Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Comments

Spring was in the air at Wien Stadium yesterday

So far, I'm getting a slew of good comments on the Spring Game. They are in the comments section of the previous post and elsewhere, but let me list some highlights and consensus impressions in bullet point form below:

-M.A. Olawale is looking big, strong, and good. It appears it was the defense that was helped out more by the 2-hand touch rule on the QB's rather than Olawale as he could have broken through some of those "tackles" had it been a real game. I really think the only way to tackle Olawale is from behind, unless you really gang-tackle him, I don't believe anyone in the Ivies can bring him down when he gets a full head of steam.

-Marc Holloway, looked very good and was named most-improved defensive player of the spring. That's an encouraging sign because the middle linebacker position filled by the graduating senior Drew Quinn may be the hardest replacement for us in 2009.

When Holloway came to Columbia in 2007, I thought he had the best chance of any incoming freshmen to get playing time. I was wrong about that, but I will happily eat my words if it turns out he is the kind of player the long-time powerhouses of this league often feature -- a junior starter who spent his first two years get fine-tuned instead of plugging emergency holes in the varsity lineup. That's the M.O. for teams like Harvard.

-Owen Fraser seems bigger and even better.

-The receivers, led by Austin Knowlin, Mike Stephens, and Taylor Joseph, looked very good. Do I sound surprised?

-Lots of people are excited about the potential shown by tailback Leon Ivery and White team QB Jerry Bell.

-Alex Gross stood out... again, do I sound surprised?

-Kalasi Huggins and Calvin Otis seemed improved at the corners. That's encouraging, because they looked darned good a lot of last year anyway!

-John Seiler, voted most improved offensive player of the spring, looked the best offensive lineman.


I am also very happy to report that permanent captains have been named for 2009. They are M.A. Olawale, Austin Knowlin, Taylor Joseph, John Seiler, Lou Miller, and the only non-senior, Alex Gross.


At Mon Apr 20, 10:43:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, here's my impression of the offense in the spring Blue-White Game: I. Receivers-- In addition to the fine play of Austin Knowlin, Mike Stephens and Taylor Joseph, the Lions also received solid contributions from Josh Williams (long touchdown reception, Jason Pyles (several nice catches) and James Burrell (couple of nifty receptions). Fullback Nico Papas also had a reception late in the game. Stephens' catch and run with under a minute to go was the offensive highlight, in my opinion. II. Quarterbacks--M.A. Olawale and Jerry Bell played the entire scrimmage for their respective teams. Olawale was very impressive in the fourth quarter when he was allowed to run the ball. Olawale also showed that he can throw the ball deep (50+ yards) which will open up the field for the Lion running game and short passing game. Considering that Bell is only a freshman, he was outstanding. He moved the white team very well, made few mistakes and threw the ball accurately. III. Running Game: Columbia used Ray Rangel, Zack Kourouma, Leon Ivery, David Chao, and perhaps one or two others at running back. Rangel is an experienced running back who is tough to bring down. He seems to have good speed, although Kourouma and Ivery may be quicker. Chao had a couple of nice runs as did freshman fullback Nico Papas. IV. Tight End-returning starter Andrew Kennedy had several nice catches. I'm not sure who else played tight end for the Lions. V. Offensive Line--very impressive play by the offensive linemen for both the Blue and White squads. We appear to have great size this year on the offensive line. I believe the starters for the first team were Sanford, Seiler, Lipovsky, Adams and Quirk, but I'm not sure. The offensive line should be a team strength this fall.

At Mon Apr 20, 11:16:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Celebrity Sighting at the Columbia Spring Football Game: Former Lion Football Great Marcellus "Dat Dude 75" Wiley who is now with ESPN. If you go to his Twitter site, Marcellus reports from the Columbia Spring Football Game that "We have two legit NFL prospects--and I may be lying--there may be three." He signs off as "CU Football 4 Life." My guess is that Marcellus is thinking about seniors to be M.A. Olawale, Austin Knowlin and Andy Shalbrack. Maybe Calvin Otis, but he will only be a junior this fall. Go Lions!

At Mon Apr 20, 04:46:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great write up! One question: you say Bell played well and was accurate. Any explanation for his low pass completion rate?
-Dr. V

At Mon Apr 20, 07:57:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bell was short arming some of his passes and needs to make those short to mid range throws. But he has a big upside as a two year starter. I thought that Ivery looked bigger and stronger, with good speed. He was an excellent D1 prospect after his junior year in the SF area but was injured. I think he is now beginnning to look look he has fully recuperated. #58 reallt impressed me; Karson B.[can't spell his last name]. Freshman interior lineman; not tall but strong and good pursuit. MA looked just enormous; more like a linebacker than anything; he showed that he can throw a long ball. If it weren't for the two hand touch rule he would have busted some long runs. OL looks big. Fraser was very tough, as was Gross. A few drops of long balls which were nicely thrown. AK got a lot of touches on reverses, etc. We have to eliminate that flare pass to the sideline behind the line of scrimmage, or it will be intercepted all year.

At Mon Apr 20, 08:14:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the last poster's comments. Also, Bell was the White team quarterback so he was not throwing to the Lions' top three receivers--Knowlin, Stephens and Joseph. And give credit to the Blue Team's defensive secondary which was all over the receivers.

At Mon Apr 20, 08:20:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's up with the kicking game? Any reason why there were no kickoffs, punts, or PAT's?

