Monday, September 29, 2008

Water Logged

Matt Castor had a career day (CREDIT: Towson Athletics)

*(This is a quick post that will be elaborated on later)

Towson 31 Columbia 24

Why Towson Won

The Tigers offense finally got a running game going, and veteran QB Sean Schaefer made enough plays in crucial moments to pull it out. Towson also never let Columbia grab too much momentum, getting big kickoff returns that led to scored after the Lions had tied it at 7 and again when they knotted it at 24.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions made too many turnovers and didn't stop even one Towson 4th down conversion attempt. The heavy rain made turnovers inevitable, but Towson made more out of them than Columbia.

Key Turning Points

1) In the first quarter, Austin Knowlin muffed a Towson punt, giving the Tigers possession at the Lion 36. After a short gain on 1st down, there was a 40-minute rain/lightining delay and Towson came out of the break sharp. Seven straight runs by Matt Castor resulted in a Tiger TD.

2) After Columbia tied it up with a spectacular 59-yard catch and run by Zack Kourouma on a Shane Kelly emergency dump off pass, Towson returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to the Lion 34. Towson got a field goal on that drive, but more importantly, took the momentum back from Columbia.

3) Leading 10-7 with 3:46 left in the half, the Tigers mounted an impressive drive but it appeared to stall on the Columbia 25 with a 2nd and 24 with under 50 seconds left. The Lions let Towson off the hook however, and two Schaefer passes resulted in a TD and a ten point deficit.

4) Columbia came out inspired in the second half and made it 17-17 with 8:15 left in the third quarter. But again, Towson would not allow the Lions to enjoy any prolonged momentum. The Tigers mounted a 75-yard drive that included two 4th down conversions and ended with a short pass for a TD and a 24-17 Towson lead.

5) Columbia would eventually tie it at 24, but not before turning the ball over twice in the Tiger red zone. First, Knowlin was stripped by a nice tackled from behind, (that was not a mistake by Knowlin, just a great strip by the tackler), and then after the Lions got the ball right back at the Tiger eight on a Schaefer fumble, Knowling dropped a sure TD pass two plays before Kelly was intercepted for another turnover. The merry go round continued after Alex Gross tipped a pass that Adam Mehrer intercepted and returned to the Tiger 30. Columbia did fumble the ball again on this possession, but the Lions recovered and later went in for the tying score on Kelly's two yard keeper. But the previous turnovers had killed much of the clock and not there was just 3:11 left in the game.

6) The ensuing kickoff was returned all the way back to the Columbia 44 and Towson was in business. They never even had to face a 3rd down as they drove for the eventual winning TD.

Did We Get Lucky?

Despite the loss, the refs may have given two very big gifts to the Lions. The first one came late in the first quarter when Towson appeared to have a false start, but there was no call and the play resulted in a fumble that Drew Quinn recovered. Two plays later, Kourouma made his 59-yard dash into the end zone.

The second gift may have been Kelly's keeper TD. Kelly fumbled the ball into the air and it was recovered by Towson. But the refs said the ball broke the plane of the end zone before the score. The replays I saw of the TD were inconclusive.

Columbia Positives

I know we're 0-2, but ladies and gentlemen, we have a quarterback. You have to be impressed by Shane Kelly and the job he's done in his two first starts.

We have a couple of new sophomore stars in Zack Kourouma and Mike Stephens.

Drew Quinn is playing like a man possessed.

Eli Waltz did not return for the second half after recording what I believe was his first sack of his career. The Lions need him back, as well as Owen Fraser who I also did not see return after the rain delay.

Jon Rocholl has looked great on field goal attempts and the PAT's were a perfect 3-3 Saturday as well. And once again, Rocholl was able to snag a punt over his head and get a decent kick off.

Austin Knowlin had a tough game, and I'm sure he knows it. I'm thinking he doesn't do that again for a long time.


