Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Scouting Fordham

Patrick Murray seems headed for the NFL

(For those of you who have asked, the offshore bookies have not yet released their lines for the Ivy games this weekend. Usually they come out by the end of the day Wednesday, so check back here periodically. And AGAIN, I STRONGLY OPPOSE sports gambling, but simply like to discuss lines in theoretical way)


Fordham's game notes for the game are now available.

The most annoying thing about Tom Masella's Fordham teams was that they were often very different from week to week. That's not a comment on how hard the Rams played, but a comment on how different Masella's strategies were depending on the game.

Sometimes, he would run the ball 40 times, other times it would be more like 10. Sometimes, he'd ask his QB's to pass all day, etc.

Under new coach Joe Moorhead, things haven't become that much easier. First, the Rams played a game against Division II Lock Haven that really didn't tell us anything. Then, they played Villanova tough for most of the game before losing 28-13.

Finally, Fordham gets what looks like an impressive win over Cornell. But the Big Red lost because of what we knew they'd have troubles with this season: defense and running the ball.

So we're kind of back to square one.

But let's get a handle on what we do know, shall we?


Carlton Koonce barely saw any action in Fordham's against the Lions in 2010 and 2011, but he busted out nicely against Cornell last Saturday with 176 yards and two TD's.  He was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week. He's packed solid at 5-8 and 180 pounds and can be hard to grab and bring down. None of the Marist rushers was as good as Koonce, so this will be a test for the Lions rush defense that looked so good last week.

The Rams dual QB system can also be deadly. Ryan Higgins is a big strong passer who can stand strong in the pocket. UConn transfer Michael Nebrich is a very good option runner.

The Fordham defense has not been as strong as I expected it to be so far, but considering they have played strong offensive teams like Cornell and Villanova, they may not be so bad after all. I would still consider any team with a DL like Justin Yancey and a LB like Nick Womack to be very dangerous indeed.

The fact is, Fordham's linebacking crew could be the best Columbia sees all season. Joining Womack is  fellow senior Michael Martin who had a big game against the Lions last year and is off to a stellar start in 2012. Junor Jake Rodriques looks sharp as well.

In addition to Yancey, sophomore DL DeAndre Slate has been a big roadblock at 270 lbs., (Yancey goes at 295), and senior Dl Patrick McGee is 280 lbs.

So if you were thinking that this coming week will be an even bigger test for Head Coach Pete Mangurian's "Grand Experiment" of going with a lighter and fast O-line, you were right.

Fordham's O-line by contrast, has two 300-pound starters and another who goes at 295. You could not find two teams with much greater contrast than Columbia and Fordham in the weight department.

Another strength is the WR corps and the way the Ram QB's have spread the ball around. Four different Fordham receivers have 10 catches or more, led by senior Nick Talbert. Talbert is a big target at 6-3. The shorter and speedier option is Brian Wetzel who is a 5-11 sophomore.

But the most dangerous weapon may be H-back Sam Ajala, who burned the Lions for a big TD last season. He's fast and strong.


This is still a Fordham team that, like Columbia, went 1-9 last year. But with improved QB play and a more resilient defense, it's hard to find any one area that looks truly bad.

Here's something: Fordham has very few takeaways this season and a turnover ration of -4. It's not a big emergency as of yet, but the Rams' last two opponents have passed a combined 73 times against their defense and there hasn't been one interception.

I also think Fordham is playing its better ball in the first half right now. They traded scores with Cornell for the most past last week and that wasn't too bad. But the second half collapse against the Wildcats was something else.

Starting left Matt Stolte is out for this game and will be replaced by sophomore Mason Halter. That will be a position to watch all day.

Special Teams Factor

Kicker/Punter Patrick Murray will probably be the best kicker Columbia faces all year. He had an uncharacteristic weaker game against the Lions last year, but this years he's 6-6 on FG's including a 52 yarder. He's also averaging an incredible 44.6 yards per punt.

Fan Support

Fordham is making a big effort to get its students to come out to the game, so there's a chance a very vocal anti-Lion contingent will be on hand.

That brings me to my next point about fan support. A number of our fans told me they thought the crowd was too quiet last week and it took too long for simple things to happen, like standing up on 3rd and 4th down plays for the defense.

And the crowd of just 3,900 last week was just not anywhere near good enough.

So far, the weather forecast is great for Saturday so let's get a LARGE and LOUD crowd out there!

This game is for the Liberty Cup, and it's great when the team gets to hoist that trophy high and point it towards the home stands.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff as always Jake. A few comments here from a Fordham fan.

The biggest difference at Fordham is the mindset the staff has brought. There's an amazing discipline and attention to detail that's driven from the HC on down. As much as you expressed frustration with Masella as an opposing fan (Masella a great guy btw), as a Fordham fan the biggest frustration imo was the key moments where we would jump offsides on a 3rd and 1 or have a key reception but the receiver ran it a yard or two too short. These are the kinds of things that discipline and attention to detail help address (obviously not eliminate).

In general I believe our balanced O can play with anyone in FCS. Our D has been suspect from the first week of camp. Thus, most close followers of the program expect alot of high scoring shoot outs this year with (hopefully) the tie breaker in many games being our excellent kicking game.

With regard to what we do on O I would think that you first look to where you think you guys are weak on D. We're balanced enough that we can either pass all day, run all day or (preferably) keep things balanced on O.

The game will imo be decided based upon a combo of mistakes and whether or not our D shows up.

Either way, it should be a good game. You guys always play us VERY tough. Good luck the rest of the way after Saturday to all Lions fans.