Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Foes

New Fordham Head Coach Joe Moorhead

Big Preview Post on the Way

My official annual preseason predictions and Ivy League Football Preview will be published this coming Monday. 

In the meantime, here are some updates on our first two opponents:

Fordham QB Situation

The final training camp scrimmage  for week 2 opponent Fordham featured some nifty passing and running from fresh UConn transfer QB Michael Nebrich. He did throw two INT's, but I would be really surprised if Nebrich isn't the starter when the Lions face the Rams at Wien Stadium on September 22nd. 

That's because Nebrich gives Fordham a serious upgrade. He's a speedy runner with a good arm and great rapport with Head Coach Joe Moorhead. Moorhead is in his first season at Rose Hill, so it's not like he's any closer with any other players on the squad. 

Fordham is desperately trying to be relevant in the NYC sports scene, but the last two years since its decision to go with athletic scholarships have produced two bad seasons. Something has to change NOW, and like all college teams where something has to change NOW, a transfer is being called in to help.

If Nebrich keeps developing over the next few weeks, the week two game against the Rams becomes a much tougher contest for Columbia than it was just a few days ago. 

Musing on Marist

Speaking of challenges, the job of measuring how tough the week one game against Marist doesn't get any easier. 

You could point to the Red Foxes win over Sacred Heart last season as a reason to be afraid, (Sacred Heart went on to beat Columbia a month later), but that game was a year ago and it appears to have been an anomaly for both teams. 

Looking at Marist on paper, you see they have a great Tight End in Anthony Calcagni and 2-3 great defensive players. But they don't have any known quantities at QB and RB or DT and those are the positions that really set teams apart at this level. 

Offense does not seem like their forte; they only scored 17.5 points per game last season. And since Columbia's defense definitely looks stronger than the Lion offense right now, I think we can expect a low-scoring affair on 9/15.

More on the OL

A number of you have made some great comments about the Lion O-line and some of the young players who look like they'll be playing a key role in the unit this season.

But in my discussion of how important the development of the front five is for the fall, I may not have emphasize enough just how much Head Coach Pete Mangurian is committed to getting the team to buy into his system.

In other words, no matter how porous the offensive line is this season, Mangurian wants QB Sean Brackett to stay in the pocket more and use the short pass as his safety play much more often than the scramble for yardage in the open field. 

I'm not saying Mangurian is going to put Brackett in a dangerous situation, in fact the point here is to keep Sean healthier this season. But Mangurian wants a different kind of offense this year and in the years going forward. One that will rely much more on a static pocket. And that's a big change for a Columbia offense that has relied on a mobile QB ever since that rainy night against Dartmouth in 2008 when M.A. Olawale took over the starting job on this team. 

I think Brackett is totally sold on this new system, at least in his conscious mind. But one can't help but wonder if something in his instincts will kick in during crucial games and he'll just take off running no matter what. Remember that Brackett's two greatest victories as a collegiate starter, against Brown in 2009 and again versus the Bears in 2011, came in games where he let his feet make outstanding play after outstanding play. 

Now the coaches need their starting QB to unlearn all that and commit to this new system body and soul. It's not easy, but it will certainly be a lot easier if the offensive line plays above all expectations.

So, we're not really asking that much... are we?


Anonymous said...

I don't get it. How could Nebrich transfer from UConn to Fordham at this late date and still be eligible to play immediately at Fordham. Not that I really care, but what does this say about Fordham's admission policies. I thought that colleges closed their doors on transfers much sooner and that the NCAA had some rules against last minute transfers. Am I wrong?

oldlion said...

As I said in an earlier post, the president of Fordham is absolutely desperate to enhance the reputation of the school. I heard this directly from one of his trustees who was not in favor of going scholarship. To think that the admissions office at Fordham would have any say in this underestimates the commitment by the administration to have a winner at all costs. Again, I am not a fan of this rivalry and never have been.