At Mon Apr 20, 10:54:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No kicking game because it was a controlled scrimmage.

At Mon Apr 20, 11:23:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friend 12 Wrote:

Offensively the spring game started out slow with a lot of missed passes. After they settled down the offense came on. The white OL looked good, but, for the most part the Blue Defensive line dominated. Fraser and Groth really dominated the middle. The OL did a good job keeping those two away from the QB, but, no one was going to run through them. The speed of those two is amazing. Several times they came off blocks and were actually able to catch up to running backs running around the ends. LBs were much better, but, need to work on filling the holes on the outside. The OL line was good and I expect to be a force in the fall, although, the right side of the OL is an area that looked like it could use some work. If I was running the defense, I would have been blitzing from that side. I am sure that will be fixed by the first game. Defense still has outside containment issues, but, even in that area looked much better. Olawale, after he got the bugs out, looked real good. It is obvious he has been working on his throwing, especially the long ball. One comment indicated he looked “more like a linebacker”. He is much bigger and faster. On a broken play he took out a pursuing LB with a big time pop.

Both defenses did a really good job against the pitch and run. One pitch ended up being a fumbled lateral. Both QBs will need to read the field better before running those plays. The running backs were ok, but, that big time play maker still doesn’t seem to be there. Running up the middle, as I said earlier, with the 1st team defense on the field really wasn’t happening. One last comment, Fraser didn’t play the last series of the game. Olawale still was under pressure, but, not having both big guys in the game probably was a factor.

How about a report on the T-ball game?

At Tue Apr 21, 01:29:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to Friend 12 for that great review. I agree with all his comments while noting that it is difficult to make judgments about the performance of the individual players because of the understandable limitations that were imposed on them in an intra-squad scrimmage of this type. Moreover, will all of the fans sitting on the home side of the field behind the White Team's bench, I think there was a tendency to root for the White Team as their players were more in view. In any event, while the posters have mostly addressed the offensive game, I would say that it was the defense that really stood out on both squads. If I remember correctly, we had only five or six healthy defensive lineman on the team at this point last year, so the improvement in the numbers alone is remarkable. Then add in that two of the best defensive linemen on the team/League are just freshman (Fraser and Groth) and you can see how good the DL can become. Also, it seemed to me that Bashaw looked very strong at DE. Of course, we already have a solid player, named Lou Miller at the other defensive end position. I had trouble following who else was on the field at DL, but Matt Stotler's name came across the PA system a couple of times as did a few others. As to the linebackers, those guys were really playing hard as AK found out when he tried to turn the corner. Nasty. There are three tough and talented players at middle linebacker--Marc Holloway, Nick Mistretta and Josh D. Williams. Alex Gross, is, of course a standout at linebacker. Lou Miller's younger brother, Evan , was credited with a couple of tackles as was also the case with Corey Cameron. I'm not sure if Matt Moretto played. Maybe he was held out of the spring game because he missed last season with an injury. About eight to ten players did not see action probably due to injury and were dressed in shorts on the sidelines. Derek Lipscomb also saw action and I think he made a couple of nice hits. As to the secondary, I really didn't focus much on their play, but Otis' name was mentioned six or seven times along with that of Andy Shalbrack, Adam Mehrer and Augie Williams. Last fall's freshman standout, Kalisi Huggins, #14, started at the cornerback position closest to the White Team bench. Having a talented cb like Huggins with ten game experience as a starter is a huge positive for Columbia. Anthony Maddox, who is still another experienced freshman corner, is back as well. Finally, several players stood out at safety, the critical position where games are quickly won or lost. Andy Shalbrack, Adam Mehrer and Augie Williams are all experienced safeties and did fine back there Saturday. Several other players also saw action at safety including a big "#7" who is not listed on the roster, but physically looks like the second coming of Tad Crawford and Steve Cargile. Whoever #7 is (Ryan Hazlett?) he's going to be a very good player at Columbia. Overall, great team effort Saturday. No question is this fan's opinion, why the Lions can't win it all in the fall. And, Jake, before I forget, you would have loved the last play of the game, one of those crazy all or nothing, go for broke plays from the White 20 yard line. Terrific behind-the-back lateral that didn't work against the Blue team which actually intercepted the lateral. Neverthless, it was a play to be remembered and hopefully a harbinger of good things to come for Columbia Football.

At Tue Apr 21, 02:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was #7 Paruch? Rising sophomore--6'3" or so?

At Tue Apr 21, 02:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The area in which we need the most work is the short to medium range passing game. The timing was cleary off. And that behind the line of scrimmage 25 yard pass to a WR split wide outside is never going to work. We have a lot of very good linebackers; none is all that big, but they seem to hit hard. As far as the lack of a break-away runner, I thought that Ivery showed some things running behind the second string OL.

At Tue Apr 21, 06:00:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think #7 is indeed Ryan Haslett because there are two #5's on the roster, Haslett and Joe Stormont, so Haslett probably switched to #7 which hadn't been taken, and is still not listed. Haslett was his team's MVP in high school. Paruch has also gotten some props from Wilson, was first team all-Catholic in New York. A lot of good, tough players -- I don't think we've ever been this deep, and plenty of talented recruits on the way.

At Tue Apr 21, 07:40:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot about that crazy last play. I think the last intercepted lateral was fishy and maybe intentional? Definitely a good way to end the day.

Still waiting for that T-Ball report.


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