Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Union Game Preview

Normally “Union Week” is the most anticipated one of the regular season. Unfortunately for the Dutchmen, a combination of injuries and key mistakes in close games have seen them limp to a 1-6, 1-3 record making this game not have (for this fan anyway) the same sense of urgency as in prior seasons.

To be fair, eighth ranked Hobart (7-0, 4-0) needs to win this weekend to continue their pursuit of a fourth straight LL title. At this point, it appears the Statesmen are on a collision course with Saint Lawrence (6-1, 4-0), who plays WPI (3-4, 2-2) this Saturday. While I don’t see the Union matchup as a “trap game” given the long history and rivalry between the two programs, the Statesmen will need to execute and exploit the Dutchmen’s weaknesses in order to stay on track. If Hobart and SLU win Saturday, their game on November 8th in Canton will be for the LL title and accompanying NCAA AQ berth.

The all time series has Union with a 50-45-2 edge. The rivalry is Hobart’s second oldest, dating all the way back to 1896. Last season the Statesmen defeated the Dutchmen for the fourth year in a row, 41-20.

Scouting Union

#27 SR RB Darnel Thomas – a captain and one of the top RBs in the conference, Thomas has gained 777 yards on 158 carries (4.9 YPC) this season. He’s scored four rushing TDs and has caught 19 passes for 129 receiving yards.

#12 FY QB Dante Cioffi – Once the third string QB, Cioffi has worked his way up the depth chart via injuries and hard work. While he’s struggled as a starter so far, completing only 43% of his passes with no passing TDs and three interceptions, he’s a big kid (6’3” 225) with a strong arm.

#1 SR WR Kyle Reynolds – leads the team with 501 receiving yards on 35 catches and scoring four TDs.

#2 JR WR Andrew Baker – another strong receiver, Baker has 378 yards and four scores with a team long of 61 yards.

#42 JR DE Jake LaRovera – leads Union with 60 total tackles, tied for team lead with two INTs.

#44 JR LB Thomas Hayes – one of the better LBs in the LL, Hayes is big (6’2” 245) and physical. He has 51 stops and team high five and a half TFL and two sacks.

#96 JR PK David Pope – went 3-3 on FGs and 1-1 on PATs to account for 10 of Union’s 16 points in last week’s 16-14 win over Rochester (4-3, 2-2). Pope has also averaged 59.7 yards on kickoffs.

#35 FY P Tyler Barnes – averages 35.9 yards as the Dutchmen’s punter (hopefully we will see him a good deal ;).

Keys to the Game:

1. Start Fast, Stay Furious – In spite of their difficulties in the W/L column, most of Union’s games have been close. If Hobart can jump out to an early lead, it’ll force Cioffi to have to play catch up, leading him vulnerable to the Statesmen’s pass rush. Union’s OL has allowed 22 sacks in seven games and I expect Hobart to increase that number by around six or more Saturday like they did against RPI.

2. Third Down – Speaking of the Engineers, RPI (4-4, 1-3) held Hobart to four of 10 third down conversations last Saturday which kept the first half a little bit closer than it would have been otherwise. Union’s offense has struggled on third down, converting only 30.8% (33 of 107) but their defense has been solid only allowing a 37.5% (36 of 96) conversion rate.

3. Go Vertical – The Dutchmen’s defense have struggled the most against good passing teams and they allow nearly 215 passing YPG and 14 YPC.

Prediction:

Sunday I believe I called a 33-14 Hobart victory. Hopefully some of the post-bye week rust will be off the offense, which tends to play better at home. The Statesmen “O” has averaged 37 PPG at the “Boz” this season and I could see Hobart break 40 points Saturday if they get on a roll. While Union does have some good athletes, I can’t see them doing much against the Statesmen defense. That said I’ll revise my prediction to Hobart winning 42-7.

Thanks for reading and go ‘Bart!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hobart Rolls RPI, 35-3

This was a travel weekend for me, so I'll be brief. A lot of conversation, highlights and other commentary around this weekend's game can be found on tonight's ITH. A link to the podcast can be found here.

I'll have some commentary regarding Saturday's win over RPI and preview the Union game early this week.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coleman Featured in D3football.com Around The Region

Andrew Lovell, the East Region columnist for D3football.com's Around the East column, profiled the career and accomplishments of SR DE Tyre Coleman today.

A link to the article can be found here.

Coleman needs only one more sack in Saturday's game vs RPI (4-3, 2-2) to crack the top five all time D3 career sack list. He stands at sixth with 42.


