My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Freshman QB Will Play on Saturday

For Cornell at least. Looks like the play of freshman Nathan Ford earned him the right for some more looks versus us on Saturday.

I just want to beat Colgate,” Knowles said. “I think that Nathan Ford brings us
some things that can help us beat Colgate.

Now the question is, will there be two freshman quarterbacks on the field or one?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cornell Scouting Report

There it is Colgate fans: The starting offense for the Big Red. Word is the formula was recently updated to provide for a bolder hot cinnamon taste and that it gives longer lasting fresh breath than before.

In all seriousness Colgate fans, this year's game should be just as close and exciting as years past. Cornell has to be sensing that this could be the year that they get the monkey off their backs and get that 'W'. Cornell is without a doubt an improving team, so if the Raiders continue their turnover ways, don't be surprised for a homecoming loss. Let's see how the Big Red stack up.


Cornell likes to run and they've got a few tools to do it with. So far sophomore Luke Siwula appears to be the go to guy with senior quarterback Ryan Kuhn being a threat in his own right. The Big Red also broke in freshman quaterback Nathan Ford in the second half of the Yale game. Ford looked to do pretty well with 112 yards passing and 10 out of 17 completions. It does not appear that there was any injury to Kuhn, so it was probably to see if the frosh could get the offense going when the Big Red were flat.

Kevin Boothe is the man to watch on the line. This senior offensive tackle is huge at 6'4" 327 lbs. and has drawn a lot of interest from the NFL. Recently Mel Kiper named him the top draft prospect outside of I-A. You can expect that Cornell will be looking to run behind #77 often.

More impressively, against Bucknell this offense put up 293 yards rushing on 53 carries. Now the Bison have been down so far this year, but that is a heck of a lot of yardage against a defense that was supposed to be one of the best in the Patriot League.

The good news for Colgate is that we've got ourselves a pretty good run defense ourselves. Cornell does not have a more impressive rushing attack than UMass, so if the Raider defense comes to play, we could have some success here shutting the Big Red down. What does scare me is a mobile quarterback. UMass didn't have one - but CCSU sure did. I will look for Colgate to bring up eight in the box and try to force Cornell to have to pass to beat Colgate. With the play of our defensive backs so far, as long as we don't have a mental slip against a deep pass, this plays well into Colgate's strengths. I do not think though that Cornell will give up the run easily, so I expect some smash mouth football on Andy Kerr come Saturday. The battle at the line could be the deciding factor in the game.


Cornell's defense looked good against Bucknell, but looking at the season so far, who hasn't looked good in containing the Bison? Against Yale it looks like they gave up the deep ball for three Yale touchdowns. It also looks like they continued to have a solid run defense by limiting the Eli to a total of 102 yards on the ground. Not having seen the game though, that stat could be deceiving. With the air game going so well, some times there is no need to pound it out on the ground.

The leader of the defense is senior safety Kevin Rex. He is joined by fellow seniors Joel Sussman at linebacker and Matt Pollock at the tackle position. Cornell will put a priority on stopping the run.

Judging by the two deep that was released yestereday, Mike Saraceno will get the ball on Saturday. His back up will be none other than freshman Anthony Fucillo. It appears a front runner has emerged out of our freshman three. Another freshman will be making his collegiate start at tailback: Jordan Scott. I had some high hopes for Scott coming into this season, and after his nice performance in limited time against Dartmouth, it appears that the tandem of Scott and J.J. Bennett could be the future of the Colgate running game.

Colgate's weakness so far this season, the running game, plays right into Cornell's strength; however the Big Red showed last week they can give up the big play. If Saraceno (or Fucillo if need be) can find some sort of rythm and hit our very talented receivers, we might just have something to work with in the air. DeWayne Long and Kenny Parker should be able to take advantage of the Cornell defensive backs. The key is all in Saraceno's hands. If Colgate falls behind or Saraceno turns the over the ball a la CCSU, we could see Fucillo given a shot in the second half.

Special teams

Biddle has stated that we will need to win some games with our special teams, and this game shouldn't be any different. Cornell has some good place kicking, as evidenced by a 45 yarder on turf earlier this year. Clearly any trip to the Colgate end of the field could end in points for the Big Red. We will need to keep their kicker out of range in this potential close game. They have also had some luck blocking field goals too.

For Colgate, Geoff Bean has looked good returning kicks and we might be able to use this to our advantage. At home, a big return could be the spark that we need to push us over the edge to a victory.

The skinny

Colgate fans should come to the game pumped for some good old smash mouth football and a close contest between two heated rivals. The Raider defense will once again be asked to carry the load and give the offense some opportunities to score; if not score themselves. The Raider offense will need to play mistake free football and perhaps fine themselves a future star in the backfield.

It has the potential to be a good one. Let's hope the week off and the return to Andy Kerr does this team some good. As always, Let's Go 'Gate!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Week 5: Prognosticating the Patriot

Close games were the story last weekend and most of them were unexpected. Holy Cross kept it very close to nationally ranked Delaware, Georgetown edged Stony Brook to break some of the mid-major curse that has plagued the program and most suprisingly, VMI came awfully close to upsetting the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh. Lafayette alone as able to pull away from league mate Fordham after the Leopards "spotted" the Rams 10 points. Colgate and Bucknell were able to nurse some some wounds, and most likely practice their butts off, in a week off.

This week's action brings the Ivy back to the Patriot League table in some key inter-league matchups. The Patriot teams will be out to gain some respect back from the horrific sweep two weeks ago while the Ivys will look to continue to use these opportunities to make a case for the strength of their teams. Based on the games on tap, this should be one great weekend to watch some games.
Lehigh at Harvard
All eyes will be tuned to Cambridge this weekend, as two national I-AA heavyweight square off in what could (based on rankings Leopard fans) be the toughest game remaining on both of their schedules. The Crimson will welcome Lehigh as a team that has not lost since a day all the way back in November of 2003. Harvard boasts a Payton candidate in junior running back Clifton Dawson (who tore off 189 yards in a double overtime win vs. Brown last weekend), a I-A transfer quarterback in Liam O'Hagan, and a solid receiving corps led by Corey Mazza. Folks, they don't play in the playoffs, but this team is legit.

The good thing for Lehigh is, they are legit too. Borda, Rath and an outstanding defense will be more than up to the challenge of knocking Harvard off their winning streak, much like they did in 2002. After a shaky win against VMI last weekend, Lembo and this senior led crew probably are having a very focused and intense week of practice this week as a win against Harvard should solidify the Mountain Hawks as the team to beat in the Patriot this season as well as a top team in all of I-AA.
There will be a lot of offense on the field this Saturday and the game and the score could be very much like 2002's 36-35 thriller. What makes this observer think the game will go the way of the Mountain Hawk is defense and game experience. The Lehigh defense should have another chance to shine like it did against Delaware. The difference in the outcome should be that they have the Delaware loss under their belt. Any good team should be able to take that loss and grow from it; and I think Lehigh is one darn good team this year. It could be a thriller, but my gut tells me Lehigh will come out strong on this one.
Predicted outcome: Lehigh 31 Harvard 21
Marist at Bucknell
The Red Foxes must be salivating at this game. Bucknell has been banged up and is looking at their worst start since 1998, a season that saw the Bison lose six straight before getting in the win column. Marist has been playing one to two Patriot teams a year for the past few years, and besides an errant Georgetown win in 2001, has not been able to get that big win. They lost their opener to Lafayette in a more respectable fashion than last year, and since that loss have reeled off three straight wins, including one over the same CCSU team that defeated Colgate. Marist, your chance for the win is now.

