Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scouting the Red

Jeff Mathews is coming to an NFL stadium near you


Boy, did I want to be able to write a post today about how Cornell really isn't a one-dimensional team.

I wanted to say the Big Red were about something other than just QB Jeff Mathews and his wide receivers. 

But, the truth is: they're not.

Cornell is about the Mathews passing attack first, last and always.

And what an awesome passing attack it is.


The last time a lot of Columbia fans saw Jeff Mathews was the game at Wien Stadium in 2010 when he was a freshman starter with a lot of potential. 

My how he has grown! 

Mathews stormed out of the gates to win the Bushnell Cup last season as a sophomore, and in 2012 he's averaging 373 passing yards per game. That's a full 100 yards more per contest that his nearest competitor in the Ivies.

Even though he missed one full game, he still has more total passing attempts by far, than anyone else in the league. 

I could go on, but his brilliance is even better exemplified by the stats of his wide receivers.

All three of the top three WR's in yardage per game are from Cornell. #1 Luke Tasker already has 1,044 yards on the season and averages 130 yards per game. #2 Grant Gellatly has 787 yards on the season and 98 per game. #3 Kurt Ondash has 657 yards and averages 82 yards per contest. 

One small non-QB/WR ray of sunshine has been the pass protection from the offensive line. Despite all of the passing attempts, the Big Red have allowed just 20 sacks on the season. It's not stellar, but it's an impressive stat considering Cornell has passed the ball 395 times. So they only allow one sack per 20 passing attempts. To put that in context, Columbia is allowing one sack for every NINE passing attempts.

Cornell's running game has been worse than it was even last year, which is saying something. The Big Red is rushing for just 55 yards per game and just 2.3 yards per carry. Freshman Luke Hagy is getting most of the carries and he's doing a decent job with 335 yards, three TD's and a 3.9 yards per carry average. But the run blocking just isn't there for him even though opposing defenses line up in a passing set on almost every play. 

Hagy is actually, if not surprisingly, more dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield with 33 catches, 368 receiving yards, and two TD's. 

The Big Red don't use their tight ends as real receiving targets, because who needs them with all these WR's and a good receiving RB?


While the Cornell offense is good with the pass and bad with the run, the Big Red defense is an equal opportunity offender. 

Cornell is dead last in the Ivies in rush defense and pass defense. They've given up just as many points per game as Columbia, and that's even after the Lions put in that 69-0 loss last week. They've also allowed almost 400 yards more this season than the seventh place defense, Yale. 

The rush defense is the worst part of it all. The Big Red allow a whopping 5.1 yards per carry, almost a full yard more per carry than the 7th ranked rush defense, Yale. They've allowed 16 rushing TD's. Last week, Dartmouth's Dominic Pierre completely ripped them apart in Ithaca. 

The pass defense is almost as bad. Cornell allows 280 passing yards per game, have picked off just one pass per game, and allowed 16 TD passes. 

The Big Red do have some talented linebackers, namely sophomore Taylor Betros and junior Brett Bueler. But a team without real standouts on the DL and the secondary is a team in trouble. 

Special Teams

Kicker John Wells is struggling this year, going just 5 for 12 on FG kicks but he did make one 42-yarder. Punter Sam Wood is averaging just 38 yards per boot. 

For years, Cornell was a fierce kick return team. But not so much this year.
Cornell has covered punts okay, but the kickoff return coverage is weaker than most Ivy teams.


Anonymous said...

Great job, as always, Jake! I just found out that the Seniors (that aren't on the "outs" with Mangurrian) ARE dressing this week. Thankfully, common sense prevailed, however, it's a shame that Senios like Nick Gerst will not see the field. Seriously, you're telling me he couldn't be an asset on Special Teams? The way Mangurrian is running the show, he could play guard for us for goodness sakes!

InwoodTiger said...

Don't forget to scout the Cornell Band, which is like 150 people. I'm not a fan of their rather staid halftime shows, but the sound of so many tubas and trombones can be very soothing...

Anonymous said...

Once again, I am shocked by the ignorance of Columbia football history demonstrated by Coach Pete's critics.

