Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kicking it up a Notch!

Lou Gehrig's real disease may have been something else

A couple of things to check before continuing my training camp “to do list.”

First, Lou Gehrig’s career as a Columbia football player is under the medical microscope as a number of experts now believe his football, and then baseball, concussions were what ultimately killed him and not Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Speaking of Lou and concussions, he even suffered one in an exhibition game the Yanks played in June of 1934 in Norfolk, VA against the Yanks’ minor league team, the Norfolk Tars.

I find it interesting that as late as 1934, the newspaper still refers to Gehrig as “Columbia Lou.”

Pre-Frosh Video

Another story I liked was a link the Columbia Spectator provided to a video a soon-to-matriculate student made honoring Columbia athletics. The incoming student’s name is Kenny Nakazawa and I know a lot of Lion alums who are looking to meet him personally at some games this fall. Here’s a link to Kenny’s blog. You can see his video there. Feel free to comment on his video and send him some encouragement! We need more student fans like Kenny!

Kicking and Returning

Now back to the preseason priorities as we are about to begin training camp in just four days.

Kicking problems cost the Lions dearly in 2009, and the coaches clearly responded to that by bringing in more kickers than I can ever remember in a single year.

That said, I liked a lot of what sophomore Greg Guttas showed last year and I would not be surprised if he keeps one the kicking jobs this season, especially doing kickoffs.

But the kicking competition should be lively in camp as Guttas, Dean Perfetti, and Andrew Weiss vie for spots with incoming freshmen Luke Eddy, Tyler Feely, and Paul Delaney.

Of course, special teams aren’t just about kicking.

With Austin Knowlin gone, the Lions need to replace the man who returned 100% of the punts in 2009 and 53% of the kickoffs.

Senior Craig Hamilton returned 14 kicks for a very good 20.7 yards per return average. He’ll certainly be in the mix for what seems like a very crowded field of returning and new players vying for the job of returning kickoffs and punts.

As far as covering kicks goes, that’s a job that has to be re-learned every summer as the coverage teams usually see a lot of turnover. But the Lions did do a great job in this department last season, holding opposing teams to an average of under 19 yards on kickoff returns and under seven yards on punts returns.

Here’s what I would put down as my wish list for our special teams:

1) 98% or better on PAT’s

Columbia was just 81% on PAT’s last season and it seemed like every miss took major air out of our tires. This needs to become automatic in 2010.

2) 80% or better on all FG tries 35 yards and shorter

Columbia only attempted seven field goals ALL SEASON in 2009, with five of them at 35 yards or shorter. The Lions made two of those kicks. It goes without saying that has to improve by leaps and bounds this year. The Lion offense needs to know it doesn’t have to take crazy risks every time it faces a 3rd or 4th down situation in the red zone.

3) Punting average of 38 yards or better

4) Emulating or improving on last season’s kick coverage stats

All of this is easier said than done. But can anyone remember a time when Columbia’s kicking talent was this deep?

Jake on Vacation

I’ll be out of town for a long weekend, so blogging will be light until early next week. I will do my best to make sure important updates are passed on as soon as possible.


At Sat Aug 21, 03:11:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

Nice job by Kenny. Loved the image of Columbia Rock with letters superimposed to spell "Chosen"...
Could this be OUR year?

At Tue Aug 24, 02:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any information on the start of practice?

At Tue Aug 24, 09:09:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it's only one day so it will remain to be seen how the freshman kickers/punters ultimately stack up with the guys already on the team. However, I was excited to hear that one of the freshman kickers was absolutely crushing the ball on kickoffs. We'll still have to see how the coverage turns out, but if what I heard was correct then there's a good shot of turning your #4 concern into a real positive.

At Tue Aug 24, 11:08:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's great news about the kickoffs. Let's hope we have some more good news about punts, PATs and field goals.

At Wed Aug 25, 03:16:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding kick-offs, one interesting stat is starting position for the offense. My guess is that our opponents average starting field position last year was close to the 40. That makes a huge difference in terms of field position. It gives the offense far more options on first down, for example. Our starting position was on average probably around the 30. If we can balance that equation, over the course of a game that may be as much as 40 to 50 yards of field position.

At Sun Sep 19, 05:19:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger KENNY NAKAZAWA said...

It's me Kenny Nakazawa!
I heard about your blog from my friend, and it's great!
please keep in touch with me!


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