Sunday, January 13, 2008

Austin's House


Attention potential Lion QB'S: Austin Knowlin will be the straw that stirs the drink (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)



My thanks to the posters last week who wrote in about Austin Knowlin being named an honorable mention FCS All-American by "The Sports Network."

It's just the latest piece of evidence that Knowlin an extremely talented player, but it should also serve as a little reminder that the 2008 Lions, (and probably the '09 team as well), belong to Austin Knowlin.

First off, whoever takes the reigns at QB will almost definitely be the passer who gets in sync with Knowlin the best and the fastest. With the short spring practice session still about three months away, and no QB other than the departing Craig Hormann really getting any playing time in 2007, there's no time to waste.

Knowlin is a game-breaker. A player who can hurt you with a deep route, a crossing pattern, a reverse, a direct snap, etc. Columbia cannot afford to lose any fraction of his potency in the coming two seasons while it waits to break in a new quarterback. That means as much as some of us may want a more mobile QB, if a slower signal caller connects better with Knowlin, he'll probably have the edge. (But for the record, it's not really clear if any of the QB's on the CU roster are more mobile than another).

The only QB to get any snaps other than Hormann in 2007 was Shane Kelly, who played a significant portion of the 2nd half in the 34-14 loss to Cornell, but finished off with a nice TD pass to... Knowlin, of course.

Kelly's status as a junior or a senior next season is still a mystery to me, but either way he has to be considered the favorite to start in '08 at least for now. It certainly appears that Kelly has no trouble working with Knowlin, but we don't have enough of a sample to be sure. Rising soph Paul Havas got the nod as the lead QB for the JV team, and he's probably the top backup guy in everyone's mind for now, but we have a long way to go.


But another consideration is the fact that Columbia seems positively stacked at the receiver position. Nico Gutierrez is showing all the signs of being a star after a solid rookie year. Rising junior Taylor Joseph made tough catch after tough catch and has become the epitome of the possession receiver. His fellow rising junior, Josh A. Williams showed some strong signs of becoming a decent contributor as well.

If the Lions can ever get some kind of a consistent running attack going, (perhaps with super-talented incoming freshman fullback Nico Pappas?), we could have all the makings of a lethal run-and-shoot attack not unlike the one the Houston Oilers used so effectively in the early 1990's, (hold the jokes about how the Oilers often choked, their problems were mostly on defense back then). That team shredded a lot of opposing defenses with Warren Moon at QB, big Lorenzo White at fullback, and a bevy of great receivers including Haywood Jefferies, Earnest Givins, and Webster Slaughter.

Well, it's a thought.


So Much for Wishful Thinking

The annual Gold Football Dinner will be held on March 6th. That's the good news. The potential bad news is that Eugene Edwards, who I thought had another year of eligibility, is being honored and that PROBABLY means he won't be back in 2008. I hope I'm wrong, but the Lions secondary is going to look pretty thin on experience without Edwards.



The 23% Solution

Reports show that acceptances to Columbia University’s binding early decision program decreased by one percentage point from last year, to 23%, (so that means it fell 1/24 or 4.1%). I'm not truly sure if that spells bad news for the football team in some way, but it's yet another stat to chew on.

20 Comments:

At Mon Jan 14, 08:59:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still pondering the line of thinking that puts yet another event (Gold Football Dinner) that is supposed to honor athletes, increase visibility and/or team support, at a time that severely limits anyone outside of the immediate Manhatten area from attending. Is the intent to make these events exclusive, (even to the point of keeping parents and non-NYC allumni from coming)?

 
At Mon Jan 14, 09:07:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Well, remember that you're talking to a guy with a 2-week-old at home, so everything that isn't actually in my living room before 10pm seems inconvenient to me.

But seriously, I think the main issue is that these events are curtailed by New York City prices, (getting a hall and a caterer, even one on the CU campus, in this town is murder on a Friday or Saturday night), and the academic calendar which precludes some better dates in May and June, etc.

 
At Mon Jan 14, 09:21:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear "Mon Jan 14, 5:59," I have attended this event many times and live 2.5hours away. In no way is the intent to keep parents and non-NYC alumni away. Many parents, some from California and Nebraska come to mind, attend as well as many non NY alumni. Usally there is a mailing which solicits ticket sales and contributions to help defray the cost of the evening. As for the best time of the year and best location the administrators are better able to decide this than anyone else.

 
At Mon Jan 14, 10:17:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of Columiba's wide receivers, I thought we had a few other talented players last year including Derek Jancisin, who caught a couple of long passes towards the end of the season. What about the incoming freshmen? Even with all the returning talent, we need a couple of lighting quick players with gamebreaking ability to help out with the passing game and on kick returns,

 
At Tue Jan 15, 01:01:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake,
What's with these meshuga posts?
Relax.
You are either up too early or up too late.

 
At Tue Jan 15, 02:28:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heard some dishearting news about an injury to Nico. He's on the mend and hope it has enough time to heal so he'll be fully effective in the fall.

 
At Tue Jan 15, 03:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous doc said...

