Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two-Deep Released and Scouting Fordham

Jack Coffey Field

Columbia's game notes for the season opener at Fordham have been released today.

I'll get to the two-deep in a moment, but there are lots of other good pieces of information to highlight:

-Two fan buses will be leaving from the Columbia campus to Fordham for the game. This is a great idea and much appreciated.

-Very good tips appear in the notes for using mass transit to the game.

-There's plenty of good info on the players, especially some of the young men starting or cracking the two-deep for the first time.

Now to the listed starters in the two-deep...


QB 10 Sean Brackett (Jr., 6-1, 201)
19 Jerry Bell (Sr., 6-2, 230)

RB 23 Marcorus Garrett (So., 5-11, 200)
20 David Chao (Sr., 5-11, 210)

FB 41 Nico Papas (Sr., 6-0, 231)
42 Griffin Lowry (So., 6-0, 215)

TE 88 Hamilton Garner (So., 6-5, 232)
84 Rafael Lopez (Sr., 6-3, 235)

WR 8 Kurt Williams, (Sr., 6-1, 200)
85 Ian Cummins (Jr., 6-2, 200)

WR 1 Mike Stephens (Sr., 5-11, 208)
18 Paul Havas (Sr., 6-2, 204)

LT 76 Jeff Adams (Sr., 6-7, 305)
74 Chris Proctor (Fr., 6-6, 270)

LG 60 Alec Kosminskas (Jr., 6-3, 289)
51 Eric Walker (Jr., 6-4, 295)

C 63 Bob Hauschildt (Sr., 6-6, 297)
73 Xander Frantz (Jr., 6-4, 291)

RG 70 Jimmy Yukevich (So., 6-7, 297)
65 Joe Ghergurovich (So., 6-3, 284)

RT 68 Scott Ward (Jr., 6-7, 278)
75 Kyle Stupi (Sr., 6-3, 280)


CB 2 Brian DeVeau (Jr., 6-0, 200)
16 Matt Bocci (Jr., 5-11, 190)

FS 5 A.J. Maddox (Sr., 5-10, 192)
29 Steven Grassa (Jr., 5-11, 196)

SS 38 Neil Schuster (Sr., 6-0, 200)
24 Marquel Carter (So., 6-0, 215)

CB 28 Ross Morand (Sr., 6-2, 195)
49 Mike Murphy (Sr., 6-1, 202)

LB 55 Zach Olinger (So., 6-1, 220)
21 Mike Waller (Jr., 6-2, 222)

LB 4 Ryan Murphy (Jr., 6-2, 220)
36 Evan Miller (Sr., 6-1, 215)

LB 57 Nick Mistretta (Sr., 6-2, 233)
56 Ray Pesanello (Fr., 6-1, 231)

LB 95 Josh Martin (Jr., 6-3, 242)
53 Brian East (So., 6-3, 212)

NT 79 Wells Childress (So., 6-4, 275)
91 Seyi Adebayo (Jr., 6-3, 255)

DT 61 Chris Groth (Sr., 6-4, 319)
71 Owen Fraser (Sr., 6-1, 266)

DE 94 Ben Popeck (Sr., 6-4, 260)
97 Nick Melka (So., 6-2, 245)


PK 30 Luke Eddy (So., 6-3, 215)
13 Greg Guttas (Jr., 6-0, 208)

H 86 Louis DiNovo (So., 5-11, 195)
1 Mike Stephens (Sr., 5-11, 208)

KR 1 Mike Stephens (Sr., 5-11, 208)
49 Mike Murphy (Sr., 6-1, 202)

PR 28 Ross Morand (Sr., 6-2, 195)
24 Marquel Carter (So., 6-0, 215)

LS 94 Ben Popeck (Sr., 6-4, 260)
88 Hamilton Garner (So., 6-5, 232)

SS 94 Ben Popeck (Sr., 6-4, 260)
88 Hamilton Garner (So., 6-5, 232)

P 13 Greg Guttas (Jr., 6-0, 208)
32 Tyler Feely (So., 6-0, 160)

First, you have to take the two-deep with a big grain of salt because they just don't always jive with wha you see on the field Saturday. Some of that is because of last minute changes and some of that is because of a little chess playing by the coaches.

