Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Better Reception

Nico Gutierrez got back on the field for the 1st time since 2007 (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

You've have to be really blind or just too negative not to notice the bumper crop of quality wide receivers Columbia is enjoying these days. It seems like whoever we put on the field, we get good results. With Austin Knowlin, Mike Stephens, Taylor Joseph, and now with the return of Nico Gutierrez, we seem to be unusually wealthy in this area.

A lot of credit goes to the recruiting efforts of all the coaches, but let's not forget wide receivers coach Aaron Smith, who seems to be getting the most out of his charges week after week. They all seem to give 100% all the time and that's usually a direct result of coaching.

When I met Coach Smith at the preseason dinner at Chrystie Field House, (an event that was open to all season ticket holders), I was taken aback by his excellent manners and warmth. He is a very young man, but I suspect his closeness in age to the actual players helps him relate to them to some degree. He really comes off as a prince of a guy.

While not technically a wide receiver, fans have to be happy with the play of tight end Andrew Kennedy so far as a pass catcher and a blocker. Kennedy is also young as he is just a sophomore, and one can only expect him to get more into the game plans as time goes on.

The last time Columbia had this many tantalizing targets through the air was the era of QB John Witkowski. In those days, Witkowski shredded the Columbia and Ivy record books with passes to wide receivers Don Lewis and Bill Reggio along with a lot of help from outstanding tight end Dan Upperco. At any time in any game, each of those targets was liable to kill an opposing defense and they often did just that.

Of course all those receivers need a good QB to find them, and Shane Kelly is starting to look better and better every week. He certainly is not shy about spreading the ball around and also seems to be hitting his receivers in stride just about every time.

The Price is Right

I know I go on about this a lot, but can you believe the professional sports ticket price-hikes/personal seat licenses nonsense going on just as we hit a major economic downturn?

Memo to the Jets/Giants/Yankees/Mets: NO ONE will be able to afford these massive price hikes you've got in line for 2009. The Wall Street firms you were counting on to buy the luxury boxes and blocks of seats are disappearing. And the privately wealthy are well, probably a little nervous about conspicuous consumption right now. I suggest you scrap the PSL's forthwith, and lower prices. Remember how sports played such a big role in comforting/distracting the nation during the Great Depression? Well, even adjusted for inflation, ticket prices were a lot lower back then.

Luckily, you can see exciting football at Wien Stadium this fall for $10 a ticket or really splurge and go for $20 seats. Seriously, it's a deal and basketball is even better price-wise.

This is not meant to be a "homer" or "rah rah" point; it's just logic. Come to Columbia and other Ivy school games and you'll get a lot for your money.

... but on the down side

Some of the folks in the national media are picking up on our 11-game losing streak and linking it to the 44-game record-breaking losing skid from 1983-88.

While this is the longest losing streak since THE STREAK, we are hardly in that territory here. The overwhelming majority of the 44 games lost were not even remotely close. Most of these 11 straight losses, including each of the games this season, has either been tied or a game with Columbia in the lead at some point in the 4th quarter.

We are close to a breakthrough here. The talent level is extremely high and we are going to win some big games this year, and in the future.

I'd like all of us to show up this weekend to Wien and cheer this team on.

And let's see if the national press acknowledges the end of this streak.


At Wed Oct 08, 05:03:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Screw the national media for bringing up the streak. Everyone of these past three games was winnable and the other teams knew they needed breaks to beat Columbia. It has nothing to do with a streak. This is a new season, with new players and plays. Columbia will win games this season. They have the tools and they have the confidence and swagger to make it happen. They need a couple of big hits on defense and a couple of long runs to go with the improved passing game this year (no slam intended against Hormann either). It's gonna happen and I want to be there when it does.

Props to a great performanace by Mike Stephens last week. You havea good future with that ability. Make it happen this week!!

The Neckman.