One of the goals of our passing offense this year should be the quick release pass, either a slant or even a quick throw to the flat. Not only do we have sure-handed receivers but they can get yardage after the catch with their speed and escapability in the open field. Knowlin certainly comes to mind in this regard. I hope that Kelly can throw this type of ball because i felt that at times we asked our O-line to block too many long plays that too way too long to develop.

 
At Tue Jan 15, 04:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AK and the long ball is a threat that must be respected. His catch against Penn was NFL-caliber. He does one thing that most Ivy receivers never do on the long ball: he runs flat out and then under the ball. Most WRs actually go about 30 yards, slow up and then the ball is overthrown. so we need a QB who can put some "air" under the ball and put it up for AK to go get it.

 
At Tue Jan 15, 06:02:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As good as Knowlin is, I don't think he should be used on punt and kick-off returns. We have some young guys who are better suited to the task, faster and quicker, like Hamilton and Morine. Knowlin is fast but not fast enough or elusive enough for returns -- look at his stats, not good at all. He should be saved as much as possible for receiving. Why risk aggravating his bad back when there other other guys who are at least as capable for the return game? We (including you, Jake) have to stop thinking that we're nothing without Knowlin, that we have to get him the ball all the time. We'll never win that way, and there are plenty of other talented players on this Lion squad.

 
At Tue Jan 15, 07:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that it would be preferable to have other players return kickoff and punts, but who do we have other than Austin Knowlin? Answering my own question, I thought Josh Williams was coming along very well at the end of last season and should be ready to be an outstanding kickoff returner and pass receiver this fall. Jared Morine had nice stats returning kicks in high school, but as far as I know, has only been used on defense at Columbia. I do not know about Craig Hamilton but he seems to be a bit underweight to be a kickoff returner. Maybe the coaches feel the same way about Morine. What about current frosh, Leon Ivery and Zack K? Who returned kickoffs/punts for the junior varsity? Finally, I assume the Columbia coaches are as anxious as we Columbia fans are to see a few new speedsters on the field wearing Columbia Blue next year. Let's hope one or two of the new guys can give Austin a rest.

 
At Wed Jan 16, 05:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need a running game ahead of all other offensive needs. We need to sustain drives and eat the clock. We played from behind every Ivy game last year and ended up being a very predictable throwing offense. Look at all the successful Ivy programs and they all have a feature back who they can ride when necessary. let's hope that need is addressed in the offseason. Did we have a single 100 yd rushing effort in any of the Ivy games this past year? off the top of my head, I can't remember one. Critical to our success next year.

 
At Wed Jan 16, 06:08:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need somebody who can reliably catch punts, which migh have to be Knowlin. As for kick-offs, I agree that somebody else should do it.

 
At Wed Jan 16, 10:50:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evan Miller of St. Xavier High School, the #1 ranked football team in the state of Ohio, has committed to the Lions. Jake,isn't that's one of the high schools you wrote about in your blog a couple of months ago? Evan Miller should be a very good football player at Columbia.

 
At Wed Jan 16, 11:04:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Big Dawg said...

What about letting MA Olawole (sp?) return punts and kickoffs? He has good hands, is fast and elusive, and has shown an ability to break tackles. I doubt very much that opposing teams would like to see him in the open field with the ball in his hands 5-10 times per game.

 
At Wed Jan 16, 12:15:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Evan Miller looks like a good one. He may have been only "special mention" All-State, but he was first team All-District for St. Xavier, the undefeated state champs ranked #1 in the country. We appear to be coming up with another excellent group of linebackers.

 
At Wed Jan 16, 12:52:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are so many good high school football players in Ohio that it is very difficult to be named to the All-State Team. This year's Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Columbia's own Alex Gross, is an example of an outstanding high school football player who was not named to the Ohio All-State Team. Let's hope that Evan Miller has the same type of great rookie season as Alex did this season.

 
At Thu Jan 17, 03:18:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Evan is the brother of Lou Miller.

 
At Fri Jan 18, 09:32:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, next year Wien may indeed be "Austin's House," and more power to him.

But tomorrow at 1PM up at Cornell Ivy women's basketball play begins, followed around 3 by the men's game. In a year where it appears that neither Penn or Princeton will be a factor in the race for a men's NCAA tourney bid, just how well the Lions will do isn't clear. It should be exciting, nevertheless, and it also constitutes a chance to see just how well, after four years, Coach Jones can develop and motivate a team to seriously challenge for an Ivy title. (I think Paul Nixon's women's team is still a season or two away, but nonetheless steadily improving.) And how patient Dianne Murphy will prove if we don't do so. 16-12 last season may have to be bettered, in other words, and that now means at least 10 Ivy wins.

rs

 
At Sat Jan 19, 01:59:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we are looking at a so-so team that is also currently hampered by injuries. I wouldn't expect too much, although if freshman Ampim comes alive, we might surprise.

 
At Sun Mar 09, 12:34:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally think that AK will do great this season, just as he's done the past 2, and he is definitely fast enough, as for QB I wouldn't count out some players who haven't been named

 

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