Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scouting Yale

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Columbia's game notes and two-deeps for this Saturday were released last evening.

(Ever notice how the game notes always come out earlier in the week as the season goes on? Does anybody know why that is?)

It's hard to put too much stock in the two-deeps when QB Sean Brackett was listed as the starter last week when everyone on the team knew he wasn't going to play at Darmouth as early as Tuesday.

But some astute readers have already pointed out that junior Andrew Weiss is now listed as the backup to Brackett. Since we don't really know if Brackett will play, we could see a brand new starter this Saturday on national TV no less.

Also notable is freshman Alec Fisher getting listed as the #2 running back and freshman Chad Washington listed as a backup defensive lineman. Congratulations to them!

Patrick Witt makes Yale all about him

Looking at the Elis


Last year, Yale made a strong move up the Ivy standings mostly by winning a series of extremely close games.

This season, none of their games has been decided by less than nine points, (and that game wasn't really as close as it looked).

No nailbiters this year.

What we do have is an improved overall offense and a team that has performed well at home and generally poorly on the road.


Veteran readers of this blog know I'm no fan of Yale QB Patrick Witt.

That's even though he's just been named the only Ivy finalist for this year's Bill Campbell trophy.

It's not that I don't think he's talented, because he clearly is. When he gets that quick release going he is impossible to stop.

It's not that I don't think he's smart. He clearly is; posting some stellar grades all the way through school.

My issue with Witt is that he seems to lack the complete maturity and leadership qualities to bring the Elis victories in tough games or on the road.

So the question is whether Witt will play the role of Dr. Jekyl or Mr. Hyde this Saturday.

One player who has clearly made strides over last year is senior RB Alex Thomas, who is having a great season running the ball for Yale. The only trouble is, he doesn't get the ball enough. Thomas is averaging just 15 carries a game, and I can't understand why. In short, I think the Bulldogs are passing the ball too much this season and that may be Witt's fault.

The offensive line has been excellent, notably giving up just seven sacks all season. But starting LT Wes Gavin is out for the year after going down in the Penn game and that could change everything in the coming weeks.


Yale's D is noticeably weaker this season, as many predicted it would be after several top players graduated.

The Elis are closer to the bottom of the Ivy pack allowing 136 rushing yards per game, but the real weakness has been pass defense. No Ivy team has been passed against more than Yale and those passes are being completed a league-high 66.7% percent of the time for 255 yards per game.

And yet the Bulldog defense also put together a 30-0 shutout of Dartmouth in week four, so there is some ability here.

Special Teams

The best part of the special teams at Yale is punt returner Gio Christodoulou who averages almost 15 yards per return and has a TD this season

Second best is junior Chris Smith who averages almost 26 yards per kickoff return.

The kickers aren't quite so great.

Place kicker Philippe Panico has been spotty, missing four PAT's already this season. He's a decent FG kicker, but nothing over 35 yards out is a good bet.

Punter Kyle Cazzetta averages just 35 yards per punt and has had one blocked.


At Thu Oct 27, 01:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Peter Stevens '70C 73L said...

I would like to publicly thank you for the service you are providing to the Columbia football program and the greater Columbia community. You have been the catalyst behind our own “Arab Spring.” Hopefully, justice will prevail and Wilson will be toppled.

For what it’s worth, I was on Campbell’s first frosh team in ’66 and feel I know him well. I refuse to believe that he is blind to Wilson’s performance as head coach and that he will place his relationship with Wilson above his responsibilities to CU. As for Murphy, she seems content to bask in the glory of our Lady archers and field hockey teams.

I’ll be at the Yale game. Unfortunately, most of my “posse “of about 8 or 9—all FBers from the late ‘60s—will not. They have thrown in the towel for the season and maybe beyond. This is truly distressing as these guys are the truest of true blue. And I’m pretty close to the end of my football rope as well.

Oh well, I’ll sign off now as I may start to rant.

