Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Coach DeWall Out at Endicott

Last night some surprising news hit social media when Hobart AD Mike Hanna '68 tweeted out the following message:

This is disappointing on a number of levels, especially considering Coach Kevin DeWall '00's program had one of the highest SOS numbers (I believe it comes in at 19 out of nearly 250) in the nation and placed over 10 players on the CCC's All-Conference team. The story was later followed up on via formal press release and an article on D3football.com, among others.

While I am certain Coach DeWall will land on his feet, I am not sure we can hope to get him back to Geneva. President Vincent has alluded to the next AD being an external hire (vs. a promotion of HC Mike Cragg, which is obviously what most Hobart alumni and fans would love to see), but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

There are several other programs at the D3 and upper divisions that would likely be happy to have him on staff in some form or fashion. Either way, we wish Coach DeWall the best and will look forward to reporting where he lands very soon.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Statesmen Run Over Rochester, 51-12, to Retain Centennial Cup

The Hobart College Statesmen punctuated the 2017 season with a 51-12 thrashing of oldest rival Rochester (2-7, 0-5). Hobart (7-3, 3-2) saw FY RB Dakota Harvey have a career day, rushing for 207 yards and three TDs. As a team the Statesmen averaged nearly nine yards per carry and ground out a total of 364 yards on the day. SR RB Joe Letizia scores two TDs in his final game as a Statesmen player. Overall Hobart out-gained the Yellow Jackets 507 to 264 total yards.

SR QB Shane Sweeney did not suit up for his final collegiate game, giving SO QB Ryan Hofmann his first start, and he did well. Hofmann passed for 143 yards and a TD, a nine yard pass to JR WR Joseph Barrocas.

SR DB Tommy D'Antonio punctuated the final game of his Hobart career with a 28 yard PR for a TD to go with five tackles and a pass break up. SO OLB Jayson Prince and SR DE Brandon Ball led the Statesmen defense with nine tackles a piece. Ball added 2.5 TFL, a sack, blocked a kick and three QB hits on the day. Prince also had a TFL and a sack as well.

FY PK Kyle Hackett kicked a 32 yard FG, giving him a perfect 10-10 record on the season. That mark is the best / most perfect record for any PK at any level of CFB this season. Congratulations to Kyle on that achievement!

You can read the Hobart recap here.

With Union losing 20-14 to RPI, the Engineers (8-2, 4-1) will go to the NCAA playoffs as the LL Champions (technically Ithaca shares the title, but RPI gets the playoff bid given the H2H win over the Bombers) and the Dutchmen (7-3, 3-2) will likely end up in the NYS Bowl, assuming Ithaca (7-3, 4-1) opts out on a rematch against Cortland, who they defeated 48-20 Saturday in the Cortaca Jug rivalry game.

I'll have a 2017 recap sometime next week.

As always, thanks for reading and go 'Bart!


Monday, November 6, 2017

Week 11 - Rochester / Centennial Cup Game Preview

The Hobart College Statesmen will wrap up the 2017 season on the road against their oldest rival, the University of Rochester Yellow Jackets.

Hobart (6-3, 2-2) leads the all-time series 54-48-7, making this the 110th game between the two schools. Last season, the Statesmen defeated the 'Jackets 56-27 behind JR RB Tynard Barfield's 123 rushing yards and two TDs and SR QB Shane Sweeney's 256 passing yards and three TDs. The Centennial Cup will once again be on the line, but the Statesmen have kept it at Bristol Gym since 2011, winning the last six straight contests.

Rochester's (2-6, 0-4) recent struggles have been well documented and they have effectively led to the resignation of Coach Scott Greene after this final game. Although the Yellow Jackets did finish over .500 in 2015, the last time they've had more than five wins dates back to 2007.