Bucknell could be in for a lot of trouble this year, and win against Marist is not by any means a given. With a week off to get focused and a some tough games ahead to prepare for, it is do or die time for the Bison. They should be playing like they have nothing to lose.
On the other hand, this game is huge for Marist. They have been winning and they will come into this game pumped up. Normally I'd pick Bucknell here; their defense should be able to contain Marist... but then again, they should have been able to contain Stony Brook. And just how is Bucknell going to score? I'm officially in the doubter camp now. The Bison are going to have to show something in order to get picked to win again. I'm going with the upset.
Predicted outcome: Marist 17 Bucknell 10
Cornell at Colgate
The Big Red come to Andy Kerr to face the Raiders salivating in their own right, looking to knock off their Central New York rivals for the first time since 1992. This game is always a close one, even when the teams involved were headed in opposite directions. With Colgate apparently down this season and Cornell looking improved under their second year head coach, there is no time like the present for the boys from Ithaca.
However, if Dick Biddle and his crew, owners of a 24-5 record against Ivy League teams, have anything to say about it, the Raiders will be looking to rebound against Cornell and get this season headed in another direction. Colgate has been bitten by the injury bug and has been plagued by turnovers in their first three games. One can only imagine what practice has been like in their week off.
After the Dartmouth game, I would have had to predict a Cornell win here. However, after last week's solid beating by the hands of Yale, it appears the Big Red may have some question marks of their own that need answering. It may be time for another Colgate streak to end, but for now, I'm going to hope that Colgate spent the past two weeks getting healthy and getting their heads screwed on straight. Like many a Colgate/Cornell battle, it will be a hard fought contest that goes down to the wire. Here's hoping Colgate wins their homecoming battle.
Predicted outcome: Colgate 14 Cornell 10
Holy Cross at Yale
In what I realize now is a theme for the week, the salivation train certainly isn't going to miss the Crusaders of Holy Cross. The Saders haven't beat the Eli of Yale since a 10-6 victory in 1982. Yale, currently owners of a 1-1 record with a loss to San Diego, looks like they might be in a rebuilding year while we've seen Holy Cross loss to pretty good games to some of the top I-AA talent in the nation. However, Yale showed last weekend that they are capable of putting up some points and winning in their game vs. Cornell. This is a tough pick folks.
Holy Cross has gone through the fire the past two weeks and even though they lost, have earned some well deserved respect along the way for their improving program. I don't know what to make of Yale given the past two weeks. I'm going to have to think that the Crusaders return to the win column behind the legs of Steve Silva.
Predicted outcome: Holy Cross 24 Yale 14
Lafayette at Georgetown
The Leopards of Lafayette got into the Patriot League win column last week with an impressive win against Fordham after being down 10 points. Georgetown as well returned to the postitive side of the ledger edging Stony Brook by two. Besides both teams winning last week, these programs may be headed in opposite directions.
After what appeared to be an impressive opening win against Bucknell, Georgetown was then crushed by Holy Cross and Brown in the following weeks and barely squeaked by mid-major Stony Brook. One only has to imagine that Georgetown coach Bob Benson is on the hot seat to get this program going in the right direction. A win here would do just that.
But the Leopards are still the same team that was picked to win or just miss winning the league this year. It will take a major mess up for the Leopards to trip up here. Georgetown might just have that upset win up their sleeve, but I'm not about to go out on a limb and pick it.
Predicted outcome: Lafayette 35 Georgetown 12
Fordham idle.
Last week's record 3-1. Season record 10-12. Getting closer to .500!
(Please forgive some of the paragraph formating. Blogger, or my computer, is doing something funny. I'm looking into it.)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

My AGS Top 25

1. New Hampshire (3)
2. Delaware (4)
3. Northern Iowa (6)
4. Harvard (7)
5. Western Kentucky (1)
6. James Madison (8)
7. Cal Poly (9)
8. Lehigh (10)
9. Montana (11)
10. Furman (13)
11. Southern Illinois (12)
12. Eastern Washington (2)
13. North Dakota St (5)
14. Hampton (14)
15. William & Mary (15)
16. Appalachian St (17)
17. Northwestern St (16)
18. Massachusetts (23)
19. South Carolina St (19)
20. Western Carolina (20)
21. Alabama St (22)
22. Idaho St (NR)
23. Rhode Island (18)
24. Wofford (24)
25. Georgia Southern (25)
W. Idaho St
L. Hofstra

Dropped out: Youngstown State
Next 4: Texas State, UC Davis, Montana State, Illinois St.

Personally, the idle games made it tough for me. Whether it was a bye or postponed because of Rita, I couldn't move new teams in because current teams were not playing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Week 4: Prognosticating the Patriot

Ouch. The collective efforts of the Patriot League took a beating last week at the hands of our long time rivals, the Ivy League. For the first time in, well, maybe ever, the Ivy's swept every game against the Patriot League. The lone survivor was Lehigh who thankfully had the week off. It was not pretty folks.

This week gives us a break against the Ivies, featuring a league contest and a match up against one of the best teams in the nation. In addition, two teams are able to take a breather this week and hopefully regroup to some winning ways. We have nowhere to go but up!

Fordham at Lafayette

Last week Fordham made the Ivy sweep complete, losing to Columbia by 6 in the nightcap. Lafayette fell victim earlier in the day as well, losing to Princeton for the second year in a row, this time at home.

On paper, the advantages all go to Lafayette. The game is at home, the Leopards have a few wins under their belt, and Fordham has appeared to take a step back with every game so far. That said, this season so far has proven that there are no givens when it comes to I-AA football.

Lafayette will need to have a healthy quarterback at the helm as it appears Mauer was not 100% against Princeton with a hip pointer. The Leopards waited in taking out their starter last week and they are probably kicking themselves over it. Back up Pat Davis (who actually split time with Mauer in the beginning last year) proved very capable in his season debut. If Lafayette waivers on their quarterback decision again this week, it could open up some possibilities for the Rams.

The Leopards will also need to find their running game again as tailback Jonathan Hurt was held to only 46 yards on the day.

For Fordham, plenty of changes will need to take place in order for the Rams to pull off the upset. A quarterback must emerge to take charge of this team, Prydatko must be given the chance to continue to carry the load in the backfield and the defense needs to come to play on every down. Most importantly, the coaching staff needs to find a way to get this 0-3 team believing they can play like winners. The second season for Fordham starts right now.

In the end, Lafayette will need to play a better ball game then they did against Princeton to win if Fordham plays a better game then they did against Columbia. Unfortunately for the Rams, the odds are currently that Lafayette will rebound faster than Fordham will get going in the right direction. My predictions this year have been horrible so far, so a Fordham upset would frankly not surprise me; but for now, I have to call a Leopard win here.