And it goes without saying that come Saturday morning, I’ll be singing our fight song believing that we’ll win. Go Lions!

At Thu Oct 27, 01:34:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Game notes are compiled week by week. There's much less new information needed to fill them out as the season goes on.

At Thu Oct 27, 01:57:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Stevens- "Arab Spring", nice touch! I, too, appeciate all that Jake has done for the players, fans, and the university! Thank you Jake! I would just ask Peter to please contact Bill directly and express your concerns, and the concerns from the Blog (not the overzealous crowd). Hopefully, you will do so because it is the Players who suffer the most.

At Thu Oct 27, 03:31:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

In this "Arab Spring" you're conjuring up, Pete, who's playing the role of the Copts and other uniate and Orthodox Christians, who are invariably crushed come the "revolution?"

I mean, you are aware that with such a movement as you're imagining bad things often happen as well, right?

At Thu Oct 27, 03:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to Stephens on the 2-deep; the coach(es) didn't completely ruin his redshirt year.

At Thu Oct 27, 03:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Facts: Gavin, Yale's LT, has been out since Dartmouth, two games ago. Collins, RT, was injured in first quarter against Penn. Yale stil ran for 232 yards, 204 by Alex Thomas.

At Thu Oct 27, 03:48:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Facts: Gavin, Yale's LT, has been out since Dartmouth, the fourth game. Collins, the RT, went out in the first quarter. Yale still rushed for 232 yards, 204 by Alex Thomas. Total offense was 490.

At Thu Oct 27, 04:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a simple question. Why can't we seem to block and tackle? Put aside all of the criticisms and I am left with this very basic question: are we recruitng players who lack fundamental football skills? I have never seen a team at this level which has had so much difficulty wrapping up ball carriers on defense and sustaining blocks on offense.

At Thu Oct 27, 05:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as defense goes, it is like musical chairs. Watch the tapes, they shuffle in and out so many people that they are lost. The defense is overly complicated.

Re: offense, I'm at a loss??? They are big, veterans, and yet they can't make a hole in a piece of paper. Is it coaching? I think not. They can't execute the basics.

At Thu Oct 27, 10:18:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

High scoring affair this Saturday with our guys pulling out their first win. Watch for significant by the offensive and defensive lines.

At Thu Oct 27, 07:26:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just an observation. Except for the 1st game the game notes have come out on Wednesday for every game.

Offense last week speaks for itself.

The defense has been doing better at tackling. The biggest problem at the moment seems to be containment. The last game as an example we get killed regularly with delayed hand off counters or reverse direction runs. The LBs aren't picking that up. As far as constant rotation is concerned I think that actually is working. We are still playing the receivers off too far or not covering the backs at times (LBs again). The teams are doubling up on our tackles. The ends need to do a better job of getting free and we probably need to do some more outside blitzes always remembering to keep someone on the back.

I for one think this could be the week that all the parts come together and they have a great game. Offensive production and turn overs will be key.

At Thu Oct 27, 08:06:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes when a team starts losing it can have a cascading effect. Players start pressing and trying too hard. They can mistrust their teammates and try to do too much instead of sticking to their assignments. Defenders over pursue and become more likely to bite on fakes. You can lose containment if ends go to the ball and don't trust teammates to get there first. A QB who doesn't trust his line will throw prematurely and not check through his options. Running backs may not trust that blocks will be where they are supposed to be. And so forth. The longer the losing streak, the deeper the problem can get. I hope the team can take a deep breath, get back to fundamentals, and become "jobbists". That is, everyone does his own job and trusts his teammates to do theirs, and doesn't revert because of an occasional lapse.

At Thu Oct 27, 09:43:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerst is off the two-deep. Is he hurt?

At Thu Oct 27, 09:47:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a pretty good size team, does anyone think giving those other kids playing time might help? Could it hurt?

