Thursday, September 25, 2008

Youth Out Front

Can any of these Towson fans play offensive line? (CREDIT: Towson Athletics)

Columbia fans know all about inexperience on the offensive line. In 2005, the Lions started just ONE lineman, (Matt Barsamian), with ANY game experience going into the season.

But Towson's just-released depth chart is surprising in that three freshmen are slated to start on the Tiger O-line along with one junior and one sophomore. Two of those freshmen were red-shirted last season, and we all know that released depth charts in game notes aren't always what you see on the field, but this is clearly the greenest front five Columbia is likely to face this year and maybe a few more years to come.

It explains Towson's 40-yards rushing per game average, 1.5 yards per carry, and its 12.8 points per game tally. The lack of stamina from the young blockers may also be the biggest reason why Towson hasn't scored a single fourth quarter point this year.

But a lot of that can also be explained by the fact that the Tigers had to face BCS contender Navy in week one and CAA power Richmond in week 2. But stripping those two games away actually gives you a Towson squad averaging just 38 rushing yards a game and 1.45 yards per carry!

Towson's pass blocking is obviously doing a bit better. The Tigers have allowed 10 sacks in four games, which is not great but not terrible. Clearly, QB Sean Schaefer is doing his damage with quick-release passes and probably while running for his life. And while Fordham's speedy rusher Xavier Martin did most of the damage to Columbia's defense last week, a key play in Fordham's winning drive was a quick slant to Richard Rayborn that went for 47 yards.

If Towson is studying the game film, I suspect the Tigers will try to hit Columbia with quick slants and screens as much as possible. This will be a big challenge for the outside linebackers in particular.

As bad as Towson has been running the ball, it's been worse stopping the run. The Tigers are allowing 317 rushing yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry. To put that in perspective, that's 86 more yards per game and 2.2 more yards per carry than Columbia allowed on the ground last year and we all know how much trouble the Lions had against the run in 2007.

But again, let's strip away the Navy and Richmond games to see if the Tigers did better against more comparable competiton. Again, the answer is: "not so much." Against Morgan State and Coastal Carolina, Towson still gave up an average of 263 rushing yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry.

Last year, the Tigers gave up a much more manageable 177 rushing yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry. The Towson defensive line starts one senior, one junior and one sophomore, and it would appear that graduation has also hurt what was a decent defensive front line.

It appears Columbia has an excellent chance to control the lines of scrimmage in a way they haven't done in maybe 4-5 years. What's great about line of scrimmage issues is that the questions are usually answered right away. Whether the Lions start on defense or offense in this game, we'll see immediately if they're able to push Towson's up front players right away.


At Thu Sep 25, 10:56:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it looks like a recipe for a road win for us...

They obviously are a significant notch below Fordham.

Wonder if the band is going... should they get travel directions from the Princeton band?

At Thu Sep 25, 11:21:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The predicted rain Fri., Sat. could make a mess of the game.

At Fri Sep 26, 12:13:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

I don't know about the hinted-at relative "ease" of this game. Towson State played, and scored against, quality opponents. Such as Navy. Which is not Dartmouth or even Harvard.

As for the Princeton band, well, yes, those Citadel cadets overreacted to some degree from what I've read. On the other hand, Princeton should have known somewhat better than they did that what plays up here doesn't necessarily work so well down South. The juvenilia of both the Princeton and Columbia bands' half-time performances is always rather obvious. As is said bands'insistence on the heavy use of in-jokes which are probably lost on anyone more than 3 years past graduation.

I doubt very much the Columbia band is going Saturday. Either way, it might be nice if it took from Princeton's experiences at the Citadel the idea that it might help for the band to...well, not exactly "clean up" its act but at least work a little harder on its flailing attempts at wit.

Actually, too, even to hear the Columbia band play our national anthem half-decently at Homecoming would be nice. I know they can, it just seems that Columbia wisely knows better so far than to let them ever try.

At Fri Sep 26, 03:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Columbia Pep Band that played at the last few home basketball games at Levien last season was really outstanding--no politics or silly jokes, just plenty of loud horns and drums. Frankly, I would rather have a noisy Pep Band at the Football Games to what we have now. Of course, the ideal would be a combination of the two bands.

At Fri Sep 26, 03:40:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Jake, are you sure about CU's rush yds. allowed last year? I thought I read that we gave up more than 2,100 yds. which would be quite a bit more than 177 per game. Anyway I don't see this as a real easy game unless we can press cover and come up with some takeaways or stops. Otherwise Towson could control a lot of clock with short passes and end up in the red zone alot. Maybe they're banged up in the O-line and that's why so many young guys are starting. That is one way you could have and advantage against teams that have been playing 3 or 4 games already is through the injury bug. I'll say now, the team with the fewest turnovers will definitely win this one. Also Jake, do you think our snafu on the stats released for Sat. cost Quinn a shot at player of the week? I mean 16 tackles and a pick for TD is hard to beat.

At Fri Sep 26, 03:51:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


We gave up 231 yards per game rushing last year. Check your math
317-86 = 231.

At Fri Sep 26, 04:48:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watched some video on youtube on Towson from last year. Though clearly not exactly the same team, can pick up some things.
QB (#13, Sr.)operates out of shotgun formation and has quick release. Passed a fair amount to backs out of the backfield on short routes to the outside. Therefore, it may be hard to pressure him. Seemed to have good team speed, especially on kickoff and punt returns. If raining, points will be hard to come by, so need to pay particular attention to special teams to avoid the big play.

At Fri Sep 26, 05:02:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Jake, I totally misread your piece. I thought the 177 yds. was Lions rush defense. My bad. Anyway, no take on the question posed about Quinn?

At Fri Sep 26, 07:25:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2-deep is up. Gross will start, as will A.J. Maddox at kick returner, Lenz at fullback.

Towson has a few top players returning from injury, including their #1 TB, best DB and best OL. Won't be easy. Plus Family Day at Towson, looking to make amends for 0-2 record against Lions.

At Fri Sep 26, 11:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weirdest thing about the Citadel is that their colors are the same as ours, very similar light blue and white uniforms...go figure.

At Fri Sep 26, 06:08:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


I don't think the League would have given the nod to Quinn either way. He was on a losing team, and the Ivies like to highlight winners, expecially against teams from other leagues.


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