Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Two Outta Three...

With three games left to the 2010 season, the Lions can still do a lot of things to make this a successful season by any standard.

They can also do some things that would make it a failure.

I would say winning two of the remaining three games would put this year in the “successful” category. That’s because two more wins means at least one of them would have to come on the road against super tough opponents Harvard or Brown. It would also mean a 3-4 Ivy record, which is not terrible for a team with a sophomore starting QB.

But getting just one win or less in the coming three weeks would cast a darker cloud over this team than most of us could have forecast just three weeks ago when the Lions were riding high at 3-1. Going 4-6 and 2-5 in the Ivies, or 3-7 and 1-6 would be a clear disappointment.

And yet, there is one wildcard to all of this, and that’s the Harvard game this Saturday.

Beating the Crimson at Harvard for the first time since 1995 would bring instant credibility to the team and the program. It would derail the accelerating train that is the Harvard football machine after it started the season slowly.

And it’s hard to believe that a win over Harvard wouldn’t propel the Lions to getting at least a good shot at sweeping the remaining two games at home versus Cornell and on the road at Brown.

Columbia has done very poorly against the Crimson in recent years. Last year’s 34-14 loss to Harvard was the worst performance of the season for the Lions. Columbia has lost each of the last eight games at Harvard Stadium by an average score of 35-8. Columbia’s last win over the Crimson was in 2003 at Wien Stadium, a 16-13 win helped by the absence of an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick now QB’s the Buffalo Bills. By the way, I think Harvard and maybe Columbia could beat the Bills this season.

For those of you who believe in the “trap game” theory this would be one for Harvard. The game against the Lions comes just before the unofficial “Ivy Bowl” game at Penn. But you can’t bank on a Tim Murphy-coached team coming getting too distracted.

And that’s another reason why a win over the Crimson would be big. It would almost definitely be well-earned and not due to lack of preparation.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Lions absolutely MUST defeat the Cornell Big Red in two weeks, or risk having the season really fall apart.

And that leaves the season finale at Brown as more of a normal test, as opposed to the tougher order at Harvard and the must win over struggling Cornell.

With Brown’s starting QB Kyle Newhall Caballero out for the year, the Bear offense is not running on full cylinders and winning in Providence is not such a tough impossibility anymore.

So take your pick: Cornell and one or both of Harvard and Brown.

In the words of Meatloaf:

“Two outta three ain’t bad.”


At Wed Nov 03, 11:00:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we can finish at 5-5, then this at least improves on last year's outcome and is a building point for next year.

I hear several posters' accolades for NW and the coaching staff and they deserve credit for solid recruiting and a clear improvement to our depth and skill levels. BUT, we need to be honest about their relative coaching ability on the field versus your top three (Bagnoli, Murphy, Estes). Of the four games I have seen this year I find the offensive play calling to be unimaginative and predictable. Play the natural talents of the personnel you have and with Brackett you need to spread things out and run and gun much more. And our coaches appear slow to make adjustments both during a given game and across the season whereas other teams have adjusted to us well.

If we do not compete closely for an Ivy championship next season, I think CU needs to take stock of the coaching staff and ask alot of tough questions of NW...

At Wed Nov 03, 07:51:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the 1st post.

"I find the offensive play calling to be unimaginative and predictable"

"our coaches appear slow to make adjustments both during a given game and across the season whereas other teams have adjusted to us well"

They have the talent at the moment, but, they are not fully using it.

Conditioning and being dependent on speed instead of size if also a fundamental flaw with this team. They do play 4 quarters, but, the strength seems lacking among other things.

I think this team could win the last 3 games, but, that will take a reduction in turnovers and a much better job of adjusting quickly during games. The coaches will also need to make changes that have us looking less 1 dimensional.

At Wed Nov 03, 08:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We CANNOT fall into a quick hole at Harvard like we did at Yale. That always seems to be the case in Cambridge in years past. They will try and run the ball down our throats like Penn did so no one should be caught offguard with their strategy. Our D-line and secondary need a much better effort this week to compete. No turnovers and better tackling and we can compete with these guys.

At Wed Nov 03, 11:18:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

Even in the realm of silly comments made just for the sake of rhetorical practice, Jake, your assertion that Harvard, and maybe even Columbia too, could beat the Bills is exceptionally, wildly silly. Stick to Ivy League football.

And try to recall, if you even have heard of them at all, the inevitable results of those games which once pitted, before they themselves all reported to NFL training camps, the "college all-stars" vs. last year's NFL champion. Sheesh!

At Wed Nov 03, 11:55:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old college all-star games featured college players who only practiced together for a week before taking on the defending NFL champion. Of course it was always a mismatch.

A better question is how would this year's Buffalo Bills or the pre-Stafford/Suh Detroit Lions fare against the Tebow-era Florida Gators, the peak USC squads under Carroll or the Tommie Frazier Nebraska Cornhuskers of the mid-90s? I think that the college teams would be very competitive in those hypotheticals, with a couple wins to show for their efforts.

