Monday, December 31, 2012

Sweet Vindication: Nottingham Confirmed

Well for all of you who may have doubted me, today is confirming what I first reported 10 days ago: Stanford QB Brett Nottingham is transferring to Columbia.

2013 is looking very exciting indeed!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Recruiting Lines Open?

Galen Snyder today

One of Columbia's greatest transfers was Galen Snyder '91, a standout linebacker I last wrote about back in 2009.

Since then, Snyder has built a very strong program for that suburban Philly school and sent some players to top college programs.

One of his top-rated rising seniors is a kicker, Mikhail Kniaziewicz.

Last year, Pennsbury produced Pennsylvania's top-rated OL recruit in JJ Denman.

The point is, Pennsbury should be a good pipeline for the Lions.

Does anyone know if Coach Snyder is on board?

Has anyone from the football office contacted Snyder lately?

Love to know.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Guests

You can tell from this photo montage that the Syracuse Orangemen are enjoying their time practicing at our Baker Athletics Complex.

For those of you who are wondering, the last time Syracuse came to Baker Field to actually play a game was 1948 when the Lions beat SU, 34-28.

The game was actually televised live on CBS.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another Shoop?

John Shoop

One of the top online coaching news sites says John Shoop, brother of former Columbia Head Coach Bob Shoop, is in the lead to get the job opening at Cornell.

Shoop has spent most of his career working hard to climb the coaching ladder in the NFL. But for the last five seasons he was employed, he was the offensive coordinator at North Carolina, (2007-2011). Shoop has been out of work for the last year.

Shoop has an impressive resume, but if I were Cornell A.D. Andy Noel I'd approach with real caution. 

First off, Shoop has never been a head coach before and no matter how small the school they come from former head coaches tend to fare much, much better in the Ivy League. 

Second, Shoop is kind of a journeyman who clearly still has a lot of NFL aspirations. The Big Red is starving for some stability after going through several coaches in the last decade or so. I don't see Shoop as someone who is likely to stick around long if he gets a decent NFL job offer.

On a historical note, I don't think two brothers have ever both reached the position of head coach in Ivy football. Of course, we all know about Joe and James Jones coaching at Columbia and Yale, respectively. 

Incidentally, Bob Shoop has been the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt for the last two seasons.

Switching Back to Football

Several times over the last few years, I've bemoaned the fact that the best football players from my home area of Long Island are making the move to play only lacrosse in college. 

Well, reports say that at least one Long Island high school football star, Babylon's Steve Loudon is making the switch back to the gridiron and will play WR for Brown this fall. 

Hopefully this will start a trend as I'd like to see Columbia do more recruiting on the Island in the future.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Here Comes the 'Cuse

Even if Columbia went 10-0, there would be no postseason football for the Lions.

The Ivy League has banned postseason play for almost 60 years running.

But at least Columbia can help another New York team prepare for its big game.

The Syracuse Orangemen will begin using Wien Stadium this morning as they prepare for the Pinstripe Bowl against West Virginia this Saturday.

WVU is working out at Fordham's Jack Coffey Field.

With heavy rains and wind coming our way, I'm not sure how much work the teams will get in over the next two days.

Recruiting News Still Scant

We're still waiting for more substantial recruiting news, but this article about all the talent in Mercer County, New Jersey lists a number of players Columbia may be interested in. One specific mention is TE Lewis Hayes from Lawrenceville Academy. Hayes is 6-5 and 220 pounds.

Friday, December 21, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Nottingham Chooses Columbia

Nottingham tees off against Colorado

Three sources have told me today that Stanford QB Brett Nottingham has decided to come to Columbia as a transfer.

This is probably not a 100% done deal, but only some small details are in the way.

Nottingham's Stanford bio says it all:  he was one of the most sought-after blue chip quarterback prospects coming out of high school two and a half years ago as this evaluation suggests.

At 6-4 and 212 pounds, he's considerably bigger than just about every other QB in the league.

As one reader noted earlier this week, Nottingham went to the same high school as Columbia basketball star  Brian Barbour, but I don't know if he played a role in this decision.

Remember, coaches are not allowed to recruit transfers in the NCAA.

I expect more news on this in the coming days, but this is a big "get' for the Lions and hopefully the sports program at Columbia in general.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2013: Challenge... Accepted!

I remember writing after the 2010 season that the 2011 schedule looked tough and the Lions would need to improve as a team just to maintain the four-win level they had maintained in 2009 and 2010. 

Well, Columbia actually got worse and fell to 1-9 as we all know.

Fast forward to right now and we have a similar challenge: the 2013 schedule is very tough compared to 2012. And the Lions will again need to get better just to stay put at three wins which no one wants to settle for.