Predicted outcome: Lafayette 24 Fordham 10

Georgetown at Stony Brook

For two schools that have very little in common institutionally, their football programs sure have plenty. You can start with the fact that both schools have beaten Bucknell and you can end with the fact that both schools were soundly beaten last week; Georgetown by Brown and Stony Brook by Hoftsra.

So what the heck does a guy have to go on here to make a prediction? My first inclination is to think that the game's out on Long Island and the Hoyas, much less the entire Patriot League, haven't done too hot against NEC teams recently. My other inclination is to think that, with this season, maybe I need to apply the (George) Costanza Theory when it comes to picks: I need to pick the opposite of what I would normally do. That would mean Georgetown.

In the end, it's a toss up. So I'll toss it up. Heads Hoyas, tails Seawolves. Tossing... Tails: Seawolves it is.

Predicted outcome: Stony Brook 17 Georgetown 7

Lehigh at VMI

Lehigh had the week off and is probably thanking their lucky stars for it. With injuries to heal and the potential let down game after Delaware, they too could have slipped up last week against an Ivy. Their foes this week, VMI, took a beat down and a pay check from I-A Duke in their previous game.

If everyone is healthy, and even if everyone is not, Lehigh should take control of this game early and ride it out to victory in preparation for Harvard next week. VMI has been mediocre since, well, longer than I've been alive so a Keydet win here would be a very large upset. Lehigh could get caught looking forward but they are most likely still stinging from the defeat in the Tub. I think they might have a game much like the Monmouth opener: no matter how it started out, in the end, a large margin of victory.

Predicted outcome: Lehigh 41 VMI 18

Holy Cross at Delaware

The toughest task for the Patriot League this weekend belongs to Holy Cross for the second time in a row. The Crusaders lost a respectable game against Harvard last Saturday and now face the nationally ranked Blue Hens of Delaware, who beat West Chester last weekend. Tough out of conference schedule there Holy Cross!

A trip to the Tub is tough for any team (just ask Lehigh) and it won't be any different for the Saders. An upset of Harvard last week might have got my wheels turning, but while Holy Cross looks to have come a long way since two years ago, they still came up short. Delaware certainly won't be any easier than Harvard, so all signs point to the first Blue Hen win over the Holy Cross program (granted, it has been a while since they met).

Then again, that darn Costanza Theory is out there, lingering like a gnat on a humid day. Have I just done what I always do? Could this be this week's shocker in a season so far filled with I-AA shockers? Could Holy Cross play the David role to Delaware's Goliath better than Lehigh could (who wasn't actually the little guy at all)? I'd love to be the genius who picks this upset if it were to happen, but I just can't pull the trigger. Something is holding me back. I think it's called sanity... Good luck Holy Cross, but this one should be all Delaware.

Predicted outcome: Delaware 41 Holy Cross 20

Colgate and Bucknell are idle. (thank goodness!)

Last week's record 2-4. Season record 7-11. Crap!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Colgate picked #2 and #5 preseason

Holy Crap! Who else forgot that ice hockey starts up in 2 1/2 weeks? The media picks the Raiders to finish second behind the Soviets, er, I mean Cornell while the coaches pick us to finish fifth.

Jon Smyth is the big name for Colgate, getting picked to the preseason all league team by both groups.

UMass-Lowell comes to Starr on October 7th. Where has the time gone?

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Long Two Weeks of Practice Ahead

It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out, but by this quote that appeared in the Dartmouth area paper, Coach Biddle is not a happy man.

Biddle's quote:

"“It’s embarrassing to me as a coach,” Colgate coach Dick Biddle said. “We played in the championship game in 2003 and now we’re a mediocre team.

“I don’t think it’s them. You give them credit, but I think it’s us.”
Call me a silly Homer, but Biddle will get this team back on track. It might take a few weeks, but Colgate will get its act together and remember how to hold on to the ball and win some games.

My AGS Top 25

Another week with some upsets, so here is my AGS Top 25 ballot:

1. Western Kentucky (1)
2. Eastern Washington (2)
3. New Hampshire (4)
4. Delaware (5)
5. North Dakota St (6)
6. Northern Iowa (3)
7. Harvard (9)
8. James Madison (11)
9. Cal Poly (14)
10. Lehigh (12)
11. Montana (15)
12. Southern Illinois (7)
13. Furman (16)
14. Hampton (19)
15. William & Mary (13)
16. Northwestern St (10)
17. Appalachian St (NR)
18. Rhode Island (NR)
19. South Carolina St (NR)
20. Western Carolina (NR)
21. Youngstown St (NR)
22. Alabama St (22)
23. Massachusetts (24)
24. Wofford (NR)
25. Georgia Southern (17)


DROPPED OUT: Maine (#8), Lafayette (#18), Coastal Carolina (#20), Sam Houston State (#21), McNeese State (#23), Montana State (#25).

This week is the official "Course Correction" week. We've got 3 games under our collective I-AA belt and some teams that were on the bubble or flat out off the radar have made cases for recognition. Rhode Island starts off 3-0 and by knocking off William & Mary, show they could be for real. Appalachian State knocks off Coastal Carolina who beat JMU last week, Youngstown State now starts 3-0 and Wofford shows up by beating Georgia Southern. Western Carolina is an interesting one; they are now 2-1 but lost to I-A Cincinatti 7-3. That close of a loss shows me that they deserve recognition for their two previous wins.

As for those that dropped out, I was going out on a limb with Maine based on their play versus Nebraska. With a loss to Richmond, I can't justify a ranking anymore. Coastal Carolina drops mostly because they got beat in pretty impressive fashion. A closer game would have kept them around.

I must say, it ain't easy picking this list!

The Ivy Sweep

Jeez - I go away for a weekend and the entire Patriot League (sans Lehigh who was off) was swept by the Ivys! Nice job Ancient Eight. I only wish you would join the playoffs. The Patriot League schools all know how tough you guys are, but other conferences don't look upon you as favorably. I haven't gone out into the message board frontier yet, but I can only hope people look at this weekend and say how good the Ivy's are, not how bad the Patriot is. We did some nice work against the almighty A-10, and in turn you have beaten us. Seems to me the Ivy League can hang pretty well with some top teams in the country.

Thank goodness Colgate has the weekend off. Sounds like we're getting hit big time by the injury bug and we need to lick some wounds and refocus for the rest of the season. We'll be back for Cornell!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dartmouth Scouting Report

This week's opponent is the Big Green of Dartmouth, who apparently have been spending the past two weeks filming this video as opposed to playing some games:

Click on the image to view a little team movie!

D is for Determination! D is for Dedication! D is for... D'oh!

Sorry Ivy fans, I couldn't help but make light of the production. The technical quality of the piece is excellent, but the subject matter leaves something to be desired. Show some highlight film stuff; the work-out theme with "D is for..." is like nails on a chalkboard!

Now, back to the subject at hand, Colgate travels to Dartmouth this weekend to greet the Big Green to the start of another season. It's a new but old coach in Buddy Teevans at the helm for the boys from Hanover for the second time around, and after last year's 1-9 season, Coach Teevans has his work cut out for him.

