Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ready to Rumble?

Austin Knowlin has been a thorn in Penn's side (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

Austin Knowlin has been quieter on the field so far this season, but one has to wonder if that will change this Saturday because Knowlin has had some of his best games as a Lion against Penn.

In his rookie year, Knowlin almost single-handedly got the offense going with a 6-catch, 102-yard performance. Columbia lost 16-0, after blowing some good scoring chances in the red zone set up by Knowlin.

Last year, he had 10 catches for 188 yards against Penn and a couple of TD's. Columbia was torched by a 59-28 score in that game, but Knowlin's big grabs came both before and after Penn pulled away.

Penn's secondary is much improved, (not that it was ever that weak), this season with Tyson Maugle and Chris Wynn having super years. But that only means it's even more important for Knowlin to have a big game to at least loosen things up in other areas of the field.

Knowlin's lower numbers this year may simply be the product of a new QB in Shane Kelly who simply isn't looking to #83 as much as Craig Hormann did for two years.

I suspect the Penn coaches aren't completely sold on the reduced roll for Knowlin and will look to overcompensate in coverages against him, at least early on. But I'm not sure whether or how Columbia will take advantage of that.

Penn faced an option offense from Georgetown last week, and it seems the Quakers did quite well against it. But the option may still be Columbia's best chance to loosen up a Penn defense that is starting to gel.

In this sense, it's fortunate that Columbia faced Lafayette last week and is already used to opposing a strong and fast defense. Improving the execution on the option and getting Jordan Davis back to keep Penn guessing a bit more could be a key as well.

But at the end of the day, you need Knowlin to be making big plays too. With 16 catches for 290 yards already in the books against the Quakers, AK must be itching to reload.


At Thu Oct 16, 02:57:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that Knowlin has not been on the two deep all year?

At Thu Oct 16, 03:35:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A famous BB coach once said: "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one." I'm not sure how helpful it is to expect so much from an individual player.

There's a fine line between confidence in someone and overly high expectations for a game changing performance. Let's look at how the whole team is doing. If one person is doing well, it may be because a lot of other people are doing well (OL blocking, QB on target, ect.)

At Thu Oct 16, 06:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about using the Fitz McKinnon "lonely end" play? (Used in PENN vs. Princeton a while back)

At Thu Oct 16, 09:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowlin is still a great player. The offense is just more diverse. Kelly is checking down to more receivers- a good thing. However, if they don't pay attention of Knowlin on defense look for the vertical passing game to open up.

At Thu Oct 16, 07:27:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is only one thing separating us from being an outstanding football team right now: stronger line play on both sides of the ball. NW as an old college lineman should know this better than anybody. As for the statements about having a big, bruising running back, Jordan Davis is a tough, hard runner with good balance, but he needs space to run. For reasons that I don't understand, our two senior tackles, both of whom are three year starters with decent size, can't seem to get a good push on the running game. Is it because it is hard to run from the gun with a one back set? Probably. And when we do try to run from a power formation, it is usually in the red zone (or inside the 10) when those yards are very hard to come by. IMHO, until we can develop a big, tough and nasty OL this will be a chronic problem. On the other side of the ball, I wish we had a couple of Owen Frasers. What he did in the second half of the Lafayette game was a sight to behold. I don't think he ever came off the field, and I saw him stop for no or little gain basically everything that came his way. Give us a few more of him and we'll be a force in the Ivies.

At Thu Oct 16, 09:13:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it is not so much the line play that is separating Columbia from being an outstanding football team right now, but the inability of the offense to establish a running game to complement a very good passing attack. Of course, you cannot have an outstanding running game without a decent offensive line, but I do believe that Columbia already has a very good offensive line. The offensive line is not the problem. It's the inability of the Lions to find a running back with the speed and agility to breakaway for some big gains. The other option is to keep pounding away at the defense with a bigger set of running backs than we are using now. Finally, it is not inconceivable in my judgment that the current running backs, Davis and Rangel can become the force we need to win games. They both seem close to becoming very good running backs.

At Fri Oct 17, 06:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your tackles (Brune and DeBernardo) have both played well. The interior 3 (Seiler, Quirk and Sanford) have also done a very nice job. The group is bigger and stronger, they've helped the offense put up much improved numbers this year. Its unfortunate that Davis couldn't go last week. He's a very ice 1-2 punch with Rangel. The entire offense is much improved over last year, their numbers are good enough to put up a lot of wins. They will put up the numbers again this week.


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