Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Backing Up Owen

Owen can't do it alone (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

With the loss of Bruce Fleming, and my continued position that the #1 key to the Columbia season is to stop the run, we have a serious question to answer:

Who do the Lions have on the bench to back up the very talented DT Owen Fraser?

First let’s talk a bit about the man who started, and in my opinion starred, in the defensive tackle role last year. That would be Chris Groth.

When Fraser went down in the season opener last season, the Lions could have fallen into a serious tailspin. Fleming did well filling in at Fraser’s exact spot, But the then-sophomore Groth was starting in the other DT position and he carried a big share of the load. Groth made sure the run defense was good enough to avoid the season falling into a total loss. As juniors this year, Groth and Fraser figure to be one of the best tandems of starting defensive tackles in recent Columbia history.

Backing up Groth and Fraser I see what look like six other pure defensive tackles on the bench. They are almost all underclassmen.

Sophomore Seyi Adebayo, who bulked up from 230 to 260 lbs. in the offseason, seems like a prime candidate to continue his impressive play so far. Adebayo may be the best and most conditioned athlete on this team, and his additional weight should make him a force wherever he lines up on the line.

Sophomores Anthony Villamagna and Shad Sommers certainly have the size to be factors at tackle, but we haven’t seen enough of them at the varsity level to be sure. Greg Lee weighs in at 250 lbs, and I don’t yet know if he’ll be at tackle or end.

Freshman Joe Raimondi brings very good credentials to the job. At 270 lbs. and wrestling accolades to boot, he could be a larger-sized version of Lou Miller if the stars align correctly. But he is just a freshman and a total unknown at least for fans at this point in the game.

The “old men” at this position are seniors Matt Stotler and converted O-lineman Bryan Kipp. I certainly like Stotler’s height at 6-5, especially when it comes to swatting down passes. But I am ignorant of his run-stopping abilities. For Kipp, I will say that usually when players switch positions so late in the game, the results have been positive.

Once again, let me lay out the stakes here about stopping the run.

-Columbia’s problems in run defense definitely cost the Lions wins against Central Connecticut and Dartmouth, and possibly 1-2 more opponents.

-The Lions first opponent, Fordham, is LOADED with running talent that will be hard to overcome without stellar play from the DT position.

-Most of Columbia’s Ivy opponents have better running attacks than passing weapons. Establishing the run against us is most likely to be job #1.


My season ticket package arrived in the mail today and it looks great.

The players featured on individual tickets include Matt Moretto, Alex Gross, Andrew Kennedy, Mike Stephens, Calvin Otis, and Zack Kourouma.

Leaving the Mic... Sort of

Also included is the fan's guide to going to home games at Wien Stadium. It includes a mention that Jerry Recco will be covering the games on GoColumbiaLions.com all season long.

My name isn't on there.

That's because of some tears.

Let me explain.

On the morning of the Yale game last season, my eldest daughter suddenly realized that she couldn't go to the games with daddy and sit in the press box quietly or in the stands for three-plus hours by herself.

She had to stay home.

She burst into tears, and then I realized something...

I have two daughters who will, someday soon, be teenagers who don't want to know me.

I HAVE to take advantage of my chances to sit in the stands with them at as many games as possible... or at least until they're old enough to sit in the stands by themselves and wave to daddy in the press box.

I very much hope to return to calling the Columbia games very soon, but this season I will be a normal spectator like most of you.

Well, a spectator who also writes a daily blog about Lions football... but you get the idea.

I really want to thank everyone in the Columbia athletic department who gave me the opportunity to broadcast the games for the past three seasons. I will omit their names here to protect the guilty. But we are trying to work out a way to have me do some taped halftime interviews for this season, so perhaps this is not a real goodbye or even a full hiatus.

Most of all, I want to thank you. Many of you reading this lobbied on my behalf when I asked you for support to get the color commenting job. I appreciated it then, and I appreciate it now.

Three Days to Go!

I feel like Columbia season really starts Thursday night when week 2 opponent Towson heads to Indiana to kick off the year.

But with just three days to go until game time, Towson has yet to publish a two-deep or game notes so the scouting process can begin.

Hopefully, the Lion coaching staff will be glean some pearls of wisdom from the Towson game.

Also, still no two-deep from the folks at Fordham who kick off their season on Saturday against Bryant in Rhode Island.


At Tue Aug 31, 08:21:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We'll miss you, Jake, but you have your priorities right.

At Tue Aug 31, 10:02:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben Popeck (6'4" 245) is another possibility at DL. Despite his weight gain, I would expect Adebayo to play defensive end rather than DT. There are also several offensive linemen who played on the defensive line in high school. If necessary, one or two of them could move over to the offense. Incidentally, Anthony Villamagna was credited with a QB sack during by the blog moderator during the second intra-squad scrimmage.

At Tue Aug 31, 10:48:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

Agree with Anonymous. You have to enjoy the company of your kids while you can. By the time they become teenagers, they usually won't want to be seen in the same zip code as you.

At Tue Aug 31, 11:57:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake: that was a tough but admirable decision. I was impressed with the balance you brought to your commentary despite being such a huge Columbia fan. Hope to hear you again some day.


At Tue Aug 31, 06:30:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key to stopping the run game isn't just the DL. Most of the tackles are made by the LBs and the SS when he plays in the box. And I like our talent at both those positions. One other point; expect Fraser to be double teamed on every play.

At Tue Aug 31, 10:31:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger friend12 said...

Anonymous said...
The key to stopping the run game isn't just the DL. Most of the tackles are made by the LBs and the SS when he plays in the box. And I like our talent at both those positions. One other point; expect Fraser to be double teamed on every play.

I agree LB are key. I also think that Fraser and / or Groth will be doubled team every play which makes the LB filling wholes the key.

At Wed Sep 01, 02:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I respect the decision that you made to forego broadcasting fun and fame for time alone with your daughter. She's lucky to have a father who places such value on the relationship. I hope that, at the end of the season, you look back and confirm the wisdom of your choice.

One of your Princeton readers


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