My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Colgate vs. UMass Scouting Report

Folks, this piece is going to be short and lacking in the quality that I like to see myself produce on this blog; but, life gets in the way. As some of you may know, the next few weeks are going to be hectic for me on a personal and professional level, so this 'scouting report' will be largely from the hip, unreferenced and largely unresearched. I'm really relying on memory with this one more than I like. But please, bear with me for September. I promise it will get better.


The recent Colgate/UMass games have been all heated, passionate games with plenty of potential outcomes riding on the score, and this one should be no different. It all started with that now famous (or infamous if you're in Amherst reading this) snow bowl game in the 2003 playoffs, which was followed by a great rubber match in 2004 and then a stunning upset last year by the Raiders. You can bet this year will be no different, as there is plenty of 'bad blood' and mutual respect for both programs. UMass has probably always been the favorite in each game, and this one should be no different.


The big names for UMass are back, and we should be very familiar with them. Running back Steve Baylark deserves plenty of attention and respect and will be a key component to a Minuteman winning strategy. In the times I've seen him play, Baylark strikes me as a solid all around back with no real aspect of his game that stands out amongst the others. He's big but not huge, fast but not a burner, shifty but not Barry Sanders. Bottom line, he will require a solid game by the linebackers with great tackling to contain.

There is a 'new' QB for Colgate to face, having had a hand in letting Liam Coen get his shot under center after picking off Tim Day multiple times in last year's upset. Coen ended up throwing for almost 2,200 yards in 10 games. He will be a harder QB for us to deal with than Day was. Coen's main targets will be Brandon London and J.J. Moore. Our secondary should be able to cover them well, but not if they're being asked to provide run support to the young defensive line and new linebackers. If Bean, Williams and company can concentrate on them first, I like our chances in limiting their impact. "Limit" is the key word though; they will get their completions. We need to hold the big plays and 3rd down conversions to a minimum.


This UMass defense is big and experienced, and they will be looking to slap Jordan Scott around if they can. Now, I don't think they can after hearing about Scott putting on 15 lbs. of muscle in the off season - but they will do everything in their power to hit Scott hard and often. Basically, he can't do it by himself. For Colgate to be successful on offense, the passing game will need to be working. For the passing game to be working, Saraceno will have to be on. A rusty first game will put this game out of reach for Colgate early.

The defensive line and linebackers are all big boys; Colgate will have to rely on execution, play calling and, frankly, key athleticism from the skill positions in order to move the ball as we'd like. Holding on to the ball won't hurt either! Scott gets stronger as the game goes on, so ultimately I like our chances to run in the late 3rd and 4th quarter. The key issue is - the game still has to be close.

On bright spot for the Raiders is that the area we need to be successful in (passing), in some ways plays into a weak spot (if you can really call it that) for UMass. There is a new corner and free safety to try and exploit with the physical tools and skills of our second, third and fourth recievers. Erik Burke, David Morgan and David Gongora are all possible of having big games here. Also, finding ways to get our 6'5" tight end, Brent Dillingham into some possession situations against their linebackers or strong safety will be key. Dillingham will have 4-5 inches on everyone else out there for UMass defending the pass. Timely 10 yard completions to him could be the difference in the game here.

Special Teams

UMass has a great punter but if I am coaching the Minutemen, I would still look to keep the ball out of Geoff Bean's hands. Kick coverage is something often lacking in early season games, so if Colgate can break a big return or two, that could be huge. I do not know who will be handling the return duties for UMass, but the same is true for Colgate. We better cover well, because I have no doubt the player will be fast and talented.

Bottom Line

Colgate's got its work cut out for itself, just like last year. An upset is certainly possible, but in order to do so we will need to play mistake free ball and play with passion. That stupid opening game jinx is out there alive and well; upseting UMass again would be a wonderful way to try and begin to break it.

Ultimately though, until we see what we have got to work with on defense, this game is UMass's to lose. It's at home, they bring back more experience on both sides of the ball and everyone making predictions has got them penciled in. While being realistic, don't count your Raiders out though. I think they are going to come to play.


Post a Comment

<< Home