My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bucknell Scouting Report

I can't believe we're here already. Senior day. The last home game of the 2005 football season. Anyone else a bit melancholy over the looming finish line to this race for the Patriot League Title?

The final game on tap this year is our friends from Lewisburg, Bucknell. There are two facts that I bet everyone in Raiderland is well aware of: Bucknell isn't doing so hot this year with a 1-8 record, and Bucknell spanked our behinds last year to the tune of 42-7. So putting aside the records for a second, there is plenty to get fired up about in this contest. Add to it the fact that if Colgate wants to keep any outside 8-3 at-large playoff hopes alive, they need to have dominating performances in these final two games.

Let's see what's in store.

Offense

About three games into the season, a proposal to change the Bucknell nickname from Bison to Wounded had some serious support. The Bison have had to contend with three quarterbacks going down, a starting fullback as well as a host of injuries here and there to other starters. It has not been pretty.

The lone bright spot, and what should be the main focus of our defense, has been the play of cornerback turned quarterback Dante Ross. Ross was a standout on the defensive side of the ball before multiple injuries forced the coaching staff to look for the best talent they could find to run their spread option style offense. Ross responded in outstanding fashion with a record breaking performance against Marist. He hasn't been able to have that kind of game again, but has been able to have a few hundred yard rushing games and remains the major threat of this offense.

Ross's help comes in the form of Josh DeStefano at the fullback position and Kenny Davis and Peter Kaufman in the slotback positions. DeStefano is averaging a little over 30 yards per game behind Ross's 74. The rest of the offensive production is spread out among four other players.

In the air, freshman Daniel Zvara has emerged as the main target for Ross, averaging about 27 yards per game. He's followed by DeStefano out of the backfield. After that, it is slim pickings.

Short of some new face arising out of obscurity, the offensive hopes lie solely with Dante Ross. He should not be taken lightly, as a one man show was basically what routed Colgate last year. That said, Ross does not have as good of an offensive supporting cast that Wilson had last year. Colgate's main focus should be on shutting Ross down and making other players beat us. If we can do that, our defense could have a big day here. We just need to come with solid tackling and not get caught overpursuing.

Defense

The defense was the strength of this team coming in to the season, and while some of those faces still remain, they have not been as successful as we all thought they could be. One only has to imagine what the lack of offensive production means to this defense, but in sheer numbers alone, this team has given up 265 points so far this season. That's almost 30 points a game. You will not win many contests with that statistic.

Still, it is mostly an upperclass defense, especially when defending the run. Sean Conover is still a force to contend with and may even see some time on the other side of the ball as a tight end. The youth exists in the defensive backfield and will need to be exploited by Colgate to open up the running lanes for Jordan Scott.

Colgate's game plan should be one we are all accustomed too: pound it out and throw when we need to. We need to win the time of possession battle, burn their defensive backs and get carries of the 6 and 8 yard variety; not the 2 or 3 yard type.

Special Teams

Here too, it is Dante Ross that needs to be contained. He is a very good return man, but he might have lost some of his effectiveness now that he is rushing for 20 plus carries a game. I don't think we'll go so far as to kick away from him, but containing him will be important.

On our side of the ball, the biggest thing will be to limit mistakes. Any type of momentum changer that can put or keep Bucknell in this one should be avoided.

The Skinny

On paper, this is a mismatch. That is precisely what has me a bit on edge. Colgate needs to come out with full guns blazing and put the Bison away early and with force. This is actually a really good test for this team. We've had two big games in a row now and the end is in sight. The team controls its destiny of winning the title and giving itself a shot at the playoffs. There should be no slacking off. If anything, there should be some fire and hunger in the seniors to avenge last years loss and to go out with a bang at Andy Kerr.

Selfishly, I'd like to see this one wrapped up shortly after the half so we can see some back ups like Anthony Fucillo see some time or David Morgan get some catches. Particularly on defense, some game experience for players like Nick Sabo at defensive tackle and all of our young linebackers would be a huge bonus. First things first though: we've got to score some points and keep Dante Ross from having an impact on this game.

As always, Let's Go 'Gate!

1 Comments:

  • Good writeup concerning Bucknell!
    I am with you in hoping to get a look at Anthony Fucillo as well as some of the younger players on defense.

    I too am a little bit concerned that Colgate could take the Bison too casually, but I have to believe that the coaching staff will make sure that that doesn't happen.

    I am picking Colgate 28-7.

    By Anonymous Lennie, at 4:39 PM  

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