Thursday, October 04, 2007

Scouting Lafayette

Mike DiPaola can be shaky on 3rd down (CREDIT: Lafayette Athletics)

Lafayette was a team loaded with senior starters in 2006, and while most teams would be expected to suffer a down year after that, the Leopards were still a popular choice to win the Patriot League this year. In fact, 99% of the prognosticators didn't even CONSIDER the possibility that Lafayette would struggle in 2007.

The first three weeks of the season seemed to prove the experts right. The Leopards cruised to victories over Marist, (49-10) and Georgetown, (28-7), and impressed the heck out of everyone with an 8-7 win at Penn.

But then Lafayette laid an egg at home and fell to Princeton, 20-14. After a bye week, the Leopards remain at home and will now host the Lions at the beautifully renovated Fisher Stadium

Lafayette will present much of the same kind of challenges Columbia has faced so far this season. Not unlike Princeton, the Leopards are a team with a multi-faceted running game and a tough defense, but their talented starting tailback Maurice White is highly doubtful for this game with a high ankle sprain. That means a lot of the onus will be on senior running back Anthony D'Urso who has a gaudy 5.9 yards per carry average so far this season, but does not have White's speed.

Lafayette's QB is Mike DiPaola who is getting his chance to start this season after patiently understudying for the very talented Brad Maurer for a few years. DiPaola is not spectacular, but he has good talent. Columbia must watch out for him on 3rd down and medium and 3rd down and short plays as he has had good success scrambling for first downs. But as a passer on third down, DiPaola is just 10 for 23 for 178 yards, 7 first downs, no touchdowns, and three big interceptions and two sacks. If the Lions force Lafayette into third down passing situations, I like their chances.

More often than not, DiPaola has been looking for junior wide receiver Shaun Adair when he throws the ball. Adair is fast, but he hasn't really broken a big one yet this year as his longest catch is for 35 yards. Adair is truly lethal as a kick returner though, as he has a 78-yard punt return for a TD and a 56-yard kickoff return that almost went all the way.

Defensively, the Leopards have really been solid. The talented crew of defensive linemen and linebackers have really stuffed the run for the most part, holding opponents to just two yards per carry. The pass defense is strong as well, but not as fearsome. Remember that Princeton QB Bill Foran went an impressive 18 for 24 against the Leopard secondary two weeks ago.

Other than Adair's lethal return game, the Lafayette special teams aren't the best. Their kicker, Davis Rodriguez, is a freshman who hasn't hit a field gosl attempt longer than 27 yards. He has been perfect on PAT's, however. Typically, he's been banging his kickoffs pretty short, with the average return starting at about the opposing 15-yard line. Lafayette is giving up a little more than 20 yards in kickoff returns.

The more I look at this team, the more I think the Lions have a good chance to win. The road trip factor is really the biggest challenge, and it is formiddable as I do expect a decent crowd to show up on a warm night. But without White at QB, and with an apparent relative weakness to exploit in the pass defense, there is no reason why Columbia should come into this game as 13-point underdogs.


At Thu Oct 04, 10:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article Jake.

If I remember correctly, White left the Princeton game early when he was injured...that was a gift to Princeton. It's a gift to us if he can't play again this week. Hopefully they will be cautious with him since it's a non-league game for them.

When you look at the size of Lafayette's offensive line and the quality of their running game, it's not surprising to me the spread is 13 points, since defending the run is our Achilles heel so far. The key for us is to maintain long drives on offense, score points, and don't let time of possession favor Lafayette so our defense stays fresh.

The offense and defense both showed improvement week over week against Princeton. We are a young team and and if we maintain that rate of improvement again we have a shot at Lafayette. Go Lions


At Thu Oct 04, 10:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have 25 of the 2 deep (just offense and defense, not special teams) who are first and second years (including 7 first years, a few of whom are starters). That speaks volumes for the future. We will continue to get better every week. But isn't there some way to get MA on the field?

At Thu Oct 04, 10:04:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for the size of the Lafayette front five, they are very big indeed. But we have put more size up front since Fordham. The key is to not let Lafayette get an early lead because 300 pounders start running out of gas in the 4th quarter.

At Fri Oct 05, 01:01:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a bearable ride of about an hour (from where I live), albeit through a somewhat depressing town only partially brightened by the influence of Crayola. It's the first PA exit on 78 once you cross the Delaware. (Don't venture much "downtown" unless your taste runs to bikie bars, either, you have been warned; Philipsburg across the river in Jersey is a much better dining option.) It's supposed to be a warm weekend, too. And it's a winnable game. So I'm going. Maybe I'll see some other posters there. Go Lions!


At Fri Oct 05, 03:28:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with RS that Easton itself is a complete dump. Hopefully that will not discourage our fans.

At Fri Oct 05, 04:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Lions!

At Fri Oct 05, 05:15:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from the Lehigh Valley and never step foot in downtown Easton while living there. That said, Lafayette's newly-built stadium is awfully nice.


At Fri Oct 05, 10:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Col@Laf to be shown at Noon, Mon., 3AM, Tues., ET, FCSA.

At Fri Oct 05, 08:19:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can you park?

At Fri Oct 05, 08:55:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note: Times for replays on FCSA are based on Los Angeles schedule. Best to check local listings.

At Fri Oct 05, 10:09:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my experience, you just park on the streets if you can find a space. For free.

But that may just be because I've never driven "past" the stadium and attached gymnasium.


At Sat Oct 06, 12:21:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeez. You guys lived in Morningside Heights, rode the 1 train, maybe some during the crack crazed Dinkins' years, and you're worried about the center square area of Easton? Yikes!

Anyway, take Exit 3 of 78 West onto Route 22. Second right after the toll bridge puts you on E 3rd St up to College Hill. Won't have to cower through downtown. Park on the streets near the stadium.

Two reasons to venture down, Sette Luna (,0,4908411.story) or Antonio's.


At Sat Oct 06, 02:25:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Serious question which Jake may choose to remove: How can Lafayette find an OL which is on thee order of magnitude of a D1 team. Likewise Fordham. Before I start hearing the trash talk, isn't it safe to assume that these schools can take players who would fall below the Ivy banding system? Having said that, I am not a fan of a bunch of fat guys who look great until they are gassed by the 4th quarter.


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