Tuesday, July 19, 2016

2017 Opponent Preview: Wagner

Najee Harris 

What was so unusual about Columbia's 26-3 win over Wagner last year wasn't just that it ended the Lions second-longest losing streak in program history. What was so unusual was how easy the win was for Columbia. The game was never close and the Seahawks never even threatened to make it close at any time.

In short, Wagner was a very weak team last year, as its 1-11 record and seven losses by 21 points or more would indicate. The stats were pretty ugly too. QB Alex Thomson, who returns this season, was a decent runner but his 51% completion rate was rough and he only averaged 98 yards passing per game.

There's better news for Wagner at the other skill positions. The team's dangerous WR Alex Yevchinecz is coming back as is RB Matt McKinnon, who looked good against the Lions last year.

Up front, OL Matt Diaz comes back as a member of the All NEC preseason team. He was injured when Columbia vied with Wagner last season and will have to be accounted for this time. The rest of the O-line looks pretty raw.

The most excitement swirling around the Seahawks offense is the result of 6-8, 250-pound Greg Senat, who starred for the Wagner basketball team, deciding to join the football team for his senior year. He will play at TE and will be a serious handful if he is actually able to make the adjustment at the collegiate level. Senat will split time with returning team captain TE Ryan Owens, who is a very solid player.

The defense may be in more. The best returning defender is LB Najee Harris. But a lot of the rest of Wagner's top tacklers are gone to graduation including 2015's top sacker Mike Mentor and top pickoff artist DeAngelo James.

One word of caution: Wagner is one of those teams that is scheduling way up, including a contest against Boston College two weeks before the Columbia game. Programs like this rarely just stand by and let themselves be completely pummeled without a few tricks up their sleeve. I'd be surprised if Wagner doesn't feature some higher quality freshmen and transfers this fall.

Nevertheless, this game is probably a must win for Columbia if the Lions want to make strides this season.

1 comment:

alswingman said...

Wagner used to be a very good program. What happened other than Walt Hameline retiring? Or is that the only reason?