Monday, October 13, 2008

Shorted Out

Next stop, Franklin Field

Lafayette 13 Columbia 3

Why Lafayette Won

The Leopards defense was dominanting and the offense had just enough spark to win. They made no turnovers and no stupid penalties and overcame injuries to some key players, including starting tailback Maurice White, who went out of the game for good in the first quarter.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions got very little going offensively, and when they were in a position to score, they blew most of those rare opportunities. Columbia had two first and goal situations that could have led to a total of 14 points. Instead they came away with just three points, leaving 11 points on the table in a game they lost by just 10 points.

Key Turning Points

1) Late in the first quarter with Lafayette leading by 3-0, Mike Stephens energized the crowd with a beautiful 53-yard punt return for a first down at the Leopard 24. Three plays later, Columbia had a 1st and goal at the Lafayette seven, but moved the ball no closer. Jon Rocholl's eventual 25-yard field goal attempt was blocked and the Lions came away with no points.

2) On the ensuing drive, Lafayette took the ball 80 yards for a TD and 10-0 lead. The key play on the drive was a 30-yard pass on a 3rd and six from QB Rob Curley to Tim Watson who split the seam against the left side of the defense just like Princeton did three times in the previous game.

3) Columbia had an excellent opportunity to cut the Lafayette lead to 10-7 at the end of the half, but two running attempts after a 1st and goal at the one went nowhere. The Lions had to settle for a field goal because the clock was running down and the Leopards had a touchdown lead going into the lockeroom.

On the bright side, this was a strong game for the Columbia defense. Drew Quinn had another monster game with 13 tackles giving him 54 on the season after just four games!

Freshman nose tackle Owen Fraser continues to impress. He had seven tackles, including one for a loss. For the most part, Columbia's opponents are avoiding running the ball right up the middle against the Lions, and he's the biggest reason why. That's a welcome change from last year.

Lafayette's defense made Shane Kelly look like an almost totally different quarterback than he's been so far this season. Kelly didn't throw an interception, and he went a decent 18-for-33. But he held the ball way too long over and over as the Leopard defense bottled up the Lion receivers all day. Kelly also had a lot of trouble getting the option going and Columbia was fortunate not to have any turnovers despite four fumbles and a couple of Kelly passes that could have been picked off.

Austin Knowlin only had one catch for 17 yards. His lower numbers across the board this season are starting to get weird. It seems like he could break out at any time, but when?

Without Jordan Davis, the Lions opted to use Ray Rangel for just about every running play. Against Lafayette's strong run defense that just didn't work.

Tight end Andrew Kennedy did make more of an impact that he has in most of the games this season with 5 catches for 42 yards. I expect him to continue to post similar stats for the rest of the season.

The Leopards got a nice lift from D'Andre Morrow, who replaced the injured White and brought some great speed to the table. The Lions eventually were able to contain him, but his excellent run for the game's only TD was impressive and more a result of his strength and determination than a missed tackle by the Columbis defense.

Andy Shalbrack made his presence felt with 11 total tackles, including two monster back-to-back tackles for a loss in the fourth quarter. He also almost grabbed an interception.

Kalasi Huggins suited up but did not play after going out of the game against Princeton. Fellow freshman AJ Maddox replaced him and he did a nice job despite missing a few plays himself after getting banged up in the game. Overall, the Lion secondary did a fantastic job holding the Leopards to just 150 yards passing and superstar receiver Shaun Adair to just 3 catches for 11 yards.

Taylor Joseph had the best day receiving for Columbia with five catches for 59 yards. He continues to impress in his junior year.

All in all, this was another game Columbia lost that they could have won. However, this was clearly the first game where they definitely seemed like the weaker team on the field that day. The Lions have to try to build on the improving defense while getting the offense back on track. The next opponent, Penn, has to at least be a little worried that the team that scored 24 points against them in week 2 barely managed 13 against Columbia.


Call this Saturday's games a "return to normalcy" in the Ivies as some of the favorites, namely Yale and Harvard, rolled to easy victories over Ivy opponents.

Harvard scored a TD in the first millisecond against Cornell and then rolled to a 38-17 win. So much for Cornell's perfect record. The Big Red looked lost much of the day.

Yale overpowered the Big Green in Hanover and won 34-7.

Brown lost to Holy Cross 41-34 in a non-league game, but what a game it was. Listen to these stats:

1) Bear QB Michael Dougherty went 41-of-60 for 526 yards, 4 TD's and no interceptions.

2) Brown ran the ball a grand total of 12 times the entire game.

3) There were no turnovers in the game.

After three weeks of playing relatively low-scoring games, the high-powered Brown offense is back.