Last weekend RPI (7-2, 3-1) dominated Rochester, 63-14, in a game that could have been more lopsided. The Yellow Jackets have failed to score more than 14 points in any of their games, save for a 28-10 win over Becker (but the Hawks are only 1-8). Given Union's 20-3 loss to Ithaca on Saturday, it appears as though an appearance in the New York State Bowl is likely not going to happen (barring both Ithaca or RPI and Union declining to participate), and given Hobart's historical stance on ECAC participation, this should be the final game of 2017, but we probably won't know for sure until early next week.

Needless to say I am not going to spend much time analyzing this game, but suffice to say, I do think Hobart will win going-away.

I'll have some more analysis and thoughts later next week to recap the season, while looking ahead to 2018.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Sweeney and Statesmen Defense Shine on Senior Day, 34-7

The Hobart College Statesmen took on the Saint Lawrence University Saints on Senior Day at Boswell Field. It was an earlier start (11 am) than usual for both teams, and the offenses took a little time to warm up.

Hobart (6-3, 2-2) got on the board first when SR QB Shane Sweeney scampered for 15 yards to give the Statesmen an early 7-0 lead. A FY RB Dakota Harvey fumble was quickly cashed in when SR QB Sean Richardson hit SR WR Vincenzo Ferraro on the next play for a 40-yard TD strike.

The Statesmen would go on to score 27 unanswered points, holding the Saints (2-6, 1-3) to only eight first downs, -19 rushing yards and only 157 yards of total offense (while forcing three turnovers). Hobart would roll up 465 total yards, including 278 passing yards and two TDs by Sweeney. SR WR Brandon Shed set the all-time receiving record, notching his 30th consecutive game with a catch, with 121 yards. SR TE Zach Withers and SO WR Isaiah Hill had receiving TDs for Hobart and FY PK Kyle Hackett hit his 8th and 9th FGs on the season, from 30 and 35 yards, respectively.

The defense was led by SO LB Jedh Downey with six tackles, including a sack and TFL. SR DE Brandon Ball added five stops and 2.5 TFL.

The HWSAthletics.com recap can be seen here. The Statesmen will wrap up the 2017 season at Rochester (2-6, 0-4) in the annual Centennial Cup game next Saturday at noon.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Week 10 - Saint Lawrence Game Preview

While I thought this game would have LL title implications for both teams, Hobart (5-3, 1-2) and Saint Lawrence (2-6, 1-3) will be playing for pride this Saturday. Last season the Statesmen went to Canton and dominated a supposedly strong Saints squad, giving them their only loss of the season by a score of 34-18. SR QB Shane Sweeney passed for 363 yards and five TDs in the game, two of those TDs and 241 of those yards were collected by SR WR Brandon Shed. The defense gave SLU SR QB Sean Richardson a long day, sacking him three times and intercepting him once in the win.

This season the Hobart-SLU game coincides with Senior Day for the Class of 2018 and these players will be suiting up for their final regular season home game at the Boz:


1Joe LetiziaJoe LetiziaRBSR5-9195Blauvelt, N.Y.Trinity-Pawling School
3Shane SweeneyCShane SweeneyQBSR6-1200Phelps, N.Y.Geneva
5Brandon ShedBrandon ShedWRSR6-4195West Palm Beach, Fla.Benjamin School
21Daryl ScalesDaryl ScalesCBSR6-1180Parlin, N.J.St. Mark's School
23Tom D'AntonioTom D'AntonioCBSR6-0195Greenwich, Conn.Salisbury School
34Will HofferWill HofferOLBSR5-11210Round Hill, Va.Woodgrove
38Christian CoonsChristian CoonsILBSR6-0220Windham, MaineWindham
40Dylan QuayDylan QuayFBSR6-0225Latham, N.Y.Shaker
42Zach WithersCZach WithersTESR6-4245Webster, N.Y.Webster Schroeder
50Michael ClancyMichael ClancyILBSR5-10208Lawrenceville, N.J.The Pennington School
52Almamy CondeCAlmamy CondeILBSR5-11232Bronx, N.Y.St. Peter's Prep
55Stephen VanHoesenStephen VanHoesenRTSR6-2270Niskayuna, N.Y.Niskayuna
61TJ AdamsTJ AdamsDTSR5-10270Brockton, Mass.Berkshire School
62Zackary RobakCZackary RobakNGSR6-0285Haddam, Conn.Xavier
69Liam MurphyLiam MurphyCSR6-4275Whitesboro, N.Y.Whitesboro
72Alex HelmAlex HelmLGSR6-3300Fallston, Md.Fallston
92Brandon BallBrandon BallDESR6-2242Springville, N.Y.Springville Griffith Institute
96Rio SchmidtRio SchmidtPSR5-11195Mason, TexasMason

