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The home game against Sacred Heart this Saturday has to be seen as a golden opportunity for Columbia to try some new strategies in hopes of salvaging the season.
The Pioneers are an out-of-conference, first time opponent, and the game is on Yom Kippur which guarantees thin attendance, (that said, if you DON'T observe the holiday, PLEASE make it your business to be there!).
And, the pressure to beat Sacred Heart has been greatly diminished now that the Pioneers have already knocked off Dartmouth and beated a good Central Connecticut State team.
The point is, the shame of losing to Heart is pretty much gone... and six crucial Ivy games loom just beyond this contest.
Here are a few of the options the Lion staff could try in this final "doesn't count in the Ivy standings game":
1) Rest Brackett
Now we know for sure that Columbia QB Sean Brackett is indeed playing hurt. I doubt he will be 100% recovered by this Saturday either. He is obviously tough enough to play right now, but why not let him get fully better in time for the big nationally televised Homecoming game against Penn the following week?
Why not give senior backup QB Jerry Bell a chance to run a pass happy offense and see what the receivers can do with the deep ball all day?
2) Blitz, Blitz, Blitz
With the exception of a stretch or two against Fordham, the Columbia defense has not really gotten any pressure on opposing QB's.
Sometimes, this becomes a habit and defenses lose their aggressive edge.
Why not send the house after the Pioneer QB's all day and take the gamble on a passing attack that isn't too dangerous. Sacred Heart isn't Brown, for instance.
3) Give it to Gerst... 20 times or more
Since the Norries Wilson era began at CU, the team has never featured a "feature" back. For whatever reason, the strategy has never been to let one RB take the ball 25 to 30 times a game and see what happens.
Unless Gerst is hurt, why not see if he can carry the load?
4) Pull out the tricks
Columbia has a speedy WR in Paul Havas who is a former QB who could go out of the wildcat and burn a defense with his feet and arm in a big way.
That's just one scenario that seems to have little downside if the Lions try it on Saturday.
I'm sure all of you can think of 2 or 20 more.
5) Let Brackett call his own plays... all game
If Brackett is going to start, let him take the leadership role he needs and run the offense his own way the entire game.
Columbia could do worse.