Thursday, September 22, 2011

Passionate Argument

Peter Stevens '70C, '73L is never one to hide behind the "anonymous" moniker when it comes to making comments about this Lions team we all love.

Here's his important analysis of where we are right now:

Roar Lions Roar Multiple choice question:

We lost Fordham game because of:

A-Wilson's offensive system;

B-Wilson's offensive play calling;

C-Wilson's decision to throw sideline pass on 4th and goal from 3yd line;

D-All of the above,

D is the correct answer.

As for A, the offense against Fordham was exactly the same offense we used last year. (1)Try to run up the middle, and when that fails, continue to try to run up the middle-- so we are always facing 2nd and long. And bear in mind that we do not have a power back who can get these tough yards inside so the folly of this is even more ridiculous.

2) Force Brackett to be drop back pocket passer. This is exactly what Norries did last year in 1st half against Fordham and reason we lost that game. By employing this scheme, he is taking away from Brackett's strengths--mobility, running ability, speed, and knack of evading the pass rush. Plus, he's shown he can throw well on the run. It is a rule of thumb in football circles that when you have a good running mobile QB who can also throw that it is incumbent on the defense to keep him in the pocket and make him beat you throwing the ball from there. Moreover, without a running game to keep the defense honest, Brackett as a drop back pocket, passer was continually under pressure to get rid of ball.

Wilson has also remained in love with the sideline pass--even after we had great success throwing over the middle in the first half. Why we abandoned this I don't know. I don't think we did so because of Fordham's making adjustments at halftime. And as we also know and painfully experienced-- throwing sideline passes poses great risks, especially down by the goal line .(See C below)

And the option remains part of our offense too. Why I don't know. First and foremost, precision is required to run the option. And this precision comes from repetition. You can only achieve this precision if the option is a main stay of your offense.It's hard to use it occasionally. The option is also high risk as there is a good chance of fumbling. Finally, the option is a good way to get your QB hurt--something we cannot afford to do. Despite all this, we run the option.

For our offense to succeed, especially if we don't get Gerst back-and it painfully clear that Garrett is no Gerst , is to maximize Brackett's talents--throwing on the move (whether via sprint-out or moving pocket). This will also give him the option of running if he can't find receiver and help him to avoid sacks. Also, we have to do more play action, screens and draws to keep blitzing defenses from getting to Garrett. (Look how nicely, Fordham was able to evade our blitzes by throwing short passes and screens. Their 61 yd TD came on such a play.)

As for B, it looks like each and every play Wilson runs is independent of the play before it and after it. I see no sequencing or set-ups in an effort to either keep the defense off balance or flat out fool them.

As for C, enough has been said about his call on 4th and goal at Fordham 3 yd line. Up until that point, we hadn't been able to run. Plus, Brackett was missing badly, especially throwing to sidelines from the pocket--his earlier TD pass was almost picked off. Why Wilson didn't put Brackett on the move and give him chance to run or throw it in is beyond me. The dangers of keeping Brackett in the pocket and throwing a sideline pass--esp. at goal line-- was fully realized and cost us the game.

I have come to the sad conclusion that we will continue to lose close and winnable games because of the offensive play calling. BTW, I don't want to hear that it's the offensive coordinator's fault. Wilson is responsible. And didn't he come to us as an offensive coordinator?

The only joy last Saturday afternoon was watching the defense. What a contrast from last year when we sat back in our vanilla 4-3 and never blitzed. Our guys were blitzing all over the place. Sure this can be risky, but on balance it's going to help us a lot.

On a related note, it's nice that very few guys leave the team under Wilson. but it's painfully clear that Wilson's recruiting, esp. at skill positions is inept. We have no depth at QB, no depth at RB, only 1 quality WR, and no tight end. And what happened to Childress? If he's hurt, that's one thing, but if he can't break into lineup that's quite another.

In sum, Wilson has more than demonstrated his inability to be a successful head coach. This team has the talent to post a winning season, but based upon Wilson's lack of improvement as a head coach, I think we'll be hard pressed to do so.

If I am wrong in my assessment of Wilson and we go on to post a winning season, I will be one of the happiest old Lions alive, apologize to all concerned and keep my big mouth shut gong forward.

Peter Stevens ‘70C ‘73L


At Thu Sep 22, 11:46:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter, you're forgetting one key thing. Wilson does not call the plays. I agree that the decision to go for it on the goal line had to have his approval, but the offensive system is done by Vinny Marino, the offensive coordinator. As much blame needs to go on him, he's the one who calls every single play

At Thu Sep 22, 11:48:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, if you look, we lost 8 kids from the sophmore class in the first year, including a very good TE (a position we are hurting in) and a few O Lineman. So he apparently does not retain enough players as he should

At Fri Sep 23, 12:19:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Bravo and thank you for your keen and insightful analysis. I especially like the multiple choice options because we have the opportunity to pick apart the potential answers. Next time, however, please hold the correct answer until Jake’s next post. That way we can see how many people got the right answer. Okay, this one was obvious, but I still would have loved to have read some fellow Bloggers picks and rationale.