The Big Green are led on defense by seniors #91 Anthony Gargiulo at end and #48 Josh Dooley at linebacker. Five other starters return from a defense that gave up an average of about than 20 points per game. Last year's team was no slouch when they came to Hamilton as they only allowed 17 points and contained the Colgate offense much of the day. It will be interesting to see how that group has grown under a new coach.

Senior #15 Charlie Rittgers returns as quarterback to lead an offense that, under Teevans, claims to like to throw the ball. He is joined by fellow senior #67 Daniel Tootoo at offensive tackle as the only returning starters on offense. That can be either a bad thing or a good thing looking at last year's record. Sophomore tailback #45 Chad Gaudet will be asked to step up to the starter's role and senior wide receiver #13 Ryan Fuselier will be the top go to guy for Rittgers.

It will not be an impossible task for Dartmouth to beat Colgate, for while the Big Green lost to Columbia 9-6, they also lost to Harvard 13-12 last year and could have easily walked out of Andy Kerr with a 'W'. But the winning ways just haven't been around in Hanover for some time; the best the current seniors have tasted is five wins their sophomore year. If any person is up to the task of turning around this program, it is Teevans; however he will most likely need more than one year, much less one game, to get this team going in the right direction.

This game will not be handed to the Raiders on a silver platter. Colgate will need to continue playing good defense and mistake free offense to get this win. There is still a lot of work to be done for this team to get ready for the Patriot League season. My hope this week is after getting a solid grasp on the game, Colgate is able to work out some offensive kinks and continue to grow.

As always, LET'S GO 'GATE!

New "Escape Route"

I discovered a handy little blog tool called the "Escape Route". Basically, the little green icon on the right will take you to a 'safe' web page if you are reading this blog at work or somewhere you shouldn't be. You can set a cookie at this web site and personalize it to your own needs.

Just a little something I discovered while learning more about blogging. I'm going to try and do some mobile and audio blogging soon and I stumbled across this along the way...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Week 3: Prognosticating the Patriot

After an exciting start to the season, the mid-major and A-10 games are over for the most part, and now begins the yearly slate of games from our conference cousin the Ivy. Every Patriot League team faces off against one of the Ancient Eight with the exception of Lehigh who has the week off. While these games are always important for interconference bragging rights, this is also a good week to see if any trends are developing. Can Holy Cross and Lafayette start out 3-0? Will Bucknell or Fordham start out 0-3? There are plenty of stories here worth following.

Colgate @ Dartmouth

In probably the biggest Patriot League win last weekend, the Raiders from Hamilton upset newly formed rival UMass by the score of 17-14 in a game that feature numerous turnovers. The defense scored the majority of points for Colgate and Jared Nepa was recognized for his outstanding performance with the Defensive Player of the Week award. It was a stunning victory that may have refocused Colgate to its winning ways.

This week places the Raiders on the road for the first time and making the trip to Hanover, New Hampshire to face the Big Green of Dartmouth. In what has become (and will continue to be at least until 2011) a yearly opening match for the Big Green, this year will have Dartmouth searching for a taste of victory under the direction of returning coach Buddy Teevans.

Colgate has had Dartmouth's number for several years, and coming off of a 1-9 season doesn't bode too well for the Big Green's chances. Teevans may ultimately turn this program around, but for a team that hasn't had a winning record since 1997, it will be an upset if they start out this year 1-0. I think Colgate will begin to find an offense this week, and the defense will continue to impress.

Predicted outcome: Colgate 24 Dartmouth 10

Bucknell @ Cornell

Not many (including myself) would have predicted that the Bison would be starting off this season 0-2. After last week's loss to Stony Brook, and with the number of injuries to key personnel sustained in the past few weeks, it might not get better for some time either. This is serious gut check time for this program, because while after Cornell comes Marist, the rest of the schedule gets very tough. Without wins in these two weeks, Bucknell could be struggling for the better part of this year.

Cornell took down Bucknell last year during their return to respectability, and frankly, they appear to be a program heading in the right direction. A new coach last year got the players excited and performing well, ultimately winning 3 out of their last 4 games and never being out of a single contest. This time around, I think the Big Red will be starting out 1-0 as Bucknell starts to feel their season spiraling downward.

Predicted outcome: Cornell 20 Bucknell 10

Brown @ Georgetown

After flying high from taking down Bucknell in week one, Georgetown got brought back down to earth in a harsh way with a 48-6 thumping at the hands of the Crusaders of Holy Cross. It sounds like nothing went right for the Hoyas and their first home game will be a welcome event for their players and fans as it christens their new facility.

Brown comes off a 6-4 season last year as the dark horse Ivy contender looking to knock off Harvard and Penn from their perches. They boast one of the nations better running backs in Nick Hartigan and will be out to get the season started on the right foot. One has to assume it has been a long week of practice for the Hoyas as neither side of the ball did much against Holy Cross. I think it will be a more respectable game than last week, but the Georgetown might be back to square one.

Predicted Outcome: Brown 27 Georgetown 18

Harvard @ Holy Cross

The Crusaders continued to fire on all cylinders as they took down Georgetown with relative ease and slid into a tie atop the Patriot League standings. This week will bring the Crimson to town for a much bigger test of this fledging resurgence.

Harvard has lost standout quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but has retained a superb running back in Clifton Dawson. They boast a long unbeaten streak and even have some pollsters convinced their the top team in the nation. They looked poised to win many games this year; however, looking at last week's I-AA scores, one has to wonder if they are also poised for an upset.

In this week's "Going Out on a Limb" tangent, I see a scenario panning out where Harvard, playing their first game, comes out rusty and one dimensional. Holy Cross on the other hand plays some inspired ball in front of a large Fitton crowd that feels the upset juices flowing. Gilmore has the troops focused on stopping Dawson and they get the job done. Holy Cross wins in a watershed game for the program.

It will either be a brilliant prediction, or I'll look like a fool come Sunday. It's time to take some chances with my picks, so it's all aboard the Sader Train for this one. Chu-chu!

Predicted outcome: Holy Cross 24 Harvard 21

Princeton @ Lafayette

This week's "Feline Battle" has the Tigers and Leopards going toe to toe in Easton. Lafayette continues to knock off opponents by virtue of shutting out Richmond last week, while Princeton is hoping for a similar start as last year when they took out Lafayette 35-18. Princeton has been an inconsistent program since the mid-90's and one never really knows what to expect from them. They can take down Colgate in 2002 but lose to Columbia and Dartmouth in 2003.

Unfortunately for Princeton fans, I don't think lightning will strike twice in this one. Lafayette has grown immensely as a team since last year's loss and has looked just as good as the team that made an appearance in the I-AA playoffs last year. I look for them to join Holy Cross at the 3-0 mark.

Predicted Outcome: Lafayette 35 Princeton 17

Columbia @ Fordham

The Rams from Fordham find themselves in a similar position as Bucknell sitting at 0-2 to start the season. They've lost by two touchdowns or more in both contests and appear to have a bit of the injury bug themselves. Columbia could be just what Fordham needs, as they are coming off a 1-9 season and haven't seen the win column over 7 since 1996.

