Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shaking off the Cobwebs

Mike Stephens had a great night: 109 yards receiving and he was named co-captain

Even before last night's spring game began, it was a victory for the Columbia football program.

What had to be the biggest crowd ever for a spring game showed up, and that was even though the athletic department was providing a live blog and internet broadcast of the game.

I have a lot of theories about why the crowd was so large and boisterous, but I think the number one reason has to be that the program is seeing a near record number of upperclassmen and more and more players and their families and friends have a real long-term investment in this team.

Oh, and also... the weather was nearly perfect.

As for the game, the old adage about how it takes offenses a little more time to get into rhythm than defenses in football rang true last night. The defenses for both the blue and the white teams looked pretty sharp and ahead of their counterparts on the other side of the ball.

The offenses had a little trouble getting things going with their passing attacks. But the white team was assured victory when QB Sean Brackett and WR Mike Stephens got into sync in the second half. Stephens made some sparkling catches and set up the lone TD of the game, eventually scored by Brian Deveau on a WR end around play.

Stephens finished with 4 catches for 109 yards and he was my MVP of the game.

Obviously, the special rules for QB's running, (one-hand touches counted for tackles and sacks), quashed the offensive powerhouse that is Sean Brackett when he decides to run. At least four big runs were cut short by that rule last night.

And that's okay... no more injuries please!

I was also very impressed with Kurt Williams, who started at WR for the blue team after playing CB his first two years. He has blistering speed and I see him as a factor in 2010. The first play from scrimmage featured a great throw from Jerry Bell that Williams timed perfectly even as he burned his cover man and got great separation.

Owen Fraser looked great most of the night in his first action since getting injured in the 2009 opener at Fordham.

I liked Will Patterson's play as he registered three "sacks" for the white team. Also looking good for the white was Seyi Adebayo.

After the game, defensive lineman Josh Smith and WR Mark Muston were named most improved players for the spring. With Smith, Patterson, Adebayo and Josh Martin emerging on the DL last night, I like our chances to recover from losing two-time 1st Team All Ivy Lou Miller and great outside pass rusher Matt Bashaw to graduation. Chris Groth and Bruce Flemming will also make a difference up front.

David Chao probably had the best night of any of the running backs, making some good cuts and doing a good job of switching the ball from his left to his right hand when the situation called for it. Leon Ivery ran hard, but didn't have much room most of the night.

Nick Gerst had one of the biggest highlights of the night with an exciting and speedy 35-yard catch-and-run from Paul Havas on a screen. You have to think Gerst will be a great weapon on that kind of a play over his next three years. If he bulks up a bit like Ray Rangel did last offseason, look out!

Also looking good from where I was sitting were Ross Morand, Craig Hamilton and Kalasi Huggins in the secondary.

I was also happy to hear the naming of the captains for 2010: Stephens, Matt Moretto, Andrew Kennedy, (who was injued and did not play last night... we really need him to be ready for the fall), and now two-time captain Alex Gross, (also injured since last season and not playing last night).

Some of the other walking wounded were Shea Selsor, Calvin Otis and Ian Quirk

I know I'm leaving a lot of other players' names out, but please check the archive of last night's live blog for those names and some other key details.


At Sun Apr 25, 11:28:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, Jake, I believe you are right on with all your observations about what happened on the field last night. However, as you also said, the highlight of the evening had to be what was happening in the stands where there was a huge turnout of family, friends and Columbia football fans. I think we are starting to see the benefit of having so many fine young men participating in the gridiron sport at Columbia. I hope the Columbia players reward their enthusiastic supporters by winning the Ivy League Football Championship this fall.

At Sun Apr 25, 12:07:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't believe no one has commented as yet on the spring game, so I'll take a shot.

After a miserable first half, the Brackett-Stephens combo lit up the team and there were some good things to see. DeVeau looks like a very nice find, and we're hearing about other wide receivers even before the talented freshmen arrive. Looks like we have very good depth at most positions -- tight end could be a problem if Kennedy can't play. David Chao another nice surprise. Defense solid throughout and should give our potentially explosive offense its share of opportunities.

At Sun Apr 25, 10:47:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to Kennedy?

At Mon Apr 26, 02:46:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you are right about the defense being ahead of the offense. A very even game on D ,but there is no contest who is our best QB. I agree with the coach moving players into new roles where they can improve the team. We are still desperate for a punter although the QB / punter looked the best to me.

At Mon Apr 26, 04:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would give middle linebacker, Nick Mistretta, credit for taking on the difficult role of firing up his teammates on the sidelines. If Columbia is going to win the Ivy League Football Championship, the defense will need to go 100% at all times. Go Lions!

At Mon Apr 26, 04:50:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan Kerrigan, Mike Murphy and Karson Bodnovich were just few of the back-up players who stood out on defense during the scrimmage. Patterson looked outstanding on the pass rush.

At Mon Apr 26, 05:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DeVeau impressed me on that end around touchdown run with his speed and athleticism. He also looks like a fine receiver.

At Mon Apr 26, 05:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to see Karson Bodnovich succeed -- he was all-state first team Ohio -- but I didn't see his #58 that much, and the video announcer mistakenly gave him credit for the safety when in fact the end zone touch tackle was by Matt Stotler, #92. Anybody else see Bodnovich make plays? I'd like to see him emerge. And congrats to Stotler on a very good play.

At Mon Apr 26, 08:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to hear about the nice crowd at the game. Mistretta,Williams, and Stephens looked solid and the Gerst kid is exciting when he had a litle blocking.

At Mon Apr 26, 05:00:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a Lion golf team three- peat this weekend as Ivy Champs at Baltusrol golf club. Baseball is at home next Saturday for the last doubleheader v Penn fot their division title and the playoff for the Ivy Championship

At Mon Apr 26, 08:44:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jake, why weren't you in the booth for the spring game webcast? I hope you'll be there for the upcoming season!

At Mon Apr 26, 10:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OL was interesting to watch. White OL was better at pass protection. Blue was by far better at run blocking. No Frasher or Groth to run through helps, but, even taking that into account Blue flowed better when it came to run blocking. I am guessing those positions are still up in the air.

Both teams still had issues with outside containment especially later in the game.

Pass coverage was really good throughout which I believe was the main reason for the low score.

If injuries are kept to a minimum, this could be a great season.

At Mon Apr 26, 10:26:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did AK or MA get a FA deal? I sw that David Howard was drafted in the 7th round. He was a non-factor in the Brown game. Which one of our OLs neutralized him? Adams? PS, I htink we have the horses to take it all this Fall.

At Mon Apr 26, 11:39:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I will be out with an announcement soon about my status announcing for this coming season.

At Tue Apr 27, 01:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

White (first team) OL line not looking as strong as last season, but Quirk and Kennedy were out and new guys still breaking in, will need some time. Had expected to see rising soph Eric Walker on first or second O-line. Anybody know about him?

At Tue Apr 27, 03:23:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

#51, Eric Walker, was walking the Blue Team sideline during the game, presumably due to an injury. Hopefully, it's nothing too serious, as he certainly looks strong enough and big enough to contribute immediately. And if he's from Texas, you know he has played some football.

At Tue Apr 27, 10:02:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I will be out with an announcement" sounds ominous, Jake. I hope things are working out the way you want. You and Jerry are the best Columbia's had in a long while by far -- including Friday night. Or have the new-look Jets have come calling?


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