Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Basic Problem

The Lions need to draw a line in the sand

For three straight games, the Columbia defense has been getting blown off the line of scrimmage by opposing offenses.

For two straight games, the Columbia offense has had trouble protecting the QB and opening consistent holes for the runners.

Not too much good can change for the Lions until they fix this problem.

The genesis of this line issue is hard to find. For the first three games, Columbia mostly dominated the lines of scrimmage on both offense and defense. The week two win over Towson was especially indicative of this as the Lion defense basically lived in the Tiger backfield while the offense had a big day running the ball.

But starting with the week four win over Lafayette, the defense stopped getting serious penetration and pressure on the QB. At first, it looked like this was just the result of the Leopards running screens and other plays that dealt better with the Columbia rush. Then, Penn’s great veteran offensive line was credited with simply outplaying us. Dartmouth’s offensive line is pretty good, but it dominated the game more than the Quaker O-line!

Changing the personnel is probably not the solution. Defensive coordinator Denauld Brown shuffles in different players along the line with more frequency than I’ve ever seen in football.

Of course, all of us would like to see Owen Fraser return to 2008. But it’s obvious he’s just not there yet and may not be this season.

As far as the offensive line is concerned, there seems to be less work to do here. The pass protection hasn’t been good the last three weeks, but not on every series. The running game was generally good against Dartmouth. A lot of fans seem to think putting Nick Gerst in for 60 minutes and giving him the ball 30 times might be an answer, but the coaches still seem to want to use him somewhat sparingly.

This Saturday’s game at Yale will provide a supreme test for the offensive line, as the Yale D is attacking and blitzing with ferocity this season.

It’s harder to tell how much of a test it will be for the defensive line as the Eli offensive line is not doing as well, and the running game has suffered. But any success here will be a huge positive for this unit.

What will be a big test for the Lion D is the quick release Yale QB Patrick Witt often showcases in the pocket. Big Green QB Conner Kempe ate the Columbia pass defense up last weekend with a similar quick release all day.

Three Up and Comers

Some of the newer players on the varsity are starting to grow into their positions.

One of them is WR Kurt Williams who had a near breakout game vs. Dartmouth with six catches for 75 yards. Williams is a junior and with the expected return of Mike Stephens at WR next year, he could be the second part of a good one-two punch at split end for the Lions. In the meantime, he seems like a good bet to get 10 or more receptions or a 100-yard game in any one of the four remaining contests this year.

Sophomore DE Joshua Martin grabbed another two fumbles on Saturday and definitely is showing a good knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Sophomore DB Steven Grassa is starting to get onto the field more often and doing some damage. He has 11 tackles this season.


At Wed Oct 27, 08:21:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the blitzing will stop once Columbia improves its short passing game and/or running game to the point where it can burn the rushing linebackers with some big plays. Columbia has several good running backs and wide receivers, but no one has stepped up yet and become the star runner/wide receiver/breakaway threat that the Lions offense desperately needs to take pressure off of Sean Brackett. Once that happens this year's Lion Football Team will resume its winning ways.

At Wed Oct 27, 09:53:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a runnng back who is 3rd in the Ivy avergaing 6 yds a carry. You cant step up when you get the ball only 6 times. Think you are right Jake. The Gerst kid has to get the ball 20 times and watch him go. Get him outside on the option, flat passes, stretch plays etc...Need to use the speed of Bracket and Gerst to open things up as we did early in the year.


At Wed Oct 27, 08:08:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple observations.

1) DL size is an issue. Less weight for speed worked early becasue those OLs weren't that strong. More blitzing would help. 4 DL against 5-6 good OL is always going to be an issue. Beter pass coverage would hep too. Many of the short passes were to a person standing on the sideline not moving with no one near him. An easy 2 or 3 count pass.

2) Shawn for the most part has had good pass protection. Unfortunaely he is not doing as good of a job checking his recievers. The play calling also is a factor in this area. The last 2 weeks they have covered Kennedy and the inside recievers for the most part. Others have been open.

3) One zing to the coaches. 4th and 1 at the goal and you take out the largest DT (Groth). 2 plays before with him in they couldn't run it in. What do they do, run up the middle. What they should have done (and did later) was bring the two other tackles back in and leave Groth in.