Monday, October 20, 2014

RPI Game Preview

The eighth ranked Hobart College Statesmen (6-0, 3-0) return to action Saturday when they travel to Troy, NY to face off against Liberty League rival RPI. The Engineers (4-3, 2-2) started off strong but have fallen back to the pack since the loss of their starting JR QB Jeff Avery to injury. Although SO QB Tommy Morgan has built some confidence in his first two collegiate starts, he has struggled in key spots committing at least five turnovers (four interceptions and a fumble that was the game clincher for Rochester last Saturday).

Last season the Statesmen gave up an initial TD to RPI before running off 35 unanswered points en route to a 35-13 win. The all time series, which began back in 1910, is even at 28-28-1. RPI is the last LL team to defeat Hobart (back in 2011 aka the “Mike Hermann game”).

Scouting the Engineers

#1 GR WR/RB Reggie Colas – A talented and versatile athlete, Colas is a big play threat any time he touches the football. He leads RPI with 9.5 YPC and has rushed for three TDs, including a 71 yarder last Saturday against UofR (4-2, 2-2). He also leads the Engineers with 20 catches with five receiving TDs.

#6 FY RB Mike Tivinis – This FY RB has emerged as a solid contributor and leads RPI with four rushing TDs. He will likely split carries with #21 JR RB Nick Schlatz, who leads the Engineers with 360 rushing yards.

#85 JR WR Logan Gaddar – Tall (6’ 2”) and athletic, Gaddar has 14 catches on the season for a team high 357 receiving yards and four TDs.

#56 SR LB Colby Tragni – An aggressive tackler, Tragni is co-captain and leads the RPI defense with 38 tackles, three TFL and one sack.

#4 SR DB Nick Borkowski – Another co-captain, Borkowski is an excellent cover man who will blitz off the corner. Borkowski is third on the team with 32 tackles, including five TFL and two INTs. In fact the strength of the RPI defense is it’s secondary which includes players like #31 JR DB Philip Lanieri III (leads team with four INTs) and #46 SR FS Connor Young (24 tackles and two INTs).

#3 SR PK Andrew Franks – A potential NFL talent, Franks has made 12 of 16 FG attempts with a long of 51 yards. Last week he broke the RPI record when he converted his 32nd career FG. He’s almost automatic making 23 of 24 PATs but what’s most impressive is how Franks has 29 touchbacks on 41 kickoffs (70.7%). He also is a good punter, averaging just under 40 YPP.

Keys to the Game:

1. Bottle Up Colas – RPI’s offense simply isn’t the same since it lost Avery. RPI’s best chance to do anything against the Statesmen defense is to try and get the ball to Colas, who missed last season due to injury. It’s likely Coach Isernia will look to put Colas in motion and/or test the Hobart contain with pitch option plays that can get Colas in space. The key for the Hobart LBs and DBs will be to come up and make the tackle on initial contact. Colas isn’t that big (5’ 11” 175) so he won’t bowl anyone over. However if you miss him or don’t wrap him up, he has the speed to break a long run.

2. Create and Cash In on Turnovers – The Engineers have been their own worst enemy during this two game losing streak. Given the pressure that will be coming from the Statesmen DL, the LBs and DBs could have at least a couple of interceptions and/or fumble recoveries if they stay on their assignments and play the ball. As an aside SR DE Tyre Coleman can crack the top five of the D3 career sack list if/when he gets one (or more) sack(s) Saturday.

3. Stop the Run – RPI’s run and shoot style option offense uses up a decent amount of clock given the number of running plays (the Engineers run 71.4% of time). If the running game fails the Engineers will be forced to pass which has not gone well for Morgan. He has a 35.9% completion percentage (14 of 39) and has thrown four INTs compared to two TDs.

Prediction:

I thought this game would be a tough contest a couple of weeks ago when RPI was standing at 4-1 and clicking on both sides of the ball. Since then they’ve really struggled and I could see this game getting away from them quickly. To their credit RPI played Saint Lawrence (5-1, 3-0) who has similar defensive stats as Hobart close in the first half. What kept the Engineers in the game was their ability to pressure Lefflbine and stop SLU on third downs (the Saints went five of 13 or 38% in that game).

I predict a healthy dose of running plays by the Statesmen to look to wear down the Engineer defense with a couple of down field strikes and/or roll out passing plays. RPI really struggled defending SLU’s big TE and WRs, so I could see SR TE Mike Berkowitz and the Statesmen WRs have some chances in the red zone. Hobart’s first two TDs vs. the Engineers last season where ironically to “Berk” and now SR WR Elvin Souffrant.

All that said I’ll pick Hobart to win this one 42-7.

Thanks for reading and go ‘Bart!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Midseason Review

The eighth ranked Hobart College Statesmen have reached what’s effectively the midpoint of the season with an undefeated 6-0 overall and 3-0 Liberty League record. The Statesmen are averaging 35.2 PPG and 399.7 YPG on offense while surrendering only 13.3 PPG and 242.2 YPG on defense. All of these marks rank second in the LL, but I’d venture a guess Hobart would be first if they kept starters in later in the second half.

