Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Returning Arms Race

Andrew Hatch

The buzz around the Ivy League is once again very much about Andrew Hatch and his future at Harvard.

Officially, there is no word yet on whether the Harvard-to LSU-back to Harvard transfer is cleared to play in 2010.

Unofficially, that's a load of bunk.

I am willing to bet a considerable amount of my overpriced mortgage that Hatch will be playing and probably starting for the Crimson this fall.

In fact, I'm still trying to figure out why he wasn't allowed to play last fall, but I'll leave the answer to that question to the league office and the conspiracy theorists who are springing up these days about the whole Hatch affair.

Like last year, I'm amused by those who seem to think Hatch will be some kind of monster on the field for the Crimson and play head and shoulders above his peers at QB.

I don't think so.

Hatch will be good, maybe even very good. But while BCS teams like LSU are eons ahead of Ivy squads, that difference is not really the case when you look at some individual positions.

I would say the two positions where the top Ivy players could very easily play at the BCS level are QB and offensive lineman, followed closely by the best kickers.

Hatch wasn't really a prolific passer in his time with LSU anyway, but I don't think he can be underestimated as a legitimate All Ivy prospect for 2010.

Meanwhile, Collier Winters had a very good year for the Crimson in 2009 and can't be written off without a fight. But either way, I expect Harvard to emphasize the run a lot more this season with phenom Treavor Scales and solid veteran Gino Gordon in the backfield. All the attention on the QB position and passing may be a classic smokescreen.

Hatch or no Hatch, who are the top Ivy QB's coming back for 2010?

Bruce Wood over at the Big Green Alert blog listed the top returnee stats just the other day.

But here's who I think are the top three QB's coming back for 2010:

Brown's Kyle Newhall-Caballero

1) Kyle Newhall-Caballero BROWN

"KNC," as I call him, posted a super 62.7% completion rate and he throws some of the best looking spirals I've seen in a long time in this league. How will he do as a senior in 2010 without Bobby Sewell and Buddy Farnham? Probably not as well... at least to start. But the dangerous Trevan Samp returns and this guy throws the ball so well I think he'll find some new targets among Head Coach Phil Estes' steady pipeline of receiving talent. One knock on KNC is he threw 14 INT's last season, but he was throwing so often that he only had one pick for every 30 passes attempted... which is not so bad. Another slam on him is that he doesn't really run, but that's not what he's expected to do at Brown.

KNC is the best pro-style, non-running QB in the league bar none.

Sean Brackett (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

2) Sean Brackett COLUMBIA

The rising sophomore has all the tools, and unlike almost every other sophomore QB in recent Ivy history, he's already shown them on the field. Brackett has a strong arm, very fast wheels, and impeccable timing and poise running the option. The fact that Brackett was able to play at the level he did just about 11 weeks after he first arrived on campus is remarkable.

Brackett is officially listed at 6-1, but he seems more like 5-10. You expect smaller QB's like that to be quick, but Brackett was quicker than most people expected.

His arm was so much stronger than anyone expected that the first two TD passes of his career against Yale were clearly surprises to the Eli defensive backs who were shorting their coverages on those plays.

Watching Brackett run the option was, quite simply, a thing of beauty. The timing and crispness of his tosses were something I'd more expect to see from your typical 7th year senior playing at Oklahoma rather than an Ivy frosh. He also had a better than 7 yards per attempt passing average, an absolute rarity in college. When he trots onto the field wearing that #10, he really reminds me of Fran Tarkenton.

Fran Tarkenton goes under center

The knocks on Brackett are he did seem to try too hard a few times and he had two crucial fumbles after big gains when he tried to milk just a little more out of the play than necessary. You also have to worry that he will get injured if he continues to run so often.

But if the worst things you can say about a QB are that he tries too hard and might get hurt, you're in good shape.

Collier Winters

3) Collier Winters HARVARD

A big part of me would like to see the very talented and hard working Collier Winters have a monster senior season in 2010. It would be fun to see the Hatch hype burst and reward this young man who had to wait a long time to get his starting job and still might lose it again.

Winters can also run very well and his TD-to-INT ratio was the best in the league.

But he's still not the best passer overall, and he will not have the luxury of the graduation Matt Luft to throw to this fall.


Keiffer Garton PENN

When he's healthy, he's also a complete package. He runs hard, and as Columbia learned the hard way last year, Garton can also thread the needle with super passes into coverage.

The trouble is, the rising senior is barely healthy enough to be considered a safe bet to start consistently for Penn in 2010. I still don't think Garton's knee is going to be 100% or even 90% for the fall or anytime. It's not like Penn doesn't have some great alternatives, namely Billy Ragone who looked very good in limited duty last season.

The best news for Garton is that if he can get that knee working well enough, he'll have a very experienced offensive line in front of him and one of the best running backs in the Ivies, Lyle Marsh, behind him.

Patrick Witt YALE

Witt's best moments came last year in the second half against Columbia when he brought the Elis back to win the game with a series of brilliant quick-release passes. That's what earned him a starting job briefly at Nebraska before he transferred away from Lincoln.

Unfortunately for Yale, Witt rarely played like that the rest of the season. But he has the right tools to be more of a positive factor in 2010 if he can show the maturity another year of adjusting in New Haven should give him. He also needs to find a way to scramble better and cut down on his interceptions. Witt threw one pick for every 21 passes thrown in 2009.


At Wed May 05, 01:50:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

all really good points and observations Jake..But I saw Hatch play for Harvard JV and man can he run! He also was a terrific scrambler at LSU in the one season he played...I just don't understand how the Ivy league lets the year after year powerhouse, Harvard, let these guys transfer in...I know it sounds like sour grapes but, do you think this is fair to the rest of the league?

At Wed May 05, 02:07:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Actually, Harvard has relied very lightly on transfers, if at all in recent years.

