Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Overrated in Philly

There will be no Jake Lewko for the Quakers in 2010

"The Devil Finds Work for Idle Hands to Do"

That's a proverb that almost completely accurately describes what happens to Ivy League football fans during the looong period from the day spring practice ends to day summer training camp opens.

I guess the more accurate proverb would be:

"The Devil Finds Work for Idle MINDS to Do."

Let's face it, the last 150 or so days of the 300-day offseason drive most of us nuts.

One of the things this annual summer mania does to us is it makes us put way too much weight on the published preseason forecasts in magazines like Athlon Sports and The Sporting News.

But I hope even the most information starved fan isn't putting too much weight on the recent #13 ranking Athlon just bestowed on Penn for 2010.

Now don't get me wrong, I hardly think the Quakers will be a weak team this coming season. In fact, if Penn isn't in the title hunt in some fashion in the final 2-3 weeks it'll be a surprise.


The Quakers are a team that lived on its superb defense last season and just about every star player on that defense has graduated.

Another big star, Owen Thomas, tragically committed suicide last month.

I just don't think the 2010 defense will be able to carry the load the way it did in 2009.

The offense may indeed improve this season. The running attack in particular should be effective thanks to a young and talented offensive line and running back Lyle Marsh, who is one of the Ivy's top three ball carriers right now.

But it's also an offense that has yet to show an effective passing attack, and without a stifling defense to back that up I just can't see Penn as a no-brainer favorite to win the Ivies let alone justify a #13 ranking in all of the FCS.

But the guy at Athlon who made this prediction probably just went with the base numbers without thinking too much about them. Yes, the Quakers have 15 starters and 11 All-Ivy honorees returning.

But none of them are Jake Lewko, Joe Goniprow, or Chris Wynn.

Again, I want to make it clear that I still believe Penn is going to be good. But until that offense proves it can pass the ball effectively, there's no reason to spend the next 116 days fretting about the Quakers.

Meanwhile, how anyone who watches the league doesn't pick Harvard as the preseason favorite to win the Ivies is beyond me.

Harvard has more key starters returning, and while I am not shaking in fear over what Andrew Hatch may or may not do for the Crimson at QB, I don't think his presence is going to hurt them. (And rest assured, Hatch WILL be playing this fall).

I like Harvard's returning running back corps, led by Ivy Rookie of the Year Treavor Scales and rising senior Gino Gordon.

I also like Harvard's returning receiver corps, led by Chris Lorditch and Adam Chrissis.

But even Harvard doesn't "scare" me because of some serious graduation losses in the offensive line and the overall defense.

The grand truth is that the entire league is looking more competitive than it has in decades as we head into the coming season. And it was pretty darn competitive last year. Remember that Penn won the title on the shoulders of an OT win at Brown and a razor-thin win at Harvard.

Meanwhile, Columbia came in fourth in the league and beat Brown much more decisively than Penn or Harvard did and the Lions fell to the Quakers mostly thanks to their own mistakes.

I'm still three months away from a more formal prediction for the 2010 Ivy race. But even now, I know that as many as six of the eight Ivy teams have every reason to believe they can contend for the title this fall.


At Wed May 26, 12:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can we find synopsis of Ivy schools in national college football magazines, like Anthlon?

At Wed May 26, 02:24:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger HBShannon said...

On offense, Penn has an core of All-Ivy offensive linemen returning and a good looking young runner in Lyle Marsh. Yes, from a passing standpoint, there are questions. But they also have the best kicker in the league and one of the best FCS kickers in the nation. That makes up for a lot.

On defense, they return an All-Ivy linebacking corps which will wreak major havoc again. Yes, the loss of Owen Thomas will weigh heavily on the hearts of his teammates and leave a lost physical presence up front.

Harvard will have more balanced offense with great running and receiving but needs to address loss of majority of the offensive line to graduation.

On the flip side, they return a nearly intact All-Ivy defensive line and senior DB Colin Zych who was top pass defender and top 10 tackler.

PENN and HARVARD are the obvious contending favorites.

At Wed May 26, 04:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In your opinion, but not mine. Let's not use terms like "obvious contending favorites" in the Ivy League race until more is known about all of the teams. At this date, I can see six teams contending for the Ivy League Championship and no clear favorites.

At Wed May 26, 10:22:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

The obvious non-contenders would be Princeton and Dartmouth?

At Wed May 26, 08:13:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More likely Princeton and Cornell (in that poster's view).

At Wed May 26, 09:08:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and HB Shannon should also note that Harvard will most probably have Andrew Hatch who won a national Championship at LSU.

At Wed May 26, 09:35:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Hatch started the 1st couple of games at LSU and had an injury. I don't think he started again after that. Can some one verify this?

Regardless he is a good QB, but, Harvard does not have an OL like LSU did which defines just how good a QB really is.

At Wed May 26, 11:11:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger HBShannon said...

Hatch started the first three games of the 2008 season, suffered a lower leg injury and made three more appearances but not starts:


At Wed May 26, 11:16:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger HBShannon said...

Found better information:

Hatch started three, made three other appearances then broke his leg and missed the rest of 2008. He also suffered a concussion that season and had to sit out against Mississippi State.

He also had a shoulder injury that cost him his 2007 season and got a medical redshirt.


At Wed May 26, 11:27:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger HBShannon said...

Hatch also tore his meniscus playing pickup soccer while away on his mission to South America.

So in February 2007, Hatch left his mission and went home for surgery.

He may be the Harvard QB if he can hold himself together long enough. He seems to have been able to bounce back from each injury without much problem so far.

At Thu May 27, 08:07:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so....Andrew Hatch Started or saw significant action in 6 games on a National Championship Football Team......lets get realistic here. and he is going to come down and play in the Ivy league at age 25...( I think our QB is 19).....this is a man playing with boys....Hatch could probably play on his own offensive line.........Harvard wins the ivy league this year....Columbia 4th is my prediction.


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