While there are parallels to Bucknell, my sense is that there are different issues at play here. Fordham is in need of leadership, from both the players that were asked to step up this year and from the coaching staff that is now in their second year and saw some major stars graduate last year. There is plenty on the line for the Rams, and if they are not hungry enough to pull out the 'W' here, it could be a long season in the Bronx. I'm not bailing on Fordham yet; I think they'll get their act together starting this week.

Predicted outcome: Fordham 20 Columbia 14

Lehigh is idle this week and will need it from the sounds of some injuries obtained in their valiant effort against Delaware. Great job Mountain Hawks.

Last week's picks weren't so hot (although I at least got overtime right in LU/UD), but I'll take being wrong on Colgate any day if it means a Raider win!

Last week's record 2-4. Season record 5-7. Ouch!

Dartmouth Game Notes Released


Not that game notes are always accurate, as evidenced by last week's indication that Saraceno would be starting, but it looks like last week's main duo will start again. Lee Sloan is listed as the starting quarterback and J.J. Bennett is listed as the starting tailback. Steve Hansen is backing him up, so LaMonica either continues to be out with an injury or the two freshman have won the job for now.

The defense looks to have remained the same.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My AGS Top 25

For those interested, here is my ballot for the AGS I-AA Top 25 poll. A lot of upsets and a lot of movement in my poll. Some new faces too. I did not vote last weekend (forgot it was Monday!) so I have left off the previous ranking. This is a bit of a shake up.

1. Western Kentucky
2. Eastern Washington
3. Northern Iowa
4. New Hampshire
5. Delaware
6. North Dakota St
7. Southern Illinois
8. Maine
9. Harvard
10. Northwestern St
11. James Madison
12. Lehigh
13. William & Mary
14. Cal Poly
15. Montana
16. Furman
17. Georgia Southern
18. Lafayette
19. Hampton
20. Coastal Car
21. Sam Houston St
22. Alabama St
23. McNeese St
24. Massachusetts
25. Montana St

Weekend Digestion

Having had another day to let the weekend digest, Colgate's defense still stands out in my mind as playing top notch ball. Yes, we gave up yards in the fourth quarter, but we shut out UMass for 3 quarters and scored twice. We also held strong when we needed to. That last series almost had 3 INTs in. The offense needs to come a long ways, but I like the potential I see. They were conservative and tentative, but I like what I see.

The Patriot League had some highs and lows, with Lafayette taking down Richmond and Lehigh going to overtime with Delaware. Good job guys. Holy Cross made a hell of a statement with their win over G'Town. I can't wait to see how they do in the coming weeks versus Harvard and Delaware. A win over either could just be the watershed game this program needs to get to the next level. On the other side of things, Fordham and Bucknell might just be in more dire straights then any of us thought. I need to read up on things, and we've all learned that mid-majors are no joke, but I did not think either program would be starting out 0-2.

In an all important measuring stick, the Patriot League went 2-1 vs. A-10 yesterday and is 2-2 overall this season. Not bad at all. In overall I-AA land, a lot of upsets around. JMU, Georgia Southern, NW. St. all lose. Western Kentucky and Delaware almost lose. This season could be very interesting. A lot of teams can make a run. No one can just show up and win.

That's it for now. Man, I am happy the 'gate made its way back on the helmet!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Don't Count Colgate Out Yet

Ah, the sweet nectar of victory. No, make that upset victory. Wait, make that upset victory over UMass! Colgate took down #13 UMass 17-14 in one of the better defensive performances I've seen this team ever put on. Steve Baylark and the entire UMass rushing attack was held to 84 yards. Tim Day was intercepted four times and his replacement Liam Coen was picked off once. I am plenty satisified that Mr. Day was sacked twice after it was pointed out that he hadn't been sacked in four games.

The Colgate offense still needs plenty of work, but it was steady and didn't make a lot of mistakes. That is certainly a step in the right direction. There was also plenty of youth on that side of the ball. Steve Hansen, J.J. Bennett, Brent Dillingham, Steve Jonas: all freshman who saw a lot of time on the field (not to forget Sam Breslin seeing a ton of action on the defensive side).

Colgate just made a huge statement with this game. Last week's loss is behind us; the team was focused and hungry - and the defense looked amazing. I'm sure I'll think of more as the weekend progresses, but hot damn - Colgate ain't ready to call this a "rebuilding" season just yet!

Oh, and thank goodness the 'gate made it back on the helmets. I bet there is a story there!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Pre Game Noise

I thought I'd post a few links out there.

UMass renews rivalry at Colgate

"We feel like we can run the football, and that is what we are going to try to do," Day said. "We'll go over the top like we do every game. They've got a good defense, but we feel that we can exploit them in a few different ways."

Wide receiver R.J. Cobbs caught two passes last week in his return to the offensive side of the ball, and he sees things the same way.

"They're going to try to stop Baylark, but we're going to do our best job to block and open up some holes for him," Cobbs said. "We're going to try to attack deep on their corners. We've just got to pound the ball with Baylark to open up deep with play action."

RB depth suddenly an issue

It didn't take long for a perceived strength turn into a potential weakness for the University of Massachusetts football team.

UMass supporters were more than a little anxious when the offense was down to its third running back in the first half of the team's 19-6 win over Richmond in the opener.

Backup Matt Lawrence went down in the first offensive series for the Minutemen, twisting an ankle after a nine-yard gain that helped put UMass up 3-0.

Starter Steve Baylark was struggling with the heat and had banged up a knee, forcing coach Don Brown to use senior Raunny Rosario, the only other tailback on the travel roster.

Minutemen motivated in Return to Colgate

Scars may heal, but they always leave some type of mark. For the Massachusetts football team, the scar left behind on Nov. 29, 2003 was the result of a deep penetrating wound, when the Minutemen were ousted out of the first round of the NCAA playoffs by Colgate. The setting was one that could have been taken from a Hollywood film.

Gusts of wind and falling snow overtook Andy Kerr Stadium as the Minutemen fell to the Red Raiders on an ice-coated field.

Over a year later, UMass will approach that very field, the first time since the playoff decision. The climate will be warmer and it will not be snowing, but with the loss in 2003 in the back of their minds, the team will look to take advantage of the opportunity for redemption.

So in summary, UMass is ready for the game, thinks they can exploit us and go deep, may have a running back depth issue and are still looking for redemption from 2003. Two seasons ago UMass? Please. Both teams are very different than in 2003. This is a brand new season. I can't believe they're still talking about 2003.

Boy, I'd love to give them some more things to talk about Saturday. Time for the HooDoo to make an appearance!

Hansen is "A Tough Nut"

The Utica paper has an interview with Coach Biddle in which he talks about freshman tailback Steve "MMMBop" Hansen.

"If you look at the game, that was the excitement for us - when Steve came in," said Biddle, who compared Hansen's slashing running style to that of former Colgate 1,000-yard rusher Ed Weiss. "He runs so hard, and he's not very big (5-foot-9, 185 pounds), so he's going to get clobbered. But he's a tough nut. He gives us a chance to hit a home run every time he touches the ball."