That said, I think most of these lineups are legit, even though are a more than two or three surprises here. Because of the number of injuries Columbia is dealing with right now, it makes sense that we see some new names.

To me, the biggest headline is that Nick Gerst is not on the two deep which tells me he's still battling injuries enough to keep him out of the pregame starting lineup. I would not be surprised to see him out there on the first series, but I wouldn't be shocked if he isn't either.

The starters on the offensive line make sense, but it's worth mentioning that junior Alec Kosminskas and sophomore Jimmy Yukevich have cracked the top of the two deep at the guard positions. Big Texas high school product Eric Walker makes the two-deep backing up Kosminskas as does freshman Chris Proctor who is the #2 behind the great Jeff Adams at LT. In all of Norries Wilson's years at Columbia, I can't remember ever seeing a freshman offensive lineman anywhere on the two deep.

Another headline is the list of starters in the secondary. DB-turned-WR-turned-DB again Brian DeVeau is listed as one starter at corner while co-captain Ross Morand is the listed starter at the other CB position.

Neil Schuster and AJ Maddox are the listed starting safeties, which is not a surprise, but I did think Maddox would be a corner.

One of my biggest surprises was not seeing senior Kalasi Huggins anywhere on the two-deep, but perhaps he will play.

Promising sophomore Marquel Carter, (the young man who can speak Japanese fluently), and solid veteran junior Steven Grassa are listed as the top backups at safety.

The starters at linebacker were what we expected, Josh Martin and Ryan Murphy on the bookends and Nick Mistretta and Zach Olinger on the interior.

My biggest surprise at LB was seeing freshman Ray Pesanello as the backup for Mistretta, (perhaps we should call that slot "the Jersey Shore"), which is also funny because Ray's older brother is also listed as a backup LB on the FORDHAM two-deep!).

The all-important front three starters are Texas A&M transer Wells Childress getting the nod at NT, Ben Popeck at DE and Chris Groth at DT. The backups, who will almost surely get a lot of playing time too were Seyi Adebayo, Owen Fraser, and Nick Melka.

I still believe the play of that front three will make or break Columbia this Saturday and every Saturday until Thanksgiving.

Maybe the biggest shocker of all on the two-deep is the fact that WR Mike Stephens is listed as one of the top kickoff returners. After Stephens was lost for the season from an injury returning a punt, I thought his days on the special teams were over.

Ross Morand is the top punt returner.


Fordham's game notes for this Saturday's 10th Liberty Cup game were released very early this morning.

The Fordham two-deep again refuses to list a clear QB starter and also completely omits the name of the Rams best defensive player, Justin Yancy.

To say that's annoying is an understatement.

Anyone who thinks Yancy won't play is being too optimistic.

Yancy was also not in the two-deep two weeks ago for the UConn game and he played almost the entire contest albeit with a big cast on his right hand...

... a cast he used to repeatedly whack UConn players in the face by the way. I sincerely hope the Columbia coaches alert the refs to this if Yancy is still wearing that big mitt Saturday.

But the nebulous two deep is just one of the many mysteries about the always mysterious Ram team under Head Coach Tom Masella.

Masella often throws some big surprises Columbia's way in the Liberty Cup games, but this year he has an excuse because so many of this top offensive players from 2010 have either graduated or switched positions.


My money is on freshmen Peter Maetzold getting the start and most of the snaps like he did against UConn on 9/1. But the bigger Griffin Murphy may get a lot more time as the game moves on if the coaches see running opportunities for him up the middle.

Maetzold's performance on the big stage at UConn wasn't so great statistically, but he held up pretty well against a much bigger group of defenders than he's ever seen in his life.

The issue here is pressure, I don't believe Fordham had ANY pressure in that game against the Huskies. No one expected them to win and all the Rams had to do was not lose by 50 points to avoid embarrassment.

NOW, Maetzold and co. are at home on homecoming against a banged up team the world expects them to beat... especially now that this is year two of the athletic scholarship program at Fordham.

Now let's see how the frosh QB deals with real pressure.


Darryl Whiting is a legitmate talent with great size. He's an excellent first test for Columbia's job #1 for this season which is STOP THE RUN.

Whiting hit the Lions for 44 yards on 11 carries backing up now-graduated, (thank GOD!), Lion killer Xavier Martin in the game against Columbia last year.

