Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Schedule Sketches


The Grandstand at Jack Coffey Field


Columbia will be the Homecoming “villains” at two of our road games this fall, at Fordham and at Dartmouth.

Speaking of Fordham, it looks like the six-year tradition of playing the Rams in the Bronx at night is over. The game is scheduled for 1pm, meaning the Lions will visit Jack Coffey Field for a day game for the first time since 2003.

Looking at the whole 2011 schedule, here is a quick rundown about how each team Columbia faces this fall looks like right now:


At Fordham

The Rams are still in that no-man’s land, nominally in the Patriot League but not allowed to actually win it. In my opinion, this limbo is negating whatever recruiting advantage Fordham may have picked up when it introduced athletic scholarships for football last year. Even though this will be the Homecoming game for the Rams, it’s hard to believe this won’t be another close affair that will be decided in the last minute or two just like the last three CU-FU games.


Albany

The Great Danes will be a super “X-factor” on the schedule even if this weren’t the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Any squad that can beat Yale at the Bowl and then lose to Robert Morris two weeks later by a 38-0 score has be called a mystery.

Looking at the Alban roster, you see a young team that will probably feature a red shirt sophomore QB named Buddy Leathley.

On defense, the Great Danes allowed a lot of yards last season, but fewer than 24 points per game and opponents only had a 33% 3rd down conversion rate. Bend, but don’t break I guess.


At Princeton

The Tigers in 2010 were about as bad as I’ve seen an Ivy opponent be in my four decades of following Columbia football.

Princeton is bound to be better in 2011, but there’s a long way to go. The Lions may be lucky to be facing the Tigers this early in the season before some improvement is likely to really kick in.


Sacred Heart

The early buzz on the 2011 Pioneers is that they will be badly lacking without star QB Dale Fink who is graduating this spring. This might simply be a game that Columbia wins or never lives down.


Penn (Homecoming)

Even with 4/5 of its starting O-line graduating next month, the Quakers will be the favorites to “3-peat,” (damn, now I owe pat Riley money), in 2011.

I think the Lions and most of their fans realize that Penn is the hurdle Columbia must clear before it can ever consider itself a contender in the Ivies.

Tall order.


At Dartmouth

After beating the Big Green in Hanover in 1998 and 2001, and playing them darn close there in 2003, 2005 and 2007, the Lions fell badly at Memorial Field in 2009.

Meanwhile, Dartmouth is definitely on the upswing after getting back to a winning record last season and returning most of the key players for 2011.

On the other hand, one of those players is NOT the graduating Charles Bay and there’s a good argument to be made that the Big Green will fall a bit closer to Earth this fall.


Yale

Two straight close losses to the Elis have got to serve as an added incentive for the coaches and players to finally get over the Yale hump this year.

Starting QB Patrick Witt, and his mixed bag of great talent but erratic play, returns for 2011. So does Head Coach Tom Williams after a brief flirtation with getting the top job at Stanford.

My take is that Yale will either get back into contention this season, or fall hard under the strain of Witt and Williams’ drama. I don’t see much of an “in-between.”


Harvard

QB Collier Winters will return along with star RB Treavor Scales and a bunch of defensive stars. Two years without a title in Cambridge will make the Crimson hungrier than most seasons this fall.

This will be a tough, tough game for the Lions.


At Cornell

New Head Coach Kent Austin clearly needed all of his first season last year simply to evaluate the talent on the roster. The result was a very tough year that just about everyone predicted.

But I expect Austin to be a quick study and at least have the Big Red bouncing back faster than say, Princeton, in 2011.

Columbia has almost always played very well in Ithaca for decades now, but this late-season contest could prove to be a bigger challenge than usual.


Brown

Does anybody doubt that Phil Estes will have his Bears ready to play again this fall? Nobody should.

Brown returns all its top star players like QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero, who missed most of 2010 with injuries. The defense still seems iffier than in some recent years in Providence, but honestly… by week 10 of this coming season things will look a lot different for every team in the league. Other than saying that Bears will be strong on offense, I’m not predicting much else about this game.


And Finally...

You can't read this story and not be inspired.

A one-legged young man is now an NCAA champion wrestler.

Not a paralympics champ... just a champ.

Great story.

15 Comments:

At Wed Mar 23, 07:00:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I expect a huge fall off for Penn this year. Not only do they lose their OL, but more significantly they lose their monster FB, who was really the key to their running game. We have the most dynamic offensive player in the league and a strong OL to protect him. We are a dark horse contender.

