Scouting Dartmouth and the Essential Five
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Open secret: Buddy Teevens' job is in danger at Dartmouth
Overview: A Mean Season for the Green
You can't usually account for emotions when scouting a football team, but the disappointing season Dartmouth has endured so far is out there for everyone to see.
Even I thought the Green would have a better year as I picked them for third in the league based on all the returning senior players.
But two major weakenesses have derailed the Dartmouth express and they don't seem to be getting any better anytime soon.
The first is run defense. The Big Green rank dead last in run D in the Ivies, and that's even after they didn't have to face RB Nate Eachus who sat out for Colgate in the season opener!
Dartmouth is allowing 213 total rushing yards per game and an eye-popping 5 yards per carry. That's 33 total yards more game than the 7th place run defense, Brown.
Columbia fans are no strangers to a weak run defense and the problems it can bring, but I can't remember a stat line as bad as 213 yards allowed per game and 5 yards per carry.
Three straight Dartmouth opponents have racked up 200+ yards on the ground against the Green; Penn, Yale and Holy Cross. And it's been worse every week. Penn had 206 yards, Yale 269 and Holy Cross 272.
Whether Columbia's worst-in-the-league 3.0 yards per rush average on offense has found a godsend in the Green D or vice versa will be determined Saturday.
The second major issue is quarterback play.
It seems that throughout Buddy Teevens seven year, second time around, coaching tenure at Dartmouth, he's never really had a very good QB.
For most of the last four years, he's stuck with senior Connor Kempe mostly by default... but that may come to a surprise to Columbia fans who remember that Kempe had an outstanding game against the Lions last year, going 24 of 37 for 237 yards a TD and no INT's.
This season, Kempe is completing under 48% of his passes and getting fewer than five yards per attempt. He has endured being replaced as a starter in the last two games, only to see his replacement fare even worse and have to come back into the game.
Those replacements were sophomore Andy Gay against Yale and senior Dan Rooney against Holy Cross.
The results were disastrous. Gay went just three for 11 for just 14 yards before being pulled for Kempe at the Yale Bowl and Rooney was one for six for 10 yards with an INT and a sack before Kempe replaced him too.
One would think Teevens is through trying to experiment with different QB's, but who knows? There are still four other QB's on the roster who haven't started a game yet this season.
There's a lot of talent and experience on this team, but you just can't win if you can't stop the run and you don't have even decent quarterback play.
It's as simple and as sad as that.
But They're Still Dangerous
Dartmouth still has some weapons that could make it a long afternoon for the Lions on Saturday.
The first is defending Co-Bushnell Cup winner Nick Schwieger. Schwieger is the rarest of commodities in the Ivies these days: a 1,000 yard rusher.
Through five games, Schwieger has 551 yards rushing, 5.3 yards per carry average, and four touchdowns. He is as good a cutback runner you'll see in this league and has shredded the Lion D two years running with 242 yards in 2009 and 124 yards and two TD's last season in New York.
The #2 back, sophomore Dominick Pierre, is a serious bruiser as well who burned the Lions with some key first down runs last season.
On defense, the Big Green have two super cornerbacks anchoring an excellent secondary. Shawn Abuhoff is the most dangerous kick returner in the Ivies, but his regular job defending the pass is no afterthought. The other corner, J.B. Andreassi, is a demon as well.
Very often, a team that defends the run poorly has good pass defense stats simply because opponents don't really need to throw against them. But Dartmouth's pass D is for real.
And don't forget the incredible force Abuhoff is for the special teams. On kickoffs, Abuhoff is averaging 24 yards a return, including one 89 yarder. On punts, he averages an incredible 13 yards per return including a 90 yarder for a TD.
The Five You Must Know
The Columbia-Dartmouth rivalry has been one of the more closely contested in the Ivies over the last 20 years. Here are the five key Lion-Big Green games over that period in chronological order:
1991 Dartmouth 28 Columbia 19
This game turned out to be significant for a number of reasons.
First, it was Dartmouth QB Jay Fiedler's first real impact game on his way to an epic career that ended in the NFL.
Second, it was Columbia's first real competitively-played game against an eventual league champion in decades. The Lions had a 19-17 third quarter lead and most of the crowd left Wien Stadium more than a little impressed with the effort.
Finally, the day had to have had the most dramatic weather change during a game in Columbia history. What had started as an extremely warm day ended with temperatures dropping and winds kicking up significantly by the fourth quarter.
1996 Dartmouth 40 Columbia 0
Columbia came into the game 6-1 against the 7-0 Big Green in a game that would determine the Ivy title.
The Lions never had a chance as Dartmouth's defense and a steady freezing rain battered Columbia into multiple turnovers.
Columbia and Dartmouth haven't been serious contenders for the Ivy title ever since.
1998 Columbia 24 Dartmouth 14
The Lions came into Hanover without a win over the Big Green since 1971 and without a win at Memorial Field since 1946.
But a 24-0 lead and a strong game by RB Johnathan Reese ended all that.
2000 Columbia 49 Dartmouth 21
Reese's record-breaking 236 yard rushing day still stands as a Columbia record.
This game is also the last time Columbia won a Homecoming game.
2009 Dartmouth 28 Columbia 6
Dartmouth came into the game riding a 17 game losing streak. Once again, the rain fell hard all game in Hanover and the Lions came out all wet after Schwieger destroyed them in a 28-6 Green win.