Princeton lost a tough one on the road to a very good Colgate team, 27-24. Jordan Culbreath, who Columbia really shut down last week, ran for 153 yards on just 18 carries. QB Brian Anderson, who really hurt the Lions last week, had a rough game, going 6-for-14 for 105 yards, one TD and an INT.

This means the winner of the Brown-Princeton game this coming Saturday in New Jersey will be all alone atop the Ivy standings.

Penn beat the weak Georgetown Hoyas in Washington, 27-7, but starting tailback Michael Dimaggio went down with a separated shoulder and it's unclear when he'll be back. Freshman Matt Hamscher came up big replacing Dimmagio and running for 102 yards and TD.


At Mon Oct 13, 08:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Defense came up with lot of big stops - to give us a chance. Going for FG at end of half after we had a good defensive stop and then a good offensive drive that stalled at the one yard line was right decision IMO, but on the 2 prior plays, with little time remaining we ran right into their strength on the first play and an option pass/run was a good call on next play, but crease closed quickly as Kelly chose to run. This took a lot of precious time off the clock.

Also, I seemed to notice when we were in a hurry-up offense/no huddle, it seemed to change the game rhythm, and we seemed to move ball better. On a lot of plays they appeared to be substituting defensive players late, and were sometimes looking to the bench for defensive signals when ball was snapped. I believe we could have caught them off guard and prevented situational substitutions with a quick huddle/snap count. Fordham did this to us with some success.

Sometimes a tempo change will help an offense (but the downside - you could give the other team the ball back faster!)

At Mon Oct 13, 08:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly, Davis was missed, especially when the Lions had the ball within a few yards of the goal line.
It was curious (to me, at least) that Donnie Miller (fr) and Pete Stoll weren't used in those situations.
In fact, fewer than 40 players saw action. Are there so many injuries?
Has Pyles ever thrown a pass (was a HS QB)? Knowlin almost did a game or two ago.

At Mon Oct 13, 11:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Columbia would have won this game easily if it emulated Brown's strategy against Holy Cross and threw the ball on nearly every occasion rather than repeatedly running up the middle without any success. For years Brown has won games in the Ivy League by airing out the ball something that Columbia needs to do more regularly since the Lions have an excellent quarterback in Shane Kelly and some very fine receivers. The Lions need to stop fooling around trying to establish a running attack early in the game and instead go immediately to the pass. It's also baffling why the Lions don't get M.A. Olawale, A.J. Maddox, Zack Kourouma, Jason Pyles or another one of the pure athletes on the team more involved in the offense. Why not use Kelly and Olawale in the same backfield? They are both big strong runners with breakaway ability. Pyles looks to me like he should be a running back rather than a wide receiver. Maddox is only a freshman and perhaps busy enough playing the corner, but a guy with his speed can get you a quick TD from anywhere on the field in the Ivy League. How about throwing the ball to him a couple of times.

At Mon Oct 13, 08:06:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Owen Fraser was a force in the middle of the line, especially in the second half, and basically stuffed everything that came his way. If we can recruit a few more line studs like Fraser, on both sides of the ball, we will be a force to be reckoned with. My problem with Saturday's game is that a better game plan, plus better execution on the offensive side, would have given us the W against a decent but beatable team. We basically neutralized their offense, especially #9, but our offense was baffling. Ray Rangel is a nice change of pace/third down back, but we cannot run inside with a scatback. We have to realize that we will not be able to run until we force our opponents to defend first against the pass. How many times did we waste a first down by sending Rangel inside for no gain or a short gain, giving us second and long and forcing a predictable pass on second down? And where was the vertical passing game? why weren't we giving our excellent WRs and TE a chance to make a play? We have a couple of guys who can play in space; put the ball out there, open things up, and run the DBs ragged! We have the advantage of a couple of excellent DBs; rotate them in and out and exhaust the other team's DBs. Also, false starts are killing us. One illegal grounding penalty was totally unnecessary; he coud have thrown the ball away. We also need to give more touches to Kourouma and perhaps run the wildcat with M.A. in the backfield with Kelly. As for special teams, our kick coverage was excellent, but one poor punt and the blocked field goal hurt.

At Mon Oct 13, 08:21:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction in my last post; I was calling for rotation of our WRs to run the opponents' DBs ragged.

At Mon Oct 13, 09:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their pass defense (looked like 5 in secondary) and push by their bigger offensive line threw Kelly off. Slant across middle was successful, I believe. We need to consider using our excellent receivers and sending 5 receivers out on routes with quick snap and release to negate not having backs to block. Some 1 on 1 matchups were not seen in time. Does Kelly audible at the line if he sees this?

If you are scheming against us, you might copy Layfette, putting an emphasis on stopping the pass, knowing Kelly's ability, and our lack of a dominating rushing game.