At Wed May 05, 03:59:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not really Jake.....Yale gets a QB from Nebraska last year...and like 4 years ago Harvard got another transfer, a starting QB, from Tulane. I dont mind if they want to come to school but- how many 24-25 year old QB's from Top BCS schools is the Ivy league going to let Harvrad and Yale have? Really?

At Wed May 05, 04:16:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

The transfer from Tulane, Liam O'Hagan, never made it as a consistent starter. Patrick Witt wasn't even one of the top four QB's in the Ivies last year. But that said, I want MORE transfers to come to the Ivies and specifically Columbia, not fewer. Instead of complaining to the officials, let's win this game on the field while extending an Ivy education to the athletes who have their goals straight.

At Wed May 05, 04:18:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

The transfer from Tulane, Liam O'Hagan, never made it as a consistent starter. Patrick Witt wasn't even one of the top four QB's in the Ivies last year. But that said, I want MORE transfers to come to the Ivies and specifically Columbia, not fewer. Instead of complaining to the officials, let's win this game on the field while extending an Ivy education to the athletes who have their goals straight.

At Wed May 05, 04:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The transfer from Tulane was R Irvin and he played 2 seasons at Harvard as a 2nd string to OHagan (OHagan actually had a nice career winning 4 ivy league championships-he did not transfer in)) then Irvin transfered again to SW Louisiana and played there for a year then played for the Saints last year..My point is....lets get an even playing field in the Ivys..be true to your values...no more tranfers just so you can play football.(if you want to come to the school to get a degree and you can get in--Fine!!!) but don't transfer into the school to just play a sport...Lets make it even for everyone if not..lets give out full scholarships and compete in the BCS..Then lets see what happens (I bet Harvard/Yale or even Columbia would go to the Rose Bowl...

At Wed May 05, 05:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minor corrections regarding "KNC":

Trevan Samp does not, unfortunately, return this season. He played his last game with Sewall and Farnham.

Also, KNC is more of a mobile QB; he saved a lot of plays last year with his feet. He's pretty fast for a big guy. The down side is that he often throws while running, which definitely contributed to all those interceptions last year.

Otherwise, good analysis!

At Wed May 05, 05:59:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

On the Tulane transfer: it indeed was O'Hagan and Irvin played for Penn. Neither worked out too well. On Samp: I could have sworn he was listed as a junior in 2009, did he graduate early?

At Wed May 05, 06:02:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger friend12 said...

Just a thought, I believe the NCAA rules require a player to sit out when transferring from one school to another unless the school they are leaving agrees to a waiver and/or the NCAA agrees. Mollet was denied a waiver when he transferred from UM to Arkansas. Of course that was a transfer from one scholarship team to another. It is possible that LSU or the NCAA declined that waiver in Hatch’s case. You then have the league itself.

At Wed May 05, 07:08:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake...sorry to be bothersome but I know for a fact that Richard Irvin was the transfer to Harvard from Tulane and he ended up at SW louisiana...(OHagan is my nephew-and was the Ivy total offense leader his soph year, he was there Frosh-Senior year---I played at Columbia).....but my real point is why does the league let 25 year old double transfers (Hatch?) play football...he has had his chance to compete at all the levels..lets give another kid playing time. And lets stop the powerhouses (Harvard/Yale) from manipulating the system!

At Wed May 05, 07:25:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Oh, okay I'm thinking of the other Irvin who QB'd Penn. And you are right about O'Hagan. I'm not sure why I got confused about that.

I still like transfers coming to the this league. I don't want one team to have an advantage over the others, but maybe there can be a cap on each team's alloted number of transfers.

At Wed May 05, 08:07:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Indeed, as your reader has pointed out, Richard Irvin was the transfer from Tulane to Harvard. Irvin had a personal QB guru, and indications are, Tim Murphy made some kind of promise that Irvin would start at Harvard. The first game at Holy Cross, Murphy did start Irvin, but Murphy pulled Irvin, and put in Liam O'Hagan.

Irvin then ended up in Murphy's dog house. I think he ended being the 4th string.

At Wed May 05, 08:18:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't think Ivy League should allow Hatch to play football at Harvard.

Harvard had suspended transfers when Hatch somehow miraculously made his way back to Harvard.

Odd because:
1. By all indications, Hatch transferred from Harvard to LSU. He was not taking a year off or a visiting student at LSU.
2. In order to get back to Harvard, one would think that Hatch would have to reapply for admission to Harvard.

If anyone knows something that I do not know, please enlighten me how Hatch was allowed to enroll at Harvard when during transfer freeze.

At Wed May 05, 08:44:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the answer. The Harvard administration will simply not alllow Harvard to be embarrassed in football. The Harvard administration will never tolerate mediocrity as an institutional policy. Harvard will take transfers to fill in any prceived weaknesses in its football team. And its best transfer was the running back form Northwestern who graduated from Harvard a few years ago, but not before tearing up the Ivies (his name escapes me).

At Wed May 05, 08:52:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At Thu May 06, 03:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the transfer to Harvard from Northwestern was Dawkins..who by the way, ended up breaking Ed Marinaros records....I dont think Ed transfered.....Good news on the Fordham prep recruit..I hope he has better feet then Mario Biaggi ( a great guy!!)

At Thu May 06, 04:20:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Actually the transfer to Harvard from NU at) was Clifton Dawson. And he di break Marinaro's records, but he needed FOUR years of varsity play to break what Ed did in three.

At Thu May 06, 08:27:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An easy solution to the transfer problem: an Ivy rule that all transfers have to sit a year before playing. Just because the NCAA allows transfers who drop down a level to play right away, it doesn't mean the Ivies do. A kid who really wants the education will have no problem. One who just wants to play will go somewhere else.


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