Columbia-Marist: Keys to the Game
Columbia gets back to the Lions Den for the first time in 43 weeks (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Ben Shyman)
Key #1: Shaking off the Rust
Columbia can't let last week's loss, the extreme heat, (they're predicting 81 degrees and humid tomorrow), a possibly small crowd or anything else to temper their enthusiasm. The team must be fired up and ready to play; intimidating Marist with their pregame rituals alone.
Key #2: Controlling the line of scrimmage
Columbia can't get pushed around by an undersized team like Marist. The defense needs to be in the Red Foxes' backfield early and often and the offensive line must create big holes for running backs to plow through. Columbia hasn't had a running back with a 100 yard game performance in 14 games, (James Cobb '07 did it against Yale in 2005, but remember that was mostly on the heels of just one big 70+ yard run).
Key #3: Take an early lead and hold it
Any early Marist score could send some of the players and coaches heading for a virtual panic button. That means no missed tackles and no breakdowns if the Red Foxes get off a long pass or a big return.
Key #4: Sacks, Picks, and Fumbles
With Marist's light offensive line the defense needs to harass Red Fox QB Steve McGrath all day. The result needs to be lots of sacks and some interceptions. Columbia did not get a takeaway last week and takeaways were the hallmark of the 2006 season.