Here'a a look at the schedule week by week to prove my point:

Week 1: at Fordham

The Rams improved from their 1-10 season in 2011 all the way up to an impressive 6-5 record this year. One of those wins was against Columbia at Wien Stadium. Next year, the game will be in the Bronx. That seems like a net gain for Fordham and an increase in difficulty for the Lions. But the good news is that speedy RB Carlton Koonce should be graduating, (not sure about his possible 5th year status). Otherwise, I think the Rams may be stronger no matter where they play in 2013. 

Week 2: Monmouth

This is not a team to be ignored. Monmouth is a program on the rise. The Hawks beat FCS playoff team Wagner and gave Lehigh a run for their money. Columbia will almost surely not be favored to win this game.

Week 3: at Princeton

The Tigers didn't quite finish out their season as strong as they started, but this is a team that surprised with their talent. Some of the best weapons on defense are graduating, but the offensive stars are young. Another very tough game, especially on the road.

Week 4: Lehigh

As difficult a game as it gets, even though it is at home. Some of the best Mountain Hawk players are graduating but the program is just too solid to fall off a cliff like Lafayette did a couple of years ago.

Week 5: Penn

Defending Ivy champs with gutsy QB Billy Ragone likely coming back for a 5th year. Oy.

Week 6: At Dartmouth

An improving team with a hot young QB in Ivy Rookie of the Year Dalyn Williams at the helm. 

Week 7: At Yale

Seems like the most winnable game at this point, but it's at the Bowl and the Lions haven't won there since 1996. 

Week 8: Harvard

I don't think I have to go into why this game will be a toughie after this year's 69-0 loss to the Crimson.

Week 9: at Cornell

The Big Red are almost always a much better team at home than on the road. This will be QB Jeff Mathews last game at Schoelkopf field. Tough room.

Week 10: Brown

Never an easy game, but the Lions have beaten the Bears the last two meetings here in New York.

I don't think anyone can say that the 2013 schedule isn't very challenging. And while three wins will not be a satisfactory result, let's face it: Columbia needs to improve significantly just to get back to that mark next year.

Can it be done? 

Of course it can, but let's be really clear:  Mangurian and crew have a lot of work to do...

Good Shift

Kudos to the folks at Bwog,net (the Columbia student blog I read regularly to get some idea of undergrad life), for taking the distingustingly indulgent "Senior Wisdom" series and using it to start asking questions of the actual adults in their midst: the faculty.

I have found the Senior Wisdom pieces to be vulgar on the surface and dangerous at the core because they always featured a student doing something other than getting a real job.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

BREAKING: Austin out at Cornell

Kent Austin

I was waiting for more confirmation of this story, but now here it is:

Cornell Head Coach Kent Austin is going back to the CFL and leaving the Big Red high and dry.

I thought Austin was doing a generally good job turning the program around, and his development of the Big Red passing game with NFL-prospect Jeff Mathews at QB was a big achievement. 

But I fear that Austin may have bailed too soon. Perhaps he saw his team's defensive problems as too hard to recruit out of. Perhaps he felt that teams not named "Harvard or Penn" have too much of a recruiting disadvantage in the Ivies. Perhaps he is getting much better money up north.

Whatever the reason, I think there's a good chance Austin has made a mistake. Cornell's athletic department is very well run and has had huge success in every sport but football recently... and there was evidence it was turning the corner there as well.

This has to be a big blow to the players, even those who were rubbed the wrong way last year when Austin basically banned summer internships outside of Ithaca.

And I thought this would be the first year in a long time with no coaching changes in the Ivy ranks. 

Time to Go

Time to go...

I woke up this morning to the sobering stats posted by Bruce Wood at Big Green Alert.

Over the last five years, Columbia is still dead last in the Ivies in the all-important Won-Loss column.

This is getting more than tiresome to point out, but this record of worst-in-the-league failure from 2008-present not only all comes under Dianne Murphy's tenure, it comes fully FOUR YEARS after her tenure as Athletic Director began in 2004.

While the jury is still out on her hiring of Pete Mangurian as head coach, let me once again state without any equivocation that it's really past time for Murphy to go. The basketball and football teams, the core of any college sports programs, are simply not stronger than they were when she started relative to the rest of the league. Murphy's defenders cannot change that embarrassing fact. 

And I'm tired of being embarrassed.

2012 is about to end. Murphy has had more than eight years in this job. Let's start 2013 with a clean slate and bring in a new AD. 

Brett Nottingham

Surprise Me

I've made no secret of my love of transfers when it comes to Columbia football.