Although D3football.com views the Statesmen as having “floated high” (meaning they may not merit their high ranking given who they’ve beaten, a group of teams that are 12-18 overall), I think this team is showing a lot of potential to reclaim the LL crown and make a run in the playoffs. Time will tell, but the first half of the schedule has provided this young team a chance to gel.

SR QB Patrick Conlan is completing over 60% of his passes in LL play and has averaged 155.7 YPG with the second highest efficiency rating in the conference. He’s connected for five TDs and only one interception over the past three games. The OL has allowed only four sacks on the season and has helped pave the way for the Statesmen’s 227.2 rushing YPG and 19 TDs. The passing game has picked up and allowed Hobart to have a more balanced attack, a roughly 57-43 running to passing ratio (especially compared to last season’s 70-30 mark).

Leading the ground game is JR RB Conner Hartigan with 382 yards and five TDs. SR FB Dominique Ellis leads the team in rushing scores with six TDs. JR RB Alex Furtado has added another dimension to the run game, while adding 252 yards and four TDs.

SR WR Elvin Souffrant leads the receiving corps with 18 catches for 310 yards and two TDs. SR TE Mike Berkowitz leads the team in receiving scores with three.

Hobart’s offense overall has been very good and has scored on 22 of 23 (95.6%) red zone trips. The only time they failed to score was when SO PK Sean Kirshe missed a 39 yard FG at Endicott (4-2). Otherwise Kirshe has been fantastic, going three of four on FGs with a long of 39, averaging nearly 60 yards on kickoffs and converting 26 of 29 PATs (89.6%).

Defensively JR LB Trayvon Toney leads the Statesmen with 42 tackles. Classmates Jacob Stanley and Marcus Jemison have tallied 36 and 33 stops a piece. The young Hobart secondary has yet to be really tested but several players, including SO DB Todd Collier and SO FS Matt Cragg have played well in their first season as starters. SR DB Fajri Jackson has broken up a team high five passes.

Hobart will face off against their traditional LL rivals on the remainder of the schedule, starting at RPI (4-2, 2-1) next Saturday, October 25th. Next week we’ll preview that game among other news.

Thanks for reading and go ‘Bart!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hobart Ranked 2nd in Initial Lambert Cup Poll

The Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) published its first 2014 Lambert Cup poll today. Hobart (6-0) debuted in second place, behind Wesley College (6-0) of Delaware. The Wolverines have won the Lambert four times, including three years in a row during the 2009-11 seasons. Last year Saint John Fisher won the Cup.

The Statesmen won the Lambert Cup trophy in 2012. It's awarded to the best eastern football team at each level of play at the end of the season. A history of the award can be found here.

A link to the new Lambert rankings / today's press release can be found here.

I'll have a mid season review up soon and preview the RPI game middle of next week.

Thanks for reading this update and go 'Bart!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hobart Rolls Pride, 37-7

The eighth ranked Hobart College Statesmen made a statement yesterday holding the Springfield College Pride to 175 yards of total offense. JR LBs Trayvon Toney and Marcus Jemison were all over the field, tallying 15 and 12 tackles respectively.

After settling on a SO PK Sean Kirshe FG on their first drive, Toney set up the offense after stripping Springfield SR QB Jonathan Marrero of the football. The Statesmen (6-0, 3-0) took over at the seven yard line and only needed two plays for SR FB Dominique Ellis to find the end zone from four yards out.

The Pride (4-2, 2-1) would recover and catch the Statesmen secondary napping when Marrero found backup QB turned WR Tim O'Brien wide open for a 30 yd completion to get Springfield into Hobart territory. It took two fourth down conversions, but the Pride cracked the end zone on a one yard FY FB Stephen Spiedel TD run.

To paraphrase Ted Baker of WEOS, it's not that you gave up the TD, it's how you respond. The Statesmen offense went right back to work and Ellis had his second TD of the game. Up 17-7, the Statesmen never looked back. 

Ellis would complete the football equivalent of the hat trick with a third TD and SR TE Mike Berkowitz and SR WR Elvin Souffrant added receiving TDs from SR QB Patrick Conlan (who's played outstanding in the past two weeks) to win 37-7.

Basically this was exactly the right combination of play calling and execution by Hobart that should convince the skeptics of the quality of this year's squad. The Statesmen get a well timed week off before traveling to RPI (4-2, 2-1).

I'll look back on the season to date and tune in tonight to ITH for highlights of this game and our interview with Trayvon Toney. We're live at 7:30 pm and on podcast after 9 pm.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!