Monday, October 31, 2016

Fumbled Away

Yale 31 Columbia 23

Why Yale Won

The Elis forced five turnovers, including two in the 2nd quarter that both led to Yale TD's. Freshman QB Kurt Rawlings came into the game in relief and helped the Elis maintain their lead throughout.

Why Columbia Lost

In addition to the turnovers, the Lion offense took way too long to get into a groove. Columbia finished with just 92 yards rushing and allowed four sacks.

Key Turning Points

-On the second play of the 2nd quarter, Lion RB Alan Watson fumbled the ball at the Yale 36 and Eli freshman DE John Herubin returned it for a TD.

-Less than two minutes after that TD, Columbia punt returned Lynnard Rose dropped a punt that Yale recovered at the Columbia 15. Two plays later is was 14-0.

Columbia Positives

-The Lions defense performed extremely well despite the final score. Yale was held to just 99 rushing yards overall and start runner Alan Lamar had just 66 yards on 28 carries.

-The 4th quarter marked the emergence of a new potential weapon for the Lions: WR Ronald Smith. The fact that he was making so many difficult catches when so many of his teammates had trouble holding on to the ball was notable. He finished with six catches for 114 yards and two TD's.

Columbia Negatives

-The turnovers were galling, especially the dropped punt.

-The Lion offense still looked unready to play, especially after it committed two substitution penalties on the same drive.

Columbia MVP

-It seemed like the Lion defense was making tackles for a loss every other play. Once again, that effort was led by senior LB Ginamarco Rea. He was the MVP of this game with Smith coming in as a close second for his receiving heroics.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Seeking a New Kind of Streak

Al Bagnoli is 18-6 lifetime vs. Yale

Yale Elis vs. Columbia Lions

October 28, 2016

Kickoff Time: 7:00pm

Location: Robert K. Kraft Field at Wien Stadium

Game Time Weather Forecast: 45 degrees, clear, possible moderate wind gusts

The Spread: The game is "pick 'em"

TV/Radio: The game is nationally televised on NBC Sports Network . Superior audio can be heard on the Ivy League Digital Network with Jerry Recco and Sal Licata on the call.

Columbia Game Notes

Yale Game Notes

Leading Story Lines

1) Talk about role reversal! Yale comes into this game in a tailspin at 1-5 and with most Eli fans calling for Head Coach Tony Reno's head. The negative vibe swirling around Yale seems like it could snowball for the rest of the season, or the Elis could be fired up to fight back.

2) On the flip side, Columbia seems to be on the rise even after an ugly win over Dartmouth last week. Tonight's game will give the Lions the chance to win two in a row for the first time since they had a three game winning streak in 2010.

3) Columbia's defense has been stellar while its offense simply has trouble scoring touchdowns. Yale's defense might be the weakest the Lions will face all year. If Columbia can't finish drives tonight, it may not happen this year at all.

Players to Watch

-Columbia's offense may rely heavily on freshman WR Josh Wainwright #13 and his ability to shred the generally porous Yale secondary.

-Yale's freshman RB Alan Lamar #5 almost single-handedly defeated Dartmouth three weeks ago for the Elis sole win of 2016. He's been battling some injury issues since, but could be ready to play at full tilt tonight.

-Columbia safety Landon Baty #23 has had been the top target for opposing defenses all season long. Baty has made them pay with excellent pass defense, run defense, and open field tackling. Tonight, I expect Yale to go after him anyway. Look for Baty to be in on a lot of plays where Eli QB Tre Moore tries to take off and run.

-Yale senior safety Foye Oluokun #23 is kind of like the last man standing on what was once a good defense. He'll need to step things up to do something about the massive chunk of passing yardage the Elis give up each game.

-And it goes without saying that Columbia LB Christian Conway #7 and H-back Jackson Conway #4 must be watched closely in this game. The Conway twins had their slots on the Yale football team rescinded by Eli Head Coach Tony Reno in 2012 and they had to change their commitments from Yale to Duke. After transferring to Columbia last year the Conway twins, especially Christian, slaughtered Yale's ball carriers all day in the 17-7 Lion win. 

If, Then

-If Columbia's offense sputters again, then Yale will feel more confident in spreading its offensive attack around. The Lions can't rely on just being able to shut down the Eli run attack alone.

-If Yale falls behind by more than one score early, then look for the fight to go out of this team the rest of the way. With a coach under fire and a number of key players who have left the team recently, Bulldog fortitude is at a low ebb.

-If Columbia establishes its passing attack early, then look for the Lions to shift to the run down the stretch. The Columbia offensive line has been wearing down opponents in the running lanes lately.

Joseph Leeman

UPDATE: We have a new Lion!

-I missed this earlier this season, but Columbia Football is honored to have a returning veteran now on its roster.

His name is Joseph Leeman, a 2010 graduate of New Jersey's Pompton Lakes HS, (which is not far from Wien Stadium on the other side of the George Washington Bridge).

Leeman was a Marine who once won the prestigious "Marine of the Quarter" award.

Let's welcome Joseph and all the potential athletes who can help Columbia via our excellent Yellow Ribbon program.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Week 7 Picks

I went a humbling 1-2 straight up and 1-2 against the spread last week to bring my season records to 18-11 straight up and also 18-11 ATS.

Princeton -8 1/2 at Cornell

The Big Red will not win this game, and the clock is close to striking midnight on this team. But Cornell often plays Princeton very well at home and I think it will be somewhat close. In the end, Princeton will cover as it must realize its Ivy championship dreams are far from dashed at this point.

Penn -19 vs. Brown

Without a storm to cover for its problems, Brown will be exposed much as Yale was by Penn last week.

Harvard -4 1/2 at Dartmouth

The small spread for this game is tough to beat because I do think this game will be close. But the Crimson should win by a TD.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Core Four

Jared Katz

When the day finally comes where Al Bagnoli brings the Columbia football program to the top of the Ivies, there will be a lot of talk and reminiscing about his first few teams and how much they struggled. Only the die hard fans will remember the names of the players who were the best and most effective competitors during this lean, but improving era.

A group I think about a lot right now are the 18 or so seniors who came to Columbia as part of Pete Mangurian's first recruiting class. To say they went through some hard times is an understatement. Their first two years were marked by an 0-20 record and brutal controversies about Mangurian's tenure throughout. Then when Bagnoli was brought in, they had to deal with the chance that they may lose any hard-earned seniority on the depth charts.