But by the end of the season, Whiting was the starter and he finished the year with 771 yards, a 4.6 yards per carry average and eight TD's.

His stats against UConn two weeks ago are really irrelevant against the much bigger and faster Huskies.


Fordham's offensive line sure is big, but is it effective? Two starters from last season return, and the three new starters include two sophomores. One of those sophomore starters is Thomas Fisher at the crucial LT position. I'm going to bet that Fisher is one of Fordham's 32 or so athletic scholarship players, but he needs to be tested early to be sure he's up to the task.


Speedy frosh Sam Ajala looked like the Rams best weapon two weeks ago against UConn. The entire WR corps is very new due to graduation. There's really no telling how this unit will do with a freshman QB throwing the ball to them, it's just a whole new ball game.


Yancy is the king of this unit at 305 pounds and don't worry, he's playing. The Lions will have to figure out a way to contain him as soon as possible.

The other big defensive star is LB Nick Womack who put up big numbers last season. Andre Delaire is another LB with serious skills.

The Fordham defense played very well against Columbia last season, but not so great against every else. The Rams gave up 30 or more points four times in 2010 and were particularly questionable against the pass.

That puts the value of the veteran Fordham secondary in question. Perhaps the Rams would be better with some newer players back there.


I think this game is as close to a must-win for Fordham that a team can have in week two of a season.

Think of it like this:

Fordham is in year two of an athletic scholarship program, is opening its season on homecoming against a totally non-scholarship Ivy team it beat last year and is banged up at the moment!

If I were a Fordham player playing in front of most of the people who have made the still very questionable atheltic scholarship policy possible, I'd feel very pressured to win this game.

Let's see how the Rams handle it.

Bruce Wood at Big Green Alert found these predictions for FCS games this weekend by Sean Shapiro at The Sports Network.

He likes the Lions to beat Fordham by a TD and says the difference in the game will be QB Sean Brackett.

His prediction may be wrong, but it's nice to see someone who covers this league not named Jake Novak who gets it about Brackett; he is a game changer.

Top 100 Moments of 2010:

#2: Brackett Comes In

With Columbia trailing Brown 28-0 in the second quarter of the season finale in Providence, Sean Brackett convinced the coaches to let him get into the game after missing his first start since he won the starting job the year before.

The wisdom of allowing a banged up Brackett get into a game after it already seemed out of reach was debated throughout the offseaso, but Brackett was determined to help his Lions at least save face.


At Fri Sep 16, 02:42:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest story on the DL is that Wade Childress is the starter at NT. Obviously he must have come on like gang busters for the coaches to have shown this kind of faith in him. I am not surprised to hear about Garrett starting at RB. He made huge gains in both strength and speed and has serious moves. Chao is more of a power back, and I see Gerst as being used as a third down catch and run out of the backfield threat. I expect Josh Martin to have a monster game.

At Fri Sep 16, 02:51:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

The first amazing stat is the average size of the starting O-Line: 6'6" and 293. I don't ever remember a line that big ! I'd like to make the case that if our line blocks well, our running game has the potential to be more of a ball-control offense than in the past. That cant help but make the D better as well. Agree that the play of our 3 down linemen in the 3-4 is critical, especially against a primarily running opponent like Penn. Impressive depth here as well. Gerst, where are you? Why do we insist on having Stephens return kicks ?!!

At Fri Sep 16, 03:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree on the size of the OL. This isn't a group of guys who are barely over six feet who have eaten their way to 280; it's a very tall and athletic group which should give Brackett excellent pass pro.

At Fri Sep 16, 03:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, the Columbia two-deep must look really good to you as nearly all the key players you mentioned in your previews are listed is the two-deep, with the exception of Nick Gerst, and we do have two tough and talented replacements for him in Garrett and Chao. Furthermore, I really like the idea of having both Ward and Yukovich start on the offensive line together with Adams, Hauschilt and Kosminkas. Our offensive line will average in the 290's which is actually less the average weight of the Fordham OL, but the difference is that our guys are taller, with three 6'7" and 6'6" starters. Also, for offensive line enthusiasts like myself, there is nothing better than having a tall, athletic group of first team linemen backed up with more big, strong players like Frantz, Stupi, Proctor, Ghregoruvich and Walker. Jake, this group of offensive linemen, will certainly be the biggest and I'm hoping the best in Columbia Football History.

