge blowouts are a thing of the past for a banged up Dalyn Williams and company.

Penn -25 vs. Cornell

Cornell may have won last week, but they're weaker than I thought they were. A team with a potent offense like Penn will massacre the Big Red.

Yale +13 vs. Harvard

Yale has enough players back to make this close, but that's all. Harvard is fading at a bad time.

Georgetown +9 at Holy Cross

The Hoyas will suffer another close loss.

Sacred Heart -14 vs. Wagner

Wagner isn't going to make it two in a row.