But look at the roster and you'll see that a clear majority of those 18 players are either starting or playing key roles on the team today. They're on offense, defense, and special teams. But there's no denying that their presence is most felt on Columbia's excellent defense. And I want to put a spotlight on four of those seniors on defense that I call "The Core Four."

Two of them are DB's: Jared Katz and Brock Kenyon. The other two are LB's: Gianmarco Rea and Keith Brady. 

Anyone watching Columbia football this year knows how it seems like one of these guys is in on the stop on every single play. Rea is leading the Ivies in tackles. Katz is getting looks from NFL scouts. Kenyon and Brady are simply incredible sometimes.

Brock Kenyon in 2014

Speaking of incredible, check out this piece from last week in the Columbia Spectator about the day in the challenging life of Keith Brady. Considering how little it took for me to lose focus as a student when I was at Columbia, I don't see how the Engineering students on the football team or any team do it.

Just look at the Columbia stats so far this year. The three leading tacklers are Rea, Kenyon, and Brady in that order. Katz's numbers are impressive considering most teams don't bother to throw in his direction anyway. But he's still found a way to get 15 tackles including 1.5 tackles for a loss.

Gianmarco Rea

In a year marked by the encouraging play of so many freshmen, and the emergence of a quite of few juniors by the way, you might think it would be easy to overlook the contributions of these four-year Lion seniors. But it isn't easy because the Core Four have been playing so well. And looking at the remaining four games on the schedule, there are at least three teams on the docket that have big vulnerabilities to the weapons the Core Four bring to the table.

Their best days may be yet to come.

Texas Tech Target Flips for Columbia

5-10 190-pound DB Ben Mathiasmeier from Cinco Ranch HS in Katy, Texas has committed to the Lions.

Mathiasmeier will be the first Cinco Ranch grad to come to Columbia.

Mathiasmeier was pretty high on the Texas Tech radar after attending the Red Raider camp this summer. The Tech coaches even see him as a possible threat at slot receiver.

This brings our unofficial and incomplete, even as of today, list of incoming freshmen to 18:

1) Luke Adams RB/LB 6-2 210 lbs. Notre Dame Prep Pontiac, MI

2) Josh Bean QB 6-2 200 lbs. Hinsdale HS Hinsdale, IL

3) Seth DeVary OL 6-4 275 lbs. Larue County HS Hodgenville, KY

4) Alexander Filacouris RB 6-1 200 lbs. Half Hollow Hills West HS Dix Hills, NY 

5) Graham Flinn DB/WR 6-1 180 lbs. Benedictine College Prep HS Richmond, VA

6) Tyson Hugee DB 6-0 170 lbs. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Philadelphia, PA

7) Emerson Kabus WR 5-10 170 lbs. St. Augustine HS St. Augustine, FL

8) Josh Kaminsky DL 6-4 280 lbs. Seton Hall Prep West Orange, NJ

9) Cameron Lipton-Martinez TE/DE 6-5 225 lbs. Montclair HS Montclair, NJ

10) Ben Mathiasmeier DB 5-10 190 lbs. Cinco Ranch HS Katy, Texas

11) Jake McCurry WR/DB 6-0 180 lbs. Solon HS Solon, OH

12) Carson Powell DB 6-0 190 lbs. Cardinal Newman HS Palm Beach, FL

13) Bailey Rotsky DB/WR Mayfield Heights HS Mayfield Heights, OH

14) Jonathan Rowe OL 6-3 283 lbs. Audrey Kell HS Charlotte, NC

15) Drew Schmid P 6-0 205 lbs. La Jolla Country Day La Jolla, CA  

16) Hank White OL 6-6 250 lbs. Buford HS Buford, GA

17) Ashton Cooper Wilson DE/LB 6-3 230 lbs. Merritt Island HS Merritt Island, FL

18) Peter Wise OL 6-5 290 lbs. Brunswick School Greenwich, CT

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Scouting Yale

Has anyone seen Bo Hines?

The Elis can run the ball.

Everything else? Not so much,

The end.

Okay, that's not the end. But you could really summarize things like that and be mostly right about this Eli team this year.

This is a team designed to run the ball well as evidenced by the fact that almost everyone who gets the rock gets good yards. RB's Alan Lamar, Dale Harris, Deshawn Salter, and Candler Rich can all do damage, with the freshman Lamar looking like the best weapon.  But QB Tre Moore, is also a good runner... when he isn't getting sacked, which is a lot. Even with all those sacks, Yale is averaging a hefty 176 yards rushing per game and 4.6 yards per carry. In their one win this year against Dartmouth, the Elis surprised the Big Green by playing Lamar for the first time and he burned them for 180 yards on the ground. Yale may be out of surprises by now.

But the passing is a mess. Moore's completion percentage is below 50 and he's netting under five yards per attempt. Star receiver Christopher Williams-Lopez is out of the lineup and does not appear in the two-deep for Friday night's game either. The much ballyhooed Clemson transfer Bo Hines is also AWOL. Yale's opponents are averaging almost 200 more yards in the air per game. Myles Gaines is the most effective healthy receiver for the Elis now, and he only has a total of 153 yards receiving with one catch accounting for more than a quarter of that yardage total.

On defense, the rushing D actually hasn't been that bad. The Elis allow under four yards per carry, (just barely at 3.9 per rush), and eight rushing TD's allowed after six games is not terrible. But the passing stats are indeed terrible. Opponents are averaging more than nine yards per attempt, are completing 66% of their passes, and have a 23-3 TD pass to INT ratio.

Evidence of the problem comes from the fact that junior DB Hayden Carlson is leading the team in tackles... by a lot. Sophomore DE Kyle Mullen is having a strong year, but he admittedly is getting plenty of passing attempts and sack opportunities because opponents love to throw the ball so much against Yale. The great Victor Egu, the guy who dropped his commitment to Cal Berkeley to come to New Haven, does not even have one tackle for a loss yet this season.

The secondary tackles a lot because of all those completions. But they don't pick off many passes. Of the 220 passes thrown at Yale this season, (36 per game), only three have been intercepted. Carlson has two of them, Senior Foyesade Oluokun has been a pass breakup machine with six already this year. But his efforts are simply not enough.

On special teams, sophomore PK Alex Galland has been pretty good with four of six FG kicking and a long of 38 yards. Galland and Bryan Holmes have been sharing the punting duties with solid, but not spectacular results. The best special teams weapons the Elis have is punt returner Jason Alessi who has a an 82-yard return for a TD and good seven yard per return average on all his chances other than that TD. Lamar is a good kickoff returner when he gets a chance.

