Sunday, November 30, 2008

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, 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.


At Sun Nov 30, 09:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disappointing basketball game yesterday. Some of the players looked like they should be playing football. Our opponent had a HC who was really working the refs; JJ doesn't do it, and we lost some crucial calls at the end uncluding an outrageous non-call as we hoisted up a final shot. Nice to see NW, Ray Tellier and others turn out for a nonleague game on a dead weekend on campus.

At Mon Dec 01, 12:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disappointing, yes, but Foley, Miller, Matsui did play well in the second half. My impression from attending the game yesterday, was that Columbia is a very inexperienced team, particularly up front, but there is enough talent for the team to compete successfully in the Ivy League if the players work hard next six weeks. Of course, it would help on offense if the centers and forwards remember to stay near the basket rather than setting picks on the perimeter. Same thing on defense where the big guys allowed a Stony Brook player to tip in the winning basket. Keep the faith!

At Mon Dec 01, 02:40:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crimmins is stll a work in progress, but we need his minutes. The freshman shooting guard looks like a player. Foley is still not playing up to the level of his freshman year. Scott is very talented but needs to work on his drives to the basket and his outside shooting. Miller is much better. Ampin is the key; he looks smaller than last year and is not yet playing with explosiveness. If he can harness his talent he will be unstoppable with the ball in his hands. I also like the freshman PG.

At Mon Dec 01, 09:53:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

I think a shuttle QB system could work as long as the play calling is not predictable, e.g. bringing Shane Kelly in only for third down and long yardage for obvious passing situations. I liked the change of pace MA Olewale brought in the Dartmouth game this year-he seemed to confused the Defense who were obviously unprepared for his mobility. You could alternate them on series or even plays.

At Mon Dec 01, 09:24:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerry Bell deserves a long look this Spring.

At Mon Dec 01, 11:51:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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