Friday, March 26, 2010

Back to Work

Getting ready to return (Credit: Columbia Athletics)

Spring practice begins for the football team this Sunday. This will be the first time back on the field for the players since the dramatic 2009 season-ending 28-14 win over Brown on November 21.

That's 127 days out of action, and it's too much. The one thing that amazes me the most about Ivy League football is how all eight schools manage to field coherent football programs with just a few weeks of offseason practice. I can only imagine how much sharper each Ivy team would be with the kind of practice time they get at the BCS schools.

Oh well.

With Columbia losing more regular players to graduation than it has since 1996, this will be the most crucial spring practice we've seen in many years. There are a lot of open positions in some key areas.

Usually, the football staff makes a few updates to the roster once spring practice starts, so I'll be looking at the online figures for possible new names and weights.

The big finale for spring ball will be the spring game at Wien Stadium on Friday NIGHT, April 23rd at 7pm.

These are my top 5 big questions going into this practice session:

1) Who will fill the three open slots on the starting offensive line?

2) Is QB Sean Brackett the de facto starter for 2010 or will another signal caller give him a run for his money?

3) Who will emerge as the leading candidates for the open starting wide receiver slots?

4) Is there anyone who can match the pass rushing intensity of Lou Miller, who graduates in May?

5) Will JV rushing star Nick Gerst make a push for a big role in the varsity backfield?

I ask the above questions because I have fewer questions about other aspects of the team.

I like our linebacker corps, especially if Alex Gross can come back from his big injury last season. There is still the nagging question of who will be the leader of the pack for the middle linebacker, or "mike" position, but I like the frontrunners Marc Holloway and Nick Mistretta.

I like most of our defensive line, especially if Owen Fraser can come back at 100%.

The secondary loses Andy Shalbrack, and Jared Morine HUGE losses, but the rest of the starters and super-tested backups return. I'd match our secondary right now against any other unit in the league.

See you at the spring game in four weeks!!!


At Sat Mar 27, 02:19:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

Agree that all those area you've highlighted are question marks for the upcoming season. Here's another one: what can be done to improve the Lions' kicking game. There were far too many instances where we left points on the field and/or gave up valuable field position. Who will step up?

At Sat Mar 27, 02:59:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are bringing insome kickers. Stephens and Gutierrez will be the WRs, perhaps Muston. Brackett and Bell will both play. Gerst will be a change of pace guy. Kennedy willl have a monster year. We will ahve the best cover corners in the league. I think we can take it all next year.

At Sat Mar 27, 03:38:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We seem to be bringing in the best group of kickers in the Ivy League as well as an outstanding long snapper from the Great State of Texas. If that' not enough to allay your concerns, keep in mind that last year's freshman kickers made dramatic improvement at year end. If everything goes well, there should be plenty of competition for all of the kicking roles.

At Sat Mar 27, 04:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You gotta have good long snaps, too, if you want to improve the kicking game.

At Sat Mar 27, 07:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re kicking, we're bringin in three top-notch kickers, each All-State, plus sophs Guttas and Perfetti improved considerably as last season progressed, with Perfetti nailing nearly all of his extra points (4-4 in Brown game). Excellent long snapper/center coming in, too.

With new recruits there will be plenty of talent at WR, DB, RB, all over the place really. Coaching will be the difference-maker.

At Sun Mar 28, 01:19:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some luck will help also.

At Sun Mar 28, 01:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously, Columbia has greatly stepped up its kicking game with the three talented incoming freshmen and the very promising 260pound long snapper from Texas. It will be interesting to see who emerges from this group as stars. I also agree with the person who said there will be plenty of talent at wr, db, rb and all over the place. However, I think the players themselves are more likely to be the difference makers than the coaches. The Lions are certainly capable of winning the Ivy League championship this year, but only if every player on the team gives 110%. We saw last year how important it is for everyone to be ready to play regardless of where they stand on the depth chart.

At Sun Mar 28, 02:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jake,

I was wondering how much the amount of practice differs between a major BCS school and an Ivy League school like Columbia. Do you have any specifics?

At Sun Mar 28, 05:35:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one deserves a big senior year more than Gutierrez. After all, the guy has come back from two serious injuries. We're all rooting for him to do well this year.


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