Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ground Gains

Ray Rangel had the most carries for the Lions in 2008 (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

Want to see a dramatic, I mean really dramatic, statistic?

Try this one:

Columbia improved its total rushing yardage in 2008 by 122% over the previous year.

That's a startling stat and it's a tribute to the offensive line, the running backs, and running QB's.

The passing attack is very important, and receiver Austin Knowlin is the most exciting player on this team.

But the fact remains that to win in the game of football, you have to be able to run the ball and the Lions ran the ball a whole lot better last season than they have in many, many years.

Columbia's running attack was truly a team effort. No one back rushed for more than 392 yards and no one had more than 91 carries on the year.

And only one of the Columbia players who ran the ball in 2008 is lost to graduation: Jordan Davis.

The top rusher was rising senior QB Millie Olawale, who really only broke into the regular lineup midway through the season. He averaged an impressive 5.8 yards per carry and broke off the longest run of any Ivy league rusher last season with his 70-yard scamper for a TD at Brown in week 10.

Olawale's combines great speed and real strength, making him a real terror in the open field. I expect the QB's to have some kind of extra protection against sacks in the spring game, so Olawale may go really wild with that split second of added time as a cushion.

Returning senior QB Shane Kelly was also a frequent runner, putting up a 4.0 yards per carry on 71 carries. He and Olawale had three rushing TD's each.

Another returning senior is tailback Ray Rangel, who had the most carries of any back last season and showed a lot of improvement from the 2007 season.

Rising junior Zack Kourouma is also very much worth watching as he looked very good in limited duty last season. Kourouma had 84 yards on just 11 carries in 2008 and also showed real potential as a receiver. Kourouma's fellow rising junior halfback is Leon Ivery, who has worked hard on the JV squad these past two years.

The returning sophomores are David Chao and Donnie Miller, who, like Ivery, have not yet carried the ball in a varsity contest.

And for those of you who want more Austin Knowlin... remember that he acted as a ball carrier 17 times in 2008, gaining 61 net yards with a long of 16. There are more than a few ways to get his hands on the ball.

Fans may do well to focus also on all the returning fullbacks, where there's a lot of talent to go around.

Rising sophomores Nico Papas and Peter Holst-Grubbe were hampered by injuries for much of 2008, but both were highly-regarded coming into Columbia in September. Papas did get into some games on special teams.

Rising junior Nathan Lenz made a good contribution last season, getting 10 carries and showing some toughness on a few inside runs.

Pete Stoll remains a fan favorite and comes back for his senior season in 2009.

At this point, there's no way to tell what kind of offense Columbia will run in 2009. But there should be a good chance to at least assess the ball carrying talent on April 18th.


At Fri Mar 27, 10:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

any word on MA's injury?

At Wed Apr 01, 05:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed a number of comments on Nick Gerst the tail back coming to Columbia.

I have also seen this kid...You will not be able to assess the running game for the fall until you see this kid with the ball. He is electric

He can change things in a hurry at Columbia if he gets the ball.


Post a Comment

<< Home