Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Run, Run, Run?

Ryan Kuhn had a banner year in 2005

I've been watching Ivy football for three decades and one of the things I've learned is that no Ivy defense can effectively and consistently stop a running QB... not even a mediocre running QB.

I'm not sure if it's the speed or the size of the average Ivy defender, or something else, but more often than not when an Ivy QB takes off for the open field, he usually finds it.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that stops running QB's are injuries or coaches justifiably worrying about injuries.

Meanwhile, Columbia has much better than a mediocre running QB in Millie Olawale, and he and fellow QB Shane Kelly were the biggest reasons why the Lions did better than double its rushing yardage output in 2008 compared to 2007.

You have to really crunch the numbers to see just how effective the Columbia QB's were at running the ball last season.

NCAA rules really skew the running stats for QB's because all sacks are counted against running yardage and not passing yardage, (yes, you've heard me complaining about this before). So a lot of the "lost running yardage" logged by Olawale and Kelly last season was lost as those QB's were attempting to pass, not run. Actually, I'd say more than 90% of that lost yardage came in passing situations.

But to be conservative, let's say that only 50% of Olawale's and Kelly's lost rushing yardage came from sacks. That would give Olawale a total of 495 rushing yards on 68 carries, (7.2 yards per carry), and Kelly 394 yards on 71 carries, (5.5 yards per carry). Not bad. Okay, let's just say it: that's awesome.

What if Olawale ran the ball 15 times per game? Would he crack a 1,000 yards for the season?

More importantly, would it win games?

The last Ivy QB to rush for a 1,000 yards in a season was Ryan Kuhn of Cornell in 2005. He had future NFLer Kevin Boothe blocking for him and some great talent to go with it, but was he bigger, stronger, and faster than Olawale?

I actually don't think so.

Even with Kuhn, Boothe, and a young Luke Siwula also running for more than 1,000 yards in '05, the Big Red only went 6-4, 4-3 Ivy. (Although most of Columbia's fans would take that record in most years).

We know that you can't win on running alone. Columbia's offense won't get the job done in 2009 without passing the ball effectively. That would be true even if the Lions didn't have Austin Knowlin, who may be the most talented wide receiver in the program's history.

The defense will also have to step it up and continue the progress it made last season to make a run-oriented offense work. It won't do to give up quick scores if your own offense is more of a grind-it-out variety.

And then that injury bugaboo rears its ugly head again. Anyone who saw Millie get helicoptered in the Brown game knows what I'm talking about.

And we don't even know if Olawale will be "the" starter... I haven't seen any publications quoting Coach Wilson saying that Millie is the starter and I am not privvy to that kind of inside info, despite what some may believe.

HOWEVER... I DO know just why the seagulls show up during the 4th quarter at Wien Stadium and not a moment earlier. It's a secret so dark, so evil... well let's just say the Illuminati may be involved, or the people responsible for Tom Hanks' new hair.

But perhaps I've said too much...


At Thu May 28, 04:24:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I expect to see Millie and Kelly in the same backfield this year on at least 50% of our plays from scrimmage. I expect to see a Wildcat formation on at least 25% of our pl;ays from scrimmage. Without a dominating tailback, we'll use a FB with those sets.

At Thu May 28, 11:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is a wildcat formation?

At Thu May 28, 08:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like the old single wing, in which a running back takes a direct snap and either runs or passes; the QB is usually in hte same backfield and can either take a lateral and pass, and go out for a short pass, or can even block if he has the chops. Millie would be great in a wildcat formation.

At Thu May 28, 09:09:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you ask Norries whether he would prefer to have a good throwing QB or good running QB. i guarantee you that he (and every other college coach) will opt for the thrower. It's the nature of the game. You don't seem to get this.

The problem with playing Mille is that you lose the opportunity to maximize Knowlin's talents --our best offensive weapon and deep threat. It would be a shame to waste this asset.

If Kelley is the one who can get the ball into Knowlin's hands consistenly and he can avoid coughing up the ball, he should be the QB. Mille can spot him at timeas and run and throw from RB/wildcat positions.

At Thu May 28, 10:41:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the last poster's concerns, but the good news is that Millie has progessed tremendously as a passer in the last year. In fact, during the intra-squad spring scrimmage game last month he threw the ball very accurately particularly towards the end of the game when the coaches allowed him to open up. He hit Mike Stephens with the game winner and also displayed the ability to threw the ball deep to Austin Knowlin or anyone else who is fast enough to get way down field. Shane Kelly did not play in the spring game, but he's a very capable quarterback and was just a little bit away last year from leading the team to several victories. With his size and athleticism, I think he could be a standout Ivy League quarterback. Jerry Bell also looked very promising during the scrimmage. He's only a freshman, but he moved the team well and hit some receivers. Another important factor, is that Knowlin should be getting more assistance than last year from his fellow wrs. Last year he was Columbia's only real downfield threat so he was frequently doubleteamed. Now you have several other experienced players ready to take the pressure off him including Mike Stephens, Josh Williams, Taylor Joseph and Jason Pyles. Not to mention the freshmen receivers, particularly Pinckerton and Sigmon.

At Fri May 29, 01:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how do we put both MA and Kelly in the same backfield? Wildcat!


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