Those of you who take Pete to task for apparently accepting defeats in the present in exchange for victories in the future must be unfamiliar with the bedrock coaching philosophy laid down by Coach Bob Naso (4-43-2) in the 1982media guide :

"Sometimes before you win, you have to lose. Once you learn how to lose, then you find ways to win."

I call it the "Naso Doctrine"; the jokers at the Harvard Crimson (September 17, 1982) called it the "Naso Theory of Winnativity". They couldn't grasp this simple truth : Success must, MUST, rest upon a solid foundation of failure. Why is this so hard for some people to grasp?

Bob's successor, Jim Garrett, certainly grasped it. Jim's 0-10 record (that's 0-10 as in 0-10) demonstrated an adherence to the Naso Doctrine which can only be described as "slavish".

Frankly, without Larry McElreavy's (2-28) "cult-like" devotion to the Naso Doctrine, The Streak would have been impossible.

I admit that I was concerned when newly appointed head coach, Bob Shoop (dubbed "Bob 'No Excuses' Shoop" by CCT), gave CCT (March 2003) an interview in which he said :

"We’re not supposed to lose.”

This radical departure from the Naso Doctrine only concerned me until I read this gem from Coach Shoop :

"There’s a fine line between 1–9 and 9–1."

If Coach Shoop's 7-23 record taught us anything, it is that there is a CHASM between 1-9 and 9-1.

As for those of you upset with Coach Pete's insensitivity towards seniors, I can only refer you to Jim Garrett's comments after the 1985 Harvard game. As you may recall, Coach Jim felt that his kicker had not given the traditional "110% ". After declaring that the kid would never play for him again, Jim got all "touchy feely" :

"I want to see him when he graduates and goes to work downtown on Wall Street and does the things that he did today. See how long he's going to work."

As it turned out, the kid played minor league baseball for six years and then, yes, went to work on Wall Street.

What lesson did the kids who donned the Light Blue over the years draw from the words of these coaching "immortals"? Simply this : Whatever shenanigans you get up to on the playing field won't be half as embarrassing as the shenanigans going on between your coach's ears.


Anonymous said...

I have only this to say about last Saturday's game: It's never a good day when the defense gives up more points that there are parking spaces at Baker Field.


oldlion said...

Now that I have had almost a week to reflect on it, can somebody provide me with a cogent answer to the following: how is it that we were able to play Penn, Dartmouth and Yale competively for the three prior weeks before we played Harvard? I other words, if we were as bad as we appeared to be last Saturday, was Harvard so much better than those other three opponents as to render any comparison meaningless?

Mitch said...

That is a really insightful post by Androcles! As the Harvard philosopher George Santayana famously said, "Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it." But perhaps those who do NOT fail to learn from the past are also condemned to repeat it. I hope the Columbia football program is not a powerful instance of this possibility. Sometimes that seems to be the case.

Also, for what it's worth, I believe "Naso" means "nose" in Italian.

oldlion said...

In its own way the 1985 second half of the 1985 Harvard game was shockingly prescient of last Saturday. As I recall, we took a 17-0 lead into halftime. In the second half Harvard scored 42 unanswered points. Another infamous meltdown which was similar to last Saturday was the second half of the 1994 Brown game, in which we had a 27-3 lead in the third quarter before Brown scored 49 unanswered points as I recall. So,what is the point of all this? Along with my prior post, the inference I would draw is that more than anything else football is the ultimate test of will. Players and teams who believe in themselves, and who have leaders who refuse to buckle under pressure sometimes punch above their weight. Players and teams who do not generally tend to come apart in the face of adversity. So maybe Mangurian has a point about changing the culture.

Anonymous said...

perhaps i am short sighted, but what part of the culture has changed? we are still losing the close games, setting all time lows for quantity of points scored against us, and the beat goes on.
ah yes, we have undersized lineman, a qb who seems to be misused, and seniors struggling to be able to get dressed.
seems like more of the same. i am glad all the kids now know how to lose, since we got that taken care it should be upwards and onwards now...wait we already knew how to lose...a lot


WOF said...

We are trying to overturn nearly a CENTURY of losing, it would take Lombardi some time to turn this ship around.

And no I am not comparing M to L....