These 18 players have earned a 33-9 mark over the past four seasons and two LL titles. It's been a pleasure covering their careers and I wish them the best in these final two games and their post-Hobart careers.


Scouting the Saints

The graduation of several key offensive and defensive stars have the Saints in a rebuilding mode. They have been competitive, however, losing three games by a combined 10 points, including last week's 21-17 loss to RPI (6-2, 2-1). On paper the Statesmen have a clear edge in scoring offense, averaging 33 PPG vs. SLU's 17.6 PPG. However, both squads are basically even on defense, with Hobart having allowed 20.4 PPG to the Saints 21.4 PPG.

The Saints are also similar to Hobart in that they've evolved to be more of passing, than running,  team. SR QB Sean Richardson missed one game this season due to injury, but he's averaged over 200 YPG passing, throwing for 1403 yards, 12 TDs and six INTs on the season. JR RB Roderick Payne averages over 88 YPG rushing, but has only scored two TDs this season.

Richardson's favorite targets are JR WR Travis Marnell (630 receiving yards and six TDs) and SR WR Vincenzo Ferraro (486 receiving yards and two TDs). Vincenzo's little brother, FY WR Anthony Ferraro, scored on a 49 yard TD to give the Saints a brief lead late in the RPI game last weekend.

Defensively, SLU is led by SR LB Skyler Williamson, who has 86 tackles on the season, the most by any defender in the league. JR DL Tyler Mirabile has emerged as a strong pass rusher, leading the Saints in sacks with eight and adding 14.5 TFL.

SR PK Daly Hebert handles KOs, PAT and FG duties for SLU. SR WR/PK Austen Lauricella handles punting duties.

Keys to the Game:

1. Back to Basics - The Statesmen should have both a size and speed advantage against SLU this Saturday, and the Saints have allowed more rushing (13) than passing (7) TDs this season. When Hobart has lost this season, they've called 24 runs and 46 passes per game. In their wins, they've called 36 runs and 31 passes, on average. A more balanced attack should help get Hobart back into the win column, especially when you consider the three top RBs the Statesmen have combined for over 1000 yards and 16 TDs (and a 5+ yards per carry average) on the season.

2. Reel in Richardson - The SLU QB is one of the more, if not the most, mobile ones the Statesmen defense will have faced this season. It'll be imperative for assignments to be executed well and tackles made upon initial contact. Richardson can break long runs if allowed. The Hobart defense will need to be ready. While it was in a losing effort, Richardson did have 350 yards passing against the Statesmen defense last season.

3. Just Win - The Statesmen have a shot, albeit a long one, of possibly qualifying for the newly created New York State Bowl if they can end the season 3-2 in the LL. It'll come down to tiebreakers and/or other schools potentially opting out, since Ithaca and RPI have already had a lot of overlap with Empire 8 teams this season. There is no requirement that both second place teams from the respective conferences have to play in the bowl game (e.g., I would be very surprised if Ithaca would play Cortland in back-to-back weeks), so a bid could fall into Hobart's lap. Regardless of what happens, the Statesmen must win their final two contests to even have a chance.

