THREE DAYS TO GO!!!
Columbia’s game notes have been released and one headline is that Owen Fraser does not appear on the two-deep at all. Ian Quirk is listed as the starter after missing last week’s game at Penn entirely.
I’d love to hear from more of you who have bought at least one extra ticket and committed to bring at least one added person to the game this Saturday. I hate to shoot for an exact number, but this Lions team deserves a crowd of at least 10,000 people for Homecoming.
Actually I’d like to see more like 13,000, but with 10 years gone since our last Homecoming win I realize it will be hard to win back a decent chunk of the casual alumni fans.
But the weather is going to be just great! The temperature forecast has now been kicked up to 65 degrees and partly cloudy. That’s a nice change from a bit of a drizzle or two at last year’s Homecoming and absolutely terrible weather at each of the last two Columbia-Dartmouth games.
Odd Stat of the Day
Through five games, there have been NO missed field goals in any Columbia game this season. The Lions are 4-4 and their opponents are 6-6.
Some More “Rooting Points”
-Do you really want to wait any longer to see Columbia QB Sean Brackett? The Lions have had some very good QB’s over the years, but it’s been more than 25 seasons since we had a signal caller who almost everyone considered to be the best in the league. That player was John Witkowski '84, and he was also Columbia’s last lvy MVP/Bushnell Cup winner. You really have to see Brackett in action to appreciate his many talents.
-Columbia has NEVER won four in a row at Wien Stadium. That’s through 26 and half seasons. You could be among the first to see that happen Saturday.
-The Lions have had decent success against Dartmouth since 1998, but the history before that was pretty ugly. Columbia went 27 years without a win in this series between 1971 and 1998, (and they played every year). There’s a lot of catching up to do here for Lions fans.
Looking at the Green
When you look at the Big Green in 2010, you see a lot of very good players, some great players, and a top-flight coaching staff.
And then you might ask: “So why is this team 0-2 in the Ivies?”
One reason is that one of those games was against a great Penn team in Philly and Dartmouth did a great job getting that game into OT.
The Yale game is more troubling to explain because it was in Hanover, but the Elis do have a great defense and that never hurts.
I think the overall answer is that despite some great players on defense like Shawn Abuhoff, Pat Scorah, Charles Bay and the up and coming freshman linebacker Bronson Green, this Dartmouth team is really much stronger on offense than it is on defense.
Just look at the average amount of total points scored in Dartmouth games this season: 51, 16% above the overall league average. Basically the news is that even when the Big Green play defensive powerhouses like Penn, the game is likely to be pretty high-scoring.
The offensive strength is mostly centered on RB Nick Schwieger, who’s on track to be the first 1,000-yard rusher in the Ivies since 2008. He is a great cutting runner whose style makes up for deficiencies in the offensive line. Schwieger brutalized the Lion defense in Hanover last year, running for well over 200 yards.
Another key improvement this season is QB Conor Kempe’s quick release style. Those fast-action passes are also keeping a lot of heat off the offensive line that’s allowed just ONE sack all season! Kempe is also keeping his interceptions down to a decent level, averaging just one per game.
And don’t be fooled about the Green O-line, it may not be the best in the league but it is pretty experienced and getting better.
Dartmouth also has some good and dangerous receivers led by Michael Reilly and former QB Tim McManus. But with Schwieger averaging almost 150 yards rushing per game, the receivers haven’t had to carry the load this year.
Meanwhile, the defense is just giving up way too much yards. Opponents run for an average of 162 yards per game and pass for 242 yards per game against the Big Green.
But there are dangers here.
The outside pass rushers, led by Bay are strong and getting stronger now that Bay is almost back to 100% from injury. Abuhoff is a ball hawk who can pick off passes and score with his great speed.
Abuhoff also headlines a good special teams as the punt and kick returner. Abuhoff has already returned one punt for a TD and is averaging more than 27 yards per kickoff return. Kicker Foley Schmidt is pretty steady and the kickoff specialist Donald Kephart has three touchbacks this season.
Obviously, the key to beating Dartmouth is finding some way to control Schwieger. It’s not impossible, as he does have big yards this season but just five TD’s.
Another key is putting the Big Green away if they start out slowly as they have just about every week this season. Like Columbia, Dartmouth has yet to score first in any game this season. Unlike Columbia, Dartmouth is being outscored in the first half by 82-54, while the Lions have outscored their opponents in the first half by 55-50.
And while Penn made no bones about simply going with their strength and running right at us all day, (I still can’t get over the mere FIVE passes attempted by the Quakers for the whole game), if I know Buddy Teevens as well as I think I do, he’ll do something with the game plan that Columbia won’t be expecting. Maybe that means five or six pass attempts in a row to start the game. Maybe it means blitzing all day. But when you prepare for Dartmouth you have to prepare for the unexpected.
With the weather forecast calling for absolutely perfect conditions Saturday, I expect a high-scoring game that may blow well past the under/over of 50 set by the odds makers.
I love this pretty funny video from some Columbia Business School guys. They prove their B-School guys and not English majors by misusing the word "glib" when I think they meant "glum," and they have the lyrics to our fight song a bit wrong, but they did use my blog title by accident... and WHO CARES? (For the record it's "Roar LION, Roar." My blog just pluralizes it to Lions). Enjoy!