At Mon Sep 29, 11:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone was watching...during the ESPN College GameDay pre-game show on Saturday morning...Chris Berman ended a taped segment telling the crew to pay some respect to the Ivy League where football was born. When they got back to live television, Chris Fowler put a $100 bill up to both Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit if they could name the 8 Ivy League teams on the spot. They got 7 of 8...guess which school they could not name...our beloved Lions. Sad. I hope this team can start pulling out some wins.

At Mon Sep 29, 12:09:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some thoughts: (1) Columbia lost to a good Towson football team that had several of its key players return to the starting line-up after missing a number of games due to injuries; (2) Despite the horrendous weather, Shane Kelly had 19 completions in 32 attempts for 281 yards and two TD's--very impressive stats; (3) Mike Stephens established himself as a bona fide receiving threat; (4) Zack Kourouma showed that he was capable of becoming the breakaway threat we need in the backfield. Obviously, he will be getting the ball more in the future; (5) The special teams' kickoff coverage was awful, but maybe that was due to the weather. Covering kickoffs on a wet field is rough. Towson avoided the problem because its kicker blasted the ball into the endzone; and (6) We need to improve our pass rush. Someone has to step up on defense to do that against Princeton

At Mon Sep 29, 06:30:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are close to being a good team. But we are making mistakes and shooting ourselves in the foot. We need to work on better special teams play. Covering kicks is priority #1. We also need to get a better push from our DL. I don't think we have stopped many short yardage ground plays (3rd and 2, 4th and 1). I don't know why Mitchell isn't a dominating player; he should be. It all starts with the front seven or eight on defense. We have enough offense to win most games. And we have some pretty good DBs. We need more production from the front 4.

At Tue Sep 30, 12:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On review of game stats:

They had total of 93 yards on 49 rushes, subtracting 15 for 3 sacks. This seems pretty good to me for the DL - 3 sacks and allowing 93 yds rushing for 1.89 yds/carry average. What hurt was frequently giving them the short field - 4 punt returns for a total of 111 yards, including one of 60 yards, and another safe low kick that was returned 39 yards to our 44 for their final scoring drive with 3:11 left and the score tied. This one hurt. We caused 3 turnovers.

They were 5/5 on 4th down conversions. 4 of these were a 4th and 1 run, one was a pass on 4th and 3. All deep in columbia territory. On wet slippery field, with straight push, offense line definately has the advantage in these very short yardage situations.

On offense, we had more offense yards, and allowed no sacks.
Yards per punt return - 0.3

Special teams are a key.

At Tue Sep 30, 01:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Special teams has been a chronic problem for years. We never have much of a return game and our coverage generally stinks. This is the easiest part of the game to master. It is discouraging when we can't cover kicks. What is the answer? Who are the gunners on kick-off coverage and punt returns? Who is coaching Special Teams? Are we spending enough practice time on this aspect of the game? Good teams don't give gifts. And on our punt return teams, since we haven't blocked a punt in years, why don't we put two guys back, so that he have at least one blocker in position?

At Tue Sep 30, 02:28:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will have to give props to the two downfield cover guys on punts, as they are getting in the receiver's face quickly. Jared Morine (#42 I think) did a good job these past two weeks. His coverage seems to be solid.

The Neckman

At Tue Sep 30, 02:49:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction to my earlier post - their 111 yards was on kickoffs, not punt returns. By the way, Rocholl saved a high snap again by jumping up, tipping it, avoiding a tackler, then getting off a pretty good punt - similar to last week.

At Tue Sep 30, 03:35:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are we getting burned on kickoff returns? Same problem last year. I would rather bounce the ball on the ground and concede 10 yards (to the 30) than have high drama every time we kick it off and the ball is caught between the 5 and the 10. Giving the opposition a short field is just killing us; even when we hold them we aren't getting return yardage and thus have a long field with which to work.

At Tue Sep 30, 05:04:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's what we tried on our last kickoff. The upman caught it short, I believe, and brought it back to our 44. That can work, but I've seen it backfire if the other team is prepared for it. Even a poor return may be out to the 40. We also did it once and it bounded between player into the endzone.


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