Friday, November 21, 2008

Columbia-Brown Keys to the Game

The wind is expected to pick up right at kickoff

1) Establish the Run, Control the Clock, and SCORE!

Everyone and their brother is going to say stopping the Brown passing attack is the key to winning this game for Columbia. True enough, but the only problem is you can't really stop it. Brown QB Michael Dougherty will get his completions and Sewell, Farnham, and Cloherty will get their catches.

But I'd like to see all that happen in haste, after Columbia has chewed the clock with a series of M.A. Olawale 3rd down-converting rushes and long Lion TD drives. Columbia almost had that scenario working last week against Cornell, but too many Lion drives ended with no points. Columbia was good enough to beat the Big Red last week, but they'll need to finish drives with scores to beat the Bears tomorrow.

Olawale doesn't have to be the only runner. Zack Kourouma, Ray Rangel and Jordan Davis can get into the mix too. Brown has made a living this year stuffing the run, but if Olawale can loosen them up with his scrambles, the Bear "D" may get winded pretty quickly. Passing will be important, and Olawale will need to complete 15 passes or so at least... but I think the Lions can take Brown way out of its comfort zone by running successfully.

2) Pressure on Dougherty

Dougherty isn't Nathan Ford, but he throws interceptions when he's rushed. He has 10 picks this year and could be ripe for more if the wind is as strong as expected tomorrow. This is going to be a huge game for the defensive ends; Lou Miller, Phil Mitchell, Conor Joyce and, if he breaks onto the travel team, Matt Bashaw. This is Miller's chance to make one final argument for being placed on the All Ivy 1st team. This is Mitchell's chance to have the dominant game rushing the passer we've waited for all season long.

The tricky thing here is that the Lions may have to get this pressure going without the help of blitzing linebackers. With all the short passing targets available for Dougherty, it seems too dangerous to leave guys open. The Lion linebackers did very nicely last week against Cornell holding the receivers to 4-5 yard gains with immediate tackles after those short passes. Safety or corner blitzes would be even riskier. Showing the blitz and then backing off may be the best strategy, especially if it induces some false starts or other Brown mistakes.

3) Win on Special Teams

The special teams battle here will be critical, especially if the wind really is a big factor. When the Lions are facing the wind, they'll have to make sure they still get decent kicks off and get down the field in time to cover the return. When they have the wind at their backs, they'll need to take full advantage and not do anything careless, like booting kickoffs out of bounds. The wind is expected to be so strong at gametime that wind chills will be about 20 or lower. I wish that would translate into big problems for the Brown passing game... and it might. But it's more likely to play a role in special teams.

4) Feed off the Crowd, and Brown's Planned Celebration

The Bears will be fired up and so will the crowd* as they anticipate celebrating a title. That kind of enthusiasm should pump up the Lions on the other side of the field too. Not that enthusiasm has been a problem for this Columbia team this year, but I'd like to see them turn it up a notch tomorrow.

(*The crowd is likely to be much more fired up than the kids remaining on campus. Today's Brown student paper has NO SEPARATE ARTICLE on tomorrow's game or the football team at all! All the team gets on the verge of winning a title is two paragraphs in a general "what to look for in sports this weekend" story. Whoa!)


At Fri Nov 21, 10:32:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, the run is key to this game. They also will need to:

1) The big guys at DT will need to push them off the line like last week and allow the DE to penetrate.

2)The coaches will need to do a better job at play calling within 30 yards of the goal line.

3) Limit the mistakes (picks and penalties).

They have a good chance to win this one.

At Fri Nov 21, 11:29:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The play calling has been a mystery this year. Let's get it right for the last game and allow the seniors to go out with a big "W"! Remember the winning field goal with seconds left two years ago at Brown!

At Sat Nov 22, 06:04:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to get the same sort of push on both the OL and DL that we got against Cornell. Brown is smaller than Cornell. We also need to get a few turn-overs. We need to pressure Dougherty and keep hitting him. On offense, our play calling needs improvement. We waste too many first downs. Let's play with a lead blocker at FB on first down. Also, we shouldn't look to those very dangerous short sideline passing patterns. Look for AK in the seam; look for Kennedy on crossing patterns.