Prediction:

I think the Saints will come to play spoiler, but the Hobart offense will surge late like they have on occasion this season. I'll take the Statesmen to win on Senior Day, 35-21.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Too Little, Too Late in 28-23 Loss at Union

The Hobart Statesmen will miss the NCAA playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons, after a disappointing performance at Union today. It was the Dutchmen's Homecoming, and the Statesmen (5-3, 1-2) played like the typical "patsy" for three quarters in a poor showing in a must-win, playoff style game.

The Statesmen finally realized their season was on line and scored three, fourth quarter TDs, but after a couple of onside kicks failed, that was it. It really does appear that the dominant run we Hobart fans enjoyed from 2011-16 is over. Time will tell if the Statesmen can get back to being a Top 10-25 type of program again, but losses like this will sting for some time.

The coaching staff will have to get back to the film (and the recruiting trail) to do what's needed to fix what's clearly broken in Geneva. It's really a shame, as this year's Statesmen team has so much talent all over the roster, but they have clearly under-performed after very high preseason expectations. At this point its even unlikely Hobart can qualify for the inaugural NYS Bowl game on November 18th looking up to three other teams in the LL standings.

While I'm not sure what went wrong, all I can say is it once again a slow start, poor offensive execution and a worn out defense had the Statesmen behind the eight-ball to a gritty Dutchmen (7-1, 3-0) team that just seemed better-coached and prepared for today's match up. The defense hung in there for a long time, but offensive stalls and special teams mistakes took their toll.

SR QB Shane Sweeney seemed off, going 1-8 early in the game, always looking deep for SR WR Brandon Shed, but ultimately ended the day, 33-59 for 293 yards and one TD. SO LB Jedh Downey led all tacklers with 12 stops and he made 10 of those in the first half.

Hobart will have the next week off and hopefully the team can take some solace in travelling to Buffalo to cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ali Marpet '15.

Thanks for reading and please tune into the next episode of ITH where we recap this and all the other East Region action from this weekend.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Week 8 - Union Game Preview

The Hobart College Statesmen and Union College Dutchmen have had a good rivalry over the years (or centuries, depending how you look at it), starting all the way back in 1896. The all-time series stands with Union having a slight, 48-50-2, edge. The Statesmen (5-2, 1-1) have caught up in recent years, thanks to a seven game winning streak going back to the 2010 season. Speaking of the 2010 season, that was the last time Union (6-1. 2-0) came into a game with Hobart with a better overall W/L record. That game made my "Best Games of the Last 20 Years" at #14, and introduced us to a young QB named Nick Strang '13, who would go on to make his mark for the Statesmen over the next couple of seasons.

Last season the Statesmen struggled against the Dutchmen in Geneva, trailing for significant parts of the game. Ultimately Hobart needed a 23-yard SR WR Brandon Shed TD with 2:16 remaining in the game and a defensive stand from their own 36 yard line as time expired, to rally and beat Union, 27-23.

With Ithaca's loss to RPI last Saturday, Saint Lawrence (1-5, 0-2) and Rochester's (2-4, 0-2) continuing to fade, Hobart can put itself into the "driver's seat" for the Liberty League's NCAA Playoff Automatic Qualifier (aka the Pool A bid) with a win over Union this Saturday in Schenectady.

Scouting the Dutchmen

*Photo credit - UnionAthletics.com

The Dutchmen have won six straight, not necessarily against the best competition, but Union has managed to get the wins they have by a combination of a balanced offense and tough, bend-don't-break, defense.

JR QB Nick Cascione has come into his own, passing for 1,127 with 11 TDs (he's run into two TD scores as well), compared to seven INTs. He is highly accurate, going 107-159, competing 67.3% of his passes. Cascione's favorite target this season has been SR WR Alex Kaplanovich. The Don Bosco grad leads the Dutchmen with 35 catches for 439 yards and two TDs. SO WR Griffin Beal and JR WR Packy Brown have added 273 and 212 receiving yards, respectively, to go with three and two TDs apiece.

