Friday, June 10, 2011

100 Key Moments of 2010

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Today marks 100 days until the 2011 season finally begins.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I usually do something to help this last third of our offseason go by with a daily countdown of sorts.

This summer, I thought I would use the 100-day countdown to help us recap the 2010 season and make sure we learn all the lessons we should learn from last year’s triumphs and failures.

It would be hard to RANK each of the 100 moments, (although choosing the top 10 best and worst moments would be easier), so I will go in chronological order instead.

Some of the moments will seem pretty insignificant when taken individually, but they will end equaling more than the sum of their parts when taken altogether at the end of the countdown.

And now… I give you the first of the 100 key moments of Columbia Football 2010:

#100: Hamilton’s First Return

The very first play of 2010 was a good one for Columbia as Craig Hamilton returned the opening kickoff a healthy 28 yards to the Lion 32.

This turned out to be the beginning of a better-than-average season for the senior Hamilton, who emerged from the shadows of having to return kicks beside Austin Knowlin for the two seasons prior.

Averaging anything better than 20 yards per kickoff return is pretty good, and Hamilton averaged 22 yards per return last year.

But you also like to add that little element of scoring danger to your repertoire and Hamilton never did get a TD last season. His longest return was 54 yards.

In this game against Fordham, Columbia failed to get a first down after the return and the first offensive series of 2010 was a three-and-out.

Nevertheless, Hamilton did yeoman’s work as the primary kickoff returned, fielding 27 of the kicks when no one else on the team returned more than seven.

Hamilton graduated last month, so the most experienced returning returner is 5th year senior Mike Murphy who was that #2 man with seven total returns before an injury cut his season short. Murphy averaged 16 yards per return with a long of 27.

Rising senior Ross Morand had four returns for a 21 yards per return average.

But I expect there to be a lot of candidates trying out for the kick returning job this summer.

Whoever gets the spot would do well to perform as Hamilton did last season, but we can all hope for a little bit more.

And if he returns all his kicks as well as Hamilton fielded that first boot of 2010, Columbia will really be in fine shape.


At Fri Jun 10, 09:15:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a number of possible kickoff and punt returners including the players you named as well as Bruce Grant and several others. However, with all of the talent we have coming in at the skills positions I would not be surprised if one or two of the freshmen emerge as starters before the season over. Watch out for cornerback Malcolm Thaxton and his 4.5/40 speed, defensive back Mike Skalitzky who also very good speed and Connor Nelligan, another speedster, 4.54, who has outstanding size. Nelligan may be the best all-around athlete in the incoming class.

At Fri Jun 10, 06:33:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The benchmark for speed is probably Knowlin, who ran a 4.49 at the Fordham pro day.

At Fri Jun 10, 07:58:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty unbelievable that Sporting News predicts Princeton higher than CU considering we have beaten them the last two years by the combined score of 80-14!

At Fri Jun 10, 09:16:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Sporting News prediction is based mostly on what CU lost to graduation, and the failure of that talented group to play to its collective ability consistently. I doubt the writer spent the time -- or had the resources -- to analyze the talent CU will have in the fall. And we don't know, ourselves, what the rest of the league will look like, either -- they've been working hard to improve, as well. This fall's team will be one of the fastest, biggest, deepest and most experienced groups Columbia has had in a long time. The questions are how it compares to the rest of the league, and whether it plays up to its potential for 60 minutes a game.

At Fri Jun 10, 10:13:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be sure, the last poster is absolutely right; but given that the "analyst" knows that all of these predictions are conjecture at best, he could have at least given us the benefit of the doubt vs. Princeton, where we have done so well. But in the end, this is quibbling, to be sure,and does not really matter in the long run.

At Sat Jun 11, 01:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assure you that the Sporting News analyst has no idea of what he is talking about. Among other things, I expect a huge fall off from Penn due to the graduation of its FB and its entire OL, plus some key defenders.


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