Thursday, July 24, 2008

SME'S Picks

The SME Network is out with its predictions for the Ivy League race this season.

Here's how they saw it:

1 – Yale
2 – Harvard
3 – Princeton
4 – Brown
5 – Penn
6 – Dartmouth
7 – Cornell
8 – Columbia

They think the race will again come down to the Harvard-Yale game, this time going to the Elis in a reversal of last year's result. That's a solid prediction for the most part.

Of course they pick Columbia last, (everyone else will too, let's not take it personally), but there are some surprises in the rest of their draw.

They seem to really like Princeton to improve, which runs contrary to just about everyone else's take on the Tigers who will be starting a new QB and still don't seem to have much of a running game. I'm not on board with them on this, although I am still a converted fan of Princeton coach Roger Hughes.

They make Brown an outside short contender, which makes sense, but push Penn all the way down to 5th. There's plenty of evidence to support those choices, but seeing Penn picked 5th is just jarring. One could argue that coach Al Bagnoli's team has gone from being hit with bad luck to simply being shorthanded on talent at the key skill positions.

Of course this comes from a person who picked Yale to win the title last year and thought the actual 2007 champion Harvard would finish 5th!

Game of the Day (Day 59)

November 19, 1994

Brown 59 Columbia 27

After Des Werthman's incredible heroics at the end of the 1992 season, Columbia's next big significant win came in 1994 when the Lions clinched their first winning season in 23 years with a thrilling 38-33 win over Cornell.

A week later, the Lions faced the equally resurgent 6-3 Brown Bears at Baker Field in what seemed like it would be another even matchup. It would end up becoming one of the most disappointing losses in Columbia history.

The Lions looked very strong early. After intercepting a Brown pass in the end zone, Columbia went on an 80-yard drive that ended with Marcellus Wiley pushing his way in for a 4-yard TD run.

The Lions scored three more times in the half. First on a 19-yard run by Justin Fossbender, then on an 8-yard pass from quarterback Jamie Schwalbe to tight end Brian Bassett and finally a 27-yard field goal by Joe Aldrich.

Columbia's first half success hinged on the fact that the Lions did not make even on turnover.

A nice drive ending in short Aldrich field goal made it 27-3 midway through the third quarter and I distinctly remember seeing fans high-fiving each other in the stands and talking about an Ivy title in '95.

Then came Hurricane Turnover. Aided by seven Columbia turnovers, Brown would score eight unanswered touchdowns to turn a 24-point deficit into a 32 point lead. The 56 point turnaround making it the biggest turnaround ever seen in Ivy football history.

Describing each of Brown's eight TD's, only one of which came on a drive, is just too tedious. But one sequence was particularly painful:

Schwalbe had a pass deflected, intercepted, and returned for a 34-yard TD. Columbia fumbled the ensuing kickoff and two plays later Brown's sophomore QB James McCullough completed a 25-yard TD pass. That took the air out of Columbia's tires pretty quickly.

Columbia managed to avoid the effects of the bad memories of that game by starting the 1995 season on a strong note. But no one who saw that 1994 finale will ever forget it no matter how much they want to.


At Thu Jul 24, 05:21:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger M. Kay's Jowels said...

I was 12 years old when I went to the Cornell game and will never forget the electricity in the stadium that day. If I remember correctly Wiley dominated that game on both sides of the ball and was named Sports Illustrated defensive player of the week

.....My how things changed when I went to the Brown game and learned the hard way about something called "momentum." Brown scored at will that whole second half and sucked all the energy out of the crowd. Walking out of their felt like a wake.

I also remember asking Wiley to autograph my program after the Brown game when he was walking back to the locker room and with tears in his eyes he shook his head no. Even at 12 I sympathized with his decision. (Nice guy QB Matt Cavanaugh was the only other person I did ask for an autograph and he happily obliged. I still have that program).

What a great season that was.

At Thu Jul 24, 09:43:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

That was one of those games you never forget. I recall turning to my brother in the stands and saying: "Can you believe this blowout?"
Then the turnovers started- on successive offensive plays!
After one particularly painful interception, I kept thinking we gotta run the ball a little, slow the changing momentum a little. But no, coaches kept calling pass plays, and the picks kept coming

At Fri Jul 25, 02:16:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

That day we clinched a winning season against Cornell, one thing was very palpable which is almost never obvious with either Columbia football players or fans: sheer joy. Just to be among those who stood and wildly applauded the victorious, exultant players seemed an honor that Saturday.

But the following game against Brown (which I drove to), and indeed almost every Columbia game since, has indicated one of the coaching staff's consistent failures year after wearying year: the inability to have (or anyway use properly) a truly outstanding, genuinely dominant running back. (Fordham last season, anyone?)

And I'm pretty convinced that until we have one (and no matter how many good defensive linemen we have stored up, or wide receivers, etc.), no, an Ivy title is not truly within reach. This is a tragedy and, as far as I can tell re the coming season, still an ongoing problem.

At Fri Jul 25, 02:33:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


I agree we need a great running back... but so does everybody.

One of the biggest changes in Ivy ball over the last 20 years is the clear loss of tailback talent throughout. It's a huge problem that I will address in an upcoming post, but it has to do with the fact that more tailbacks are coming out to the NFL earlier from the BCS schools.

So I think it's a little unfair to make it sound like the coaches or recruiters aren't trying hard enough in this area.

At Fri Jul 25, 07:48:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

But, jake, this has been a rather obvious dilemma for Columbia for decades. Most other Ivy schools seem to come up with good running backs every few years. While Columbia becomes almost totally pass-reliant.

This may not be the "fault" of coaches or recruiting in general, but it is a clear gap which has yet to be successfully addressed over, at the least, the last 15 years. It should certainly thus be a targeted need.

At Fri Jul 25, 10:07:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We may not have a proven breakaway runner, but Jordan Davis is tough to bring down inside and Ray Rangel can get you decent yardage on the outside. Add to the mix Pete Stoll and last year's two freshman running backs as well as the four promising newcomers and we could have a much stronger running game. Keep in mind that the running game will also benefit from having talented runners like Olawale, Kelly and Havas at quarterback.

At Fri Jul 25, 09:30:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete Stoll could be a really, really good Nick Hartigan type player for the Lions if they were able to find a way to utilize him more effectively. He has so much strength and speed, but up until now it has gone almost unnoticed. I hope to see him get in the mix a little more this year.

At Sat Jul 26, 05:55:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

What made it tough for the running game was the fact that we never really got the possesion passing game going in the spread offense. If we could have moved the chains more consistently with the short passing game then we could have spread the defense thinner and maybe popped a few runs through into the secondary. I know I have heard coach Wilson say before that he would love to run some power I and maybe he didn't feel like we had the personnel to do that. Perhaps with the addition of guys like Pappas and some improvement in the O-line we may see that down the road. I like some things about the spread offense but inside the twenty I think you almost have to run something different to be able to power in close and be a consistent scoring team when you get such opportunities. Also I would love to have a really mobile qb in running the spread which really helps to keep the D spread thin by his ability to gain good yards on the ground. A mobile qb rolling out helps open holes when he sucks linebackers up to protect against the run and he is also able to dart up the middle a lot out of a spread when the defense is spread out trying to cover all the receivers and the pass rush doesn't contain well.


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