Now, I am making an open appeal to Stanford QB and soon-to-be transfer Brett Nottingham


Here's my Pitch;

1) Most of the other Ivies already have very solid veteran QB's returning for next year but CU is losing a 4-year starter to graduation and the job is up for grabs,

2) Within hours of the news of your new commitment to Columbia, you WILL get a super summer job at the bank, investment firm, media company, of your choice. (Not that I can personally guarantee that, it's just a prediction... but a good guess).

3) The NYC news media will pick up on the story big time and go with it. We love it when out-of-towners choose to come here. New Yorkers seem jaded, but we root hard for this city all the time.

Okay, maybe it's a long shot. But Nottingham would be a big hit here and we're ready. Hopefully if he is even remotely interested, we won't do anything to discourage that interest,   

Nottingham graduated from Monte Vista HS in Danville, CA. Only one other Monte Vista high grad has come to play football at Columbia according to my Lion Feeder HS Data Base, but at least there's some connection. 

 I'd like to be surprised on this one.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Speedy Jersey Guy

Sorry for the brief vacation from regular posting, but now we have some decent news to talk about.

New WR Commit

6-4, 188-pound wide receiver Toure Douglas from Vineland HS in Vineland, NJ has committed to play at Columbia.

Douglas is the first documented Vineland student to join the Lion program according to my own site, listing all the Columbia football feeder schools./

His junior year highlight video is below:

So now that we have four confirmed committed recruits, it's time to start our 2013 list:

1. Toure Douglas, WR 6-4 188 lbs. Vineland HS, Vineland, NJ
2. Cameron Nizialek, K/P 6-3 195 lbs. Freedom HS, South Riding, VA
3. Kendall Pace, OL 6-5 250 lbs. Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, MD
4. Will Peoples, S 6-1 190 lbs. Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, Cambridge, MA

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Academic Accolades

Great news for two key players on the 2012 Lions, one of whom is coming back for 2013.

Senior Mike Waller and junior Wells Childress both made Academic All-Ivy for the fall.

The full list of all the schools' awardees is here.

Of particular pride for the league is that the Bushnell Offensive MVP award winner Colton Chapple made the list along with NFL-bound QB Jeff Mathews, (who still has one more year at Cornell, but I feel good about his chances).

Friday, December 7, 2012

The One Name...

For those of us just dying to have the one of at least ONE incoming freshman player, I have that for you.

But it is indeed just ONE.

The Buckingham, Brown & Nichols player who committed to the Lions is Will Peoples, a Safety featured in this video.

Remember that BB&N Head Coach John Papas is the father of former Columbia fullback Nico Papas '12, and he has sent a number of players Columbia's way in recent years.

Senior Steven Grassa, (who may or may not choose to stick with the team for a 5th year), is also a BB&N grad.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Your Nominations, Please!

Time to start the process for awarding our MVP award for 2012.

I'd like as many readers as possible to nominate the players you think were the best for the Lions this season.

You can just put a name in the comments section, or make a long case as well.

It's up to you.

May the best young man win!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Little Nibble on Recruits

Loud, but not proud?

It's not much, but ESPN has a list of some players Columbia has been looking at for the 2013 recruiting class. 

Obviously the really big name in this list is DT Nick Thurman from Texas. If we snag this guy, we should rename the stadium after the assistant coach who recruits him!

Safety Mason Bryant is another gem, with offers from every Ivy, Army, Air Force and Ohio.

Levien Hosts Greatness

In today's, or yesterday's "fun news": The Oklahoma City Thunder took over Levien Gymnasium to practice for their game tonight against Brooklyn.

Speaking of Levien, there was a lot of buzz about great fan support this Saturday night as the gym was sold out for the game against Bucknell. It was yet another bummer that the Lions not only lost that game, but blew a double-digit second half lead. 

What is it about well-attended, well-enthused, games, (like football Homecoming), that seems to bring out the worst in our teams???

It goes against everything I believe in to see teams play somewhat, or sometime a lot, WORSE when the fans are really getting into a game. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Snubbed Quakers and Lions

The last Lion Bushnell winner

I think Colton Chapple was a great QB and he's probably a fine young man.

But it's just not right that he won the Bushnell Cup today as the Ivy League's offensive most valuable player.

Was he  the most productive player? In many ways, he was. His stats were just incredible. 

But MVP awards shouldn't be about stats. They should be about who does the most to secure victories for his team in tough situations. Chapple loaded up and padded his stats in a lot of games, but in the crucial game against Penn, he was just 17-27 for 174 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT's. 

Once again, I have to insist that Penn's Billy Ragone was the toughest offensive player to stop when the games really counted. And no one did stop him. 