As far as scheming against our defense, teams will continue to double team some of our linemen and throw those short/medium passes to neutralize our pass rush and take advantage of something teams have seen with our pass defense in this area. In part, this is why our LB have lot of tackles.

Try some different offensive sets, change tempo, change frequently from one defensive set to the other
(4-3, then 3-5, ect.), blitz periodically. Dont let them know where pressure is coming from. Look at favorable matchups.

At Mon Oct 13, 09:58:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why didn't we let our receivers make plays down the field? Too many patterns are of the 5 to 6 yard variety. Slants over the middle to Kennedy should also work. On defense, I don't know why Mitchell isn't more of a factor on pass rushes. #71 is playing great inside.

At Mon Oct 13, 10:22:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are developing a plan against us, you would try to neutralize our biggest threats on offensive (passing coverage package), and defensive (with double teams on the defensive line, ect.). This is what teams are doing.

At Mon Oct 13, 10:34:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why aren't we seeing what our freshman RBs like Miller etc. can do?

At Tue Oct 14, 05:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: pass rush
Teams are throwing quick, short passes against us. Also, double-teams. They do scout us and know our strengths on defense. Keying on one person often opens it up for another on defense as well it does on the offense.

At Tue Oct 14, 06:20:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We played a very good Lafayette team on Sat. The Lafayette defense controlled the line of scrimmage. They were by far the best defense our offense has faced this year.

We had at least 7 rushing attempts that resulted in a loss or 0 yds. Kelly was sacked 4 times. We fumbled the ball at least twice on the option. Why? The Lafayette defense was very active and very fast. Our O-line is much better this year. They have to find a way to be consistent week in and week out.

Last we we rushed for -13 agaisnt Lafayette. Through 4 games in 2007 we had a total of 380 rushing yards. 216 of those yards were against Marist. This year we have 438. What's my point? I like what I am seeing. There is no need to make any wholesale changes. We are close. We are very, very close.

I am looking forward to the next 6 games. We are going to surprise people. Go Lions!!

At Tue Oct 14, 09:34:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

After Princeton, I had hopes for this game. But a clearly indecisive game plan (do we come out throwing or not?) and an even more tentative quarterback, one who actually came to a full stop at times before deciding to run with the ball himself, soon changed that outlook.

We also did almost nothing running into the middle of the line. Columbia has not had a genuine power back since the conversion of Marcellus Wiley (and he was only part-time at the position, despite his obvious success).

None of it is encouraging for this season. For next year, yes, but the "future" remains of import right here and now.

Still, I will be there at Penn. Somewhat grudgingly, but willing to be impressed by a Lions team that can still do it (and in the process set itself up for another 2-3 league wins).

At Wed Oct 15, 02:07:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happened to Coach Wilson's promise to get ball into Knowlin's hands this season.
Bemoaning absence of Davis is misplaced. He is not type of runner who can gain yardage without help from his line--and thee was no help on saturday.

At Wed Oct 15, 06:07:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still thinking about all of the lost opportunities so far this season. It's difficult to believe that our record is 0-4 given the number of positives including the fine play of Shane Kelly at quarterback, Mike Stephens and Taylor Joseph at wide receiver, Drew Quinn at linebacker, Owen Fraser at nose tackle, Andrew Kennedy at tight end, Alex Gross at linebacker, Andy Shalbrack and Adam Mehrer at safety, etc., etc. Upon reflection, it all seems to come down to our inability to develop a decent running game. Our inability to run the ball at all against Lafayette (18 carries for approximately 17 yards) allowed Lafayette to double up on the receivers and put pressure on Kelly. Having only one running back on the field the entire Lafayette game was a huge problem. I that Jordan Davis was out, but why didn't we have a backup ready to play behind the starter, Ray Rangel? It's very difficult to win a football game when you average a yard a carry. I certainly hope that Davis will be returning for the Penn game,, or two other runners ready to go in his place.

At Wed Oct 15, 10:49:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lafayette's defensive line and LBs are the best defensive front that CU will see this year. Lafayette is 4-1. The three points that Lafayette scored at the end of the second half of the CU game are the only points they have scored in the second half of any game this season. Four wins with no offense in the second half. Makes a pretty clear statement that their defense is the heart of their team.

CU's offense played good enough to win (1st and goal twice) and they had some decent moments but they didn't string enough of them together. CU's play calling didn't seem to adapt to the fact that Lafayette had a great defensive front and great LBs. CU's quick hitting passes and outside runs produced the most successful plays of the day. Don't know why they continued charge into the teeth of the defense rather than attack around it. Why would you choose to keep doing the things that didn't work and not continually repeat approaches that did?

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

Not to nitpick, but Lafayette has scored 31 points in second half of games this season ... I thought zero second half points sounded unlikely.

At Fri Oct 17, 12:15:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, they had no second half points in the previous two games, Harvard & Penn.


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