Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scouting Dartmouth

Dominic Pierre is the (banged up) man for Dartmouth


The Dartmouth Big Green briefly grabbed the mantle of "worst team in the Ivies" for a few seasons, culminating in an 0-10 2008 season and a 17 game losing streak that stretched into the middle of the 2009 season.

Predictably, that streak ended with a win over Columbia in Hanover on a rainy October day.

Since then, the Green have lapped Columbia and posted respectable, if not remarkable, seasons in 2010 and 2011.

2012 looked like it was headed in the same kind of decent, if not championship-contending, path until last week's 27-10 loss to Sacred Heart exposed some troubling problems in Buddy Teevens' world. 


The strength of this team is the running game. That's still true despite the graduation of super RB Nick Schwieger, (who absolutely killed Columbia year after year), last spring.

But there are two BIG "if's" here:

The biggest one is RB Dominic Pierre, who leads the Ivies in yards rushed PER GAME, (Columbia's Marcorus Garrett is tops in total yards rushing with 543). Pierre, (who Dartmouth fans should really canonize as "St. Pierre"), was out of last week's game with an injury and he's still questionable for this Saturday. Without him in the game, the Green's chances get a lot thinner.

The other big "if" is the fact that even though Dartmouth's relative strength is the rushing game, it's still not exactly stellar. The Green average 127 yards on the ground per game and a so-so 3.4 yards per carry. That's about the same as Columbia in both those categories.

The passing game is muddled. Once again, there seems to be no real confidence behind Dartmouth's starting QB Alex Park. The UNH transfer isn't burning too many opposing defenses or giving them enough of a reason to stop keying on the run as much as possible. Freshman QB Dalyn Williams is regarded very highly by the coaching staff. No one should be surprised if he becomes the starter at some point this season, but I think that will more likely happen later in the season. 

The offensive line is a bit spotty. Its allowed 14 total sacks and hasn't quite opened enough holes for the Green to pummel more opponents. 

The receivers are led by Michael Reilly, who is ALSO questionable for the game this Saturday with an injury. If he AND Pierre are out, that would be very tough sledding for Dartmouth. 


Perception and reality are having a little battle in this department as well. Dartmouth looks pretty good in a number of defensive statistical categories, but you have to dig deeper to get to the truth.

The Big Green is third in scoring defense and actually leads the Ivies in fewest passing yards allowed. But this is also the same team that has picked off NO passes and allowed a 64% completion rate this year.

Throw in the fact that Dartmouth has sacked the QB just seven times all season and you have a recipe for some success for a QB like Sean Brackett.  

The rush defense is just okay, allowing 133 yards total per game and 3.5 yards per carry. 

Junior LB Micheal Runger has become the workhorse of this defense with 45 tackles. He hails from Illinois' Benet Academy, which is also the school where Lions Connor Nelligan and Nick Melka came from.

Strong Safety Garrett Waggoner, has helped out immensely as he is returning from an injury-plagued junior season. Thanks to him, a lot of the short completions against the Green has stayed short.

But LB Bronson Green is the leader of this defense even though he isn't logging the most impressive stats.

Specal Teams  

Here's where Dartmouth is really dangerous, especially for a Columbia team that has had trouble covering kickoffs. 

The Green are averaging 24 yards per KO return and have returned two kicks for TD's already. One of them was a fluke return by linebacker Miles Gay, but last week WR Kirby Schoenthaler had a conventional return for a 79-yard TD. 

Ryan McManus is very dangerous as a punt returner and I predict he will break one big before the season is over.

The Dartmouth kick coverage teams have performed very well. 

Kicker Riley Lyons surprised a lot of people with a 44 yard FG last week. He's not automatic, but certainly not bad. As a punter, Lyons is not quite as strong, averaging just 35 yards total per punt. 

Bottom Line

It feels like Dartmouth is stepping back a bit after making what looked like decent progress in 2010 and 2011. And if Pierre and Reilly are banged up this Saturday, this will really be a different kind of opponent than Columbia faced last year in Hanover and even two years ago at home.


Anonymous said...

This is really, really, REALLY a good assessment of Dartmouth. Well done, Jake. I hope that we kick your **** on Saturday, but you do a good job on this blog.

Mitch said...

Yes, really top notch. Thanks for the time and thought you give to this.

oldlion said...

I think the key to this game is likely to be whether Columbia on defense can control the mid range passing game. I think we have found some offensive consistency and will score some points. But we have some young players in the regular rotation in the secondary who will need to tighten up on coverage if we are to avoid what happened in the last two Penn drives.

Anonymous said...

I thought our receivers played very well against Penn. Nelligan and Garner were outstanding and Connors made some terrific plays in what may have been his first varsity game. You can see he's a talented player. Obviously, Garrett is a tremendous weapon for the Lions as a receiver as well as a running back. Anyone know Gross' status?

Anonymous said...

Durham and Schwartz also seem to be coming along well behind Garner at tight end--strong, smart players, who can catch the ball.

Anonymous said...

The Lions' offense had a very nice mix in the second half of the Penn game--excellent passing from Bracket and powerful running from Garrett and Molina. With the offense now clicking on all cylinders, I would expect the Lions to start adding some plays to take advantage of the particular skills of their players.

#1 Lion said...

Great job, as always, Jake! I think it will come down to special teams coverage. Hopefully, we can go mistake free and press them backwards.. I'm expecting BIG things from the offense this week and anticipate a rowdy home crowd! Diane and her staff do an EXCELLENT job at HC and it is always a kid friendly event. Roar Lions!

#1 Lion said...

Everyone dressing for HC... Yeah!

Mitch said...

Dartmouth is the kind of game CU must be able to consistently win. Princeton was another, alas.

Without taking anything away from CU's excellent effort, when a team like Penn plays us -- having beaten us 15 times in a row or whatever -- they have everything to lose and not much to gain in terms of their mojo. It's not a game they get very excited about and they may sleepwalk for three quarters. I'm not saying that's all that happened, but you see that when they woke up at the end they went through us like a hot knife through butter. We're not at that level yet, boys. Let's not kid ourselves. And if this blog is just about cheerleading and rather than truthtelling, then GO LIONS etc etc.

With Princeton or Dartmouth -- and now Yale? -- we are fighting to reach the top of the low-to-mid level teams. Churchill said, "It's not the beginning of the end but it's the end of the beginning." Where CU is now at, actually, is the beginning of the beginning. The end of the beginning will be when we're solidly winning games like Dartmouth this week. We'll see.

Roar Lion said...

Mitch is right. We've tended to follow up heartbreaking losses with poor play. We all want to see the team take the next step by following up a tough loss with even better play the next week. This is a winnable game and we took a step forward last week. No excuses!

Anonymous said...

While previous poster "Mitch" is quoting Churchill in the stands this weekend, Dartmouth will be smash-mouthing it's way to its 18th Ivy Title! Go Green!!

Mitch said...

I won't be in the stands but I will quote Churchill:

"You ask, What is our policy? I will say; “It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.” You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival."

oldlion said...

Not to make a political statement here, but I still can't understand why the first thing that Obama did upon occupying the Oval Office was to return to Great Britain the bust of Churchill.

#1 Lion said...

Because there were no bid for it on EBAY...