Monday, September 24, 2007

Roll Jordan, Roll!

In his 22nd collegiate game, Jordan Davis finally broke through (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)

Columbia 31 Marist 7

Why Columbia Won

Columbia's rushing attack, basically absent since 2004, had a starring role as junior Jordan Davis ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns. This from a running back who in his previous 21 collegiate games had scored just one rushing touchdown and never ran for more than about 90 yards. The offense as a whole wasn't as spectacular as the running game, but it played turnover-free football.

The defense bent often but never broke, giving up huge yardage on the ground for the second week but also stuffing the passing game and stiffening in the most crucial situations.

Why Marist Lost

The Red Foxes did a great job establishing a running attack, but big mistakes prevented them from cashing in on their advantage. Meanwhile, Marist's passing attack wasn't even good enough to act as a decoy.

On defense the Red Foxes couldn't stop Jordan Davis, and as soon as Columbia realized that, the game was over.

Key Turning Points

1) Marist took the opening kickoff and ran 12 straight running plays for 51 yards until they had a 4th and 1 at the Lion 13. But a fumble on a bad handoff was jumped on by Andy Shalbrack and Columbia dodged an early bullet.

2) Trailing 7-0, Marist had a 2nd and 10 at their own 37 when Clark Koury intercepted a Steve McGrath pass at midfield and returned it all the way to the Red Fox 28. That led to a Columbia field goal a few minutes later and a 10-0 Lion lead.

3) After a third quarter Marist TD made it 17-7 CU, the Red Foxes had a chance to really make it close when they started a long drive before facing a 3rd and 9 from the Columbia 29. On third down, backup QB Matt Semrano's pass fell incomplete and when Marist went for it on 4th down, freshman Brian England broke up another pass and the Lions had the ball back.

4) With the score still 17-7 early in the 4th quarter, Marist had one more chance to get back into the game with a possession that started at their own 30. On 3rd and 8 from the 32, Justin Masorti blitzed Semerano and forced a bad pass that Koury grabbed for his second interception at the Red Fox 43. Two Jordan Davis runs later, it was 24-7 Columbia.

Columbia Positives

1) The Lions ran the ball well. In addition to Jordan Davis' big day, the team ran for 216 yards overall.

2) The defense looked ferocious on passing plays, racking up five sacks and about a dozen QB pressures and knockdowns. If the Lions can figure out how to stop the run even a little better, this strength will become even more of a factor.

3) A number of new faces got on the field and made a big impact for the first time. Fullback Pete Stoll got a few quality runs and even caught a screen pass which he turned into a 35-yard gain thanks to his blistering speed, (especially for a fullback). Freshman defensive lineman Brian England was in on a number of plays and may be one of Columbia's answers on running plays going forward.

4) Columbia avoided silly mistakes that could have let Marist back into the game. The Lions committed no turnovers and with three takeaways, their turnover ration is now +1 on the season.

5) The Lions played hard to the final whistle. Never letting up and even recording a tackle for a loss and a sack on the final two plays of the game.

6) Columbia's play calling was aggressive throughout, as QB Craig Hormann attempted several long passes deep down the middle of the field. Hormann's completion percentage suffered as a result, but he did not have an interception.

Columbia Negatives

1) The Lions are still not stopping the run. Missed tackles weren't to blame either as the undersized Marist O-line still got a tremendous push off the snap time after time.

2) Junior linebacker Corey Cameron injured himself early in the game and came back to the sidelines on crutches. Justin Masorti replaced him and had a whale of a game, but Columbia needs to stay healthy. Andy Shalbrack was injured in the waning moments of the game when he probably should have been on the sidelines. I'm not sure about the severity of either one of those injuries.

Game MVP's

Jordan Davis is an obvious choice. But I'm going with co-MVP's this time as he will have to share the honors with junior strong safety Clark Koury, who along with his two key interceptions he also had nine tackles, two of them for a loss. During several points of the game when it looked like no one was up for stopping the run, Koury stepped up.

Jake on the Mic

I felt a lot more comfortable this time and was particularly proud of the halftime interview with Don Jackson. That interview will be a tough act to follow for the next eight weeks.


At Mon Sep 24, 03:11:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Jake,Great job on the color and super halftime interview. The run defense is still a big concern. The rest of the way we are going to face much better offenses than Marist and cannot afford to give so much away on the ground. I know we're not supposed to talk about injuries and I was unaware that anything had happened to Shalbrack. Does the team have any responsibility for injury disclosure? Hope it is nothing serious but neck injuries have to be approached with much caution.

At Mon Sep 24, 03:28:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why so many starters were still on the field in the waning minutes was puzzling. Shalbrack's injury was the major reason that sort of thing should be avoided.