And of course, all of this doesn't tell you anything about what you need to know about the internal strife in the Yale program that led to so many preseason defections, most notable DT Copache Tyler. It doesn't take a Columbia fan to know a program in trouble, but it helps. And this Yale program is in trouble. If the Elis don't win on Friday night, what's left of the people still supporting Head Coach Tony Reno will be fewer and further between.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Will We See our Heroes? (UPDATED)


For those of you who could not make it to the Homecoming win over Dartmouth and then were burned by the loss of the game feed on One World Sports, there's a chance a clean feed of the game will be broadcast on One World for 7pm Tuesday. It's definitely worth setting your DVR's just in case.

This is Familiar

Carm Cozza

I'll scout Yale as a team tomorrow, but looking at the program as a whole right now I have to say I'm getting deja vu listening to the angry voices coming out of New Haven. 

The Eli fans are furious, to put it mildly. Yalies have seen some tough years over the decades, but I can't remember a time when a coach who was brought in to turn around a struggling Yale team seems to have made it worse. 

For context, remember that Yale sort of hit bottom during the mid-1990's. Those were legendary Head Coach Carm Cozza's final years with the program and no one was going to push him out the door. Cozza went 17-33 over his final five years and even lost his last three straight contests against the Lions by a combined score of 64-26. When Jack Siedlecki replaced Cozza in 1997, the Elis began a respectable march back to competitiveness even though they never matched the kind of sustained excellence they did in Carm's heyday. After five years, Siedlecki was 26-23 and had an Ivy title under his belt. 

When Siedlecki finally ran out his welcome after the 2008, the controversial hiring of Tom Williams put Yale in a new spotlight. Williams will forever be remembered for a crazy fake punt call on a very long 4th and long play in his first game against Harvard in 2009. But he did get the Elis to a solid 7-3 record in his second year. Despite never beating the hated Crimson in his three years, Williams was let go because of some resume honesty issues more than anything else. 

Enter Reno, who was poached from Harvard where he was supposedly the Crimson's recruiting guru. It sure seemed like Reno was good at bringing in players by hook or by crook. Transfer Tyler Varga was the biggest treasure, but current senior LB Victor Egu made headlines when he ditched a Cal Berkeley commitment to come to New Haven. 

Yet here we are in the middle of year five and Reno is 21-25 and the team seems decidedly worse than it was when he took over in 2012. And like I said, the fans are angry and sounding a lot like Columbia fans did two years ago. They want Reno gone yesterday. 

I'm not sure exactly what went wrong for the Elis, but I do wonder about whether Yale now faces distinct recruiting disadvantages. New Haven isn't really a big city nor a rural area. And it's definitely not as exciting as New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. If you want a big city for college, Columbia, Harvard, and Penn are all better choices. If you want rural settings, Dartmouth and Cornell are better. And if you want a happy medium/suburban small town feel, Princeton is the best. I don't see where Yale fits in on that level. And it's usually true that when an Ivy team is struggling, recruiting is the biggest reason why. 

Some people laughed at me this summer when I suggested Reno would be fired at the end of this season. They're not laughing now. Yale's older football alumni are used to much better than this and they're not going to be shamed into silence. 

Short Week

With Columbia set to take on Yale at home this Friday night at 7pm, there's less time for fans to prepare, but the team will get in the requisite number of practices and prep. The fact that the game will be on national TV on the NBC Sports Network will add to the sense of urgency.

Meanwhile, the aftermath of the Lions win over Dartmouth on Homecoming has a lot of people making some new conclusions about the Columbia program now and moving forward. I'll try to consolidate and/or refute many of them in the following points:

-Generally, the CU defense is very good. And Defensive Coordinator Paul Ferraro deserves credit for a lot of this. I also give credit to linebackers coach Justin Stovall since that unit has been the most dominant. But Dartmouth's coaching staff was also very complimentary of the Lion defensive line, saying that it's much better than people thought it would be after all the key graduations last spring. That speaks well of the way D-line coach Darin Edwards prepared this crew in the spring and the first part of the summer and also is a credit to emergency D-line coach replacement Jim Schaefer who joined the staff when Edwards' health problems came up. But getting back to Ferraro, how much of his positives have been accentuated by the fact that he came back for year two of the Bagnoli era? A lot of CU coordinators have lasted less than two years in the recent past. And that makes me wonder if the Columbia offense would be doing better this year if last year's Offensive Coordinator Mike Faragalli were still around and the transition to the new offense was not still such an issue. Sometimes, continuity can be a big deal.

-Yes, the Lion defense is good. But it still is subject to some momentary lapses that can be lethal. Twice now in the last three games, the defense has allowed opposing teams to complete improbably long 4th down conversions that would have ended the game right there had they been defended better. Against Penn, the defense allowed two sloppy plays along the sidelines for TD's. This defense is very good, but it can be the kind of defense that wins games on its own -- like the 1996 Lions defense -- if it eliminates these rare weak moments.

-Let's get to the root of it: Columbia has now matched its 2015 win total with four games to play. Three of those games look entirely winnable, with two of them at home. It really felt like Columbia left at least three and maybe four wins on the table last year while CU's two wins were games where the Lions mostly dominated. Improving to 3-7 this season would mean not just one more win overall, but one more Ivy win. And it would likely also mean the Lions are keeping their composure more in tight games. They've already taken two absolute nail biters in the wins over Wagner and Dartmouth and dropped two of the same kind of games against St. Francis and Georgetown. That's the kind of even results normal teams can expect. So perhaps while Columbia is not yet a contender, the Lions have taken the truly giant step of becoming "normal."

-Saturday's win was proof of the old saying that if you play solid defense and don't turn the ball over you can win any game. Without turnovers, Columbia surely would have beaten Georgetown and probably would have beaten St. Francis. How would 4-2 feel like now as opposed to just 2-4? How many more wins will the Lions get going forward if they protect the ball?

-RB Alan Watson left the game late with what looked like an ankle or leg twist, but I saw him dancing on the sidelines just fine after the game. I expect him to play with no problems Friday night. But even more encouraging was the fact that the run blocking overall was much better Saturday. This would follow a pattern set last year, when the Columbia offensive line started to get much better at run blocking as the season wore on. If the Lions can outrun a run-based team like Yale, it will be a good night against the Elis.