At Thu Oct 27, 10:08:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My recollection of last year is that Witt had a surgical performance on our pass defense. This guy is really good. I suspect the team will need to defend the pass better and get a couple of turnovers in order to have a chance to win.

At Thu Oct 27, 10:09:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it's better when the comments only concern firing the coaches. Until you strap it on and bust your but keep the sarcastic player remarks to yourself. Do we recruit "players who lack fundamental football skills?" Are you serious? The offensive line "can't make a hole in piece of paper"? Very clever.

Perhaps if you watched and read how teams attack us you would see the box is consistently filled with 7-8 defenders. How often can five players block eight players effectively? Teams learned early that without a deep, accurate threat, they could load up on the run to force the play. Brackett's condition clearly affected his ability to throw deep and long outs. When he hit on long middle routes our offesnive started to move.

Regarding tackling, it has been inconsistent, not non-existent. I assure you our players have fundamental skills. The student-athletes without those skills are just called students.

At Thu Oct 27, 11:19:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the 8:09 blogger. Until you are in meetings at 7am, leaving for Baker at 3 and returning at 8, lifting weights during the week, AND being a student at Columbia, then comment on the team with rational, not clever, discussion. These young men are living DAILY what we talk about. Smarta** comments do nothing to help morale. We may not have the most athletic, talented, biggest players overall, but they are playing this game for the love of the game and representing Columbia. They have earned my respect, and I wish they have earned yours for what they do.

At Thu Oct 27, 11:34:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ATTENTION: All Captains, Seniors & Columbia Football Players its time to call a meeting amongst yourselves and address the following;

For many of you football has been a big part of your life. As Student Athletes you’re special individuals who’ve constantly struggled with the balancing of athletics & academics. In just 4 short weeks your time as Columbia Football Players will be reaching its epilogue. The days of juggling your academics & athletics will become part of a history with only the remembrance of the good, the bad, and the what if’s. Although your book of history is still open it’s up to you how you want your final chapter to read.

I see the passion and greatness in each of you, but it doesn’t matter what I see, it matters what you see. You must have the leadership skills, will & desire to overcome and make the impossible, possible. Stare into the eyes of adversity and negativity and conquer it with a positive and winning attitude. You can win these next four games but you have to believe that. It’s your choice to make. You have to believe in yourself, the bond of brotherhood and the strength that lies within the team. You possess the power, the talent and the character to accomplish all your goals and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

It’s the final countdown guys so play every down like it’s your last. Believe in yourself, your team and the can do mentality. Play these last 4 games for all the years you’ve sacrificed, for all the injuries each and every one of you & your brothers have endured but most importantly play it for YOU the TEAM. This is your time to prove to yourself that anything is possible with the passion and desire to achieve greatness. Throw away your regrets and embrace the can do attitude because your victory is at hand. It’s your time, your history to write so make it count. Take all the negative comments you’ve heard and read over the past few months and use them as fuel to motivate the team to be the best it can be. Leave behind the legacy that states: We were down but never out and in the end we raised above what others thought could never be achieved and sang our victory song with our helmets held high, Roar Lion Roar, and here the echoes of the Hudson Valley, fight on to victory evermore, as the sons of Knickerbocker rally round Columbia, Columbia, shouting her name forever Roar Lion Roar for alma mater on the Hudson Shore.

At Fri Oct 28, 01:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that is an awesome post by aaparently an anonymous Columbia Football Fan with unbelievable writing and motivational skills. It makes "win one for the gipper" look trivial. Jake, I thought you were a great writer, but you may have met your match. Anywhere, I just hope the players take the writer's message to heart and bring home a victory for themselves and all of us on Saturday.

At Fri Oct 28, 02:03:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW to that 9:34 post! What an inspiration you are to all of us. ThankYou for speaking such kind words of encouragemant to the CU FB Team. My only hope is that they see your message, take it to heart, and play with confidence and attitude on saturday.

At Fri Oct 28, 03:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 9:34 post says it all. Go Lions!


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