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.