Ragone is likely to come back for a 5th year, (he was injured for the season early in his freshman campaign), and now he'll be even more motivated to play great football in 2013. 

Great, now he's angry.

Meanwhile, it is now 30 years and counting since a Columbia player won the Bushnell. For a program that has had so much trouble winning, but not as much trouble finding outstanding individual players, this is supremely frustrating. 

But while not winning championships won't hurt 8-2 teams like Harvard and its star Chapple, it did hurt the Lions in 1996 when the very deserving Marcellus Wiley, (also on an 8-2 team that year), was snubbed. 

Silence is Deafening

The paucity of news about Columbia's 2013 recruiting class is getting a little unsettling. 

We always thought Norries Wilson kept recruiting news close to the vest. So either Pete Mangurian is even more secretive, or he's going a little slower in the process than the other coaches.

I think he's probably further along than we know, but Mangurian is probably recruiting a few names that aren't on the regular Ivy League radar and thus we're a bit in the dark. 

I suspect that will change very soon, but if we don't have 3-4 names out there by Christmas... then something's up.

Yes, We REALLY DID Win the 1934 Rose Bowl

A very long-time fan forwarded this story to me about a woman who long disbelieved here father whenever he talked about Columbia once winning the Rose Bowl.

I get this a lot too, and I'm under 45.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Report Card: Coach Mangurian

During the season, I took time out to post pieces on how I felt Pete Mangurian was doing in his first year on the job.

They're all available in the archives and free to all to check out.

Now that the season is over, I have to say the jury is still out. It's not because we don't have enough information, it's just that so much of the information is contradictory.

The most important stat is wins, and we got two more of those, including one over a Yale team Columbia had not defeated since 2001 and another against a Cornell squad that looked like it could roll up 50+ points easily on the Lions just a few days before.

Going from one win to three is encouraging, even if it only met most of our most sober expectations. 

But there was also a statistical dropoff on offense that was truly disappointing, the trio of lost games that could/should have been wins, and that gut-wrenching 69-0 loss at Harvard.

There were great strides in communication with Coach Mangurian's blog and Facebook/Twitter posts, but there were also bizarre interviews on WKCR and a terrible performance at the news conference after the Dartmouth game that made everyone in the room feel like they might want to call a shrink.

The simple fact is, as much as this will anger his biggest supporters and detractors, Pete Mangurian as a a Head Coach at Columbia is still a work in progress. No one can really say whether he'll work out or not. 

Here's what was good:

-Morning practices

-Good assistant coach hires, especially DC Kevin Lempa

-Improved running game

-Better discipline

-Willingness to change despite words to the contrary. Columbia's offensive schemes DID change as the season went on, mostly for the better. 

Here's what wasn't good:

-Crazy experiment on the offensive line that didn't have to be as crazy as it was. I guess we'll never know why Scott Ward wasn't even invited to training camp, let alone not given the leadership role the team needed him to take. 

-Two losses after grabbing late leads against Ivy foes. The Penn loss should haunt this coaching staff for years to come. The Dartmouth loss should too. The loss to Fordham was also a result of coaching lapses, especially on offense.

-Jekyl & Hyde like behavior. Great comments and enthusiasm online, berating fans/parents in person. 

Mangurian faces a tough series of tests in year 2. The schedule will be tougher with just five home games and there are no cupcakes on the slate. Of course he had our support and we will always come to the games and cheer the team... ALWAYS. 

But in the meantime, we also want to see improvement and won't stay quiet in the offseason like the athletic department wants. 

This is all about accountability.

Overall Grade: C 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Bushnell and our Special Teams

Last year's winners

First, a quick note on the four finalists for the Bushnell Cup, (players of the year awards):

The two offensive finalists are Harvard QB Colton Chapple and Cornell QB, (and 2011 winner), Jeff Mathews.

The defensive finalists are Princeton DL Mike Catpanano and Brown DB AJ Cruz.

The defensive choices are good ones and I think that Catapano will probably win. 

But I have to say that the true MVP of the season isn't even named above and that's just plain wrong.

As much as we Columbia fans might hate to admit it, Penn's Billy Ragone was the heart and soul of his Ivy championship team. And I think it's really puzzling why he isn't even a finalist for the top award.

Think about it: in the key moments against Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Harvard, Ragone was the difference between winning and losing. 

Usually, he did it with his feet. But Ragone also had some clutch completions and the Lions know all too well how much better he performed when the Quakers were backed into a corner. 

Since Cornell finished with such a disappointing record, I assume Chapple will win the Bushnell. As good as he was, he wasn't a champion. Ragone is.

