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...