Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stack the Line

John Witkowski won a grand total of three games as a Lion starter

The All Ivy announcements spell out a very clear path to success in this league.

And that path can be summed up in one word: “linemen.”

Ivy champ Penn had a stunning, but deserved, THREE 1st Team All Ivy offensive linemen, one 1st Team Defensive Lineman, an O-lineman and a D-lineman on the 2nd Team, and another O-lineman AND the tight end getting All Ivy honorable mention.

This HAS to be the first time one team has earned All Ivy recognition for each and every starting member of its offensive line.

The Quaker D-line, was also a force… as usual.

Columbia’s offensive line, with repeat 1st Teamer Jeff Adams and talented new starters like Bob Hauschildt and Kyle Stupi, is certainly not bad. But there was obvious weakness along the defensive line.

Result? A 2-5 league record.

Harvard had a good defensive line, but it’s offensive line wasn’t nearly as good as it has been in recent years.

Result? The Crimson came in tied for second, but they were WAY behind Penn this season in overall team quality.

The good news for the rest of the league is that only one of Penn’s honored O-linemen wasn’t a senior.

The bad news is that top flight linemen are very hard to recruit and it’s becoming harder every day.

Columbia can be very encouraged by the fact that it has the best player in the Ivies at the most crucial position in football. That would be Sean Brackett at QB.

But we’ve been down this path before.

Archie Roberts, Marty Domres, and John Witkowski were all not just great Ivy QB’s, but they were three of the truly great QB’s in all of college football history.

These three great CU signal callers won a total of 15 games as starters... COMBINED.

In Roberts’ case, the reason was a lack of great running backs during his final two seasons. Domres failed to win enough because of the defense and the fact that then Head Coach Frank Navarro didn’t use the passing game enough. Witkowski played on some Columbia teams that might as well not have bothered to show up on “D”… an empty field would have been more of a challenge to opposing offenses at times.

Every once in a while, a player comes around who changes everything… and makes it worthwhile to change everything.

I’m thinking along the lines of the San Francisco 49ers ripping out their Astroturf and going back to grass when they acquired the sore-kneed O.J. Simpson in the late 70’s.

The Lions don’t need to do anything that drastic to their facilities, but everything else should be on the table.

With two years left in his Columbia career, it’s time for the football program to rearrange things to make sure Sean Brackett gets all he needs to turn his super skills into as many victories as possible.

If that means recruiting a little differently, shifting veteran players around, and most importantly re-writing the playbook, so be it.

I’ll leave to the true experts to fill in the details here.

We’d all hate to see a once-in-a-generation player like Brackett miss out on a total “cash-in” for his skills.

The nagging feeling is that’s what happened to recent stars like Austin Knowlin, Johnathan Reese, Michael Quarshie, Lou Miller, and the list goes on.

Posting five 1st Team All Ivy honorees is certainly something to be proud of, but six, seven, or eight wins would be better.


At Thu Nov 25, 06:56:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, the key to Penn's line play is apparently a great strength and conditioning program. That is why we need to help with our checkbooks. We need the new Campbell center.

At Thu Nov 25, 09:14:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Build the Campbell center ASAP!!

At Thu Nov 25, 09:56:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS, a Happy thanksgiving to Lions everywhere and especially to Jake and his family.

At Sat Nov 27, 01:03:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

The Penn-Columbia game this year underscores your point wonderfully, Jake. Penn's superiority up front allowed them to run the ball on 52 out of 57 offensive plays, gaining nearly 5 yds per carry.We averaged less than 2 yds per carry. Unless they turn the ball over (a lot) you are never going to win those games.

At Fri Dec 03, 12:58:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Douglas A Jackson said...

I played at columbia and i coached at columbia and penn and won four ivy league championship's in a row when i was at penn, so i know what it takes to win and it's not just the weight room, it's the alumni, the alumni would indentify players for us have group meeting's and we as coaches would recruit the hell out of them. I applied for the head job 22 years ago their was no doubt then and their is no doubt now that i could turn the program around given the chance, what other person do you know was part of four in a row. i helped win those championship's Douglas A Jackson

At Fri Dec 03, 01:38:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Douglas A Jackson said...

Jake you alway's have something nice to say about me.Doug Jackson


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