Last Line of Defense
Collin Zych bears down on a Yale receiver
Judging the quality of a secondary is a tricky job. How effective it is really depends a lot on other factors, so the states can lie.
For example, a lot of teams end up with great pass defense numbers mostly because they did such a bad job against the run that opponents simply didn’t need to pass very often against them.
Sadly, that’s happened to Columbia a few times in the last decade.
In 2009, Dartmouth finished an impressive third in the Ivies in pass defense. But look closer and you see that the Big Green finished dead last in rushing defense, which led to just 301 opponent pass attempts, second lowest in the league.
That doesn’t mean things aren’t looking generally good for the Dartmouth secondary. The very talented Shawn Abuhoff was 2nd Team All Ivy and he leads a unit that also returns starters J.B. Andreassi and Garrett Waggoner. But the Big Green loses the great Pete Pidermann, (and I will really miss saying his name on the air!), and that will take some wind out of their sails.
Just ahead of Dartmouth was 2nd place Yale and the Elis were also pretty good against the run in 2009, coming in fourth in the league. The Elis return their entire starting secondary in 2010, led by the super-talented Adam Money, a 1st Team All Ivy honoree.
Cornell also returns its entire starting secondary for this season, but that’s not so much to crow about. Junior Rashad Campbell is the real deal, but the Big Red defense was frankly a mess last year. Cornell will improve in this area this season, but not by much.
Penn had one of the best secondaries in recent Ivy history last year, but graduation has taken a huge toll. Chris Wynn is gone, along with All Ivy 1st teamer Jonathan Moore and 2nd Teamer Kevin Gray.
Princeton is also gutted, losing Cart Kelly, Dan Kopolovich, and Wilson Cates.
Harvard looks very good right now, despite losing half of its 2009 starters to graduation. That’s because All Ivy 1st Teamer Collin Zych returns at safety along with super talented Matthew Hanson at corner. But the Crimson were a subpar 6th in pass defense last season, and there are some questions to be answered for 2010.
Brown finished last in pass defense last season, but that’s a little misleading. The Bears were so strong against the run that they faced more passing attempts than you’d expect for a 3rd place team. The bad news is that A.J. Cruz, who many believe should have been the 2009 Rookie of the Year, is the only starter returning for 2010. No matter who plays, Brown must do something to cut down on its 65% opponent completion rate.
Columbia’s secondary loses the talented four-year starter in Andy Shalbrack, but the rest of the crew that led the league in interceptions and only allowed a 52% opponent completion rate is back. The headliner is All Ivy 2nd Teamer Adam Mehrer, who led the league in interceptions with five. Right behind him is Ross Morand, who filled in for Columbia’s two mostly injured starting CB’s in 2009 and was second in the Ivies with four picks. Those injured CB’s were senior Calvin Otis, who should be 100% for this season and Kalasi Huggins who should also be back. Safety Augie Williams is a seasoned veteran who really came on strong at the end of last season. This is a very deep unit for the Lions.
The best returning defensive backs for 2010 are:
1) Adam Money, Yale
2) Collin Zych, Harvard
3) Adam Mehrer, Columbia
The best overall returning secondaries for 2010 are: