The Best Defense
Lou Ferrari and his troops
As Columbia looks to fill its open defensive coordinator position, let’s look at the last very successful Lion defensive unit and figure out what they did right.
The most recent dominant Columbia defense was the 2006 squad that allowed just 16.3 points per game, and never more than 24 points in a single contest. That was just one season after the 2005 defense allowed a disastrous 33 points per game, including five Ivy contests where the Lions allowed 40 or more points!
The ’06 team allowed a well-balanced 153 yards rushing and 149 passing per game, both good but not great stats. It also only produced 20 sacks, hardly much to write home about.
So why was that Lion squad so good at keeping opponents from scoring?
It was mostly a combination of two things.
First, then-defensive coordinator Lou Ferrari brought a great deal of enthusiasm to the job and it was contagious. His “11 hats to the ball” philosophy broke the players out of the “stay in your lane” belief that was killing the team when opposing offenses ad-libbed the season before.
Second, the Lions of ’06 enjoyed a +10 turnover ratio that season and those turnovers often came at the most opportune times.
But perhaps the most important thing to remember about that defense is that it was not large, not particularly fast, and only one player, Tad Crawford ’07, made 1st Team All Ivy.
Scrappy players like DL Darren Schmidt ‘07, who was barely 200 pounds, led the team in sacks, (and in GPA).
Smart veteran players, like MLB Adam Brekke ’07, helped direct traffic and made sure the defense bent but didn’t break.
With a more poised and effective offense in 2006, that 5-5 team could easily have gone 7-3 or 8-2. They were that good.
How do we get those ingredients back on defense for 2011?
That will be ultimately up to the new DC, but I certainly hope he looks at the 2006 team for some answers.