Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Scouting Penn


When he's healthy, Sandberg makes the Quakers go

The Quakers are going through lots of changes as the team looks a lot different than what we expected to see in preseason.

The biggest difference is that starting QB Robert Irvin is out, probably for the rest of the season. He's replaced by Bryan Walker, who has been solid if unspectacular, this season and in his appearances last year.

Next, the Quakers are no longer winless after ripping Georgetown at home last weekend. The actual value of a win over the Hoyas is highly questionable these days, but a win is a win.

One thing that hasn't changed, and it's something that will be a huge factor in Saturday's game, is starting running back Joe Sandberg. The 5th year senior reclaimed his "second best tailback in the Ivies" title last week with 117 yards on just 13 carries in the Georgetown win. If Sandberg is fully recovered from hamstring problems that plagued him earlier this year, he could have a big day. Another new wrinkle is freshman rusher Michael Dimaggio, who has won the #1 backup rusher job after gaining 85 yards on the ground last weekend on just eleven carries.

The passing game under Irvin and Walker has been generally stale. As expected, senior receiver Braden Lepisto leads the team, but he only has 22 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Penn QB's are only averaging 5.2 yards per pass, so once again it's clear that Columbia will need to force Penn to throw more. But with Sandberg and Dimaggio that will be easier said than done.

It's hard to gauge Penn's defense right now because of all the turnovers the offense committed in the first three weeks of the season. The Quaker's "D" was put too far behind the eight ball on too many occasions. But it does seem like Penn is stronger against the run than they are against the pass right now. In any event, this is still a strong unit, but I think clearly not as strong as it was last year. Linebacker Joe Anastasio is Coach Bagnoli's favorite for a reason.

Special teams are much improved even though field goal kicking remains erratic. The Quakers are getting great kick and punt return averages from Chris Wynn and Marcus Lawrence, respectively. Penn is also covering kicks very well.

In short, if you stop Sandberg, you can stop Penn. But that's going to be a lot harder to do than it was just a few weeks ago now that he's 100%. Plus, we know how much trouble the Lions have had stopping anyone on the ground this season.



Going back to a classic look (CREDIT: The Helmet Project)

And here's one thing about Penn that I'm really willing to praise: the Quakers have reverted to what I have always considered to be their best helmet logo. The two-tone "P" logo is slightly different from the one they used from 1981-1991, but it's close enough.

32 Comments:

At Wed Oct 10, 10:46:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look for short dump off passes to Sandberg; not in the flat but in the middle of the field. They count on him to make at least one tackler miss. Our guys need to wrap him up. Intersting story: Sandberg was unhappy at Penn his freshman year and left school for Rutgers. There was some talk of his transferring to Columbia, but that fell through and is surrounded by mystery.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 12:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Columbia-Lafayette football games in Easton, Pennsylvania mean absolutely nothing to Columbia players and fans, and never have, and never will. This should be pretty obvious after losing to Lafayette in game #4 of the season for most of the last forty years. It's just impossible for Columbia players and fans to get excited about playing Lafayette in game #4 of the season, before Homecoming, whether the game is played in Easton, Pennyslvania or New York City. It's time for a change. As soon as possible, the Columbia Athletic Department needs to permanently replace Lafayette on the schedule in game #4 with a home game at Baker Field against the likes of Georgetown, Iona, Wagner and Marist. I bet many Columbia football players and fans agree with me.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 02:08:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As soon as possible, the Columbia Athletic Department needs to permanently replace Lafayette on the schedule in game #4 with a home game at Baker Field against the likes of Georgetown, Iona, Wagner and Marist."

No, no, no, no! Not a pushover. How about a home-and-home with San Diego? No more Marists and Ionas. Those games do nothing for Columbia except pad the win column.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 02:45:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overall they may even diminish the win column if the team doesn't progress enough to be able to play better against the good opponents.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 03:42:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are two sides to this view.
Not that the school will make changes based on a blog, but winning games, even against weaker opponents does have some merit. It may allow some underclassmen to play in the latter stages of a comfortbable win, and winning engenders fan support and helps recruiting.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 03:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that San Diego would be a much more interesting opponent than Lafayette, but we are talking about game #4 of the season not game #2. A flight to San Diego the week before Homecoming makes very little sense. The suggestion was to play "...the likes of Georgetown, Iona, Wagner and Marist." It just so happens that Penn easily defeated nice, respectable Georgetown last week while we were busting heads with Lafayette. The point is to get Lafayette and other similar opponents off the schedule in game #4 because thru the years the Columbia team finds it difficult to be prepared physically and emotionally for a very strong and deep Patriot League opponent like Lafayette when the Ivy League season begins in earnest the following week. It's not a question of padding the win column, but preparing the team smartly for what really counts, namely the final six Ivy League games of the season.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 04:23:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We played a home and home against St Mary's/Ca years ago that was very well attended. there is a huge Cal CU alumni contingency out there led by Bill Campbell. Get the cupcakes off the schedule--i.e Marist and Iona- and put a Holy Cross or Nova back on there. That can only help the players and recruiting down the road playing better competition.