At Wed Oct 27, 08:11:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One note about thr run. Most of the damage was done running left or right. The LBs need to flow better and contain on the outsides. One positive is that counters didn't hurt us as much this week. Again, a LB issue.

At Wed Oct 27, 08:29:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster who suggest that the Lions use Gerst more often, but there is still a pressing need to find a speedy wide receiver who can make opposing defenses pay for all their blitzing by catching the ball in the slot and then break loose for a big gain. Columbia tried to do that last week, but the receivers dropped the ball on three or four plays and they weren't very open anyway.

At Wed Oct 27, 10:35:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The defense played cover 4 all day. The corners were ten yards off the receivers at the snap the entire game. Dartmouth went play action and then threw the ball under the corner all day. Their QB made the fake and then threw the ball. He didn't hold it more than a couple of seconds. No time for the pass run to get there. It was mostly a timing pattern.
CU didn't make any adjustment to this problem. They didn't bring the corner up. They didn't bump the receiver off the line. We just them let use that play to convert on third down at will. I don't understand why.

At Thu Oct 28, 12:45:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

Great analysis people, and in many ways good problems to have in that they are fixable with adjustments and or new schemes. In the past we sometimes lost because of physical inequities, too small, too slow, not agile enough... not this team.

At Thu Oct 28, 03:15:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed about getting the ball to Gerst. He has 1/3 the touches as the 2 other leading IVY league backs in yards per carry. If he had the ball more he could actually be leading the IVY in yards per carry. The one game he got the ball 15 times he had 140 yds. Slpit him out with that speed along with screens, flat passes options...He can change a game and open things up for everybody else. This team has talent. They can play with anybody in this league

At Thu Oct 28, 03:58:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a talented team and it's pretty well coached but I do think the DL is a little undersized. They seemed overmatched at times vs. Dartmouth. I agree with the poster that if you know Dartmouth wants to get it out quick and doesn't throw long why play the whole game in cover 4 and give up the short pass. Between lack of pressure and soft coverage, they just gave up too many 10 yard catches.

At Thu Oct 28, 04:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have a small DL you have to penetrate and make up for hte lack of size with speed. We were doing that earlier, but I think that teams have figured out that the way to beat us is by either running directly at us or by having the QB take a quick three step drop and pass to the sidelines. The corners aren't bumping the WRs, which they will have to do to disrupt thpose patterns. Our LBs also need to react more quickly; too many tackles are made 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.

At Thu Oct 28, 07:11:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The defense played cover 4 all day ... CU didn't make any adjustment to this problem."

"The play calling also is a factor in this area."

" ..good problems to have in that they are fixable with adjustments and or new schemes."

"This is a talented team and it's pretty well coached ..."

N.W. has proven himself a fine recruiter and an inspirational leader. I submit that our assistant coaches need to step it up.

At Thu Oct 28, 07:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"QB take a quick three step drop and pass to the sidelines"

All DB's should know when a QB takes a 3 step drop,it's time to break on the receiver not continue to give a 10 yard cushion. That's coverage 101.

At Fri Oct 29, 05:26:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about if they flood your zone with one deep and one short WR? You cover the deep one first and recover up to the shorter pass. I think that is more what was happening last week. In my opinion, our DBs are solid.

At Fri Oct 29, 07:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Witt is a good quarterback if you give him time. The Lions need to get some pressure on him. He checks down well something the Lions don’t do. When the Lions pass it appears it is a set play to one receiver and if he is not open Brackett pulls it down and runs (if not sacked) Maybe because he is sophomore or that is the best the Lions offensive coordinator can do. What happened to 81 Muston? He had a great breakout game against Fordham. He played well early against Towson. Have not heard much about him since. He seemed to have sticky hands and runs solid routes.
The defense needs to be more stout. Too many linemen getting downfield on the linebackers. Linebackers are doing well to fight off the blocks but initial contact is 3-4 yards downfield. Stronger offense could be the answer but they need to be much more creative in the play calling. Throwing the short pass over and over without stretching it out only allows the corners and backers to cheat up. Against Dartmouth there was not a deep attempt until late 3rd quarter. Behind at that time it was ineffective. The defense was playing safe. Let's see if we do more this week. I am excited with it being televised maybe they will get pumped. Go Lions.

At Fri Oct 29, 07:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our DBs are very talented. But I don't think they are bumping the receivers. Our LBs aren't good at pass defense, except for Augie


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