-After Penn dismantled Yale this past weekend at the Yale Bowl, it's a little easier to feel good about how close Columbia played the Quakers at Franklin Field in week five. The Elis were never even remotely in the game while the Lions played Penn close for three quarters and held them to just seven points off of a turnover inside their 15 yard line in the first half.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Changing the Ending

Columbia 9 Dartmouth 7

Why Columbia Won

The Lion defense played its best game of the year, holding Dartmouth to 74 yards rushing, one for 17 on 3rd down conversions, and coming up with just enough on the final drive to keep the Big Green from taking the lead. The offense dominated time of possession by running the ball well and Columbia did not commit a turnover.

Why Dartmouth Lost

The Big Green offense never got much going, waiting for its final drive of the game to get into a groove that also quickly faded. And as the game wore on, the Dartmouth defense started to get worn down by the CU offensive line. Throw in a number of special teams failures, and the Big Green were rolling snake eyes almost all day.

Key Turning Points

-With Dartmouth leading 7-3 early in the 3rd quarter, a Big Green drive was extended by Columbia's second roughing the punter penalty of the game. But Dartmouth failed to get another 1st down on the the bonus series of downs and an eight-yard Ben Kepley punt gave the Lions the ball at their own 49. The ensuing CU drive included a 20-yard run by freshman QB Hunter Petlansky on 4th and one from the Big Green 31. Ultimately, the Lions settled for a FG and cut the Dartmouth lead to 7-6.

-Now trailing Columbia by 9-7 with 12:51 left in the 4th quarter, the Big Green began a drive at their own 32 and got down to the Columbia 33 before having to settle for a 50-yard FG attempt with a strong wind at their back. But David Smith's kick sailed wide right and the Lion lead held.

-Dartmouth's final desperate drive of the game began on its own one yard line and just 2:15 left in the 4th. An incredible 23-yard completion from QB Jack Heneghan to Hunter Hagdorn on 4th and 10 from the one got the Big Green going. The drive kept going until Dartmouth reached the CU 30 with 40 seconds to play. But three straight incomplete passes ensued, the third helped by good pass defense by Columbia LB Keith Brady. That forced the desperation 47-yard FG attempt that Smith simply could not get the distance one despite the strong wind in his favor.

Columbia Positives

-The Big Green did not have the best rushing attack in the Ivies coming into this game by far, but it was more than solid in its first five games. The Lion defense shut it down, especially primary RB Ryder Stone who finished with just 22 yards on 11 carries.

-Columbia's offensive line allowed just two sacks, and started to control the game as time went on with its run blocking. The Lions finished with a strong 154 yards rushing.

-Freshman PK Oren Milstein excellent again, missing only one FG attempt into the strong wind. He has now continued an amazing streak where the last 41 straight points scored by the Lions have been scored by freshmen.

Columbia Negatives

-The Lions continue to fail to score TD's when they get into the red zone.

-While the defense played its best game of the year, it still had a few breakdowns in key situations and gave Dartmouth improbable chances to win.

Columbia MVP

The official John Toner Homecoming MVP Award went to Milstein, and there's nothing wrong with that. But this game was won by the defense and the defense was again led by senior LB Gianmarco Rea with his 11 tackles and half a tackle for a loss and a QB hurry. Rea continues to lead the Ivies in tackles and he is my choice for MVP for the second week in a row.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wet and Wild?

Dartmouth Big Green at Columbia Lions

October 22, 2016


Kickoff Time: 1:30pm, (note later start)

Game Time Weather Forecast: 50 degrees, showers, and increasing wind

The Spread: Dartmouth is favored by 12 points 

Columbia Game Notes

Dartmouth Game Notes


The game will be broadcast nationally on One World Sports Network. It is available on FIOS, but I'm not sure what other cable providers carry it. Check your local listings/channel guide. Superior audio commentary from Jerry Recco and Sal Licata is available on the Columbia Audio Network. 

Leading Story Lines

1) The weather could either be just a bit uncomfortable, the usual slippery game, or a wind and rain-swept mess. The last time Columbia beat Dartmouth was during a super rain and win storm at Wien Stadium in 2008. But the Big Green were also 0-10 that year.

2) Columbia comes with half a season left to achieve some form of visible improvement over last season. The Lions were a better team in the second half of 2015 and the better play did seem to start in their surprisingly close loss to the Big Green last year. So perhaps this too will be some kind of launching pad game. Meanwhile, Columbia hasn't won a Homecoming game since 2000, and the streak is starting to get noticed even by the younger fans.

3) Dartmouth may be looking for some sort of revenge after that 2015 game was definitely filled with lots of claims of dirty hits, etc. Big Green frustration over either the Lions stellar defensive play or perhaps some accompanying Columbia taunting led to a massive number of personal foul penalties that almost completely stifled Dartmouth's offense in the 13-9 CU loss. Much of the bad blood was between then-Big Green QB Dalyn Williams and the Columbia starting D-line. But many of the main characters in that game, including Williams, have graduated. But I wouldn't be surprised if Williams is on the Dartmouth sideline tomorrow.

Players to Watch

1) Columbia WR Josh Wainwright #13 is back from missing the Penn game due to injury. He could jump start the offense after it was obvious the Lions missed him on the field last week. But will the rain and wind play games with Wainwright's ball security issues?

2) Dartmouth LB Folarin Orimolade #9. "Flo" is a major pass rusher and all-around disruption specialist for the Big Green.

3) Columbia CB Jared Katz #21. With rain and wind likely to cut down on downfield passing, Katz may be called upon to help Columbia seal off the edges on stretched-out running plays outside the numbers. But if the field is too wet to rely on RB's making cuts, Dartmouth may try a super quick passing attack forcing Katz to play much closer to the line of scrimmage and fight through blocks.

4) Dartmouth RB Ryder Stone #32. The Big Green has been using him a little more lightly than I would have expected this season, but this kind of game in the expected rough conditions seems tailor made for him.

If, Then

-If the rain and wind really is a major factor, then both teams will need to get effective running gains from their QB's. Dartmouth's Jack Heneghan has run well this season. Columbia's Anders Hill has run well at times, but has been inconsistent.

-If Columbia's RB Alan Watson has success early on running it in between the tackles like he did against Wagner in the rain, then look for Dartmouth to adjust and force Hill to beat them with short throws.

-If the rainy conditions mess with Heneghan's strong passing yardage averages, look for the game to ride on how well the Dartmouth offensive line controls the line of scrimmage.

Week 6 Picks

I went a strong 4-1 straight up last week and a decent 3-2 against the spread bringing my season totals to 17-9 straight up and also 17-9 ATS.