I can't say I disagree with that one bit. From his very first run I was saying, out loud probably, who the heck was that? The Ed Weiss reference is one I can't believe I didn't make myself. I look forward to seeing Hansen hit a few homers!

The other parts worth mentioning is Biddle promised there will not be a repeat performance of last week - in terms of turnovers. His quote:

"You have to look at what the quarterback (Saraceno) can do and take the ball out of his hands until he gets some experience. We can't put him in that situation again."

That is an interesting statement. I wish I heard what preceded and followed it. I think what he is saying is that we'll be hitting the running game much more this weekend. However, it is ambiguous enough that I'm not 100% sure. Is Saraceno on a short plank this game already?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

UMass Scouting Report

The University of Massachuesetts Minutemen come back to Andy Kerr Stadium this Saturday ranked No. 13 in the AGS poll and with a healthy number of players that were present back on that cold day in 2003. The weather forecast looks much better this weekend at 73 and sunny so there should be no claims of weather or bus incidents to mar this contest. Nay, it will be a great day to play some ball.

But my dear Colgate fans, we have our work cut out for us, much more so than the previous two contests. Last week the Minutemen downed the Spiders of Richmond at Richmond 19-6. Second year coach Don Brown has not taken very long at all to have this team positioned to make a run at the I-AA National Championship.

UMass brings a lot of weapons to the table on offense. Senior starting quarterback #10 Tim Day can put up some very respectable numbers and more importantly, he is very capable and appears to be quite comfortable running this offense. He's got a year under his belt as the signal caller and should only grow more as the season progresses. He's also got some good receivers to throw the ball to, particularly #81 Brandon London who will be trying to replace the loss of Jason Peebler.

The largest threat on this side of the ball exists with Payton Award candidate #5 Steve Baylark. Besides looking flat out tough in his headshot, this junior led the A-10 in rushing last season and judging by his 124 yard performance against Richmond, is destined to move up from fifth on the all time UMass rushing yardage list. He runs behind a talented offensive line that has some new faces on it. There are two veterans here in #62 Alex Miller and #73 David Thompson, however if there is any offensive weakness to exploit it would be in the ability of the three new faces to gel with the rest of the offense. They're not exactly 18 year old freshman, as one is even a transfer from Syracuse, but it will be only their second game working together as a unit. Raider fans shouldn't get too excited though, as Baylark is good enough on his own to be a threat no matter what line he is running behind.

The defense for the Minutemen is just as impressive. Led by Buchanan Award candidate #6 Shannon James at free safety, this 2004 first team All American is a black hole for opposing quarterbacks. He leads all of I-AA in career interceptions and grabbed another one last weekend. The news just gets worse for Colgate, as even though every other member of last year's defense returns, the defense is bolstered further by the return of a 2003 All-American at cornerback, #2 Steve Costello, who was out last season with an injury, and by #55 John Hatchell, a nose tackle transfer from Lehigh of all places! What is even more impressive is that I have yet to mention the leading tackler from last year's team, #51 Serge Tikum will once again be roaming the inside at his linebacker position or the sole UMass scorer from the 2003 contest, #7 James Ihedigbo is poised to do more damage from his strong safety position.

As bad as Colgate looked at times last weekend, they will have to count on more than just improved play to win this one. On offense, Sacarceno cannot give UMass two much less five intereceptions because this team will not be held to 3 points off of turnovers. We also will need to find some balance to our offense in the form of a running game because our best asset in our receiving corps will be held in check all day by one of the best secondary's in I-AA. Unless we can keep this defense honest with smart playcalling, near flawless execution and spirited play from new faces, scoring will be quite difficult without the help of a few funny bounces and turnovers.

On the defensive side of the ball, our key to success will be controlling the line of scrimmage. While our run defense was a significant strength last weekend, Baylark is extremely talented. If he gets on a roll or we start allowing 4-5 yard (or more) first down runs, Tim Day will pick us apart on second or third and short. Our defensive backfield has the talent to be up to the task of shutting down the deep threat, we just can't have mental lapses like against CCSU. Their receivers won't be brought down from behind.

All in all, this is one of if not the toughest test on the schedule this year. UMass is much like Lehigh or Lafayette in that they return plenty of potent weapons and experience to make a deep run at league and I-AA championships. Colgate's not incapable of pulling this one out; it will just require a different team, particularly on offense, to show up than last week.

As a reminder, the start to this game is 12:00 p.m. to accomodate T.V. coverage. If you can't make it to the game it will be on Time Warner Sports in central New York and CN-8 elsewhere.

As always, LET'S GO 'GATE!

A Little Game Week Diversion

This question was posed over at Any Given Saturday and I thought it would be a great topic to bring over to the blog. The question is, what would you name as Colgate's all decade team from the past 10 years? Tough question, but here was my best shot:

QB - Ryan Vena - '99 or '00. I think he graduated late. If I remember correctly, he coached for a season after he was done playing.
TB - Jamaal Branch - 05
FB - Ben Evans after this season? - '06
WR - Corey Hill - '99
WR - Luke Graham - '05
TE - John Frieser - '04
OL - Marc Sclafani - '04
OL - Ken Kubec - '02
OL - Matt Shepard - '03
OL - Luke George - '99
OL - Paul Clasby - '00
PK - Lane Schwarzberg - '05
Punter - Brendan Biddle - '03

DL - Robert Hannah - '04
DL - Alex Houston - '01
DL - Josh Sabo - '04
DL - Mike Latek - '05
LB - Tem Lukabu - '04
LB - Adam Sofran -'97
LB - Ron Hampton - '02
DB - Geoff Bean - by the time he is done -'07
DB - Sean McCune - '04
DB - Keith Brooks '01 /Ameer Riley ('02 but did not complete if I remember correctly)
DB - Jamal Patterson '97/Max Wynn - '03

Pretty tough to compile this list. I'd love to hear some thoughts from readers on this one.

(Edit: I've added class years to the best of my memory. Rene Vargas was '04. I've also thought more on this and think Marcus Cameron '97 was worthy of mention at DB. He was something like a 3 or 4 year starter.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Week 2: Prognosticating the Patriot

(Maestro, que the Aretha)

R-E-S-P-E-C-T... The concept abounds in Division I-AA football. As a whole, our sub-classification is always looking for some respect from the I-A community. Last week, the mid-major schools were looking for, and earning in some cases, respect from Patriot League schools. This week, it's time for the yearly attempt for the Patriot League to earn some respect from our local scholarship friends, the Atlantic 10 conference.

Going up against the A-10 is never an easy thing to do. While as a conference we've enjoyed some success in the playoffs, it has generally been tougher for the Patriot League to win that critical mass of regular season games that we all desire. After Fordham's failed opening salvo last weekend against URI, this week essentially represents the biggest shot our conference has to make some noise in I-AA land and bolster our collective GPI's.

UMass @ Colgate
The first Patriot League team to step up to the A-10 challenge will be Colgate. Coming off a shocking upset to Central Connecticut, the Colgate Raiders will be a decided underdog even at home. UMass, a highly ranked preseason team, comes into Hamilton with one win against Richmond under their collective belts.