Special Teams Report Card

After years of subpar and even downright scary play, the Lion special teams in 2012 showed the most improvement of any unit on the team. 

The stats spell out some of the story. Columbia improved in average kickoff return yards, average punt return yards, punting yards, kickoff yards, field goal percentage and PAT percentage.
But the stats can't show the complete shot in the arm the special teams gave the program, often at key times in games.

It started in week one, when Wells Childress' blocked an extra point to win the game against Marist 10-9. 

It continued with several great kickoff returns by Trevor Bell and Travis Reim and a number of exciting punt returns by Alec Fisher.

Punter Paul Delaney had a breakout year. He nailed 10 punts of over 50 yards and had a number of clutch kicks along the way. He even had a 73-yarder.

Kicker Luke Eddy cut down on his inconsistency and seemed to revert to his impressive 2010 form. 

Everything was not perfect. Kick coverage wasn't the best, and the kickoff return for a TD to start the game against Princeton was a killer. 

Using Seyi Adebayo on punt coverage in week two against Fordham resulted in a season-ending injury. That's not completely something you can blame the coaches for, but hopefully they'll reconsider using key defensive starters like that too often.  

But in general, there was improvement across the board here. The unit gave Columbia an advantage in games, not a disadvantage, 

Kickoff Returns: B+

Kickoff Coverage: C

Punt Returns: A-

Punt Coverage: A-

Punting: A-

Kickoffs: B

Field Goals: B+

PAT's: A-

Overall Special Teams Grade: A-

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Cheer

Thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor, this blog will be free going forward.

I want to send a special thank you to the many, many people who paid for subscriptions beginning just about a year ago. It meant more to me than I can say that so many of you were willing to pay for something that had been free. I hope I met your expectations.

I know many of you are sometimes disturbed by the comments we see in the comments section, but I want to maintain my policy of total free speech there within standards of decency, (no vulgarities or personal threats, etc). I know it irks the administration and the athletic department that this blog exists as a constant check on their movements, but that's what it should be. 

I'll be back tomorrow to regular blogging with a 2012 report card on the special teams.

Until then, here's the link to the Pete Mangurian blog on his plans going forward. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Report Cards; Defense

There's no denying the Columbia defense truly did improve in 2012. In fact, when one really looks at how much the offense did to contribute to opponent scores, the improvement is even more impressive.

First, there are the stats. The Lions allowed fewer points, fewer passing yards, fewer rushing yards, held opponents to a lower completion percentage, intercepted more passes and netted more sacks.

Second, there were also great individual performances especially from Zach Olinger, Josh Martin, and Mike Waller. 

The Lion D turned in herculean efforts in the wins over Marist and Cornell, and gave Columbia every chance to win the game against Fordham they eventually dropped. And in the losses to Penn and Dartmouth, the defense only faltered after more than 3 1/2 quarters of stellar play that should have been enough to give Columbia more comfortable leads.

Finally, in the debacle 69-0 loss against Harvard, the Crimson scored five touchdowns off turnovers.

I thought the hiring of Kevin Lempa as defensive coordinator was the best news of the 2011-2012 offseason and I stand by that assessment. If he stays on the staff, the improvement will continue.

Our very young linebackers coach Mike Cooke did a great job with that unit and may only get better with more experience.

But now, let's go position by position:

Defensive Line: B

After the first two games, this unit looked like it was in for an "A" season. But after Seyi Adebayo was lost for the season during the Fordham game, there was a clear dropoff in quality. Columbia still gave up too many rushing yards and was consistent enough in the pass rush. But the improvement in this group was clear compared to 2011, and there is a lot of returning talent coming back in 2013 if Adebayo takes a 5th year, Nick Melka recovers from the injury that sidelined him almost all season, and players like Niko Padilla, Chad Washington and Wells Childress continue to improve.And don't sleep on Brooklyn's Toba Akinleye, who started to make a decent impact towards the end of the season.

Linebackers: A

When the top three tacklers on your football team are your three starting linebackers, that says a lot. Olinger, Waller and Murphy each put in their best seasons of their respective careers. Olinger returns in 2013, but Waller and Murphy are graduating. Other than Brian East, there weren't a lot of backup LB's who stood out, but it was hard to get on the field considering the way the starters were playing.

Secondary: C-

Inconsistency really plagued this group. There were games were players like freshman Travis Reim starred, and games where he was burned in coverage. There were games were the safeties like junior Marquel Carter was making play after play, and games where tackles were missed. Lempa may have bitten off more than he could chew by overseeing this unit in addition to being the overall defensive coordinator.