Yale +9 1/2 vs. Penn (GAME IS TONIGHT)

With heavy rain and wind expected in the Yale Bowl tonight, I don't see this game being a big scoring affair. Yale will thus keep it closer but still lose the Quakers.

Cornell -6 1/2 at Brown

The Big Red just keep coming in every game and Brown is really struggling.

Princeton +7 vs. Harvard

Despite the expected bad weather, I think the Tigers will figure it out offensively and win the game.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Scouting Dartmouth

Flo Orimolade

With all the All Ivy talent that graduated earlier this year for Dartmouth, everyone knew the Big Green would have to succeed this year mostly on grit, guile, and good coaching.

So far, that's exactly what they've done.

Dartmouth comes in to New York this weekend in hopes of spoiling Columbia's 16th straight Homecoming with a 3-2 record, a good defense, and an offense that seems to get the more out of less.

Let's start with the defense. Overall, it's simply good but not great. The pass defense numbers are better than the run defense numbers, with nine sacks and a sub-par 5.7 yards per attempt number for opposing passers. The run defense is not terrible, but it was the biggest reason why the Big Green lost at Yale two weeks ago.

As advertised, LB Folarin "Flo" Orimolade is a major star. He's leading the team with 40 tackles and already has five sacks. DB Lucas Bavaro, son of NY Giants great Mark Bavaro, has made some crucial stops this year and has three pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Nick Tompkins may be the best D-lineman in his first year as a starter.

The offense has been led by the steady if not spectacular Jack Heneghan who has passing stats Columbia fans would give up a lot for if they were for any Lion QB. One thing that stands out is he's only been sacked four times in five games. In addition to good protection, he's not eating the ball unwisely. His seven picks are a bit of a concern.

Lots of teams claim to run the ball by committee, but Dartmouth really does it. Ryder Stone has the most carries at just 44, fewer than nine per game. Overall, the Green is averaging a nice 4.6 yards per carry and a decent 148 yards per game. Again, the O-line deserves a lot of credit here.

Speaking of spreading it around, five Dartmouth receivers have 10 or more catches on the year. But no one has more than the modest 19 catches and 228 yards than Drew Hunnicutt. Big play receivers the Big Green has had in the past like Ryan McManus or Victor Williams either aren't around this year, or Heneghan just isn't the kind of guy to get it to them. The longest pass play for Dartmouth this season was for 37 yards.

Placekicker David Smith has been very accurate. He's 6 for 7 on FG's and a perfect 12-12 on PAT's. But his range doesn't look like it's much longer than 35 yards. Punter Ben Kepley has been excellent.
None of the Dartmouth returners seems dangerous this year.

But the best thing going for the Big Green are the intangibles. You know something is going your way when you block a short FG try to basically ice a win against a team like Towson. You also know things are going your way when the three scholarship teams you play look kind of small when the final gun sounds.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to make do

Jack Heneghan

If Columbia's coaches and fans are trying to figure out how to win without an All Ivy QB in the backfield, they might want to ask the guys coming into town for Homecoming this Saturday.

No, Dartmouth does not look like it will win the Ivy title again this year. But the Big Green have already won three games and will probably win a few more in no small part because the team has figured out a way to avoid letting weaknesses at quarterback hamstring the whole team.

None of this would be that noticeable if it weren't for the fact that Dartmouth lost a once-in-generation QB in Dalyn Williams to graduation this year. Everyone knew that the Big Green would be dealing with a downgrade under center this year no matter what.

That problem seems to have been made worse when QB heir-apparent Bruce Dixon either didn't recover from a preseason injury or just didn't perform well enough to win the starting job I and so many people expected him to take. Enter Jack Heneghan. Heneghan has taken just about all the snaps at QB this year and has posted some impressive snaps. He's now Dalyn Williams, but he's clearly thriving in this Dartmouth program... until he wasn't thriving like we saw in the game against Towson last week. Either opposing defenses have figured him out or he's just hit a rough patch, but Heneghan's numbers have diminished week to week overall. So what did the Big Green coaches do? They had Heneghan throw more shovel passes and used other tricks to make sure their offense could move even if he wasn't killing it from the pocket.

The result is that Dartmouth has a good shot at going 6-4 in a year that could have easily gone the other way in Hanover. Yes, the defense is playing perhaps the biggest role in that, but how many teams not named "Harvard" in this league have shown an ability to get a winning season when their #1 QB goes down?

Columbia knows it needs better play from the QB position, but it can't always wait for the best talent to come around. Managing what it has and using that the best way possible is the way to win.  

Monday, October 17, 2016


Penn 35 Columbia 10

Why Penn Won

The Quakers overcame a slow start on offense and wore the Lions down with a steady diet of Tre Solomon runs and Justin Watson receptions and runs. The Penn defense remained strong throughout.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions played it close for three quarters, but made one crucial mistake on offense and two crucial missed tackles that led to Penn touchdowns. The Columbia offense sputtered for most of the game, and did not cash in enough on its occasional flashes.

Key Turning Points

-With no score and about 11 minutes left in the 1st quarter, Columbia QB Anders Hills threw an ill-advised pass into the middle of the line on a 3rd and five from the CU nine yard line. The pass deflected off an offensive lineman's shoulder and was picked off by Penn's Nick Miller. Four plays later, it was 7-0 Penn.

-Late in the 1st quarter and stretching into the early 2nd quarter and still trailing just 7-0, the Lions mounted a drive that started at their own three and got all the way to the Quaker 35. But on the next two plays the Lions lost three yards on a easily read running play and a scramble that led to no gain. A 62-yard Columbia march ended up with no points.

-Penn's opening drive of the second half ended in a touchdown when Watson took a short swing pass, broke a tackle, and then strode down the rest of the home sideline for 46 yards and 14-0 Quaker lead.

-Late in the 3rd quarter, Columbia cut it to 14-7, but it took Penn just three plays on its ensuing possession to score yet another TD thanks to a missed tackle and a resulting scamper down the sidelines. This time it was a 50-yard score by WR Christian Pearson.

Columbia Positives

-The Lions defense shut down the Quakers in the first half and gave Columbia plenty of chances to get a lead.

-Lion special teams were again the best part of the Columbia attack. Freshman kicker Oren Milstein made it six-for-six on field goals this year with a picture-perfect 42-yarder in the fourth quarter. Someone got a hand on a Penn punt and had a partial block, (for some reason this is not documented in the box score, but I saw it right in front of my face in the stands), punter Matthew Panton nailed the Quakers right at the one yard line in the 3rd quarter and that led to the Lions sole TD. And freshman PR Lynnard Rose had a 31 yard return that also played a big role in that TD drive.