At Mon Sep 24, 03:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think so many defensive starters were in the game sat the end for only one reason: the coaches weren't satisfied with the run defense and were still experimenting with personnel. It is really puzzling to me as to why our defense is not as effective as it was last year. Granted we lost some good players, but the talent level in general should be greater. My own view is that we are getting no defensive push up front. If we are going to go with an undersized DL then we need more active play from the LBs. The 3 5 3 basically permits us to play with 8 men in the box. Last year we played that defense to perfection most of the time. this year something is lacking, and we need to fix it in a hurry. As for the offense, we need to get away from those little passes to the flat. They just don't work, and against better teams they will be picked off. Why the offensive coaches persist with those calls are beyond me. On the bright side, I have always been a huge Jordan Davis fan. He has tremendous balance and runs hard. I am also pleased to see Stoll opening some eyes. Unless we run a double tight end set, we need to go with a lead FB to establish any sort of running game. We also need to work on the vertical passing game.

At Mon Sep 24, 05:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the defense was really starting to feel it towards the end of the game. Mitchell, Joyce and Bashaw are solid at defensive end, but someone big and strong needs to step up and do the job in the middle. Masorti is a smart, aggressive linebacker and he made some terrific stops against the run. The freshman, Matt Moretto, was very impressive from his linebacker position. He's going to be a very good football player at Columbia. Finally, I agree with the poster who praised the play of both Jordan Davis and Pete Stoll. Davis seems to be much stronger and faster than last year. Stoll is a powerful runner with good speed. His 35 yard gain on a screen pass was an eye opener. I would like to see the coaches use him much more often, both as a bruising 212 pound ball carrier and also as a good tough, pass receiver.

At Mon Sep 24, 06:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will video of the game be available on the Sidelion Pass?? Anywhere else?

At Mon Sep 24, 06:27:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Jake, one little thing about the webcast video. On punts the camera closes real tight on the kicker awaiting the snap so we never see what's happening on the line of scrimmage. I'd like to see it pulled back like a regular shot so if someone breaks through to block we can see it happening and where the penetration came from. Just a little thing but I thought I'd mention it.

At Mon Sep 24, 09:50:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

177 — Jordan Davis, Columbia (22 carries)
151 — Mike McLeod, Yale (31)
66 — Rob Toresco, Princeton (9)
61 — Matt Polhemus, Yale (7)
59 — R.C. Lagomarsino, Princeton (15)
58 — Liam O'Hagan, Harvard (12)
56 — Milan Williams, Dartmouth (12)

Our Jordan Davis led the Ivy's in rushing for the weekend. While we had a great run weekend, it could've been better. In the rain, the run game is your friend but we stuck to our game plan and threw the ball around a good bit. Nonetheless, We had our best run game in the NW era, and remember it could have been better. I'm excited to see the O-line improve and see VM increase his confidence in this part of our game. Hats off to Partain, Seiler, Veldman, Brune and DeBernardo for a job well done. If we can run the ball then we can control the clock and give the defense some rest. While we won the run game, we lost time of possession, an unusual double. If we can find a way to grind the clock and play from in front this year we'll take a lot of pressure off the defense while they mature.

On defense, LF's scheme clearly works but now with a new less experienced ML and a new NT, we're struggling up the middle. I think Mitchell plays better and better and thought Bashaw brought production to his reps (2 sacks). We need to find a little run stop to get the defense off the field. Against the pass the boys have been strong.

At Mon Sep 24, 10:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This game was much closer than the score would imply and highlighted once again our inability to stop the run.

Marist is a very weak team (now 0-4)with a small O-Line, yet they ran all over us. Our run defense is simply missing in action. If this part of our game doesn't rapidly improve, the next three weeks against Princeton, Lafayette, and Penn are going to be ugly. Our passing defense is very solid but who cares if you can't stop the run.

The offense had a good day against a bad D. Marist's defense has a undersized line and has given up an average of 35.5 points per game. Our passing game is solid and will improve as Horman loses the rust and the young receivers break in. However, at this point, I think our O-line and running game are more realistically measured by our performance against Fordham (i.e., non-existent) than against Marist. Again, big trouble.

More than anything else it will be our LINE PLAY against the run and in executing the run that will determine the our success or failure this season. Right now we are weak in both areas.

At Mon Sep 24, 11:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until the fourth quarter we appeared to have trouble stopping the Marist running game. Then things started getting better fast. Maybe it was Masorti's strong play at linebacker, or the steady improvement of Mitchell, Joyce, Bashaw and Waltz. I'm not sure. As you noted, Jake, the freshman, Brian England, also played well. If we're going to be successful on defense against the run, all of these players and others will be needed, especially as the season progresses. Perhaps, it would make sense to use one or two of the most talented freshman offensive linemen on defense where the immediate need seems greater.

At Mon Sep 24, 05:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a game into the third quarter! Marist hung around because they could run the ball effectively, they also couldn't seize the day because they had no air attack. We need to find more run stop, especially on first down. To be sure, we'll be challenged up the middle until we show we can stop the run game. It's on film!

We ran all over the Red Foxes and we didn't run the ball that much! I agree, the next few weeks will be tougher competition and we'll have to play well to win. Against Fordham, we averaged 3 yards per carry. In general 3 yards per carry will make for a successful run game. I think we can run the ball in upcoming weeks. 14 got the ball out effectively in very tough weather conditions, a nice sign we improving in the air as well.