Overall Grade: C

Last year's defense was basically an F, so this is a true improvement. But had this group been able to play B or even B- level football in 2012, we would have seen one or even two more wins.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Report Card Time!

First off, let me write about how thrilled I was to listen to the Columbia win over Villanova last night on my iPhone.

I bought the new upgraded ap that gives you the audio for CU games wherever you go and it's well worth it. 

Getting back to the win, it was an impressive game and WELL-FINISHED considering the fact that Lions BBall under Coach Kyle Smith has had some horrific blown leads in key games in his short tenure. 

Well done! 

Now back to football...

Today begins the very long dissection and study of the 2012 season.

I want to grade every part of the team starting now with the offense. 

On one hand, you could get excited about the fact that the Lions finally got a good running game going this year. You could jump for joy that QB Sean Brackett got back over the 50% completion rate mark and established a short passing attack with multiple weapons like Connor Nelligan and Chris Connors.

But the real numbers don't lie: Columbia's touchdown and total points scored numbers fell hard and the sacks allowed figure was... a disgrace. 

Most of this was because of the offensive line. Head Coach Pete Mangurian's "Grand Experiment," (my title), to go with a lighter, faster offensive line just didn't work. Perhaps the players didn't implement the plan properly, but it's hard to see how they could have been effective with the size disparities they faced week in and week out. There is chatter out there that Mangurian went with taller players as recruits in the hopes of getting them to put on weight between years one and two. If that's the plan, we have to give it an incomplete for now.  

But the offense was certainly more exciting, and the play calling improved as the year went on. That's compared to the same bad play calling we saw for the six years prior to 2012. 

And the development of a deep and talented wide receiving corps was a major success. WR Coach Wendell Davis gets a big thumbs up for a job obviously well done. 

I would do the same for RB Coach Chad Nice, but I'm not sure he can get the credit for RB Marcorus Garrett getting healthy. We also didn't see a deep bunch at all in the RB corps like we did from the receivers. But Nice deserves some kudos for helping Garrett hit the 900+ yard mark with that O-line. 

Breaking the Offense down by unit:

Quarterback: B

Brackett had his problems, particularly earlier in the season with his accuracy, but he still had a lot of good moments and executed nicely under tremendous pressure in several contests like the Penn game, the Yale game, and of course the Cornell game. One can only wonder how well he could have done with less of a constant rush.

Running Backs: B+

Garrett's season was A- or even a A in quality, but he was too alone in carrying the running load to give the entire running unit that high a mark. I liked what I saw briefly from Cameron Molina in the Penn game, and I had predicted he would make an impact as a freshman. But we all need to see more.

Wide Receivers: A

There some cases of the dropsies early in the year, but how can you complain about what was the strongest unit on the team? Consider the fact that all the leading WR's from 2011 graduated, but there was so much new talent developed this season, who noticed? It will be very interesting to see if the crew of Nelligan, Connors, Gross, Jake Wanamaker, Louis DiNovo and even guys like Ryan Flannery and Scooter Hollis can gel as well with a new QB in 2013. TE Hamilton Garner took a bit of a step back this season, but mostly because there were a lot more guys to throw to. He could still have a big senior year as a receiver too. And fellow TE Nick Durham also looked good as he got a lot of playing time as a freshman. 

Offensive Line: D-

The only reason this unit doesn't get an F is because there was at least enough coherence here to get Garrett a strong season. Otherwise, you could point to almost every one of the Lions' seven losses and pin them on the front five. It's not that they showed no skill, but the offensive linemen just weren't big enough or experienced enough to get the job done. The experience part will improve by next year, but will these guys get better? 

This year, anyone who didn't already know learned the hard way that nothing really works on a football team without a decent offensive line. It does feel like this season was sacrificed slightly in order for the Mangurian regime to create the building blocks on the offensive line. One HAS to think that allowing returning two-time All Ivy honoree Scott Ward to play more could have helped the Lions win more games. Hopefully, Mangurian knows what he's doing and the future will be packed with a lot more wins to justify moves that were so questionable to the outsiders', (and even a lot of insiders'), eyes.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

All Ivy 2012: Snubbed Again

The following players were just named to the All Ivy teams. Columbia players are in bold:

Dalyn WIlliams, Dartmouth (Fr., QB - Corinth, Texas)

