Sunday, September 30, 2012

Humiliation Station

Princeton 33 Columbia 6

Why Princeton Won

The Tigers returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and hardly looked back from there. The defense recorded five sacks and never let the Columbia running game get going or passing attack remain consistent. The special teams play was perfect.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions didn't look prepared to play. Once again the team tensed up and couldn't execute in the red zone, play calling was weak, and the defense couldn't harass the opponent like it had in the first two weeks of the season.

Key Turning Points

-After Princeton took a 7-0 lead on the 94-yard opening kickoff return, the game settled down with the defense stopping the Tigers on their next three possessions. But on the fourth possession, Princeton drove 66 yards from their 20 before setting up for  FG from the Lion 14. Only trouble was it was a fake FG and it was executed beautifully for a TD pass. 14-0 Tigers.

-On the ensuing drive, Columbia finally got a drive going thanks to some great screen passes to Marcorus Garrett. But inside the 10, the Lions stalled by failing to get the first down after getting a 2nd and 3 at the Princeton 9. Two unimaginative running plays right into the strength of the Tiger defense produced nothing. Columbia had to settle for a FG and Princeton's two score lead was intact.

-Columbia had one more chance to get back in it, trailing 17-6 midway through the 3rd quarter after Marquel Carter intercepted  a Connor Michelsen pass and returned it to the CU 37. But then a three-and-out and a bad snap on the punt gave the Tigers the ball right back at the Lion 20.

Columbia Negatives

How much time do you have? The team looked unprepared. The offensive line wasn't able to get much push, the defense often faltered on 3rd downs, the WR's dropped almost a dozen passes, the play calling was weak, Columbia was out-coached by the worst coach in the league.

There are a million questions to be asked after this game like:

-Why was freshman sensation WR Isaiah Gross essentially benched for the entire game?

-Why is the play calling getting so conservative and hopeless once we arrive inside the 20 or the 10?

-Why isn't QB Sean Brackett being allowed to run if he can't remain in the pocket and pass as effectively?

-How could the team be so unprepared... again?

Columbia Positives

-He had a drop or two, but WR Connor Nelligan still had 11 catches for a 102 yards.

-DE Will Patterson had a fantastic game with nine tackles, four of them for a loss and one of them a sack.

-K Luke Eddy was a perfect two-for-two on FG's including a 41-yarder that had plenty of extra distance.

-RB Marcorus Garrett looked very effective as a screen pass receiver and he ran about as hard as he could against the execellent Princeton run defense. He also never fumbled even after absorbing a bone crushing, dead-on hit early in the second half after a pass reception.

Where We Go From Here

Columbia has just been humiliated by a team that was picked for dead last in the Ivies. Clearly this is the biggest gut check time for Head Coach Pete Mangurian and the staff. I guarantee you that all the pundits have just written us off for the rest of the season, but is that justified? Can the Lions just forget about this game or was this loss the true definition of the season and where this team is right now?

Columbia now heads to the road against two teams that are a lot better than Princeton. Are 30 and 40-point losses to Lehigh and Penn in the offing?

If this team shows no improvement and even a dropoff from last year's levels, it will be a gloomy year indeed.


doc/jock said...


Lion 58 said...

The most upsetting part of the game was that the team was outcoached. We were behind one or two touchdowns and had the ball at the Princeton 31, 4th and 2 and the coaches elected to punt- it went into the end zone, ball at the 20.
There were constant running plays into the strength of the Princeton defense. Princeton scored once on a fake field goal and another TD on a hurry-up play when our guys weren't ready.
Also Brackett is still being used as a pocket passer behind a lightweight line instead of taking advantage of his mobility and ability to pass on the run.
Overall,very disappointing- nothing innovative at all. It may be a long season unless there are some quick changes in approach.

InwoodTiger said...

Very sorry for the atrocious attendance. Less than 4500 for an Ivy game? Princeton alumni did more publicity than in the past about the game but the turnout was more pathetic than Marist. We should have had 1,000 more easily just on the visitor's side. My apologies to Columbia on our fans abandoning the sport of football en masse.

oldlion said...