And Jake with all due respect, Shane Kelly played for Temple last year( against Wisconsin) as a true freshman. You can't tell me he at least doesn't deserve a shot at some point soon if Hormann continues not to deliver.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 08:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fyi..kelly's nickname at temple was "I.N.T." hmmm i wonder why?

 
At Thu Oct 11, 10:23:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe St. Mary's College in CA has dropped football.

It would be nice to play Holy Cross again, however. Or Towson, which for some years seemed purposely to seek out Ivy League opponents.

We also definitely owe Duquesne an away game, that was only pushed back and off last year's sked as a matter of convenience, and they are much improved since their loss at Wien. Does anyone also know if the games played at home against Georgetown, Iona and Marist entail a home-and-home commitment, or were they all simply, to use a Brit-ism, one-offs?

RS

 
At Thu Oct 11, 02:56:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hormann is by far the best QB on the team. Kelly and MA took all the reps in pre-season. They simply aren't as good as Hormann. There was a night and day improvement in the offense when Hormann returned to the field.

The main problem with the offense is the line not the QB.

Who should we give credence to, the coaches or some clueless fan who has never seen a practice, never watched a minute of game or practice film, and has never even seen Kelly play?

To repeat from my earlier post:

"Oh to be a backup QB. You never get hit, you hardly take any reps in practice, you never make a mistake in a game and, best of all, you are a hero to all the clueless fans who are certain that you are much better than that bum of a starter, that is until you actually play!"

 
At Thu Oct 11, 06:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

last poster, don't be so quick to judge who is writing opinions on these blogs re football experience, watching game films etc. you might be surprised that some of these opinions are coming from people that achieved much more football wise then you are speculating. Much more if you catch my drift....

 
At Thu Oct 11, 06:04:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hormann's nickname is S L O W

 
At Thu Oct 11, 08:09:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

Hormann deserves our support. He is the QB with the most experience and obviously worked very hard to be ready by the start of the season. If they protect him and create some makeable 3rd down situations by continuing to run the ball well, he might very well have a breakout game against Penn.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 08:12:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not judging anyone. I am simply stating the fact that you haven't seen Kelly play, you haven't watched the CU daily practice films or this year's game films. How could your opinion possibly be better informed than the coaches? On what rational basis can you say that its time to put Kelly in? You do not have a clue whether or not he is better than Hormann. The coaches actually know that Hormann is much better that Kelly.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 08:29:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

First, Lafayette is a solid team traditionally and we should keep playing them until we can compete with them, not schedule down to another creampuff. This is a program trying to grow in stature and to do that you have to play and compete with good teams. You should get excited against any team CU plays that plays to the level of Lafayette because that's where we want to be, at that level. Secondly, San Diego would be way above our level at this time in our program development. Their qb Johnson is a player well above the level of any qb we would face in the league and he would carry them to a big win over us.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 10:11:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a CU fan and parent, I believe it is in the best interest of the program going forward to schedule competition that is, at this point, stronger, to facilitate bringing in young men who want to compete and be prideful of playing against great programs.

Continuing to play "cupcakes" will not attract the best and brightest players in the future. Playing the best competition will enhance the future program. Win or lose, players get excited about competing against the best.

 
At Thu Oct 11, 10:33:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect, why is it that the Big 10 coaches usually schedule "creampuffs" for their nonconference foes? It is to improve on certain aspects of the game, keep up the fan support, enhance the W-L record (for multiple reasons including bowl eligibility) and a serve as a good opportunity to evaluate younger players and schemes before the "meat" of the season, and minimize injuries (they can play alot of underclassmen). They do not feel compelled to play superior team to improve before they start Big 10 play-why should we?

 
At Fri Oct 12, 05:38:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

We want to get to the level where we can play a team like Lafayette and not be scheduling up. It would be nice if in two years Lafayette would be a creampuff for us. There are plenty of teams in the FCS that we don't have any business being on the field with(scholarship schools) and I'm not talking about playing schools like App. St., but come on we don't want to dodge schools like Lafayette or Holy Cross.

 
At Fri Oct 12, 09:13:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My problem with Lafayette is that I have always thought of it as a mickey mouse place for kids who couldn't get into the Ivies. So they can recruit players who couldn't get into a school like ours. That's why they can find these huge OLs, just like Fordham.

 
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