Nathan Bernstein, Brown (Sr., OL - Charlotte, N.C.)
Cole Hooper, Brown (Sr., OL - Oklahoma City)
*J.C. Tretter, Cornell (Sr., OL - Akron, N.Y.)
Rob Bathe, Dartmouth (Sr., OL - Plymouth, Minn.)
John Collins, Harvard (Sr., OL - Hull, Mass.)
Jack Holuba, Harvard (Sr., OL - Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.)
Joe Bonadies, Penn (Sr., OL - Leonia, N.J.)
Colton Chapple, Harvard (Sr., QB - Alpharetta, Ga.)
Marcorus Garrett, Columbia (Jr., RB - Marietta, Ga.)
*Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard (Sr., H-Back - Medina, Ohio)
Treavor Scales, Harvard (Sr., RB - Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Tyler Varga, Yale (So., RB - Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)
*Luke Tasker, Cornell (Sr., WR - East Aurora, N.Y.)
Michael Reilly, Dartmouth (Sr., WR - Denver)
*Cameron Brate, Harvard (Jr., TE - Naperville, Ill.)

Josh Martin, Columbia (Sr., DL - Aurora, Colo.)
Zach Hodges, Harvard (So., DL - Atlanta)
Brandon Copeland, Penn (Sr., DL - Sykesville, Md.)
*Mike Catapano, Princeton (Sr., DL - Bayville, N.Y.)
*Caraun Reid, Princeton (Sr., DL - Bronx, N.Y.)
Stephen Zambetti, Brown (Sr., LB - Germantown, Tenn.)
Michael Runger, Dartmouth (Jr., LB - Lisle, Ill.)
*Joshua Boyd, Harvard (Sr., LB - Hyde Park, Mass.)
Daniel Davis, Penn (So., LB - Norman, Okla.)
*A.J. Cruz, Brown (Sr., DB - Lake Forest, Calif.)
Garrett Waggoner, Dartmouth (Sr., DB - Sarasota, Fla.)
Sebastian Jaskowski, Penn (Jr., DB - Moorestown, N.J.)
Anthony Gaffney, Princeton (Fr., DB - Columbus, N.J.)

Special Teams
David Mothander, Harvard (Jr., PK - San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)
Jacob Dombrowski, Harvard (Sr., P - Gaylord, Mich.)
Scott Lopano, Penn (Sr., P - Southlake, Texas)
Anthony Gaffney, Princeton (Fr., RS - Columbus, N.J.)

Anthony Fabiano, Harvard (So., OL - Wakefield, Mass.)
Christopher Bush, Penn (Jr., OL - Westwood, N.J.)
Michael Piniciotti, Penn (Sr., OL - West Chester, Pa.)
Spenser Huston, Princeton (So., OL - Summit, N.J.)
Roy Collins, Yale (Sr., OT - Carbondale, Ill.)
Jeff Mathews, Cornell (Jr., QB - Camarillo, Calif.)
Dominick Pierre, Dartmouth (Jr., RB - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Lyle Marsh, Penn (Sr., RB - Bethel Park, Pa.)
Tellef Lundevall, Brown (Sr., WR - Highland Park, Ill.)
Grant Gellatly, Cornell (Jr., WR - Iaaaquah, Wash.)
Conner Scott, Penn (Jr., WR - Kenilworth, Ill.)
Roman Wilson, Princeton (Jr., WR - Broken Arrow, Okla.)
Mark Hayes, Princeton (Sr., TE - Tulsa, Okla.)

Ross Walthall, Brown (Sr., DL - Carmel, Ind.)
Michael Yules, Brown (Sr., DL - South Dartmouth, Mass.)
Teddy Reed, Dartmouth (Sr., DL - Boxford, Mass.)
John Lyon, Harvard (Sr., DL - Durham, N.C.)
Nnamdi Obukwelu, Harvard (Jr., DL - Brockton, Mass.)
Zach Olinger, Columbia (Jr., LB - Hoover, Ala.)
Bronson Green, Dartmouth (Jr., LB - Los Angeles)
Alexander Norman, Harvard (Sr., LB - Lewisville, Texas)
Andrew Starks, Princeton (Sr., LB - Plainfield, Ill.)
Emory Polley, Brown (Jr., DB - University Heights, Ohio)
Norman Hayes, Harvard (So., DB - Tucker, Ga.)
Chris Splinter, Harvard (Jr., DB - Middleton, Mass.)
Dave Twamley, Penn (Sr., DB - Princeton Junction, N.J.)
Dan Wilk, Penn (Jr., DB - Bethlehem, Pa.)