On paper, UMass should have a ton of reasons to dominate this game. The defense returns intact and the tailback is a Payton candidate by the name of Steve Baylark. One really has to struggle to find a down side to this team. Colgate by comparison has some solid things to bring to the table, but many question marks as well. If Colgate is to win this game, some solid answers have to arise. It will be an uphill battle for Colgate all day, and in the end, the odds are likely that Colgate will be starting the season at 0-2.

Predicted Outcome: UMass 35 Colgate 18.

Georgetown @ Holy Cross
After an exciting overtime win against Bucknell last weekend, the sole league game of the week again involves Georgetown and puts the Hoyas in the position to claim a two game head start in the league standings. However, Holy Cross made an opening statement of their own last week with an impressive offensive manhandling of Sacred Heart and will definitely have something to say about it.

This match up will most likely hinge on the senior led Crusader offense vs. a talented and confidence gaining Hoya defense. If last year's overtime contest was an indication of what happens when these two Jesuit schools get together, it could be a barn burner in Worcester. And it is precisely because this game is at Fitton Field that makes me think it will be the Saders who will ultimately be victorious on Saturday. I believe this game will go down to the wire, but in the end Holy Cross might just have too much offense for this respectable Georgetown defense to contain.

Predicted Outcome: Holy Cross 24 Georgetown 21

Fordham @ Duquense
One of two mid-major games on tap this weekend, Fordham will be looking to get the win column started after dropping a decision to Rhode Island on Saturday. Much like the boys from Hamilton, the Rams have several question marks that need addressing this week. Their opponent, Duquense, lost a lot of talent from last year's team but were pleasantly surprised last weekend by the play of a rookie quarterback. If this quarterback can pick up where Loebig left off, Duquense could continue their recent run of taking down Patriot League teams.

Still, Fordham didn't lose to Duquense last year when they had all of their stars in place and a significant portion of this Fordham team returns for another go this year. Both teams have a good shot at winning this game, so I'll look to history to decide the outcome. Another year of experience for the Fordham Ram offense should produce a similar outcome as last year, even though this game is in Pittsburgh.

Predicted Outcome: Fordham 34 Duquense 28

Richmond @ Lafayette

Richmond comes to Easton clearly wanting some pay back from last year's controversial loss. They fell last weekend to UMass in a fairly close game, but appear to be still looking for a quarterback to lead the team to victory. Lafayette hosts the Spiders fresh off a to be expected win against Marist and are just as anxious to prove last year was no fluke.

They key to this game for the Leopards will be containing Stacy Tutt and controlling the ball on offense so they can win the time of possession battle. The same defensive unit is back for Lafayette and this time around the game is at home. It will be a tough, close battle, but remember that bit earlier about respect? The Leopards stand a good chance of earning some more right here.

Predicted Outcome: Lafayette 18 Richmond 16

Bucknell @ Stony Brook

Bucknell comes off an overtime loss to aforementioned Georgetown and after only scoring 16 points are still looking for an offense to take shape. The defense is still a force to contend with and will always keep Bucknell in the game. Stony Brook squares off against a Patriot League team for the third year in a row, having lost to Lehigh and Georgetown in season's past. It will be their opening game and the Seawolves will be looking to further press the case for NEC respect.

Bucknell should enjoy the trip to Stony Brook's new stadium as it is evidence of the commitment some of these NEC teams are making. Having learned some lessons from CCSU and Monmouth, this game could be close. However, the Seawolves will have plenty of trouble finding ways to score this weekend. Bucknell should pull this one out after some hard work.

Predicted Outcome: Bucknell 25 Stony Brook 12

Lehigh @ Delaware

Saving what could be the best for last, this is probably the marquee Patriot League game of the weekend, and is one of national significance as well. No. 12 Lehigh is out to bolster their out of conference record and to make a statement for the rest of I-AA to hear. Throw in a little payback factor for their last visit to the Tub, a 2000 playoff quarterfinal loss, and you begin to understand why Mountain Hawk fans are pumped up for this game against No. 8 Delaware. For those interested in tuning in, the game is being broadcast online through CN-8's website.

Lehigh got some of the off season rust out last week with a convincing win against a top mid-major program in Monmouth while Delaware will be opening the season on Saturday. The Blue Hens have some (capable) replacements to break in but will be just as tough as always. Picking a winner here is not an easy task. This might be more with my heart than my head, but the Mountain Hawks have a legitimate shot in this one, so I'm going with it.

Predicted Outcome: Lehigh 27 Delaware 21 OT

Last week's record 3-3. Season record 3-3

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

UMass Game Notes Released


First thing I took a look at was the depth chart. Some shaking around has taken place. First off, in the skill positions Steve Hansen is now officially the #2 guy at tailback. Last week it was Joe Pinion. I also see this as confirmation that he is not hurt. Then, freshman David Morgan cracks the two deep at split end. Erik Burke moves to DeWayne Long's back up at flanker, taking the place of junior Craig Perkins. Finally, Brent Dillingham replaces Tyrone Gould as the second team tight end. No change to the Saraceno/Sloan spots at quarterback.

The offensive line has been officially shook up. Todd Mulligan moves from right tackle to left guard and freshman Steve Jonas gets the start at right tackle. According to the game notes, Jonas did in fact start against CCSU and was the first freshman to start at offensive line in Biddle's tenure. The two deep for CCSU was apparently wrong! Matt Sullivan, a sophomore, get his first crack at the two deep behind Jonas. Mark Mushel moves from starting left guard to backup right guard. So from left to right the line is now Wurst, Mulligan, Sulovski, Hall and Jonas.

On the defensive side, Conn Davis (a tight end transfer from UConn) makes an appearance at back up defensive tackle. Sam Breslin is now the second team free safety and it is a good reminder to me that he saw a lot of action last week. I almost forgot he was a freshman. The number 13 he was wearing reminded me a lot of Tom Morelli hanging around back there. Finally, freshman Chris Ekpo earns a cornerback back up spot. Raymon Taft was listed as the back up for both corners.

That is, in my humble opinion, quite a bit of youth there being served. They will have their hands full on Saturday, that's for sure. That said, a little shake up never hurt a team that got upset the week before, at home, and is full of question marks. Hopefully some of the guys are up to the challenge.

A Bright Spot and Some Digestion

In good news, Steve Hansen got the Patriot League Rookie of the Week nod for week one. I must say I was very impressed by how this freshman, playing in his first collegiate game, was able to step right in and average over five yards a carry. It looked like he hurt his shoulder for a bit there, but if I'm not mistaken he made his way back into the lineup towards the end of the game. If he stayed in the whole time, he might have gotten himself closer to a 100 yard game.

He chose (or was given!) quite a number to live up to, and he definitely is a different style running back at 185 pounds (and from the stands that might be generous), but that's not too shabby to start off with. Who else had Hansen on their radar screens? I was thinking Jordan Scott or J.J. Bennett might see the field before any other newcomer. No matter what, it was a nice surprise. Congratulations Steve, on your first of what we all hope is many recognitions for your accomplishments!

