Tuesday, May 03, 2011

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.


At Tue May 03, 08:26:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A strong burly fullback is essential for success. Time and time again the Lions have faltered because they couldn't get the extra two or three yards for the first down. Penn just kept moving the ball down the field at will with these small increments. It seems ludicrous that such short yardage can be so monumental, but it is. If there is a scientific formula for football, then reliable, consistent short yardage gains are a key factor to winning.

At Tue May 03, 09:03:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good fullback in the backfield gives you more options than just the one RB, especially the essential short plunge. Kirby Mack is one example in fairly recent memory and there were others but not in the near recent past when we've adhered to a single back with the QB. Cuts down on several things including blocking for the RB and for the QB. Let's get back to it.

At Tue May 03, 07:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Penn just kept moving the ball down the field at will with these small increments."

Very small 1st team DL compared to most of the Ivy teams was a big factor. The speed is more important than size mentality when it comes to DL killed us last year. They need a 280+ person in the middle if nothing else to plug things up. Until they realize that any team with a reasonably sized OL and good backs will continue to pick away at us. Childress is coming in the fall and should be great addition at DE (6’ 4”, 245-265 lb depending on the source), but, he doesn’t have the size for NT. They really need to be concentrating on getting bigger guys to fill the NT position. This is the last year for the biggest NT they (Groth). I am guess because of his size he is slower, but, hopefully they will realize not using him and the other larger DL last year actually hurt they once they got to teams like Penn.
Enough about the DL, back to my favorite subject offense. I agree a larger back would be great, but, those are really hard to find when recruiting for the Ivy teams. I think the bigger problem is lack of imagination and poor play calling. For many years we have gotten into a pattern of running the same plays over and over especially in the Red Zone. If you can sit in the stands and know the play that is coming don’t you think the opposing team knows too? We need someone who can adjust quickly to game conditions.

At Tue May 03, 08:28:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kirby Mack blocked for J Reese when he was a junior and rushed for 1,300+ yARDS. Mack was all Ivy. Mack then moved to LB for Reese's senior year, when Mack made all Ivy, but J Reese's production fell by 400 yards.
Mack was a stud.

At Tue May 03, 09:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my view, the main reason we failed all year long on short yardage runs was due to poor play calling. Time and again the coaches would call a slow developing slant run instead of the straight ahead dive or even QB sneak. With Adams and Hauschildt on OL, we whould have been (and should this year) run strraight ahead dives where they line up.

Once again, this is football 101 and Ihope our coaches have learned from last year.

At Tue May 03, 09:58:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


KIRBY MACK: The 6-1, 235-pound St. Louisan must be considered one of the best athletes ever to play Ivy League football. Since the inception of one-platoon football in the late 1960’s, Kirby is believed to be the ONLY person ever chosen first team All-Ivy League on both offense and defense, in different seasons.

Mack was Columbia’s third-leading rusher in 1998, his sophomore season, after transferring from the University of Virginia. He ran for 319 yards on 79 carries, a 4.0 average, caught 16 passes, and scored a team-leading five touchdowns. He was chosen first team All-Ivy at fullback.

At Tue May 03, 10:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Mack was signed by the CFL for a wile, but dont' know how he made out with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Did he get a chance to play much?

At Tue May 03, 11:42:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Actually, Mack moved over to LB the same year, (2000), Reese ran for his 1300+ yards. But a good fullback is always important and we haven't had a real star in that position since Mack.

At Tue May 03, 11:48:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've wondered why not put a mobile guard in the backfield as a fullback if there's no true fullback who can get the blocking job done? CU has been challenged in run blocking recently, and an extra lineman can't hurt - especially since Brackett's mobiity would prevent the D from focusing solely on the RB.

At Wed May 04, 03:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In '96 we used a full house backfield for short yardage in which Wilfork was the lead blocker and Wiley lined up at TB. Wilfork could have been all Ivy at FB.

At Wed May 04, 06:02:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this year we had Nate Lenz who, when given the opportunity, got those tough yards each time. But for some reason the play calling didn't give him the ball more than a few times all season. We had a FB who could get that 1 tough yard but instead we tried the option or threw 3 step for some reason which I still don't understand

At Wed May 04, 01:11:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Navy SEALS took care of business in the red zone!!! U-S-A!!!!

Go Lions!!!


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