And Jake, shame on you for displaying the iconic cover of Bat Out of Hell without mentioning the connection between songwriter Jim Steinman and Columbia sports. Even this Princeton fan does not excuse that oversight. ;)

At Wed Nov 03, 11:59:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

I think Jake was trying to be funny.
I think we need a win to loosen this crowd up a like. I love the fact that we all care about what happens week in and week out, we are competitive in each game, and that we have a real chance to upset the Crimson.

At Thu Nov 04, 12:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can beat Harvard if we don't self-destruct, which we seem to do against decent teams. Take away all of the bonehead penalties, fumbles, missed assignments, etc. and we would have beaten Yale and Dartmouth and given Penn a better game. It all comes down to confidence. If youplay with confidence you make fewer mistakes. If you think you are in for a long day you are tentative and make mistakes. I have seen this with our OL. They have not played with confidence and intensity in recent weeks.

At Thu Nov 04, 12:45:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Columbia has no chance to beat Harvard. Momentum has been lost this season, and Harvard can smell the title. Also, that's not the cover to Bat out of Hell. You guys are brutal to read.

At Thu Nov 04, 01:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of us would like to see what happens if Nick Gerst would get the ball 25 times off of option plays, stretch plays, flat passes etc...You need glasses if you dont know by now that is by far our best tailback...

There is no team in the Ivies that is not beatable. Get out of the gate fast. Our players need to bring their A Game and the coaches must have their A game.


At Thu Nov 04, 02:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:45 AM,

That is the BACK cover of Bat Out of Hell.

At Thu Nov 04, 02:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on, guys. Take Harvard off of the wish list. Last week, those who watched saw Harvard's lineman overwhelm their Dartmouth counterparts. And if I recall correctly, the key takeaway of the Dartmouth/Columbia match-up was line disparity in Dartmouth's favor. It's not realistic to imagine that Columbia's line will fair any better, and no shame in it as the Harvard program has had this line grooming/development process down to a science for the last ten years. A more appropriate goal for this week would be to avoid injury to Brackett so that the season's goals may remain in reach. Focus on Cornell and taking advantage of Brown while they are with their 2nd string QB. That would be a coup. Put some more distance between the Lions and Cornell/Princeton and join Dartmouth in that new rare, middle tier in the Ivy League hierarchy. Going 2-1 the rest of the way will result in a season that has to be viewed as a success.

At Thu Nov 04, 02:31:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger HBShannon said...

I appreciate the analysis but I must remind you that only one team has won in Providence so far this year and that's the Bears.

At Thu Nov 04, 02:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harvard has lost to two other teams. Lehigh was not the Green Bay Packers. a lot of teams have lost at Harvard Stadium the minute they get off the bus because of the b------t that I hear from so many quarters. If their players were so good they would be playing D 1 ball. the can and will be beaten again this year, and if so it might as well be us.

At Thu Nov 04, 03:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments seem to me to be getting nasty. We need a win!!

At Thu Nov 04, 03:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and good luck with that theory of impending upset victory. Harvard played its 3rd string QB against Lehigh, and against Brown, Brown got up by 21 early negating Harvard's running attack (and you have to admit that Gordon & Scales make up the best running tandem in the league right now). The Harvard team of the moment is playing damn well (2 wins in a row), as expected. Columbia (3 losses in a row)? Not so much. It's fine to support the team, but it doesn't help them any to have completely unrealistic expectations about what is likely to be achieved. Protect Brackett - he is the franchise that lets you say "on any given day..." - and go 2-1 the rest of the way.

At Thu Nov 04, 03:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few of Brackett's long passes at Yale were just beyond the grasp of our WRs. I think we need a little more speed at WR. AK would have caught those balls.

At Thu Nov 04, 04:15:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for Garrett?

At Thu Nov 04, 04:35:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, if he can catch. Brackett throws a beautiful deep ball.

At Thu Nov 04, 05:09:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

Someone above (well, self-identified as a Princeton fan, perhaps that's it right there!) seriously suggests that certain college teams could have held their own in the NFL.

No! No, no, no. For one thing, the NFL's type of game is so much faster. And so much more brutal, too. (Even those who think their college position coaches were somewhat "casual" about injuries still have no idea.) For the rare Ivy player who does play pro football, the learning curve is always steep and devilishly accelerated. If it hadn't been, our own Wade Fletcher might have remained a Giant for several years.

On a lighter note, a recent issue of The Sporting News featured a look at the smartest players in major league baseball. Surprisingly, they didn't mention Columbia's contribution to the Devil Rays, but most of the others chosen were in fact from Princeton.

And I do think all three of our remaining opponents are beatable. God knows, however, that it won't be at all "easy" in even the most relative sense.

At Thu Nov 04, 06:44:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

Look, they (lurkers) are coming to OUR board ! The Lions have truly become a force to be reckoned with !
Re: Gerst. Would love to see him get more touches, but the blocking, after week 4 just hasnt been there. Running game opens up the passing game, makes us less predictable.

At Thu Nov 04, 08:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The left side of our OL should be just mauling people. Adams and Hauschildt should be able to open up big running lanes. And handle Ortiz. If Adams wants to repeat as first team all Ivy he had better step it up starting this Saturday. The way to beat Harvard is to shorten the game by establishing a run game.


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