Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Is Sean Brackett about to run or pass? (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

Anyone who watched Sean Brackett play last year had to be impressed with what they saw.

Brackett started the last four games of the 2009 season, and recorded a 2-2 record. But he really played the equivalent of about three and a third games because he was pulled in the first half from the Harvard game and in the late third quarter of the Cornell game.

In other words, a third of a season.

I admit this is hardly scientific, but if you take Brackett's actual stats and project what they would be for a full 10-game season, you get the following:

Completions: 102

Attempts: 189

Pct. 53.9%

Yards: 1,374

TD: 12

INT: 9

Rushing Attempts: 159

Rushing Yards: 861

Avg. per Carry: 5.4

Rushing TD: 3

Okay, okay. I realize some of these numbers sound crazy. For example, I don't think we'll see Brackett running 15-16 times per game even if he plays every down of all 10 games in 2010... not if the coaches don't want to see the kid killed that is.

On the other hand, I think we'll see bigger passing stats as Brackett gets more comfortable in the pocket.

Imagine if Brackett does turn in these kinds of numbers. A QB who could turn in nearly 150 yards passing, 86 yards rushing, and 3 TD's for every two games would be a great asset.

But these imaginary numbers only tell a small part of the story. A QB who can really hurt a defense as a runner and passer is worth his weight in gold, (at $1,200 per ounce these days, that's a REAL compliment). When M.A. Olawale was healthy last season, and it turns out he was only healthy through the first four and half games, the Lions offense was about as good as we've seen it in 30 years because of his dual threat abilities.

That said, there are things that Brackett does better than Olawale, most notably running the option play to perfection. I think he also has the good fortune of already having some wins under his belt, which should give him good confidence over his next three years at Columbia.

Of course, this all indicates how important it is to keep Brackett healthy. This is not only because he's so talented, but because the also very talented QB Jerry Bell is such a different type of player. I don't want to see the Columbia offense forced to change so radically on a dime if Brackett is hurt. Going from a running-gunning QB like Brackett to a pure passer like Bell might confuse opposing defenses, but it seems like it would require a whole new playbook for our offense as well. In case you haven't noticed, Ivy football players actually go to class and take it seriously, so an added bit of studying at midseason doesn't sound too appealing.

Remember that while the Lions had to adjust to Brackett in midseason, he was relieving the injured Olawale, who was also a QB who liked to run both by design and on improvised plays. Brackett's running style is different from Olawale's, but not that different.

My ideal scenario for Brackett is for him to follow in the footsteps of fellow #10 Fran Tarkenton. Brackett throws and runs like Takenton, for those of you old enough to remember him. They're even the same height, more or less.

Anyhoo, over Tarkenton's NFL career his typical passing box score was about 15 of 26 for 191 yards. His running stats were impressive for the NFL with 32 career TD's and a 5.4 yards per carry (which is exactly the same yards per carry average that Brackett logged last season).

Tarkenton's best year as a pro was 1975 when he completed 65% of his passes and threw 25 TD's to just 13 INT's. But 1975 was the year his heavily-favored Vikings fell to Dallas in the stunning "Hail Mary" divisional playoff game at Metropolitan Stadium. I you look closely at the video I linked to of that game above, you can see Vikings RB and Cornell great Ed Marinaro watching the play on the sidelines. But here's a better link with a lot more of the story and much better quality video.

Of course, Tarkenton has a good New York connection having played five seasons with the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium, just a few minutes from Baker Field.


At Thu Jun 03, 02:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I watched the tape of Marcorus Garrett (hopefully he's coming!), he seemed to be paired with a QB who could keep and run the ball as well. If he turns out to be what his tapes suggest he is, this will take some of the pounding off of Brackett....the two of them will always pose a delayed draw or option threat given their speed and ability to sell the fake. Maybe wishful thinking...?

At Thu Jun 03, 02:20:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember in the 90's when we were 6-0 with Callahan (sp?) as our run and gun QB. He was awesome....but then he broke his leg and we lost the final four games of the season. Jake, perhaps this is your worry too?

At Thu Jun 03, 04:50:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brackett may have about the same footspeed and arm strength as M.A., but he is better in his decision-making and much better at avoiding the sack. Brackett's heady moves are what make him stand out. He may not be the "bull" that M.A. was, but he more than compensates with his quickness. As everyone has noted, if he stays healthy every game should be an exciting contest.
To the previous poster, that was Mike Cavanaugh (not Callahan, but bless those Irish QBs)) who was one of the best running QBs in modern Lion history (along with Archie Roberts and hopefully Brackett). I saw him in 1995 almost single-handedly end Penn's nation-leading 24-game winning streak.

At Thu Jun 03, 08:42:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous ungvar said...

The new roster is up at!

At Thu Jun 03, 08:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Cavanaugh was a great running quarterback with blazing speed to the outside. I cannot recall any quarterback in the Ivy League in the last 20 or 30 years who was better than Mike at running the naked reverse on fourth and one. Until he was injured in the Princeton game Mike was virtually unstoppable. If I remember correctly what happened, the Princeton linebackers blitzed Mike repeatedly that day knowing that he was the Lions primary offensive threat The Lions had trouble blocking the Princeton linebackers who were very strong and fast. I'm not really sure what Columbia could have done that day to stop the Princeton linebackers, but I suppose a stronger passing or overall running game would have helped. Let's win the Ivy League Championship for Mike Cavanaugh!

At Thu Jun 03, 12:46:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, you keep wanting to make Brackett shorter than he is. He was also the star of his high school basketball team and was listed at 6'1", just like he is on the CU roster.

At Thu Jun 03, 07:06:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cavanaugh also returned punts; he was probably the best punt returner in the league.


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