Columbia Negatives

-Hill had some good moments in the game, but he made too many mistakes for a starting QB in this league. He also does not seem to ever run north-south in the way former Lion QB Sean Brackett did for four years. He's getting better protection than we've seen in Columbia's past years, but he still takes too many sacks.

-The Lion defense didn't play a total game. The two long sideline TD's were a stunning lapse after such strong play for most of the rest of the game.

Columbia MVP

-LB Gianmarco Rea had a big sack and another tackle for a loss in another solid game for the Lions. To be honest, you could make an argument that Rea has been the MVP in all five Columbia games this year. He takes it this time.

Added Notes/Observations

-With QB Hunter Petlansky's TD and Milstein's FG and PAT, that makes 32 straight points for the Lions scored by freshmen. That's a CU record and probably and Ivy record.

-WR Scooter Hollis did end up playing in the game after all, but in limited duty. I have no solid info on Josh Wainwright's timetable to return to the field.

-Freshman WR Ronald Smith switched to #24 and got significant playing time later in the game. He showed a good ability to get open but could not haul in a few passes that were not quite on the mark.

-Junior Landon Baty has lived up to the challenge of just about every team targeting him in their passing games this year. He had an INT Saturday and made some key tackles.

-It seemed like the Lions abandoned the straight running game too early against the Quakers. Starter Alan Watson was really never able to get any momentum going.

-The box score mistook #8 freshman LB Michael Murphy for #8 senior QB Skyler Mornhinweg. Mornhinweg did not play in the game. Murphy did and he had a tackle and picked up the deflected 4th quarter punt and returned it five yards.


UPDATE: A little bit before Saturday's game, the Penn Athletics website updated/corrected its game notes to include mentions of Columbia Head Coach Al Bagnoli and his return to Franklin Field. The Penn summary of the game also put Bagnoli's return into the lead.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Reunion on the Schuylkill

Columbia is hoping Penn sees a lot of Alan Watson's back

Columbia Lions at Pennsylvania Quakers

October 15, 2016

Location: Franklin Field

Kickoff Time: 3:00pm

Game Time Weather Forecast:  65 degrees and sunny

The Spread: Penn is favored by 14 points 


The game will be broadcast nationally on One World Sports Network. It is available on FIOS, but I'm not sure what other cable providers carry it. Check your local listings/channel guide. Superior audio commentary from Jerry Recco and Sal Licata is available on the Columbia Audio Network. 

Leading Story Lines

1) I really didn't want to give any time to what I thought was a bogus complaint by some backers of Head Coach Al Bagnoli that Penn fans and alums were somehow disrespectful or showing their ingratitude to him. I thought those complaints were overstated by a lot. But then I got a look at the Penn game notes for this contest and I noticed that Bagnoli's name is not even mentioned. Not once. Frankly, this is really low class. It's not like anyone really wants some kind of grand homage, let alone a halftime or pregame ceremony. But not to even mention this is Bagnoli's return to Franklin Field is indeed disrespectful and ungrateful. I've always pushed back on the constant accusations that Penn represents the least gentlemanly sports fans and alums in the Ivies. I laughed at that accusation considering no Ivy fans are anywhere near as nasty as most fans of major college sports or pro teams. But this really makes the Quaker faithful and the entire administration look bad. Penn's usual "let's be dismissive of Columbia" mindset is not appropriate here. 

2) Penn blew through Columbia last year as the Quakers were just getting into gear for their title run. The win over the Lions was their first Ivy victory of 2015. The expectation now is for more of the same. Columbia is basically being seen as a total patsy.

3) The Lions are indeed banged up at WR. Super rookie Josh Wainwright and steady 5th year senior Scooter Hollis will not play based on some added information from sources. This could thus be a big chance for some new players to make an impact. 

Players to Watch

Columbia RB Alan Watson #5 had a break out game against Wagner last week. With the CU passing game likely even more hampered by injuries, Watson will have to perform against a Quaker defense that's done better against the run lately... or at least has had the good fortune to not have to face a very good RB since Fordham in week two. 

Penn QB Alek Torgersen #10 is the best QB in the Ivies. He can spread the ball around and really hurt defense that otherwise shut down the pass. He can scramble and run. If he gets into a groove, you're doomed. 

Columbia LB Gianmarco Rea #34. Rea is now the Ivy League leading tackler, and he'll have plenty of opportunities to add to that total as he'll be tasked with spying Torgersen's every move and trying to stop Penn's top RB Tre Solomon. But so far, Rea has risen to the challenge in every game. 

Penn LB Colton Moskal #44. Moskal is starting to make some serious noise as you'd expect from a Syracuse transfer coming into the Ivy League. Something tells me this game on national TV will inspire him even more. 

If, Then

-If Columbia can get a solid running game going with Watson and running QB Anders Hill, then the entire complexion of the game could change. The only two teams to establish the run against Penn this year were Lehigh and Fordham, the two teams that beat the Quakers. 

-If Penn is able to complete lots of high percentage passes and then get 8-11 yards after the catch like the Quakers did vs. the Lions last year, then the game will get out of hand very quickly. 

-If the Columbia defense can get to Torgersen and knock him down early and fairly often, Penn might not have a very good plan B. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Lion

Luke Adams

Once again, I'm a little late on a new Lion committing to the pride.

6-2 210-pound RB/LB Luke Adams from Notre Dame Prep in Pontiac, MI is coming to Columbia.

Adams would be the first Notre Dame Prep grad to come to Columbia football.

