Red Zone Red Alert
Good football teams typically need to get their red zone touchdown rate up above the 60% level.
The Lions got close to that with a 57% red zone TD rate in 2009, but slid back to just 54% last season.
One game where this problem reared its ugly head was the loss at Penn, where Columbia’s crucial first drive to answer Penn’s opening TD faltered in the red zone and the Lions had to settle for a field goal.
Some say this is the result of Columbia’s lack of a set of big fullbacks and other running backs who can get you those three yards and a cloud of dust no matter what.
Others say the teams failures inside the 20 are mostly mental. The offense visibly tenses up, as if fear of failure becomes more prominent than the desire for glory.
To be fair, there has been general improvement in this area.
In 2006, a very good year overall for Columbia, the TD rate in the red zone was just 32%. In 2007, it was still an anemic 48%.
But the issues Columbia is having in the shadows of the goal line make achieving this 60% or better goal really imperative for 2011… almost as much as the “Stop the Run,” and “Let Brackett be Brackett” mantras.