 
At Wed Mar 23, 11:16:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree we are the dark horse contender. We have the talent on both sides of the ball. Unlike last year we need to use that talent to the fullest and show the capability to adjust quickly during a game.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 12:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Columbia also has an outstanding group of kickers returning. In close games, the kicking game is very often, the difference. Columbia's kicking game should be a huge positive factor this year.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 01:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Penn isn't going anywhere. With easily the best group of running backs, a quarterback who was a finalist for the player of the year and the usual horses in the stable ready to do the heavy pulling up front, the Quakers will rightfully be considered no less than a co-favorite next fall.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 02:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree on Penn, but must admit that my disdain for the school, the coach, and the players, may have affected my objectivity. However, do not underestimate the significance o fhte fact that they lost 4/5ths of their OL plus their outstanding FB. Ragone is not in Brackett's league as a passer and in my humble opinion is not as elusive a runner. Our RBs and receivers are certainly a match for Penn's. They have lost their outstanding kicker and some defensive studs as well. Their strength is in their DL, but I think our Jeff Adams can take on any defensive tackle or end without help from a double team..

 
At Thu Mar 24, 02:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the possible exception of Bags unless he is first given a large dose of sodium pentathol, I'll bet there isn't a single coach in the league who wouldn't sway his returning QB for Brackett.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 03:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't be serious comparing Columbia's RBs to Lyle Marsh (526 yards as a freshman before being hurt last year), Brandon Colavita (728 yards and 5.8 per carry lat year) and Jeff Jack (466 yards and 4.5 yards per carry). All three are proven commodities.

You have Nick Gerst with 350 yards last year and no other significant RB returning.

As for Ragone vs. Brackett, there's not much to choose between them as runner. Ragone didn't pass as much last year because he didn't have to, but he got better and better as the season went on. The guy also showed he's a winner.

For some schools, losing senior OL hurts more than others. Penn has big uglies who would have started for other schools but got stuck behind all Ivy types.

And just wait until you see WR Aaron Bailey run.

If you think the Penn defense is going to soften up, think again.

Will the Quakers roar through the league again? Hard to say. But they are going to be one of the best teams in the league again because when you can run you can win.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 04:41:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE Penn: my Aunt Fanny would have averaged 5 yards a carry with that all senior line and that lead FB. Gerst is a terrific back, and Marcorus Garrett is going to be outstanding.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 05:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the Penn hater...

Hey, the world is a tough place and maybe Bagnoli and his coaches use aggressive tactics to get players (won't be the first time in NCAA football) and maybe they said some distasteful things at a game a few years ago (again, stuff happens in NCAA football).

I say toughen your skin and get over it....cuz it gets old.

Let's focus on the coming year. We may not win the league, but we will should be able to contest every game...and if the coaches adapt the gameplan to our personnel and let the high charged offense rip....then we could surely win 5 league games and all 3 non league games

 
At Thu Mar 24, 06:07:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with last post. You put Gerst behind the PENN offensive line and he rushes for 1500 yds.

There is no back in the league that hits the whole faster and has his speed and vision.

This is a D1 back that chose Columbia

 
At Thu Mar 24, 07:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but until Gerst actually does it you are speculating. The Penn backs have done it.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 06:23:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree that Gerst will need to prove himself. He has the potential to provide an explosive impact on the field. We will have to see how he performs when he gets the ball on a more regular basis.

Penn losing their FB is big, but, they do have other talented players in the wings. We will have to wait and see on that regard.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 10:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What current Penn back has "done it"? No Penn RB was all Ivy last year, except for their terrific FB who thankfully has graduated. His blocking made the Penn running game.

 
At Thu Mar 24, 10:46:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is an upside wildcard in our recruiting class. That fullback kid whose video impressed me with how many times he knocked a defender back and opened a hole. He gets low and is effective.

This in combination with Gerst/Garrett's speed and ability to exploit a hole...may produce something more potent on the run than we had last year. I know it's alot to expect a frosh to have that sort of impact but I can certainly dream.

But with a relatively solid O-line and a good blocking FB and the triple threat of Garrett/Gerst/Brackett...we have the ingredients for a more sustained running attack. And we all know what that does for the passing game.

 
At Tue Mar 29, 07:13:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger HBShannon said...

Re: Brown defense

Brown had the top pass and pass efficiency defense in the Ivies last year and was #8 in all the FCS in pass efficiency defense. The entire starting defensive backfield returns.

So do LB Rob Gillett (5th year senior) and DL Clay McGrath (tied for Ivy lead in TFL). More starters return to the defense than the previous season where the Bears lost the likes of All-Ivy defenders Jimmy Develin, David Howard, Chris Perkins, Kelly Cox and David Clement.

They also return the top kicking scorer in the league and the #2 punter along with KR Kachmer (2TDs on returns).

Expect good things from ALL dimensions of the Bears game.

 

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