Fordham's Fade Out
Xavier Martin couldn't deliver a winning season in The Bronx
The FCS playoffs begin today, and none of Columbia's non-Ivy opponents are participating. At the beginning of the 2008 season, Fordham was picked to be in these playoffs by the writers covering the Patriot League.
But it didn't work out that way.
The Rams finished he season a disappointg 5-6 and just 1-5 in the Patriot League. That was despite 1,090 rushing yards from speedy sophomore tailback Xavier Martin and a super season for junior QB John Skelton who finished with almost 2,500 yards passing, with TD passes against just 6 INT's.
The defense was not as good in 2008 as it was in 2007, but it's just not easy to figure out why Fordham laid an egg this year. They certainly were beatable when the Lions played them in Columbia's season opener, but a week later they gave eventual league champ Colgate one of their stiffest challenges of the season in an eventual 31-24 loss to the Raiders in the Bronx. The Rams had a 14-0 lead in that game at the end of the first quarter, by superstar Colgate runner Jordan Scott toasted them for 272 yards rushing by the end of the game an the Raiders scored 10 unaswered points to overcome a 24-21 deficit with 11 minutes left.
I think the level of play in the Ivies, especially at the top of the league, is usually good enough to send a real semfinal contender to the FCS playoffs. I semifinals, because after what I saw from Colgate's run to the finals in 2003, I'm not sure the Ivies have produced a team as good as that in the last 10 years or so. But of course, I am among thos ho think the Ivy presidents should relent and allow the Ivy football champs to advance to the playoffs.
Speaking of opponents in the FCs playoffs, Dartmouth played not one, but two teams in the playoffs today in Colgate and New Hampshire. They also played the Patriot League runner-up in Holy Cross. Is it any wonder the Big Green went 0-10? Dartmouth's very tough non-conference schedule is a long-standing thorn in the fans' side up in Hanover.
Of course, the Lions didn't exactly get a visit from the scheduling fairy either this year. Columbia had to play each of the top four teams in the Ivies on the road this year. I will be interesting to see how the Lions play against those same opponents at Wien Stadium next year.
Insipiration from ESPN?
So, I'm watching the Virginia-Virginia Tech game on ESPN today, (of course I'm also watching th Columbia-Stony Brook basketbal game on GoColumbiaLions.com), and I see the heavily favored Hokies getting a run for their money from the Cavaliers shuttle QB system. The running QB, Vic Hall, looks like a smaller version of M.A. Olawale, and Virginia has been using him on most apparent running downs and they're using another QB on most apparent passing downs. It's a lot like the system Columbia used very successfully in 1994 with running QB Mike Cavanaugh and passing QB Jamie Schwalbe. That offense was the best the Lions have had in the last 25 years.
Might we see more of a shuttle QB system in 2009? I have absolutely no idea. But watching the Hokie-Cavalier game, (VTech eventually pulled out a 17-14 win), brought back nice memories and hope for the future.