At Fri Sep 16, 03:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Almost all of the guys listed as back-ups on the Columbia offensive line would have started just a few years ago. That shows how far along we have come in raising the talent on the team.

At Fri Sep 16, 03:18:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see some of the players who were injured in the past return successfully to the starting line-up. Go Owen, Go Griffin, Go Eric, Go Lions!

At Fri Sep 16, 03:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doc is right, I don't think we want Mike to be returning any kicks. He's a great pass receiver and that's where we need him. Carter, Grassa, Grant,or one of the freshmen sppedsters,Fischer, makes more sense to me. Back in the nineties the Lions used a couple of freshman kickoff returners in the opening game and it worked out just fine.

At Fri Sep 16, 03:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A tall OL with short RBs is a prescription for success. Our starting RBs are all built low to the ground and will be hidden from the defense.

At Fri Sep 16, 03:34:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I think that you have always done a terrific job but it seems that, so far this season, you are taking your game to the next level. The Fordham preview is first-rate. I can't believe how much detail you are posting and look forward to likely learning a few things about my own team in week three. Keep up the excellent work.

--An admiring fan from Princeton

At Fri Sep 16, 03:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that so many key players on both the Columbia and Fordham football teams hail from the Great State of Texas! We will have at least three starters with Texas pedigrees--Stephens, Childress and Ryan Murphy. Several of Fordham's athletic scholarship players including their freshman quarterback and freshman wide receiver are also from Texas.

At Fri Sep 16, 03:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip about the field glasses!

At Fri Sep 16, 03:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why do you keep referring to the Lions as "banged up?" It looks like nearly all of the expected starters will be in there (with the possible exception of Gerst, although the explanation by the first poster makes sense), and with good depth in the back-ups. Do you know about injuries that the rest of us are unaware of? Sorry, but it sounds like you're making a pre-game excuse. something we should definitely avoid!

At Fri Sep 16, 04:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerst is a third down back in htis offense. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. And he is excellent in the open field. Garrett is a first and second down back and Chao is a short yardage guy.

At Fri Sep 16, 04:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the outstanding analysis.

At Fri Sep 16, 05:18:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may mean nothing but we are heavier across the OL than Penn, Dartmouth or Harvard. And as a previous poster mentioned, we have four starters at 6-6 or taller. Harvard has two, Dartmouth one and Penn zero. On the DL, Dartmouth starts two linemen at 235 or less, Harvard starts one. Penn's biggest starter is 265. No one has a 300-pound NT/DT except us. Talent beats size but for the first time in memory we're bigger than the best teams in the league. Go Lions!

At Fri Sep 16, 05:23:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see Jimmy Yukevich crack the starting lineup. Size matters but size and speed win games.

At Fri Sep 16, 07:08:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, you certainly were on target earlier this week when you named Martin, Mistretta, Murphy and Olinger as the probable starting linebackers with Evan Miller, as a top reserve. You have also spoken highly in the past of two other linebackers who made the two-deep, namely, Mike Waller and Ray Pesanello. Finally, you recognized last year the tremendous potential of Brian East, the 1st team All-State linebacker from Carmel, Indiana, who captured the #2 linebacker spot behind our All-Ivy defender, Josh Martin. Jake, you certainly know your stuff.

At Fri Sep 16, 07:24:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We seemed to have added some nice size and speed to our linebacker corps by moving defensive linemen Martin and Murphy to the linebacker position. From what I've seen of them on the field, they are both very tough and talented football players. I also was impressed with Olinger in the second half of the season. He's very quick, smart and has great tackling technique. Finally, as a New Jersey guy, I am very happy to see that Nick Mistretta, Mike Waller and Ray Pesanello are all in the top eight. If you want players who can "stop the run," then you need players from Good Old, Bergen County, New Jersey.

At Fri Sep 16, 07:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame with Gerst out. Hope Columbia gets to see him healthy one day.

Hopefully he is back for the Ivy league schedule. He is a back that can carry a team when healthy.

Good luck Columbia

At Fri Sep 16, 07:49:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's great to make the Columbia two-deep, but we need to keep in mind that there are several positions such as wide receiver and defensive back, where a number of additional players are likely to see action. And then, of course, there are the special teams players who may not be part of the two-deep. Those guys can win or lose games for you very easily.