At Mon Sep 24, 08:49:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The run game woul dhave worked against Fordham if we hadn't played so poorly on defense. We fell behind and had to abandon the run game. Keep Stoll in there! He is a great weapon either as a lead blocker or as a runner and receiver. Our #1 priority is to stop the run on first down. We need to get a stronger defensive push. England impresses me on hte inside. I think that Miller belongs back at LB.

At Mon Sep 24, 09:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marist is not that bad. Columbia is not that good. Princeton seems to be very, very good this season (whereas Columbia is probably a season away from that state of affairs). It really is that simple so far, no matter that this is not at all reassuring re Saturday's upcoming game.

At Mon Sep 24, 09:13:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can anyone say Princeton is that good? Based on one game? they lost to Lehigh, and that week some commentators said that the Tiger passing game looked awful.

I actually think we can be competitive with Princeton this weekend, despite Tiger fans predicting a blowout.

At Mon Sep 24, 09:26:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we can find a way to stop the run on first down we can score on that team. They are not huge like Fordham on the OL. We can't play from behind. When we do w egive up on the run game. We need to run more plays out of the two back set. NW obviously disagrees, and presumably he knows better, but I think that running 80% of your offense from the shotgun basically denigrates the run game. We also need to eliminate those useless and dangerous passes to Knowlin to the flat. If w ewant to get him the ball in space do it over the middle of the field on slants.

At Mon Sep 24, 09:26:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is the status of Jamal Russell?

At Mon Sep 24, 09:26:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is the status of Jamal Russell?

At Mon Sep 24, 09:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have several good defensive ends, linebackers, spurs and corners. It's just a matter of finding someone big and mean to a clog up the middle. How about trying the 315 pound freshman Carl Constant or another big freshman offensive lineman at nose tackle? Coach Tellier did that with Eric Tyrone when he was a freshman and it helped the defense. Also, what about using the freshman tight end, Andrew Kennedy on defense. He had numerous quarterback sacks in high school and made two or three tackles on kickoffs last week.

At Mon Sep 24, 10:05:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea of putting a huge freshman at NT. We have to clog the middle.

At Mon Sep 24, 10:06:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are Rocholl's monster punts?

At Mon Sep 24, 10:29:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I worry about putting a big guy like Constant or another o-lineman at NT. Eli Waltz showed some improvement as the game went on, and they lined Masorti right up on the line to the right of the offensive center and that started making things happen too. Brian England was also doing a lot of good things up the middle and on the edges.

The longer the plays take to develop, the better Columbia did defending them and with Princeton using the option a lot, that might work in our favor.

At Mon Sep 24, 10:31:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Rocholl punted fine... and did everyone notice how well we coveed kicks both this week and last? With Knowlin returning kicks well too, we're looking at a real advantage on special teams if we keep at it.

At Mon Sep 24, 11:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, why isn't Masorti starting? I think he is all Ivy material. Also, can we expect to see more reps from England on the DL? And do you think that the move of Miller to DE is an example of trying to see if lightening will strike twice (last year Darren Schmidt; this year Lou Miller)? I like Miller more at LB.

At Mon Sep 24, 11:09:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I'm not sure about the severity of Cameron's injury, but I think Masorti will start now. I like Miller as a linebacker too, and I think you make a fair point about how he may have been placed in Darren Schmidt's old role. I know they like Bashaw as a pass rusher better than a run stopper. England will probably get a chance to prove he can play a lot more during practice this week.

At Mon Sep 24, 11:48:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Sep 24, 11:49:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume the Columbia coaches will be considering all the possibilities for improving the team's play against the run including "borrowing" any offensive lineman who has the size, strength and mobility to help the defense. Most offensive linemen have played at least some defense in high school so it's certainly possible that there are some reserve offensive linemen who would be more useful on defense at this time. Incidentally, I thought that the defensive line played well in the fourth quarter against Marist as Mitchell, Joyce and Bashaw started knocking people all over the place.

At Tue Sep 25, 01:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miller needs to be at LB; Masorti needs to patrol the strong side; Bashaw, Joyce and Mitchell can brring the pressure. I like the idea of a huge body at NT. As long as the NT can occupy the center and a guard the LBs can make the plays.

At Tue Sep 25, 04:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We agree with dabull and his example regarding the quality of the webcast - it's a great way great way to "see" the game when we live so far away and cannot attend, but we hoped to get a better sense of being "at" the game - at least visually. For example, maybe during a timeout or two, get a panoramic view of the area, or see the activity of the players on the side lines, or to view fans in the stadium - that type of thing. So much of the time we felt like we were watching the action through binoculars. Great job on the commentary Jake!

At Tue Sep 25, 06:09:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Oh yes, that reminds me. During play stoppage we get to look at the band members acting silly when we could be getting views of what SI called one of the best views of any sports venue. Or even sideline shots or crowd shots.


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