JR RB Connor Kinzelmann (shown above) leads the rushing attack with 376 yards and three TDs. He will be occasionally spelled by FY RB Travis Demby (188 yards) and JR RB Derek Khnazir (160 yards and one TD - although word has it that Khnazir is out with an injury so I don't expect him to play).

Defensively Union has a strong LB corps, led by SR LB Jake Lombardo. He's averaging about 10 TPG and he's added four TFL and three sacks to go with his team high 69 total tackles. JR LB Jack Reilly and SO DE Vincent DiCaterino have terrorized opposing backs, tallying 11 and 10.5 TFL, respectively. DiCaterino leads the Dutchmen defense with seven sacks. JR CB Tucker Newman has been a ball hawk this season, collecting five INTs to go with 32 tackles and six PBUs.

SR PK Jonathan Schaible has been fairly accurate, making 21-22 PATs and going 5-8 on FGs, with a long of 34 yards. SR PK Tyler Barnes is the punter, and he's averaged 39.05 YPP and has dropped 16 of his 38 punts inside the opposition's 20 yard line. SO PK Will Halpin typically handles KOs and he's averaged a very respectable 55.4 YPKO. The Dutchmen have used a wide variety of their skill players, including DBs like Newman, in the return game.

Keys to the Game:

1. Start Fast(er) - After seven games we have a decent amount data on the Statesmen, and what I've found is that they are slow starters. Of the 241 points scored this season, 63.5% of it (153 points) have come in the second half. The Hobart offense hasn't scored more than one TD in the first quarter in every game this season, save for Week 3 against Shenandoah. The Statesmen have scored zero points in the first quarter in Weeks 1, 2 and 5. Fortunately, the offense has been helped out by the defense which has only allowed 23 first quarter points this season, pitching shutouts in Weeks 2, and 4-6. Interestingly enough, Hartwick was the first team to score on the Statesmen in the 1st quarter since Shenandoah did it to open the Homecoming game. What's given Hobart fans some heartburn is the fact the Statesmen have only out-scored their opposition 47-46 in the second quarter, hence a lot of close games at halftime. While it's great to be a "second half team" (and they clearly are, outscoring opponents 153-66 after the break), it would be nice to get off to a fast start Saturday at Union.

2. Pass (and Ball) Protection - The Dutchmen are tough against the run, allowing only 92.5 rushing YPG and five rushing TDs all season (and one of those TDs was a last second score-padding one by Husson in Week 1). By contrast, opponents have averaged 207.43 YPG passing and 10 receiving TDs. What's helped Union is their opportunistic defense which has forced 15 fumbles, recovering 11 of those to add to 11 INTs of opposing QBs. Overall it would appear as though the Dutchmen are +11 in turnover margin, so obviously the Statesmen will need to protect SR QB Shane Sweeney against an aggressive pass rush (which has 20 sacks and 43 TFLs for -202 yards this season), and focus on ball control.

3. SOS - While I alluded to it above, and certainly the Statesmen can't afford to be overconfident against a revived Union program, the fact is the Dutchmen haven't played a schedule as tough as Hobart's. In fact, Union has a strength of schedule of 111 (according to D3football.com, based on NCAA methodology) compared to Hobart's, which is 36th (out of 248 teams in DIII). This tougher slate should have the Statesmen well prepared in what's effectively a playoff type of game between one of their oldest rivals.

Prediction:

Hobart has a lot riding on this one, and they should be excited about the opportunity this game presents them. It'll be tough to put up a lot of points on this defense that's only allowed 14.43 PPG, but the Dutchmen simply haven't faced a team of the Statesmen's caliber so far.

I do think this will be a low-scoring, defensive affair, unless the Statesmen offense can start out quickly and put the Dutchmen behind early. Union's offense is good, but only averages 24 PPG. If Hobart can get an early lead and let the defense attack, the Statesmen should be in good shape.

I'll take Hobart to win this one, 30-21 (probably with a late score or two since 35% - 84 - of the Statesmen's points have come in the fourth quarter).

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!