At Wed Oct 08, 05:25:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Writing tip...the phrase "taken aback" is generally used only in a negative sense, which you obviously did not mean here. Better choice of words would have been "I was struck," or "impressed," or just "taken."

At Wed Oct 08, 06:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree that Columbia has plenty of talent at wide receiver, but why didn't we get the ball to the sophomore running back, Zack Kourouma, who scored on a nifty 56 yard screen pass against Towson in game two? If I remember correctly, Kourouma outran the entire Towson secondary on that play, so he obviously has very good speed.

At Wed Oct 08, 06:11:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Save the writing tips for english class, not a sports blog.

At Wed Oct 08, 07:41:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, dabull, whatever you say. You da bull.

At Wed Oct 08, 08:06:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Jake, what is the name of the Columbia PA announcer? The guy is fantastic and has a really classic PA voice. Kind of old school class.

At Wed Oct 08, 09:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see better special teams play and we'll see some wins.

At Wed Oct 08, 09:17:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

The PA announcer's name is Marty Collins.

At Wed Oct 08, 09:28:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

Jake, it might help if you'd identified those media examples now attempting to link the current "close streak" to the "old streak. (Which has since been well exceeded by several schools, including the resurgent Prairie View A&M, which the last time I looked was 5-0.)

If only so I could know for sure which magazine or newspaper subscriptions to cancel, which tv stations not to watch.

Really, this flailing desperation by media "experts" trying to hype their own ratings is ridiculous. This is a pretty good Columbia team (certainly better than any Bob Shoop fielded). It's going to win games this season and it's probably going to challenge next season for an Ivy title. We've gotten our money's worth and maybe more with Norries.

Now we just have to similarly get our money's worth from the charming, voluble Joe Jones come basketball season. Because last year, which looked perfect on paper, didn't work out so well....

At Wed Oct 08, 09:33:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attempt to precision kick to a certain area on kickoffs led to I believe 2 kicks out of bounds, which gave Princeton the ball on the 40 with the penalty. I would like to know if opponents have had any scoring drives 80 yards or longer so far, or if all scoring done on a short field. Obviously we would like to see at least some of the kicks out of endzone.

At Wed Oct 08, 09:42:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Columbia has allowed three 80+ yard TD drives this season, two against Fordham, (first for 80 yards, the second one was for 86 yards), and one against Princeton for 83 yards. I don't think that's too muc to be ashamed of. Clearly, the shorter fields on many of the other drives hurts.

One thing I should have pointed out earlier is that Jon Rocholl's shank punt that gave Princeton the ball at their own 48 late in the first half actually led to a three and out and Columbia got the ball right back, albeit at their one. But then the Lions drove 91 yards for a FG.

At Wed Oct 08, 10:08:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake...Is the other kicker behind Rocholl hurt? My understanding before the season started from conversations I had with coaches is the other guy would be doing kickoffs. I think even if Rocholl is the best placement kicker on the squad, it is too much to have one guy doing all the punting/kicking. I remember hearing that this other kid had a decent leg and would handle kickoffs which might alleviate some of these special team gaffes.

At Thu Oct 09, 01:16:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I think you migh t be missing my point. We are gettin gpoor field position even when the opponent goes 3 and out if they are starting close to midfield. We wind up fielding a punt inside our own 20.

At Thu Oct 09, 02:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correct English usage is the norm for all communication. You are from Columbia, right?

At Thu Oct 09, 08:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Field position often wins the day, probably it did against both Towson and Princeton. Field position is all about special teams play. They can flip the field for you or they can put you in a tough spot. It's a crucial component of a good football team.

We're 0-3 but we're a couple of plays away from 3-0. For example, last week if the screen runs outside of the tightend block he gets 6 and never gets touched (much less no fumble) We've chosen to play a tough out of Ivy schedule and will be a better team for the reps in the heart of the Ivy schedule.

You can create wins with scheduling, I like that we're trying to get better to win bigger games.


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