Friday, October 17, 2008

Columbia-Penn Keys to the Game

The Lions need to force Robert Irvin to make a mistake

As many of you have probably noticed, the media's attention on our current 12-game losing streak is starting to grow. The latest issue of Sports Illustrated puts the football team in "Not" file for the "Who's Hot and Who's Not" feature, proving once again that the major sports media outlets are basically only interested in poking fun of Ivy teams rather than singling them out when they do well. (However, they also had some kind words for Columbia baseball at least).

We can gripe about how unfair it is, but respect is earned and we have lost 12 straight games fair and square. We can all wait for when the Lions play weaker teams like Dartmouth at home next week, but the record-breaking 44-game losing streak was ended with a win over then league favorite Princeton... so why not a big win tomorrow against heavily favored Penn?

Here's what we'll need to do to win:

1) Use the Deeper Pass to Open up the Run

Penn is super-stingy against the run and the pass, but the Quakers really haven't had to defend the kind of long passes Shane Kelly has thrown to Taylor Joseph and once or twice to Austin Knowlin this season. If star corner Tyson Maugle doesn't play, the Lions have to test that secondary early and often. If Columbia can establish that attack, it should open up some opportunities for running, even up the middle.

2) Use the Option to Loosen up the Defense

Penn faced the option offense last week against Georgetown and did pretty well against it in the early going, allowing the Hoyas running QB just 35 yards on nine carries and forcing him to fumble inside the Quaker 10 yard line. But they did well, they did not dominate and with all due respect, Columbia is not Georgetown. If the option is working as crisply as it was at times against Princeton, the Lions can use it to establish good yards on the ground and open up the passing game.

3) Blitz Robert Irvin a Lot

Even when he was healthy in 2006, Penn QB Robert Irvin often threw costly interceptions, especially on 3rd downs. He has four INT's so far in 2008, and that's not terrible but not good either considering he's not taking all the snaps. The way Lions CB Calvin Otis delivers big hits, I'd like to see him or AJ Maddox blitzing from the outside once in a while. Even if they don't get to Irvin, they may force a mistake.

4) Contain Chris Wynn as Much as Possible

Wynn is a super kick returner and will be the top defensive weapon for the Quakers on the field tomorrow. He needs to be neutralized as much as possible. Good kick coverage is a must and successfully throwing away from him is also probably a good idea. Again, this could mean tight end Andrew Kennedy will need to get more involved underneath while the deep pattern receivers tie up Wynn. As Chuck Noll used to say, the difference between a 5-yard reception and a long TD catch and run is whether the wide receivers are blocking downfield. An underneath throw or two to Zack Kourouma may also work in keepin Wynn away from the passing game.

5) Keep Alex Gross and Corey Cameron Active

It appears the Quaker offense will be keying on Drew Quinn based on Coach Bagnoli's comments earlier this week. Quinn is the game captain this week along with Jon Rocholl, so I still expect another big game from him, (especially since he is the de facto PERMANENT team captain in my opinion anyway), but if he is getting extra attention then Alex Gross and Corey Cameron need to take advantage. Columbia needs to respond well to what I expect to be a lot of rotating tailbacks for the Quakers tomorrow.

And it goes without saying that Phil Mitchell still needs to make more of an impact rushing the passer. He is getting double-teamed a lot and it has to be frustrating, but with the emerging presence of Owen Fraser on the line, something needs to open up for Mitchell soon.

Is this a winnable game? They really all are this year. But a win tomorrow would be extra sweet for a Columbia team that hasn't beaten Penn since 1996.

It won't be easy. I again expect to see a motivated Quaker squad approaching this game as if it were the Super Bowl against a Columbia team that stole its lunch money and insulted its family. Perhaps Coach Bagnoli threatens to make the team clean the bathrooms at Franklin Field for a week or something if they lose to the Lions, but whatever he does to motivate his troops against us year after year, it works.

So, it's a tall order perhaps... but not impossible.


At Sat Oct 18, 05:02:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Good luck to the Lions. Hope they can play a game where they can put all parts of the game together for 60 minutes and get a good road win. I think it will really help to get them over the hump and start building momentum for next year, which I think will be a very good year for this team. I said earlier that what this team needed this year was to become competetive and the record wasn't that important. Yes, we had a legit shot to win all these games but still have to shake the Columbia stigma. I really like what Kelly has done so far and I think he will take us far next year,along with the continued maturation of Wilson's early recruits.

At Sat Oct 18, 06:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lion jv defeated Bridgeton 16-13. First half ended with Bridgeton leading 13-0 (2 TDs with one missed extra point). Lions came back in second half with their own 13 (2 TDs with one missed extra point), and then won in OT with Joe Stormont's 47 yd FG. D played very well throughout, particularly front 7). B fot one touchdown after recovering a CU fumble on its own 15. The other TD scored after beginning with a short field and with the help of several penalties. In second half, D shut Bridgton down. O was inconsistent. A 25 yd FG attempt was smothered by B, and an extra point attempt fumbled. Except for one long run by Mesko, running attack not very effective. Bell did nice job at QB, but WRs dropped a number of passes.
-Dr. V

At Sat Oct 18, 07:24:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to the jv squad who got the 1st CU football win of 2008!

At Sat Oct 18, 10:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was apparently wrong about who had the long run.


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