My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Friday, August 05, 2005

#4 Fordham

Time to keep rolling into right into...

#4 Fordham

Recent History

After making the transition to Division I-AA from Division III football in the late 1980's, Fordham's storied program finally returned to glory in the new millennium under now Richmond Coach Dave Clawson, having won the Patriot League in 2002 and defeating Northeastern in the first round of the I-AA playoffs. Clawson followed up that wonderful run with another quality nine win season in 2003 before being plucked away by the Spiders because of his success.

Following Clawson's departure, the reigns were passed to Ed Foley, offensive coordinator for the Rams since 1999 and, all things considered, it was a successful transition. While the Bucknell alum led the team to a slightly disappointing 5-6 record, a deeper look into the program shows that the 2004 team was young and dealing with the graduation of several record breaking superstars. Furthermore, all the games were competitive including a one point loss to Rhode Island, and overtime loss to Brown, showing that the Rams could have easily recorded a 7-4 or better record in 2004. One disturbing trend though that has to be on Foley's mind is the lack of homefield advantage the Rams showed under his first season, as four of their six losses happened right in the Bronx.

Off Season Developments

Early this spring the biggest news story for the Rams was the installation of a new Fieldturf surface at Coffey Field, which, without having seen it, surely improves the situation on Rose Hill. Having played in that mud myself, it is great to see Fordham putting money into its facilities.

The staff, which remained fairly stable with only two coaching changes, brought in 34 recruits with a majority of them coming from the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut areas. There is also a nice helping of talent from Florida and Ohio with a dash of Texas thrown in there for good measure.

The class of 2009 includes: Chad Brooks, a 3rd team All New York State defensive lineman; Fonzie (yes, that appears to be his real name) Culver, linebacker and 2nd team All Ohio State honorable mention; two time All Massachusetts State lineman Justin Sarabaez; Craig Stevens, a two time All State New Hampshire running back; Ryan Mehra a large linebacker who was second team All New Jersey and was part of two state championship teams at Ringwood and Ryan Gorsuch who was an offensive lineman for two time state champion and nationally ranked Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey.

2005 Schedule

This year's slate starts with a grudge match return visit to Rhode Island followed by a trip over to Pittsburgh and perhaps Patriot League hopeful Duquesne before coming home to break in the new turf against intercity rival Columbia.

It's then back on the road for a long stretch with games at Lafayette, Brown, Colgate and Georgetown before finishing up with four game home stand.

This season ending stand will start with the recently coined (unofficially of course) "Jesuit Jihad" versus Holy Cross, before the Patriot League season is closed out with Bucknell and Lehigh making trips to the Bronx. The last visitor to Rose Hill will be ambitious Thruway foe Albany for Senior Day.

All in all it's a balanced schedule that seems to continue the Rams trend of scheduling better competition.

Season Outlook

If Fordham fans were somewhat happy with a 5-6 record in a transition year, 2005 could give them plenty more reasons to have a smile on their face. Last year's youth is back with experience this time, as seven starters return on offense, most notably at the skill positions. Record setting quarterback Derric Daniels will lead the Ram offense for the second year, and running backs Jamaal Hunte and James Prydatko and, perhaps the most exciting member of the three - Jonte Coven, make up the "Triple J" backfield. Coven was last year's Patriot League Rookie of the Year and could be giving opposing defenses headaches for years to come.

The receiver corps will have to start some new faces to compliment returning fifth year senior Rashawn Haynes. All this skill is complimented by the return of three out of the five hogs up front on the offensive line.

The defense, though, has some serious holes to fill, two of them quite big: All-American defensive back Tad Kornegay and All-Patriot League linebacker NaQuinton Gainous. In addition to Gainous, Fordham lost the other starting linebackers to graduation as well. It will be up to two seniors Marcus Taylor and Alex Hunter and most likely sophomore Ryan Kleve to step up to the opportunity that awaits.

There is somewhat better news in the defensive backfield, who return two seniors in Tommie Stephens and Greg Whelan however both cornerback positions appear to be up for grabs. Juniors Reshard Hicks and Cary Williams, who were both on the two deep last year, appear to not be on the roster for the fall. The defensive line is in a similar position with two starters coming back, seniors Jay Edwards and (fifth-year) Edward Gordon. It will be up to juniors Cory Terzis, Marques Brown and sophomore Michael Breznicky look to fill the rest of the spots.

With all of those new faces on defense, Ram fans might have reason to take heart: the defense beat the offense in the spring game to the tune of four turnovers.

Special teams should be a bright spot for the Rams as two time all Patriot League selection placekicker Micah Clukey returns for the kicking duties and and second team Patriot League punter Anthony DiFino is back as well.

Predicted Finish

Fourth. While there should be plenty of potential to put points on the board, Fordham faces the opposite dilemma of conference mate Bucknell: defense. While the safeties should be a strong point, Fordham's biggest problem may be stopping the run, which is not good news when conference mates Lafayette, Bucknell and Colgate tend to make their living with the run.

The schedule isn't really helping either, as a four game home stand has to wait until the end of the season and based on last year's results, home games were not a strength. More importantly, will those home games still matter in terms of conference championships after trips to Easton and Hamilton?

In order for there to be any hope to take home the title, the defense must build on the success it appears to have had this spring. If not, Ram fans will have to leave it up to quarterback Daniels and the Triple J backfield to try and flat out outscore the opposition. It's certainly not an impossible situation as the defense has the potential to prove adequate with several seniors stepping into starting roles, however, Fordham's best strategy in 2005 may end up to be making sure they are the last team with the ball at the end of the game.


  • Great Job 13. Two other highly touted recruits to watch, are Kimbrick Baker at the receiver position, and Louis Woodland at the linebacker spot. With the depth at backer, I think you will see more of baker. Now, he was not offered by any of the BCS Schools, he was mentioned with some of them last summer. I caught a review of him, it seems, with scouts in attendance in camp he had a disappointing 40 time, and that hurt his prospects. He did run it in the 4.5 territory at later date, but after the major recruiting season.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:31 PM  

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