Here's our updated unofficial list:

1) Luke Adams RB/LB 6-2 210 lbs. Notre Dame Prep Pontiac, MI

2) Josh Bean QB 6-2 200 lbs. Hinsdale HS Hinsdale, IL

3) Seth DeVary OL 6-4 275 lbs. Larue County HS Hodgenville, KY

4) Alexander Filacouris RB 6-1 200 lbs. Half Hollow Hills West HS Dix Hills, NY 

5) Graham Flinn DB/WR 6-1 180 lbs. Benedictine College Prep HS Richmond, VA

6) Tyson Hugee DB 6-0 170 lbs. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Philadelphia, PA

7) Emerson Kabus WR 5-10 170 lbs. St. Augustine HS St. Augustine, FL

8) Josh Kaminsky DL 6-4 280 lbs. Seton Hall Prep West Orange, NJ

9) Cameron Lipton-Martinez TE/DE 6-5 225 lbs. Montclair HS Montclair, NJ

10) Jake McCurry WR/DB 6-0 180 lbs. Solon HS Solon, OH

11) Carson Powell DB 6-0 190 lbs. Cardinal Newman HS Palm Beach, FL

12) Bailey Rotsky DB/WR Mayfield Heights HS Mayfield Heights, OH

13) Jonathan Rowe OL 6-3 283 lbs. Audrey Kell HS Charlotte, NC

14) Drew Schmid P 6-0 205 lbs. La Jolla Country Day La Jolla, CA  

15) Hank White OL 6-6 250 lbs. Buford HS Buford, GA

16) Ashton Cooper Wilson DE/LB 6-3 230 lbs. Merritt Island HS Merritt Island, FL

17) Peter Wise OL 6-5 290 lbs. Brunswick School Greenwich, CT

Week 5 Picks

I was a stellar 4-1 against the spread last week and a not-so-good 3-2 straight up. My season totals are now 13-8 straight up and 14-7 ATS.

Brown +14 at Princeton

The Bears are a super inconsistent team again this year. This week, I think they'll be "on" and play better, but not enough to win. Look for the Tigers to win by about 10.

Sacred Heart +1 at Cornell

Sacred Heart hit a crazy bump in the road at Wagner two weeks ago before getting a bye week last Saturday. Now they head to Ithaca, where the Big Red are coming off their first loss of the season at Harvard. Cornell still fought hard in that game and looks generally good, but SHU really has something to prove.

Fordham -15 1/2 over Yale

Yale's win over Dartmouth last week has Eli fans believing 2016 can be salvaged, but if RB Alan Lamar doesn't play against the Rams it will be a long day in the Bronx. Actually, I think it'll be a long day no matter what.

Towson +4 1/2 at Dartmouth

I see the suddenly exposed Big Green winning this game, but by no more than a FG. Towson has been snake bitten all year and they will probably find a way to lose this one too.

Holy Cross +11 1/2 vs. Harvard

The Crusaders are going to make this one close, probably with a late score. The Crimson will win, but not by much.

Scouting Penn

Before we get to Penn, it's important to note that we'll probably be in the dark about who is and who isn't starting for Columbia due to injuries until the actual kickoff. Wide receivers Josh Wainwright and Scooter Hollis are not on the two-deep, but I wouldn't be surprised if they both play on Saturday.

One World Sports, a cable network I get on FIOS but I know not everyone else gets, is covering the game live. I knew this before the season started, but just found out that One World is going to be using its own broadcast team to do the game as opposed to just simulcasting the Ivy Digital Network announcing crew. I'll be at Franklin Field of course, but I'll have to check out the job they do on the DVR later in the weekend.

Alek Torgersen

Penn looked like the best team in the Ivies coming into this season. I had no problem picking them to win the title in my preseason league preview. Then the first two games of the season happened, and it looked like the Quaker defense needed some real work. Penn was 0-2 after giving up lots of yards and points to Lehigh and Fordham. Things didn't look so great in Philly.

But after a strong win over Dartmouth in Hanover and a relatively easy victory over Central Connecticut last Saturday, the Quakers look like they're back in a groove.

The offense is led by QB Alek Torgersen, who the Penn coaches are still protecting after he suffered a broken leg last year. He's completing 64% of his passes, has a steady 5-1 TD-to-INT ratio, runs the ball well, and has the whole team leader role down pat.

The offensive line, a unit some were questioning coming into the season, has been mostly fine based on the average 181 rushing yards the Quakers have enjoyed so far this season. The nine sacks allowed is a bit of a concern, but Penn has gone from allowing six sacks in the first two games to just three in the last two combined.

RB Tre Solomon has done most of the rushing work after splitting the job with the still-present Brian Schoenauer last season. Solomon is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 93 yards per game with four total TD's.

The receivers are led by All America candidate Justin Watson. Watson is averaging seven receptions per game, but only has two TD's so far. Christian Pearson is also a very dangerous weapon through the air.

Penn's defense has had a mixed year, but it has some stars. Syracuse transfer Colton Moskal is having the breakout year I thought he might after being relatively quiet last year. The 3-4 Quaker defense has a bevvy of strong linebackers led by Moskal and Daniel Panciello. It's their strongest unit.

The Penn secondary, based on stats alone, has been often-maligned. That may be the result of the fact that the Quakers have simply played better passing teams all season long. The fact is that DB's Mason Williams, Sam Phillippi, and Jyron Walker are pretty good. It will be very interesting to see how they perform against a program that's struggling more in its passing game like Columbia.

Quaker special teams are lead by two outstanding kickers. PK Jimmy Gammill has made 49 PAT's in a row, but he hasn't hit a FG longer than the 23-yarder he made at Fordham so far this year. He's 0 for 2 from 30-39 yards out. Punter Hunter Kelly has been hot with an average well over 40 yards a kick and plenty of boots inside the 20. Lead punt and kick returner Lonnie Tuff can be dangerous as he's averaging a lofty 14 yards per punt return and a good 21 yards per kickoff return.

But more important than the stats is the fact that Penn is getting into a groove right now. They are definitely looking to register their first definitive blowout of the season against the Lions this weekend.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Return to Philly

Franklin Field

Coming Back

The day the blockbuster news came out that Al Bagnoli was going to become Columbia's new head coach, many of us immediately started thinking about what it would be like when he led the Lions onto Franklin Field for the first time as the coach of the visiting team.

Sure, last year's Homecoming game against Penn at Wien Stadium had some pregame drama too. But actually going back to the place where Bagnoli, and some of his assistant coaches, made so much memorable history is a different and bigger deal. Bagnoli even joked about it last year, when looking ahead to this game he wondered if he would head to the wrong sideline by accident.

It should be a special day. I don't know if Penn is going to do anything to honor Bagnoli Saturday, but I'd be surprised if there aren't a lot of informal words of praise and thanks in the stands on the home side. I keep thinking of great Quaker alums like Gary Vura, who have been so supportive of Bagnoli all along and were so happy to see him come to Columbia because of great personal challenge it posed for him.

But let's look at Penn a bit in a big picture way. Because Penn's story over the last 70 years or so is really the reason why the Ivy League exists today. And Penn's story over the last 35 years is what makes me optimistic that Columbia may someday become a championship team.