Special Teams
Alexander Norocea, Brown (Jr., PK - Hermosa Beach, Calif.)
Joe Cloud, Princeton (Sr., P - Edwards, Ill.)
A.J. Cruz, Brown (Sr., RS - Lake Forest, Calif.)
Tyler Varga, Yale (So., RS - Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)

Daniel Austin, Brown (Jr., OL - Franklin, Tenn.)
Patrick Lahey, Dartmouth (Sr., OL - North Andover, Mass.)
Wes Gavin, Yale (Jr., OL - San Diego)
John Oppenheimer, Yale (Jr., C - Menlo Park, Calif.)
Billy Ragone, Penn (Sr., QB - Chesire, Conn.)
Mordecai Cargill, Yale (Sr., RB - Cleveland)
Ryan McManus, Dartmouth (So., WR - Mendota Heights, Minn.)
Grant Sickle, Harvard (Sr., DL - Jupiter, Fla.)
Adewole Oyalowo, Brown (Jr., LB - Bowie, Md.)
Mike Waller, Columbia (Sr., LB - Wayne, N.J.)
Brett Buehler, Cornell (Jr., LB - Dublin, Ohio)
Bobby Schneider, Harvard (Sr., LB - Grapevine, Texas)
Tim Kingsbury, Princeton (Sr., LB - Palos Park, Ill.)
D.J. Monroe, Harvard (Jr., DB - Columbia, S.C.)
Phillip Bhaya, Princeton (Jr., DB - Haddonfield, N.J.)
Collin Bibb, Yale (Sr., DB - San Antonio, Texas)
Connor Loftus, Penn (So., PK - Villa Park, Calif.)

There's a lot to go at here, but here are my first few thoughts:

-Columbia had the FEWEST players honored with just four in total.

-The list, (compiled by the coaches), shows just how much disdain the coaches had for the 2012 Lions, Yale finished dead last in the league and had six players honored, (Tyler Varga made the team as a RB and a special teams specialist). 

-Mike Waller only getting Honorable Mention status feels like an insult.

-Connor Nelligan easily deserved at least and Honorable Mention and it hurts to see him snubbed too.

-I would have liked to see Paul Delaney honored in some capacity as he is easily the toughest punter in the Ivies. 

-On the positive side, it was good that Marcorus Garrett and Josh Martin were recognized for 1st Team All Ivy. Garrett is one of just three non-seniors on the offensive 1st Team. 

-Proper respect for our individual players won't come until the Lions win more games. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

... with a Whimper

Brown 22 Columbia 6

Why Brown Won

The Bears defensive line stifled the Lions, getting five sacks and holding Columbia to just 74 yards rushing. On offense the Bears were efficiently lethal, converting almost 50% of their 3rd down plays and converting two 4th down situations into touchdowns.

Why Columbia Lost

After a decent start on offense, the Lion O-line started getting pushed around. In addition to all the sacks, Columbia couldn't get much of a push in the red zone resulting in no TD's despite three chances during the game. The defense was generally solid, but got burned twice on long pass plays for scores. 

Key Turning Points

-Leading 3-0 late in the 1st quarter, Columbia began a possession at the Brown 45. Two plays later, RB Marcorus Garrett's best run of the day set the Lions up with a 1st and 10 at the Bear 18. Two more decent Garrett runs set up a 3rd and 3 at the 11, but the resulting play was one of many instances where the Lion O-line was swamped and a Sean Brackett run went for a loss of two. Columbia had to settle for another FG and never scored again.

-On Brown's ensuing possession, the Bears never faced a 3rd down until they had already moved 40 yards to the Lion 36. One play later, it was 4th and 2 from the Columbia 29. Brown QB Patrick Donnelly calmly handled the situation with a 29-yard TD pass to Jonah Fay. The Bears never trailed again. 

-On Columbia's ensuing possession, the Lions moved the ball well again all the way to the Brown 30. But on THEIR 4th and 2 opportunity, Brackett was rushed again and was forced to throw incomplete. The contrast on back-to-back 4th down chances was stark, and it was the theme of the game. 

Columbia Positives

-In his final game, Brackett kept his composure and completed 19 passes to six different players. He was so harassed all day that it's amazing he avoided throwing more than one interception. 

-Brown's offensive numbers were big as far as yardage, but the Lions defense played well enough to give Columbia a chance to win. Senior LB Tim Waller especially provided the opportunities with two takeaways on back-to-back Bear possessions late in the game.  

Columbia Negatives

-The Lions pass protection picked up where it left off in the Harvard debacle, never giving Brackett enough time. The run blocking in the red zone also broke down. Job 1 for Head Coach Pete Mangurian this winter has to be to beef up that O-line. 

-Columbia made the same mistake more than once "covering" Fay along the sideline and allowing him to get free on crucial downs. The pass rush the Lions used to beat Cornell was not evident as Columbia finished with no sacks.

Columbia MVP

Mike Waller was all over the field in his final game. He went out strong and was the most consistent performer all day.