At Sat Nov 22, 02:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis Anonymous #3 ("We need to get...etc.") We'll have to have all phases of the game together, including the lucky bounces, to beat this very good Brown team. Are we ready for this? Well, win or lose, we'll provide some excitement, betchya.

At Sat Nov 22, 09:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Latest forecast is 23 degrees, overcast with wind gusts up to 28 mph. Let's hope tht the wind plays havoc with Dougherty. This Brown team is not unbeatable. Yale showed that the key is pressuring Dougherty. Remember, the score in that game was 13 to 3.

At Sun Nov 23, 12:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake - careful about the Brown indifference to their team. I was severely chastened for mentioning it on the ivy sports web site ;>)

does seem ridiculous though. My son says Chris Berman gave a shoutout to Brown today, and said final would be 31 - 17 Brown, or something like that.

Jake, thanks for keeping the faith and doing such a great job with your site this year.
regards, Lion Fan 11/22/08 12:09PM

At Sun Nov 23, 08:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was at the game and we were humiliated. MA hurt his knee late in the 1st half and that was the key turning point. I've been to two way games this year(Harvard being the other) and our DB's missed tackles and got beat all day in both games.Their coverage technique is awful as well.Brown threw at will on us all game and had several sure td's dropped. That will have to improve dramatically for us to move to next level. Jake, any word on the severity of MA's knee injury? happened right in front of me and it wasn't the typical plant and twist injury. It looked like he was whirlybirded at the end of a run in the air and landed on it so hopefully it isn't too bad?...

At Sun Nov 23, 08:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been to 3 games this year and followed the rest on the radio. Overall a pretty successful year, but the weak defensive secondary, poor redzone scoring and special teams play doomed an otherwise .500 season -in my opinion. We seem to have the talent , so with attention to these areas next year will be even better. And on the XMAS wish list for the next 2-3 yrs of Columbia success-give us a quarterback of the caliber the championship teams get (ie H/Y/P and Brown)!

At Mon Nov 24, 06:34:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't take it. Weak secondary? It is the DB's fault now? Come on. Farnum and Sewall are good players and Dougherty did a good job of exploiting where people (not just DBs) weren't. A couple of big pops from Adam Mehrer. Farnum, according to my count, got no catches against Andy Shalbrack who lined up on him most of the game. He had a total of 6 catches for the game. Sewall had 6 catches as well but again a bunch of shorties with runs attached. DB's are young and learning. Don't hang that game on them. Kelton did a good job this year especially after Ferrari took leave from the team. Class Act, that Coach Kelton.

Other than M.A., we have no running game the last couple of weeks. The lack of imagination by the Offensive Coordinator is shocking. Norries needs to make a change here. Time management at the end of the first half was abysmal. This was the case all year. That hangs on the OC, plain and simple. Even the Brown announcers pointed out the lack of clock management in the game.

We got away from what was successful at the beginning of the season. We coughed up the ball too many times, both fumbles and picks.

My thoughts: Pick a QB in the Spring and go with him the whole season. This means make the pick a good one. Use this time to decide who is the leader. Bell will give M.A. a good battle this next year. If M.A. is not the guy, then put him on the field to play. . . somewhere! You want good athletes on the field. Example: Gross. Small for a LB but great athletic ability and heart. Get AK Gutierrez, Stephens and Joseph in the games early on. Use fullbacks to block out of the backfield. Try playing people like Pete Stoll and Zach Kourouma. Pick captains in the Spring and pick leaders. This year's experiment with game captains was a failure IMO.

Post season defensive props go to Owen Frazier (great start this year!), Alex Gross, Andy Shalbrack (both All Ivy talent - first team material and skills) and Lou Miller (I like this guy's play as well). Show these guys some love post-season, coaches.

The Neckman

At Mon Nov 24, 09:07:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had several plays where our defenders fell down on an icy field. They didnt seem to have a problem with footing for some reason. Bell came in and did a good job with laser-like passes. Not sure if at the time he was playing against the Brown 2nd defense, however.


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