This will be the last year in which we do morning practices. Once the Campbell Center is open we will revert to an afternoon schedule. We were unprepared for all sorts of reasons, but the only other coach who ran morning practices was Tom Williams, and need I say more? I do not wish to repeat my earlier comments, but three lousy offensive performances against three mediocre teams plus break downs in pass pro, pass defense and special teams are not the hallmark of a well prepared team. As far as Brackett is concerned, as my old high school coach used to say, "what are you saving it for, the senior prom?" Either let him play his game or pull him for the freshman. He is not and cannot be a drop back pocket passer.

oldlion said...

PS, there is a difference between coaching to win and coaching not to lose. If you blow coverage on the first kick off, fix it instead of squib kicking and giving up 20 extra yards of field possession. If you are fourth and two on the other team's 31, don't punt for a 12 yard net gain. If you have a mobile QB, let him roll to the long side of the field and take a few shots downfield. Enough for today.

Anonymous said...

We'll have a more substantial line on the team, coaches after the Darmouth game if yesterday was just part of the learning curve.

Pete was. is aware of the challenges.

Anonymous said...

It is simply stunning that the coach hired to demonstrate that coaching technique and philosophy can maximize talent could not ready this team for an Ivy opener against Princeton (against whom our overall record is now 15 – 65 -1.)

In his KCR interview, Coach M. said that he "gets the Ivy Mystique ... [he] really does..." and then proceeds to demonstrate that maybe he doesn’t.

Yes, too soon to jump all over him --- absolutely. But, unlike his two predecessors, he presented himself as someone who could teach, correct error on a weekly basis, and thereby make the most of the team’s talent. Not evident yesterday …


Anonymous said...

Yes, way to soon to jump all over the coaching staff. They inherited this team -- a team with a losing mentality and overall lack of confidence. I assure you Mangurian has taught, corrected errors on a DAILY basis, and is making the most of the team's talent.

Do not get me wrong - I find it frustrating, as well, when we get beat by a "mediocre" team. We are not getting out coached, we are just dealing with a learning curve among players struggling to execute. How can you demand innovation when we lack fundamentals? The time will come, they will improve, and the wins will follow.

Also, just as a sidenote -- Princeton didn't fake the field goal, they had a bad snap and followed with that exact play earlier this season.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is a small point,but whether P ran a fake or converted a botched snap for the TD; it still remains that their special teams put a licking to us . Then add our punt for a net of twelve yards and the "give up" kickoffs ...

Anonymous said...

I'm a little tired of righting off a bad performance based on the fact that Coach M "inherited" a team with a losing mentality. That is a steaming crock of manure. Columbia University has been losing football games way before these current players attended and not a single one of them came to Columbia to continue to lose football games.
I am not an expert football coach but do have expertise in group psychology. I also have experience with the challenges facing a regime change, both for the coaching staff and for the "old" players. I know firsthand that there is a right way and a wrong way to transition. The right way is to erase the past and move forward with everyone having a clean slate. The team is a family, and all the children must be treated equally. Equal opportunities, equal expectations, one set of rules! The coaches’ recruits cannot be favored and the other players cannot be treated like step children. This creates divisiveness on the team. Taking a "just wait till I fill the roster with my players" is an enormous mistake that facilitates losing a team for 2-3 years before you begin the process of resurrection. This is entirely unnecessary. By embracing the entire team, you get a buy in from the more senior players, without whom you cannot compete. This in turn leads to getting the best out of each and every player and allowing them to be great. Provided the coach is competent and has hired well, the hallmark of the team whose new staff embraced the proper leadership during transition is gradual and steady improvement during the year. I have no knowledge of what Coach M's style and approach has been and what goes on in his locker room, but the performance against Princeton concerns me regarding all of the issues outlined above including competencies of the coach and his staff along with his approach with the team. I hope and pray that he has "done the right thing" with the team's dynamics and does not lose these boys. All of them sacrifice greatly and deserve the opportunity to be competitive on Saturdays.
Regarding specifics of Sat game, there were so many preparation issues but the most concerning relates to play calling of the OC. I truly hope he is not out of his league and can adjust to maximize the performance of an undersized O Line and a mobile QB with an inaccurate arm.
Finally, Jake, # 81 was not benched. He was injured on a play where the dback was trying to shed a block and easily threw him down. He landed funny and was helped off the field, never to return. Looked like a hammy. That gets to reinforce another point. As I key on 81, he looks like he has potential. He appears to be maybe 1 step faster than our other guys, has a great first move off the press and soft hands. However, at 6'3" and 170 lbs, he looks like a boy playing with men. Furthermore, time will tell whether he has the physicality to compete consistently at this level and the mental toughness to survive Ivy League academics. The biggest mistake we can make is to anoint him the messiah and a bigger mistake the coaches can make is to revolve the passing offense around him, as has been suggested on this and other blogs. He has shown sparks of greatness but has a long way to go. His maturation and improvement will involve tough love from the coaches and an off season gaining 20lbs of lean muscle mass. Like all of our players, he needs to know there is always someone bigger faster and stronger right around the corner and there is always room to improve! Fortunately, 84 was targeted a lot and had a nice game. This is why you cannot disenfranchise your other players. They will need to be given opportunities to step up.
There are no Messiah's in college football, just hard work, preparation, attitude and leadership. A strong performance against Lehigh will go a long way to heal the Princeton debacle. Hope to see you all there next week.

