Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bowling Them Over

Columbia 17 Yale 7

Why Columbia Won

The Lion defense played its most dominant game in many years, shutting out the Bulldog offense and holding them to just five 1st downs for the entire game. Meanwhile, Columbia's own punchless offense kept getting gradually better until it was able to take advantage of the defense's exploits.

Why Yale Lost

The Eli offensive line simply had no answers. Yale allowed six sacks and its running game netted -14 yards rushing. QB Morgan Roberts was harassed all day and often threw errant passes on the few occasions when he did have time. And after starting the day on a high note with a punt return for a TD, the Bulldog special teams imploded with three crucial failures.

Key Turning Points

-With Yale leading 7-0 and just under 11 minutes to play in the first half, Roberts and the Elis had great field position to start a possession at their own 44. But on 2nd and eight, he threw a pass despite excellent coverage from CB Jared Katz and Katz picked it off at the Columbia 28.

-On the ensuing Columbia possession, the Lion drive looked to be in big trouble with a 2nd and 15 at the Yale 39. But on the play QB Skyler Mornhinweg pulled off a gutsy 29 yard run right up the middle, bouncing off tacklers for 29 yards. Three plays later he found TE Hank Trumbull for a seven yard TD pass to tie the game.

-Columbia's defense forced a Yale three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but the Lions fumbled away the Eli punt giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Columbia 34 with 3:08 left in the half. Yale did get one first down on the drive, but a 34 yard FG attempt went wide, and the score remained tied at seven at the half.

-With about 9:45 left in the 3rd quarter, Kicker Cameron Nizialek lined up for the longest FG attempt of his collegiate career. The 40-yarder sailed just inside the right goal post to give the Lions a 10-7 lead.

-With just under three minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Yale attempted a fake punt at on 4th and three at their own 44. But the Lions defense was ready for it and DT Niko Padilla snuffed it out for a one yard loss.

-The ensuing Columbia possession would make the biggest difference of the game. With Anders Hill in at QB, the Lions used a few Hill runs and a key pass interference penalty to get all the way down to the Eli 13 before the drive stalled. But then Columbia executed a perfect fake field goal, as Trevor McDonaugh took the snap and pitched it to Nizialek who ran untouched into the end zone.

Columbia Positives

-The stats don't lie. -14 yards rushing, six sacks, five 1st downs... this is what the Lion defense did to Yale on the Elis home field. Not even Dartmouth or Penn dominated Yale that much defensively in those key games earlier this season on their home fields. After holding Dartmouth to just 13 points the week before, this defense now knows it has a chance to win any game almost on its own.

-The 1-2 punch at QB worked better than it has all year. Yale's defense was strong overall, but Mornhinweg and Hill's different weapons were used to perfection at key moments in the game.

-Nizialek's performance in both his roles as a punter and fake FG runner should help boost his confidence for the rest of the season.

Columbia Negatives

-While the Lions did finally take some long pass shots down the field, the offense still does not appear to have a lethal enough weapon to force opposing defenses to spread themselves out. Yale's entire team lined up in the box on several occasions. To beat more than just one of Columbia's remaining three games, the Lions will need to find more offensive weapons.

-Columbia's punt return game is an exercise in multi-faceted surrender. It seems that the Lions are only hoping to make fair catches and never want to attempt any kind of positive return. This hurts an offense that needs field position help. I'm pretty certain this is a priority for next season for the coaching staff.

Columbia MVP

The defense was dominant on all three lines. But the sweet revenge story for the Tony Reno-disrespected Conway twins played out perfectly. LB Christian Conway had six total tackles, including two sacks and the strip sack to ice the game. Conway authored poetic justice with the MVP nod in this game.


Eugene 96 said...

What is the deal with Tre Gabriel? I keep continuing to go back to this kid highlights, is he injured? Great win yesterday. We're heading in the right direction.

oldlion said...

My guess on Tre Gabriel is that 151 pounds is a little light even for a punt returner, slot receiver, kickoff returner. Let's reserve judgment until he gets a little bigger.

tijama cel said...

Special teams is a key component if you have the right return man. The kids don't seen to have that attitude that when they get the ball there going to score instead they tip toe during the returns or call a fair catch. Eugene I to watched the highlights on Tre Gabriel and he doesn't tip toe. Size is not a big factor in the return game there are plenty of returns his size on this level doing a better job than the kids we have played thus far. I believe Gabriel was Bag's first recruit so why not play him.