Monday, November 10, 2008

Passed Out

Matt Luft was marching tall

Harvard 42 Columbia 28

Why Harvard Won

QB Chris Pizzotti had an even better day than usual, throwing for almost 300 yards in the first half alone. Despite pretty good coverage from the Columbia secondary, his throws were som accurate and well-timed that it didn't matter. Of course, it helped to have a 6-foot-6 WR like Matt Luft to throw to as well.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Crimson weren't dominant, but they grabbed some key interceptions and executed a good pass rush at the end of the game to seal the deal.

Why Columbia Lost

More mistakes at crucial times, but this time it was not a variety of mistakes, just the same thing over and over: interceptions. Rough throws from both QB's not only snuffed out Lion drives, but they also set up a Harvard offense that was already in high gear.

Key Turning Points

1) With Columbia leading 7-6, Harvard's first play from scrimmage after the Columbia TD resulted in a 76-yard TD pass from Pizzotti to Chris Lorditch and with the 2-point conversion the Crimson were back up 14-7. The pass came after what looked like some kind of hard contact on Lion corner Calvin Otis, leaving Lorditch wide open in the middle of the field.

2) With the score still 14-7, the Lions began a promising drive at the Harvard 48 and got a 2nd down and 1 at the Crimson 21 before three straight running plays all yielded no gain. A quick Harvard TD drive and another score after a Shane Kelly interception and it was 28-7 at the half.

3) After Austin Knowlin broke off a 76-yard punt return for a TD making it 28-14, Harvard grabbed the momentum right back with a 61-yard TD drive helped by a pass interference call on Kalasi Huggins on a 3rd and 7. That made it 35-14 and Harvard didn't really have to worry after that.

For a team going up against a Harvard team that's peaking right now, the Lions still had a number of positives:

-Lou Miller had two more sacks and four and half tackles for a loss overall. This comes after his late game ejection versus Yale the previous week, proving he can still play with abandon, just not completely reckless abandon.

-Zack Kourouma had something of a breakout game. He grabbed the first QB TD on a well timed pattern into the end zone for his second score of the year. Later in the game he broke off a nice run on a sweep for 27 yards and wouldn't go down after a reception that helped Columbia convert a 3rd and 20.

After three years of returning punts off and on, it was nice to see Austin Knowlin finally break one for a score. Knowlin simply took it to the corner and beat the Crimson down the sideline with his speed.

-Overall, Columbia recorded five sacks. True, Harvard threw the ball so many times that there were ample chances to get sacks, but the Crimson have been doing that for most of the year and they had only allowed 12 sacks over seven weeks coming in to the this game. Many of the sacks were the result of good coverage downfield, making them a team effort.

-It was nice to see the strong effort and good results from the special teams. Not only were they error free, but they helped create two TD's with Knowlin's return and the recovery of the bad Harvard punt snap at the Crimson 4.


At Mon Nov 10, 10:35:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent summary of the game. We actually played well on defense up front holding Harvard to very little rushing yardage. Of course, they didn't have to run very much with their passing game going so well. One very big positive is that we finally had our three best playmakers (Olawale, Knowlin and Kourouma) on the field for a good part of the game. That's why we scored 28 points against Harvard which was the most points against them this season. It was great to see Knowlin returning punts again as he is a threat to go the distance every time he gets the ball. Another positive is that Olawale is getting playing time. We need to keep in mind that Olawale has seen very little action at quarterback during his three years at Columbia. Despite the intercepts, he's starting to put it altogether and could explode against Cornell/Brown. I still would love to see Olawale and Kelly together in the backfield at least for a few plays. Finally, were the stats right about Morretto playing and Gross' pass reception? I thought Morretto was out for the season. As for Gross, no question that with his great acceleration, he could help out occassionally on offense Des Westhman style

At Tue Nov 11, 02:29:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I listened on WKCR and on the basis of that thought that we had a terrible game. The student announcers basically said that they could find no positives from the game and that the QB situation was in complete disarray. It seems from your report that we played better than that, and that we are basically just shooting ourselves in the foot. Why do you thinhk that we have suffered so many turn-overs this season?

At Tue Nov 11, 04:24:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They took advantage of mismatch at WR. Hard to find a way to defend a 6'6" and 6'2" receivers. They made catches only their player could make even when we had double coverage. I saw defenders on some of our plays playing for interception - like they knew where the ball was being thrown with certain formations.

At Tue Nov 11, 05:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to the defenders knowing where our passes were headed, I don't think our QBs know how to check off from the primary receiver. Bagnoli picked that up.

At Tue Nov 11, 06:59:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

The reception credited to Gross was actually made by James Burrell. I'm not sure who really grabbed the one credited to Morretto, but Morretto is indeed out for the season and a linebacker besides!

At Tue Nov 11, 07:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully they will change the stats so the kid will get credit for his first reception.

At Tue Nov 11, 08:06:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Too many turnovers and leaky pass defense. Safeties haven't laid the wood to anyone all year. Third down conversions came all too easily for Harvard even in long yardage situations.

At Tue Nov 11, 09:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the KCR announcers, the QBs seem to look directly at the intended receivers from when the plays start. A Penn DB noted that, too.

At Tue Nov 11, 07:14:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyword on how Jerry Bell (the frosh QB from Texas) is doing?

At Tue Nov 11, 08:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shalbrack is capable of big plays form the safety position but has had a quiet season.

At Tue Nov 11, 10:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For daBull- I would like to see big sticks from a lot of people, not just the DBs. Sometimes there is a lack of opportunity. Sometimes there is a missed opportunity. I think that the DBs have played pretty consistent and Harvard really is the first team that put up big passing numbers. Credit Pizzotti and the game plan in that instance.

As far as Andy Shalbrack is concerned, he is playing smart and playing his position. He was a spur last year and is in a new position that keeps him off of or near the line of scrimmage. If there are chances to make a big play, whether it be a huge hit, a forced fumble or an interception, I trust he will make them. The kid's got heart and talent. Otherwise, his role as a three year starter is to play his position and to lead on the field. His stats aren't all that bad for being taken out of the scrum at the line. Adam Mehrer is doing a good job as well at free. Kalasi Huggins and Calvin Otis are working hard at their corner positions. There really hasn't too much to complain about this year from the DB standpoint.

The Neckman

At Wed Nov 12, 02:48:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question for Neckman. No knock on Shalbrack was intended. I had come to expect more "impact" type moments from him -- interceptions, turn-overs, etc. That's why I had noted that he seemed to be having a quiet season. I saw him as being in the mold of the Abare brothers as a loud, disruptive force.

At Wed Nov 12, 04:35:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

DB's (all of them) had a pretty miserable day against Princeton, giving up I think four big pass plays. I think they can do better on a more consistent basis, just like I think we should be able to stop the turnovers on offense that have hurt us more than anything.


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