Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Down Low on the DL

Matt Bashaw is one of just two returning D-line seniors (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

The overall numbers posted by the D-line as a whole in 2008 were very encouraging, and backsliding to 2007 levels will be fatal.

The Lions went from giving up 2,311 rushing yards in 2007 to allowing just 1,043 in 2008, a 54.8% drop!

Columbia's defensive linemen recorded 16 sacks in 2008 compared to just 9 in 2007, a 77.7% gain!

And the D-linemen had 41.5 tackles for a loss compared to 24 in 2007, a 72.9% jump!

But the Lions will lose some key players from this unit to graduation.

The great Phil Mitchell, whose stats didn't always reflect his impact on this team, is moving on. So are unsung surprise player Javier Garza, and solid veterans Eli Waltz and Conor Joyce.

But coming back are starters Lou Miller and Owen Fraser, both of whom had breakout years in 2008.

Miller finished as a 1st Team All Ivy, leading the league in sacks and tackles for a loss. He was also my overall team MVP.

Fraser started all 10 games as a freshmen and made a huge impact with 28 total tackles with 4 and a half for a loss including a sack. I never saw the ballots, but Fraser had to be in the mix for Rookie of the Year.

Freshmen offensive linemen may be a rare site in varsity games, but Coach Norries Wilson and his staff have never hesitated putting frosh into the lineup on the defensive line at Columbia.

In 2006, then-freshman Matt Bashaw made a pretty good impact as a pass rushing specialist.

And in 2007, the now-departed Brian England helped shore up the middle of the line.

Fraser's impact in 2008 made it three years in a row.

Fraser will obviously be a top rising sophomore to watch at the spring game, but so is Chris Groth, who had a good freshman campaign with plenty of playing time.

I will also keep a keen eye on Bashaw, now a rising senior, who was hampered by injuries last season and missed a lot of playing time.

Bruce Fleming is a rising junior who has shown some promise and may get a chance to better showcase his talents this spring as well.

But the D-line vets are dominated in sheer numbers by the rising sophs. In addition to Groth and Fraser there's Karson Bodnovich, Ben Popeck, Shea Selsor, and J.D. Tyree, putting the total of soph d-linemen at six. Other than Fraser and Groth, I don't think fans can make a fair assessment about the other sophomores until at least the spring game is played.

The same goes for rising juniors Josh Smith and Matt Stotler.

Miller and Bashaw are the only returning seniors.

One or more of the five or six incoming freshmen defensive linemen may again get into the mix this season.

But with what I would say are two real starting slots up for grabs, (of course officially, ALL positions are up for grabs), spring practice is the time for the returning players to shine.


At Thu Mar 19, 03:50:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our D line will be better, and perhaps much better this year. Fraser and Groth are both talented players, Miller is a great pass rusher, and Bashaw can have a very strong senior year as well. England will have more experience. But Fraser may be the best pure defensive tackle in the league by his junior year, if not sooner.

At Thu Mar 19, 10:23:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see if they line up Frazer and Groth together in the middle. With what they both showed last year it could be a major factor on defense.

At Fri Mar 20, 02:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, did we do Phil Mitchell a disservice by hyping him up to the point at which we created unrealistic expectations?

At Fri Mar 20, 02:45:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I think there's a good point to be made there about hyping Mitchell. But that assumes that the fans were actually disappointed in his performance and I think we were more bummed by his stats... which didn't portray how good a player he was.

At Mon Mar 23, 10:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Miller's and in general Ivy stat collect is poor at best. In some cases the stats weren't even close last year regardless of the team.


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