Now, on to that digestion. A few days removed (as well as some helpful comments) have added these thoughts to my brain. First off, Saraceno still has potential. Let's not kick him to the curb for one bad half essentially. Anyone remember Chris Brown's first half against Lehigh in 2003? Also, in another Lehigh comparison, I recall Mountain Hawk fans calling for Borda to be removed after a shaky start last year, and look at where he is now. If Saraceno settles, he could be a fine quarterback for the Raiders.

Next, I really liked how Ben Evans got utilized on the pass. He is a great weapon for us. Kenny Parker can also develop into a potent offensive threat and will need to continue to step up to help DeWayne Long. Long really stood out on the field on Saturday, and will only continue to do so as he develops his relationship with a new QB.

In a non game essential topic, I loved the new checkerboard end zone look, but man, where are the 'gate helmet stickers? Plain maroon? I'm not a fan of that at all.

I can only hope this week produces some serious work and focus in practice, and this team hits the field with all they got on Saturday. Keep in mind everyone, the game starts at noon!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Dark Day for Football

The news is bad out of Hamilton to say the least. Today I witnessed one of the worst offensive performances in a long time for the Raiders. First of all, congratulations are in order for CCSU. They came to win and did not give up. I wish them the best for the remainder of the season. They represented the NEC very well.

From this Colgate's fan perspective, here's what I took away from the game. Our defense played fairly well, if one can over look a huge missed play to set up the winning CCSU field goal. The run defense especially seemed up to task. We could use some work tackling in the open field and containing the quarterback, but those are typical early season mistakes. More game time will tighten that up nicely. I particularly think Zach Dollar stood out in the linebackers.

However, like many fans in the stands, I was stunned to see the lack of offensive firepower. A team cannot expect to beat anyone giving up the ball that many times to an opponent. I believe 21 of the 24 CCSU points came off of turnovers. That is simply unacceptable. If this same team shows up next week against UMass, we will lost by at least 40 points. Of course the fingers can start to point to the quarterback, but the blame is not soley his. The running game did not get established early on and frankly, Steve Hansen looked better at tailback than Ray LaMonica. Our receivers made some nice places and DeWayne Long is a threat all by himself. But if we turn over the ball every other series, we will lose a lot of games this year.

I will choose to be positive for now. Saraceno still should get a chance to work those kinks out and the team could use this game as motivation for the remainder of the season. Still, I must say the rose colored glasses were sharply ripped off from my face today, and the Raiders have a lot of hard work and soul searching ahead of them this week. A UMass win would certainly be redemption, but after todays game, it seems miles away from being possible.
Congratulations are in order for Holy Cross, Lehigh, Lafayette and especially Georgetown! Great win for the Hoyas. Fordham, keep your chin up, we've both got some work to do. Now, time for my weekend long mourning period to begin...

Friday, September 02, 2005

Two Player Stories

On the eve of the start of the 2005 season, Zach Dollar and Ryan Hall both appeared in news articles yesterday.

Zach Dollar

Zach Dollar wasn't feeling all that great about his situation on the Colgate
University football team during his first two years with the Raiders.He was
listed as a junior varsity player, but he wasn't getting any time at all at
defensive end, a position that he excelled in at Justin-Siena High School."I've
always had a goal to be a great football player and I think that's what has kept
me driven," Dollar said. "I think just through determination I kept working
hard."Coach Dick Biddle and his staff took notice of Dollar, a three-time
All-Napa County performer and Justin-Siena's two-time Defensive MVP, when he was
on the Raiders' scout team, which faced the first-team offense, in practice.

Ryan Hall

He’s going to start along the offensive line for the Colgate Raiders when they
begin their 2005 football campaign Saturday afternoon in Hamilton against
Central Connecticut State. And as Ryan Hall can make most scales groan with his
300 pounds, give or take a cheese dog, the young man is well placed.
he’ll be focused on the Blue Devils, who’ll come to town with both 55 lettermen
and 16 starters from last year’s outfit that went 8-2. Of that, you can be
certain because Hall, a senior, was one of those glorious Raiders who fashioned
that 15-1 record two seasons ago and went all the way to the Division I-AA title
game in Chattanooga.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

CCSU Scouting Report

Each week, The 13 Yard Line will try and produce a concise summary of what's on tap on Saturday. This is the first installment.

The Blue Devils of Central Connecticut are coming off of their best season in a long, long time, going 8-2 and grabbing a share of the Northeastern Conference (NEC) title with Monmouth. Second year head coach Tom Masella will not be a stranger when he comes to Colgate this Saturday. Masella's previous position before getting the head job at CCSU was none other that defensive coordinator for UMass. He was in charge when when the Minutemen came to town in 2003. It's a different team, but I'm sure there's no love lost for him and our Raiders. Adding to the off field drama will be the return of former Colgate coach and player Ed Argast. Argast returns to town for the first time on the other sideline in the capacity of offensive coordinator. The former Red Raider left Hamilton to become the head coach at Cansisus, which after three years unfortunately dropped the program. He has since gone on to coach for Wagner and has now found a home with the Blue Devils.

While this is Colgate's first game against an NEC team, CCSU holds a 1-2 versus current Patriot League teams. Of course, some of those match up occured long before the creation of the Patriot League. CCSU split a series with Lafayette back in 1980/81 and lost to Lehigh in 58-10 2001. In more recent seasons, the Blue Devils have played some A-10 schools, losing to URI 39-7 last year and losing to UNH 70-20 and UMass 51-7 in 2003.

The Blue Devils are led on defense by senior Coree Tucker (#6) at linebacker and Devon Douglass (#74), a preseason Mid-Major All-American, at defensive lineman. The entire linebacking crew of this 3-4 defense are seniors, so CCSU will have to look to this group to contain Colgate's rushing attack and offer support when Saraceno drops back to pass.

The offense may be a bit shaky for CCSU in this opening game. First off, they will be breaking in a new sophomore quarterback in Timothy Sheard. Sheard may have himself a cheering section in Andy Kerr as he hails from Corcoran High School in downtown Syracuse. He looks to be a lanky one at 6-1, 160 pounds so he may be more of a threat on the ground than in the air.

The Blue Devils do boast the returning Northeast Conference Offensive Player of the Year in running back Cory Harge (#25). Harge rushed for 1,032 yards in just over six games played and scored 13 touchdowns on the season. Interesting enough though, Harge may be injured or not enrolled this year as he is not listed on the two deep in this week's game notes for CCSU. Wideout Andre Smith (#8) was named NEC Rookie of the Year last year and will be the name to watch when Sheard drops back to pass.

Ryne Nutt (#67) returns on the offensive line the standout amongst a young group. There is only one senior among them and a few freshman are listed as backups. They appear to be of a good size so they may have a shot at opening up a few holes if they can find a tailback to run through them.

While Colgate should definitely not overlook a greatly improved CCSU team, it will take some serious lapses on both offense and defense to allow the Blue Devils to stay in this game. They do play it for a reason though, so look for the Colgate coaching staff to try and establish control on the ground early with maybe a deep test or two to keep CCSU honest and/or to get some breathing room with a few quick scores. In the end it may be closer than Colgate fans like, but I think that by the middle of the third quarter some second teamers will be able to get some reps and the starters will have gotten some game time to prepare for next week's bigger test.

As always, LET'S GO 'GATE!