Go Lions

Anonymous said...

"The team is a family...."

... which includes all who played previously, who contribute consistently, and who persist in believing that championship football is possible at Columbia. Mangurian tapped those hopes when he was hired. We all hope he can take the lesson from yesterday and inch by inch move them forward.

Anonymous said...

Cornell under Pete didn't jell until his second year. I don't know if the Lions will progress at that pace but, as Mort Sahl had it, the future lies ahead and that's all we have, near and later.

Anonymous said...

Wes Welker is 5'9, 185, smaller than Lions' 6'2 #81 AKA Gross. Size may not matter.

Anonymous said...

To Jake and InwoodTiger:

Due to Jake's annual exhortations to explore Inwood Hill Park and InwoodTiger's extensive restaurant recommendations, I made a full day out of yesterday's game. Got there early to enjoy lunch at the Indian Road Cafe. After the game, explored the park and found areas even more remote-looking than your famous "yes, this is in Manhattan" photo. (A Princeton friend at the game just happened to mention, "You know, Inwood Hill Park is the only area in Manhattan which has never been developed, including Central Park.") We wandered the streets for a little while, then found ourselves at the Dallas BBQ right across the University Heights Bridge.

Thanks, guys, for a very enjoyable day in upper Manhattan. From a Princeton fan who enjoys reading this blog.

Anonymous said...

Last week, I thought the coaching staff would make the "obvious" adjustments needed to get the offense going. Unfortunately, those changes were not made and our offense never got untracked against Princeton. Surely, the new coaching staff must realize by now that Brackett is a gifted running quarterback who just doesn't measure up as a pro style quarterback. Yes, occasionally, he will complete passes from the pocket, but the chances of his becoming an accomplished pro-style quarterback overnight seems very unlikely. As I said after the Fordham game last year, Brackett needs to run and not pass the ball into the corner of the endzone. When I saw him repeat that mistake in the second quarter of this year's Fordham game, I wondered if anyone had looked at last year's game film. If the coaching staff wants to utilize a pro style system on a long-term basis that's fine with me, but please not right now. And, how difficult is it anyway to use two different systems, one for Brackett and the other for the pro style guys. Numerous opponents have used dual systems against us successfully during the last five years.

Anonymous said...

The Cloisters is another treasure.

Mitch said...

I lived in Inwood for several years in the early '80s. Those were wild days in NYC. There was a bar called the Hedgehog where when you ordered a drink they brought you the whole bottle. It seemed like most people below 175th Street did not know this was part of Manhattan. And maybe it wasn't.

Anonymous said...

I must admit that I have no patience any more with this argument that a new coach shouldn't be judged by his first year because it isn't "his" team. According to this argument, you have to wait until the new coach's fifth year when the team becomes fully "his".