If you haven't bought or watched Erik Anjou's excellent "8: Ivy League Football and America," you really should. One of the best parts of the documentary is when the film explains how Penn decided to try to become a national football power after World War II. The groundwork was already there, as legendary Head Coach George Munger had been making the Quakers better since 1938. And with TV coming into the picture in the late 1940s, there was a new incentive to gain national attention.

Penn tried to go big with games against Notre Dame and Michigan, while still hoping to keep the highest of academic reputations. When the other future Ivy schools, especially Princeton and Cornell, refused to play Penn anymore Penn finally folded and decided academic excellence and cache were more important. That got the informal discussions of an Ivy League with special rules going in earnest. Without Penn's brief flirtation with sports stardom, the Ivy League as we know it might never have happened.

The downside for Penn was that it struggled mightily in football for the first quarter century of the league's history. Like Columbia, the Quakers entered the 1982 season with exactly one Ivy football title under their belts.

Gary Vura 

But something was brewing in Philadelphia by then. The Penn administration finally figured out that athletic excellence within the league rules could lead to stronger alumni support and some national recognition. The Quaker basketball team played a big role in helping them figure that out, especially after Penn made the Final Four in 1979. The hiring of new Head Coach Jerry Berndt in 1981 was a key move to fix football at Penn.

'81 didn't have a lot of evidence of success. The Quakers went 1-9 and were not competitive in key games against Yale, Dartmouth, and Harvard. But there were some flashes. Penn did beat Cornell after being blown out by the Big Red three years in a row. And they played a good Princeton team tough in a 38-30 loss.

But nothing really prepared the fans and alumni for the 1982 season, where the Quakers stormed out of the gate with a 4-0 start against Ivy opponents and a championship tie-clinching win over Harvard on November 13th that -- oh so ironically -- was nationally televised on ABC.

From that point on, Penn teams have won championships in football year after year. After hitting a slight bump in the road under Gary Steele from 1989-91, Bagnoli took over in 1992 and pushed the Quakers to an even higher level of excellence.

The question Columbia fans have to ask is: was last year our 1981 Penn season, with a flash of greatness here and there? Or is THIS our 1981, where maybe the remaining six games will provide that flash against our Ivy opponents. In the spirit of "you gotta believe," I gotta believe a turnaround led by President Lee Bollinger, A.D. Peter Pilling, and Bagnoli can be achieved at Columbia following the path that Penn took 35 years ago.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Kicked Up a Notch

Columbia 15 Wagner 13

Why Columbia Won

The Lions played their best defensive game in almost a year and controlled both lines of scrimmage for most of the night. Columbia also committed no turnovers and got the final edge from sterling special teams play.

Why Wagner Lost

The Seahawks could never get any consistency on offense, and their defense couldn't force turnovers or stop the Lions outside of field goal range. The final difference came from the five sacks its offensive line allowed, including one crucial sack on its second-to-last offensive play of the game.

Key Turning Points

-After the Lions failed to score on their first possession, Wagner took over at its 13 following an excellent punt by Cameron Nizialek and a tackle for no gain on the return by Denzel Hill. Three plays later, DT Lord Hyeamang leveled Seahawk QB Alex Thomson with a strip sack and DE Connor Heeb recovered the ball at the Wagner 12. The Lions failed to get more than a field goal out of it, but Hyeamang and the D-line as a whole had made an important statement a week after getting pushed around by Princeton.

-With Wagner now ahead 13-3 with just 2:50 left in the 1st half, Columbia took over at its own 25 for its final possession of the 2nd quarter. The Lions went on to convert two 4th downs and one 3rd down before stalling once again and having to settle for another field goal. But the drive served as good momentum for the second half.

-On Wagner's first possession of the 2nd half, seniors Gianmarco Rea, Keith Brady, and Christian Conway combined on a crucial stop on a 3rd and 5 from the Seahawk 24. Columbia got another FG on its ensuing drive to narrow the score to 13-9. On the next Wagner possesion, freshmen Michael Geraghty and Daniel DeLorenzi combined on a 13-yard sack back at the Seahawk three yard line. On the Lions ensuing possession they got another FG to make 13-12. All in all, Wagner went three-and-out on each of its first four possessions of the 2nd half and only got one 1st down on its fifth possession. By the time Columbia had responded to each of those five short drives, the Lions were ahead 15-13.

-The Seahawks still had a good chance to win with 1:43 left and the ball at the Lion 35. Wagner's excellent FG kicker had already nailed a 50-plus yarder this season, so he was in range to win the game.  But on 2nd and five from the 35, Rea and DeLorenzi stopped Wagner RB Matt McKinnon for no gain. And on the next play, Rea and DeLorenzi combined for a crucial seven yard sack to push the Seahawks out of FG range. That set up the final Wagner offensive play of the game, an incomplete pass broken up by DB Brock Kenyon and a QB hurry by DeLorenzi to boot.

Columbia Positives

-The defense racked up five sacks, held Wagner's explosive offense to 13 points and just 270 total yards. The Seahawks were just three of 14 on 3rd down.

-Senior RB Alan Watson had the best game of his career, running for 107 yards on 23 carries. He seems to have re-earned the top spot on the RB depth chart.

-Special teams play was stellar. In addition to freshman PK Oren Milstein's schools record five FG's with no misses, the Lion punting game was excellent with a combined top notch performance from Nizialek and Matthew Panton. Chris Alleyne did a great job on kickoffs, including three touchbacks. Columbia's return game was better, with freshman Lynnard Rose getting a nifty 22-yard punt return after primary returner Josh Wainwright had to leave the game with an injury.

-Columbia played a turnover free game for the first time this year.

-Columbia's linebackers continue to put in dramatically strong performances every week. The LB's all made several key tackles and sacks.

Columbia Negatives

-You won't win too many games when you get inside the two yard line more than three times and come away with no TD's.

-QB Anders Hill did a great job protecting the ball and running with it, but too many of his passes are still off the mark.

-Wagner's TD came on a classic screen to the RB that the Lions bit on hard. The rest of Columbia's opponents will likely try to duplicate that play, especially with more freshmen getting so much more playing time on the D-line.

Columbia MVP

Watson and so many of the defensive players had a fantastic night, but you have to give the MVP nod to Oren Milstein for the ice water in his veins and those five field goals. I can't think of any other kicker in Lion history who would have been so perfect in such wet and high-pressure conditions. In the Ivy League you don't necessarily need a guy who can hit 50-yard FG's; you need someone who can't hit the 30-35 yard kicks 100% of the time.