Monday, October 12, 2015

5 Things

Let’s close the book on the great Wagner win with 5 additional thoughts on the gratifying 26-3 Columbia win:

1)      No Drama

It was hard to get used to seeing the Lions not only win a game but win it without any real nail-biting moments. Even Columbia’s previous win, 34-17 over Cornell in 2012, was close for quite some time and the Big Red actually led at halftime. It was even odder to watch Columbia basically have to run out the clock for the last 20+ minutes and try to avoid being accused of running up the score. A lot of people have been pointing to the 42-14 win over Princeton for similarities, but the Tigers actually took the lead in that game and Columbia did not score until the 2nd quarter. The last time Columbia led wire-to-wire in a game and never really waivered was the 38-0 win over Princeton in 2009, but even that game started a bit slow for the Lions and they didn’t pull away until the 3rd quarter. Actually, the game this win most resembled was a 24-0 win over Iona in 2006.

2)      Shake and Fake

The scouting report on the Wagner defense that the coaches shared with the players was that the Seahawks were talented, but undisciplined on the D-line. And that’s why the Lions used the fake so effectively. Three fakes in particular really burned Wagner, none bigger than the 32-yard sprinting TD run by Skyler Mornhinweg where I noticed that two Seahawk defenders not only pursued the decoy ball carrier, but completely tackled him.

3)      The Push

Columbia was happily forced into a kill-the-clock mode for the entire 4th quarter. What was really nice to see was the offensive line getting decent run blocking going during much of that period even though everyone in the stadium knew the run was coming on every play. Also, having a 3rd string RB like Chris Schroer who can get tough yards for us while the starters rest is a big deal.

4)      Quantity over Quality

There are a lot of talented players on the Columbia roster, but not a lot of them are All Ivy caliber right now. Head Coach Al Bagnoli seems to be responding by replacing the lack of All Ivy quality with quantity in many places. Just about every skill position is basically being platooned, and there’s a lot of rotation on defense at least up front. Eight different receivers caught Columbia’s 13 receptions in the game Saturday night. We even platoon punters and kickoff specialists! It’s not just about shifting players; it seems like we don’t show the defense the exact same offensive formation twice in a game. We use deception as much as possible. We experiment with new personnel, like putting Cameron Molina in for kickoff returns. The list goes on. After 21 straight losses, 19 of them total blowouts, Columbia now has a win and has been competitive in every one of its four games under Bagnoli. This is about coaching in just about every discernable way.

5)      In His Image

The platooning is just one part of the puzzle that puts Bagnoli’s signature on this team. This is really starting to look like his Penn teams, and it’s happening without even one of his recruiting classes on campus yet and fewer than seven months on the job.

And one more thing…

I liked Norries Wilson generally when he coached here. He was a great recruiter but there was no denying he often seemed to lose track and control of winnable games when it came to clock management and just general situational awareness. The 2006 loss to Dartmouth and the infamous 2011 loss to Penn on Homecoming were the most egregious examples… until now. I can’t even begin to explain this gaffe by Wilson Saturday night.


oldlion said...

Granted that Al is great, but let's give some credit to the assistants. Al got the authority to pay for a great staff, and he went out and put one together. What they have done is mask very effectively a lack of top end speed in thee skill positions on both sides of the ball.

Coach said...

Don't make such a big deal about salaries- they are just in line with the rest of the football world. Want to keep good assistants? Columbia should pay for private schooling for the coaches' children.

Tony Brinson said...

Had to stick one more jab at norries jake?

alswingman said...

Unbelievable ineptitude to not track downs at the most critical stage of the game.

As for crushing Wagner, this has to be just a stepping stone. The best chance of league wins now are against Yale and Cornell. Beating both would really energize the program. I think coming away with 1 win on the season against a program in disintegration does not do that much for the morale.

Penn is looking a whole lot better than I gave them credit for. So is Brown.

oldlion said...

I think that this team is going to be competitive in every game and that starts with Penn. We are getting better every week and are still a work in progress. And hopefully we get Chad Washington back this Saturday to rush the passer and seal the edge. I hope Molina is OK after being targeted last Saturday.

Chen1982 said...

Was it Padilla who caused the Center to missnap and cause the fumble that led to the TD or did the QB just botch it?

Chen1982 said...

Jake, I Hope I can shake your hand this Saturday. Maybe in the tent prior to the game!

Jake said...

I'll be there.