I've been a fan of Lions football since the Navarro years. If you look at the first and fifth year records of the five coaches since Navarro who coached for five years or more, you find that : Navarro went from two wins to two wins; Campbell went from one win to one win; Naso went from one win to zero wins; Tellier went from one win to two wins; and Wilson went from five wins to four wins. These numbers suggest that, at least in the Lions' experience, a new coach's first year is an excellent predictor of future performance.

Anonymous said...

I find the Mangurian apologists funny. We just got humiliated by the worst team on our schedule. We didn't just lose, we showed up totally unready to play, never made any adjustments, never showed any urgency on offense. We punted on 4th and 2 from the 31-yard line! What shows less confidence in your ability to execute than that? And so now the apologists are saying wait till Pete has more talent?

I see bizarre decisions by the staff. Why have we decided to force the league's best running quarterback to stay in the pocket, and similarly decided to protect him with an undersized line that can't actually form a pocket? The fact is, most years we have less talent than the better Ivy teams, but this year our talent is alright, certainly good enough to win three or four games. There is no way you rationalize a blowout home loss to Princeton by saying we're just not talented enough to compete with the second-worst team in our league. The truth: we weren't prepared. We don't use Brackett well, we don't make adjustments, we're predictable.

Blaming it on talent also doesn't really work when you see we played Fordham roughly as well as Cornell did and we beat a Marist team that is probably as good as Princeton. So, two decent efforts to start the season and then major regression. Isn't the mark of a good coach steady improvement week by week?

I have news for the apologists: Mangurian will never have the most talent in the league and he'd better figure out a way to compete with what he's got, rather than force players to do things they can't do, over and over. A 230-lb O-lineman is not going to get push on runs up the middle. A running QB is not going to morph into a drop back passer. Pete's talked a lot about changing the culture, but the way you really change the culture is by showing up ready to play every Saturday and maximizing the talent you have.

oldlion said...

The right side of our line averages less than 250, from center to guard to right tackle. We have had no offensive output from the TE position. In fact, I would convert one of the very tall first year OLs to TE so that at least we get some blocking out of the position. Garrett has been running hard, mostly to the left side, and can be effective on screens. But we need to work out of a spread formation and roll Brackett on every pass play so that he can make yards with his legs. On defense, we may need to go to more cover 2, to keep our opponents from victimizing us on blown coverages. And we had better fix our kick coverages.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the oldlion. Garrett runs well to the left bc the LT is a good football player ... and he weighs 280! If the OL is going to be skinny, we'd better spread people out and let Brackett run - and force 300-lb DLs to run side to side. This nonsense of trying to protect him in the pocket with a skinny line needs to stop.

DOC said...

How did everyone see Princeton's high snap FG attempt that resulted in a TD pass? Set play? Luck? Something they practiced in the event of a bad snap?

DOC said...

How did everyone see Princeton's high snap FG attempt that resulted in a TD pass? Set play? Luck? Something they practiced in the event of a bad snap?

Anonymous said...

I agree with "I'm a little tired of righting (sic) off a bad performance..." Who is calling the plays? Mr. Marino? Mr. Wilson? i suspect that one reason we are failing is because the upper classroom have been 'dissed. My hat is off to the players who must sit in the stands on game day and be humiliated by their coach, who all the while professes to be so committed to the team...Those thirty men are 1/3 of the team, are they not? What will happen on senior day?? will all the members of the class of 2013 who have been sitting in the stands be allowed to dress and exchange high fives with the coach? I have never seen a college team so poorly prepared and seemingly unhappy.

Anonymous said...

The coaching was abysmal ..the players are talented...the QB is a star . let him run ..and pass coach...fourth down decision ...applallingly wrong!
I have been a loyal fan for almost 50 years. Coach...let Brackett play...

InwoodTiger said...

Anonymous Princeton fan, glad you took the chance to explore the area. Inwood Hill Park was developed once, sort of, in that it housed many summer homes and the odd institution. All have long since been torn down, but quite a few ghosts up in those hills if you know where to look ( And did you find the rocky outlook over the Hudson River at the top of the hill?

See you back in Inwood in 2014.