Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Back to Hibernation?

QB Michael Dougherty is gone to graduation

I thought Brown was the best team in the Ivies last year. They had a high-powered passing game, a very good defensive line, and a killer secondary.

It's a shame we don't have tie-breaking rules in the Ivies, because the Bears bear co-champ Harvard in week 2, and I just think it's wrong for a team to have to share a title with an opponent they defeated on the field.

But that was last year, and in 2009 Brown faces some severe losses due to graduation that could be too much to keep the Bears a top the league.

1) Who is coming back and who is lost?

Brown retains a solid core of linemen on both offense and defense. The best overall returning defensive player is David Howard, a 1st team All Ivy defensive lineman. He'll be joined up front by 2nd Team All Ivy James Develin. The offensive line boasts three returning starters, led by 1st Team All Ivy Paul Jasinowski. A fourth starter, Matthew Adkins, could be returning as a 5th year starter because he missed most of his junior year to injury.

The other strength area is at wide receiver, where stars Bobby Sewall and Buddy Farnham return.

But then things look a little, if not a lot, iffy up in Providence. The biggest loss is two-year starting QB Michael Dougherty who was simply fantastic in his time at Brown, (and I still think Head Coach Phil Estes hates himself for not starting Dougherty as a sophomore in 2006 over the interception-prone Joe DiGiacomo). Running wasn't really a focus for the Bears in 2008 or the two years prior, but both veteran tailbacks Dereck Knight and Jon Edwards are also gone.

The biggest loss on offense may be tight end Colin Cloherty, a 1st Team All Ivy menace who could have helped whoever the new QB will be by presenting a nice big target to throw to from time to time.

The defense loses its entire starting linebacking crew, including a big star in Steve Ziogas. 3/4 of the fine secondary also departs, and the big loss there is corner Darrell Harrison.

2) Back to the QB position, who's in the running?

It looks like three sophs with no varsity experience. But if there's anyone in the league who could pull a rabbit out of his and get his team a good new starting QB, it's Estes. Still, it's a stretch to think that his successor will play up to Dougherty's level, at least not right away. Don't be surprised if a freshman gets a chance to start some point this season.

3) Can Brown Surprise?

The Bears might be able to put together a contending team by mid-season, but that will be well after the big week 2 showdown at Harvard. I don't think Brown will suffer the way they did in 2006, when they fell to 2-8 a year after the great Nick Hartigan graduated. But doing much better than 6-4 will be a tough stretch.


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