At Fri Sep 16, 08:21:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerst is a puzzle to be sure. He has already been injured for the better part of a year. No one seems to have a clue as to what's the matter. Maybe that is something that we will never learn the answer. I certainly hope he is not damaged goods, especially after reading all the rave reviews from posters on this site over the last six months.

At Fri Sep 16, 08:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hamstring injuries are very unpredictable. Just ask Jose Reyes... Columbia needs to get Gerst healthy and take every precaution to keep him healthy. You can not rush hamstring injuries.

Let the games begin

At Fri Sep 16, 09:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My opinion is that Garrett and Chao can do the job at tailback. Garrett has excellent speed and acceleration. Chao is a tough running back with lots of experience. We also have two strong fullbacks in senior Nico Papas and sophomore Griffin Lowry. If those guys are healthy, our opponents will have a difficult time. Of course, it would be nice if Gerst suits up, but even without him, we should be able to run the ball against Fordham.

At Fri Sep 16, 12:29:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Marcorus Garrett will prove to be a bigger talent, certainly more durable. If Gerst can be available as a spot player he could still be a real threat.

At Fri Sep 16, 06:06:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surprised they changed holders from Paul Havas last year. Eddy/ Havas combo broke several records last year and solved the kicking woes. Last year Stephens was the holder prior to the injury and he's out, too??? Strange coaching changes?

At Fri Sep 16, 06:07:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake- do we have a two-deep on the coaching staff? If Norrries falters (again), is Tellier ready to step in?

Re: Gerst, I think that we should all just agree that he was a good High School football player who never lived up to the hype or expectations (Bergen Catholic PR machine). Hey, it's no fault of his own, those things just happen. However, to say that he could carry the team is a lot to ask from the sidelines. As Jake previously noted, HS All-American, Blake Barker isn't even playing at Harvard anymore.

At Fri Sep 16, 06:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephens on kick returns is not a big surprise to me. He was there for a reason last year. The injury was unfornate (a fluke), but, you want someone with that type of talent returning kicks. Starting recievers are always in those position at the major D1 schools. I wouldn't be surprised to see him returning punts also.

Chao was also not much of a surprise. He by far was the best back at the spring game. Gerst is good, but, Garrett and Chao have shown just as much with less fan fare.

At Fri Sep 16, 08:07:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is everybody parking tomorrow? Is there a Columbia tent anywhere?

At Fri Sep 16, 08:34:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't place too much emphasis on the two deep roster. It doesn't reflect situational packages and rotations. I'd expect Gerst to get plenty of action (assuming he's not hurt) for that reason.

At Fri Sep 16, 09:12:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parking is hit or miss in the Fordham parking lot. I've never seen a Columbia Football Tent set up at Fordham. Usually, the visiting team's fans settle into the stands on the east side of the bleachers. Remember that there are no separate stands for the visiting team at Fordham. The visiting team is banished to the south sideline for the entire game although it would seem only fair for the two teams to switch sides at halftime. Don't forget to wear Columbia Blue to the game so the players can see you. And bring sun glasses and field glasses so you can see the players.

At Fri Sep 16, 09:30:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Fordham website will have the game on live video.

At Fri Sep 16, 10:12:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fordham may archive the video of the game, making it available to non-subscribers to the video service.

At Fri Sep 16, 10:40:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The coaches also liek the freshman running back from the coast (Alec Fischer). And don't be surprised to see the DE from the Bay area (Washington) in the mix.

I can tell from the sheer number of comments that Lion enthusiasm is sky high. Great advice about wearing blue. Let's have a sea of blue out there.

At Sat Sep 17, 01:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... I agree .... I thoght Fisher looked pretty good at the scrimmage .... also, watch out for Nelligan, I think he will be another freshman "in the mix" ...I also agree that the Lion fans seem to be "sky-high" at this stage .... I think the Lion fans are more hopeful this season than any season I can remember in the past few years ....

Frank F '70C

At Sat Sep 17, 02:50:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coaching will determine who wins this game! Columbia has the talent to beat Fordham. Play calling is very critical in a game where teams are equally matched talent wise!
Go Lions!


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