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.