My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Lafayette Scouting Report

So it goes once more. The Raiders have to pick themselves up from a tough loss and get right back into it against Lafayette. A win here continues the hope that Colgate can claim a portion of the Patriot League title, and with some help secure an autobid to the NCAA playoffs. It will not be easy, but we can only control what we've got, and that's three Patriot League games.

When talking Colgate/Lafayette, the first thing that probably comes to mind is "The Streak". Colgate has not lost to Lafayette under the tutelage of Dick Biddle. Now we all know streaks are a funny thing and can take on lives of their own, so in some shape or fashion you can be sure it is in the minds of both teams this weekend. This Leopard squad would love to stay on top of the league and do it by being the first team since 1995 to beat the Raiders.

Let's see what's on tap.

Offense

The Pard offense has had its fair share of troubles this season. Yes, they have won six games including a Richmond game growing in importance every week, but it has been on the backs of the Lafayette defense. They are averaging about 21 points per game but those stats are helped by 40 over Marist, 33 over Bucknell and 27 over Fordham. It seems like they are scoring just enough to win in most games. Their fans probably have a few more grey hairs than when the season started.

There are probably no real surprises about the reason for the offensive troubles: the offensive line, which was a strength last year, saw some upheaval in the offseason. Throw in some turnover problems (sound familiar Colgate?) and Lafayette has even resorted to platooning quarterbacks in order to try and make something happen. When they don't turn the ball over, they're in much better shape than when they do.

Statistically speaking, the Leopards are ranking 65th in total offense. In terms of personnel, junior Brad Maurer should be the starter at quarterback, but if he falters senior Pat Davis could very easily see some time. Maurer presents more of a running threat than Davis, however Davis could be a better passer. Our defense will have to adjust accordingly to whoever is the signal caller.

Jonathan Hurt takes over the reigns for graduated Joe McCourt at tailback. Hurt is their main threat in the backfield, with Anthony D'Urso behind him. Lafayette plays its offense much like Colgate, so establishing the running game will be a top priority.

Two senior receivers, Joe Ort and Brandon Stanford, are the main targets for Mauer/Davis. One to keep an eye on is freshman Shaun Adair. Adair has the potential to be one of the better receivers in this league.

The Colgate defense will have to come to play this week. Lafayette presents a balanced offense with a mobile quarterback. Their Achilles heel has been turnovers, so any opportunity we have to make them put the ball on the ground needs to be exploited. If Colgate has a chance to get ahead, we might have a lot of success should the Leopards have to try and play catch up. If our heads are in the game and we play with intensity, we should be by far the best defense they've seen all year.

Personally, I love our match up here. Our secondary should do a good job limiting options for Maurer/Davis. If we can bottle up any scrambles by Maurer, they will need Hurt to carry the load on offense. I like our run defense most days, so this really plays into our hands. It's no gimme; but I like to think that our defense is a bit better than Georgetown or Columbia, both teams that limited the Leopards to two touchdowns or less.

Defense

The reason why the Leopards aren't 3-5 is due mostly to their defense. It is every bit as good as our own or better. Frankly, they don't give up a lot of points.

The heart of this outfit is without a doubt the linebackers. As a crew, they are probably the best the Patriot League has to offer. Buchanan candidate Maurice Bennett is a great run stopper and his line mates Blake Constanzo and Dion Witherspoon don't fall too far from the apple tree.

They get to concentrate on the run as much as they do because the corners are locked down most times by seniors Tye Murphy and Larry Johnson. Two juniors at the safety round out an upperclass defensive backfield that isn't giving up the big play too often.

The defensive line is a solid crew. Five seniors dominate the two deep, with two talented juniors in Marvin Snipes and Daniel Liseno as well as a sophomore Kyle Sprenkle getting the starting assignments.

Truth be told, a few weeks ago I was more nervous about this match up than I am today. We opened a huge can of offensive firepower last weekend in our loss to Lehigh and I don't think that is going to be bottled up for the rest of the season. Saraceno has proven to be a legitimate duel threat as he leads the league in passing in Patriot League games (2nd overall behind Borda) and is actually fifth in rushing. Jordan Scott seems to have stepped up his game since the Holy Cross win, and we have three outstanding receivers that will demand attention.

Our problem, like I need to spell it out, is turnovers. This defense is too good to think we will be able to march down the field at will. We can't give them any scores and we can't expect to win on Saturday with more than a turnover or two. Much like the Lafayette offense, I like our chances less if we have to play catch up and the Leopard defense can tee off against the pass. We're not that good in the air.

Special Teams

We made some mistakes here last weekend, and you can bet Lafayette will try and exploit something they see on tape. Head Coach Frank Tavani is one of the good ones; he will most likely have something up his sleeve for us.

We need to cover better than we did against Lehigh because Larry Johnson is a return threat, and ourselves make some better choices about when to field the ball. I can't falt our backs too much as they are just trying to make something happen - which they should. We just need to keep our heads on if things get, shall we say, 'exciting'?

The Skinny

With a 35-9-4 series lead and no losses since 1995, you have to like that background as a Colgate fan going into this one. However, that record and that streak, along with $1.49 will only get you a small cup of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts in Binghamton for the drive down to Easton. It's a new year, so you can throw that all out the window. At most, maybe it gives us a slight edge should some bounces go our way and the Leopards get behind early.

In reality, we need a complete game here. We don't need to try and match offenses blow for blow like we did against Lehigh. We should be able to tone that back a bit and not make some of the more risky play calls that turned the ball over. Our defensive play will be key here. If we can set the tone early, it might be a low scoring one much like last year until someone breaks something. I don't think Lafayette has come from behind to win this year (but I could be wrong), so it would be very nice to get on the board first and put the pressure on them to start.

My gut says Colgate's offense continues to shine and the defense, while not at the top of its game, plays well enough to keep our weapons on the field. My gut also say it will be close and the real key to this one is turnovers.

As always, Let's Go 'Gate!

2 Comments:

  • Maurer, not Mauer. nice job though.

    By Anonymous pards, at 4:12 PM  

  • Thanks for the correction! I'd fire the editor if I could. :)

    By Blogger colgate13, at 10:39 PM  

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