The follow-up post is correct, Marino does call the plays. And yes, Norries did come from UCONN as an Offensive Coordinator; so ultimately, the responsibility is Norries! The reason for keeping Marino around, beyond his blatant inability to communicate effectively with his players (you wouldn’t believe some of the comments that come from his mouth – per players), and his disastrous play calling: is so that Norries can fire him at the end of the season. Norries will get on a soap box, announce revolutionary changes, and get another year (and possible extension). Unfortunately, that much is clear. Remember, Norries has lost OVER 70% of the games that he’s coached in 6 years… nothing screams contract extension more than that! Six home games over the past two years and 7 games this year in NYC. You know who want him to stay? ALL of the other Ivy coaches, and Fordham. You do the math…

Oh, and to the Blogger from previous posts who says that we should be more "positive" about the team and the Staff. We are positive about the team! Nobody points fingers at any one player. Regarding the being "positive" about the Staff... I positively think they should go!

At Fri Sep 23, 12:23:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the retention of the players. Yes, agreed, we lost some O-Linemen and our best TE. The TE loss is killing us! However, to be fair, Norries has retained far more players over the years than any previous coach in recent history; sans Shoop, whose tenure was cut short. We should applaud him for that! Now if only he could coach.

At Fri Sep 23, 12:29:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget to compliment Norries on getting the players to dress alike.

Thank God for that! I'd hate to see us win the Ivy title for once and show up to the trophy ceremony is mismatched trousers. That would be AWK-WARD!!!

Seriously are we running a football team or a charm school?

At Fri Sep 23, 12:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hallelujah to the poster on Marino..We have known for years the players don't play for him because of his terrible people skills and equally bad play calling. Brackett could be so much better with a different coach

Lets just hope the talent can carry this team...and we get Gerst back sooner than later...


At Fri Sep 23, 01:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is commonplace for head coaches to wear headphones to keep abreast of play calling and intervene as needed. So don't let Norries off the hook so easily.

At Fri Sep 23, 01:41:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wilson should take over responsibility for the offensive play calling. The new DC looks like a keeper.

At Fri Sep 23, 01:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems a little harsh. NW has done a lot of good things for the program, as evidenced by retention and by the fact we put a pretty good football team on the field. He is 1-10 the last four years in games decided by 7 points or less, including numerous heartbreakers and head shakers. We're all frustrated by that. The wins and losses don't match up to the improved quality of play. NW is responsible for that. But we're one game into 2011. Let's not hit the panic button just yet.

At Fri Sep 23, 01:46:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

Pete Stevens' remarks are to the point and sensible. (But the Vinny Marino criticism is sort of old news - wasn't he temporarily gone a while back ?- even if still always worth taking under consideration. I used to chat with the parents of a few now-departed players whose seats were near mine, and their reports were invariably that their offspring actively disliked Marino, and not just in the sense of him being a hard taskmaster.)

That Stevens may no longer have his calls and e-mails returned by either Dianne Murphy or the Athletic Department in general, however, seems a given now. Still, you go, Pete!

"We" (meaning loyal, rational fans of the sort Stevens clearly is) have waited long enough for a winning season. Losing more games than we win season in and season out is tiresome.

Personally, I like Norries a great deal and respect him. But offensive playcalling has been a slough of despond (for all us English majors out there!) for way too many years now of the Wilson era and if Stevens' comments can but open real debate on this issue clearly so crucial to so many of us, they will prove in the long run a (Martha-like, to be sure) very "good thing" indeed. My compliments to Pete!

At Fri Sep 23, 02:03:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me slighlty amend my earlier comment: last 31 games we are 10-21overall and 1-10 in games decided by seven points or less. Very frustrating for all of us. We're competitive, but not a winner.

At Fri Sep 23, 02:21:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Jake's scouting report on Albany, he cites their greatest strength as their coach. Just think of all those crushing close losses we have suffered under Wilson and ask yourself if the results would have been differnet with a first rate head coach?

At Fri Sep 23, 02:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone help me? Is there a separate column for wins, losses, and ties? What I mean is... is there a new variable that I am unaware of? Wins, losses, losses by 7 points or less, and ties? Typical Columbia Football homer, making excuses for incompitence.

At Fri Sep 23, 03:35:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The opposite. Not making excuses for anything. The frustration level is boiling over because we can't win close games. The difference is that until fairly recently all the games we lost weren't close.

At Fri Sep 23, 08:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to be really early In the season to make some statements that's on here. The last game is over. They had our number. It's one game....Brackett will be back and Garrett will surprise a lot of you. It was said he's know Nick... The kid avg. More then 7 yards with the touches he had last year, and we only played one game this year. So that statement was based on what? Let's be real and see what Wilson and the boys do THIS year

At Fri Sep 23, 08:41:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most damning stat of all I think is that we have lost the LAST 10 HOMECOMING games! How inexcusable is that? It is very hard to maintain fan/alumni support when we continually lose the biggest game of the year.

At Sat Sep 24, 12:23:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets not major in minors....7 yds a carry last year...The kid had 5 carries...No question Garrets a good back....But if you have ever seen Gerst healthy the kid can be the most electric player in the Ivy league....Hopefully they both stay healthy and help us win some games

At Sat Sep 24, 07:42:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YEAH 5 carries last year for 7 yrds a carry and played in one game this year. THATS the point
you can't say Nicks any better then or that much better then Garrett when Garrett has not been on the green for him to be judged.

At Sat Sep 24, 10:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More important is that we have 2 good backs that can help us win games...Lets skip the personal nonsense and pull for both kids to do well...


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