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!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Springfield Game Preview

The eighth ranked Hobart College Statesmen (5-0, 2-0) will face their first real test of the 2014 season when they line up against the Springfield College Pride. The Pride (4-1, 2-0) lead the Liberty League in scoring offense (45.4 PPG), total offense (505 YPG), rushing (417.2 YPG), and first downs (23.2 PG). The speed and quickness of their triple option offense is explosive and although focused on the run, is able to pull up and go deep when you least expect it. The Pride are coming off a 42-35 shootout win over Union College (0-4, 0-2) and are in the midst of a four game winning streak. Last season Hobart beat Springfield 49-21 in a game that didn’t even feel that close. This year’s Pride team is improved and more importantly, much healthier, team than the squad the Statesmen saw in Springfield, MA last season. Hobart and Springfield have only met twice and the 2012 game was a 28-7 Statesmen win.

Scouting the Pride:

#2 SR QB Jonathan Marrero – The key to Springfield’s offense is the play of their QB. Marrero has really blossomed after combating injuries in his JR season to be a true leader of the Pride offense and football team. Marrero leads the LL in rushing and scoring, averaging 108.6 YPG and racking up 54 points (eight rush TDs, six passing TDs and four 2 point PAT conversions). While he’s only attempted 34 passes on the year, Marrero has completed almost half of them (16 of 34 or 47.1%), averaging 79.6 YPG and has only thrown one interception in five games.

#6 JR FB Keith Rodman – The triple option is all about the FB and Rodman is a good one. He’s rushed for 427 yards and six TDs on the season.

#35 FY FB Stephen Speidel – Spelling Rodman is the stocky but speedy Speidel. The FY has 344 rushing yards and five scores.

#13 SO HB Blake Joppy - Joppy has moved up the depth chart due to injuries to #42 JR Louis Fenaroli and #4 SR Franco Bianchi. He’s rushed for 215 yards and a TD. Joppy has also caught four passes for 114 yards and two TDs.

#1 GR HB Andres Martin - While Martin is listed as HB, his contributions have primarily come as a WR. Martin has five catches for 209 yards and three TDs. One of those scores was a 77 yarder against Union where he got behind his defender and ran in otherwise untouched.

#49 SR DE / OLB Max Nacewicz – An All American level player, Nacewicz missed all of 2013 due to injury. He’s back with a vengeance this season and leads the Pride with 55 total tackles, seven sacks and 10 TFL.

#41 SR LB Danny Macalena – Macalena has 42 tackles on the season, one sack and a tackle for loss. Although he’s only 5’10”, he blocked two PATs that gave Springfield one point victories over Saint Lawrence and Norwich last season.

#8 SO LB Kenny Calaj – Calaj has 28 stops on the season, five TFL and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions (#22 SO FS Nick Welsh has three INTs as well).

#53 JR LB/PK Nick Pydeski – The Pride have not attempted any FGs so far this season so it’s hard to gauge Pydeski other than he’s hit 21 of 25 on PATs (which is pretty good for 6’3” 245lb LB if you ask me!). Otherwise Springfield’s kickoff coverage has been a bit low at 30.8 net average. Duncan Preston was listed in the Union BX as the kickoff specialist but for some reason he’s not on the Pride’s roster (on their online one anyway). Based on a quick review of the Union game, it looks like Preston has a strong leg, booting several 50+ yard kickoffs.

#84 FR QB Whitton DeVaux – serves as the punter for the Pride, averaging 35.3 YPP with a long of 45.

Keys to the Game:

1. Win the Line of Scrimmage – This game will be decided in the trenches. Hobart’s rushing defense is tops in the LL allowing a paltry 77.8 YPG and at least half of that average is due to the second string. The pressure will be on SO DE James Hedger who Springfield Coach Delong is likely to test early and often in the game. The Hobart DL will need to stay in their gap assignments while aggressively moving to the ball in order to shut down the potent Pride offense.

2. Pass Protection - The Hobart OL will likely see another stacked box similar to the scheme WPI used in last Saturday’s game. Hobart has only allowed four sacks all season and SR QB Patrick Conlan has been intercepted only once, and not since the first game of the season. The Pride has eight INTs on the season so far and 13 sacks. The OL will need to key in on Nacewicz and give Conlan time to find receivers. Springfield has allowed 201.6 YPG passing and a league high 12 passing TDs. Given Conlan’s career game vs. WPI, the Statesmen may need a similar performance (or better) against Springfield Saturday.

3. Field Position / Turnovers – Given the Pride’s recent struggles in kick coverage (although Preston acquitted himself very well vs Union), Hobart could have a field position advantage. Hobart is second in the LL averaging 33:20 in time of possession and keeping the Pride offense off the field is really their best defense. Tackling with intent to strip the football is also something the Statesmen should exploit as Springfield rushers have lost seven of 11 fumbles this season.

4. Play Smart – Springfield has been flagged for 230 yards in penalties the last two games. Field position and creating longer yardage situations for a rush oriented team will cause some issues for the Pride from a play calling perspective, so the Statesmen should look to take advantage of the same.

Prediction:

On Sunday’s ITH I picked Hobart to win 28-21. While I am not changing the initial prediction, after looking at the defensive stats, I have a feeling this game may end up like the 2012 meeting. In that game Hobart took a 14-0 lead into halftime, then saw the Pride make it 14-7 before the Statesmen pulled away and won the game in the fourth quarter. Hobart held the Pride to 150 rushing yards, forced a fumble and took advantage of TOP by a 32:36 to 27:24 margin. That said I’ll go with a revised 31-14 score.

Either way this should be an excellent test for Hobart right before they go into the bye week. While I doubt it would quiet the "scheduling" critics for long, a win over a great team like Springfield would say a lot about where the Statesmen are headed in 2014. I know I’ll be tuning in to hear about it plays out. Thanks for reading and go ‘Bart.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Statesmen Air It Out, Beat WPI 28-14

The ninth ranked Hobart College Statesmen gained a 28-0 advantage before settling for a 28-14 win over WPI today in Worcester, MA. SR QB and Co-Captain Patrick Conlan had a career day, going 22 for 38 (58%) while passing for 257 yards and three TDs. The OL struggled in the run game against the Engineers (1-4, 0-2) as Hobart (5-0, 2-0) only gained 92 yards on 43 carries (2.1).

SR WR Elvin Souffrant led the Statesmen with six catches for 83 yards. SR WR John Fasano and SR TE and Co-Captain Mike Berkowitz each scored on short routes. SO WR Sean Cunningham opened the game with a 31 yard catch for a TD, his first career score, as well. The other Hobart TD was a one yard JR RB Conner Hartigan run.

Hobart out gained WPI 354 to 205 yards but struggled on third down, converting only five of 18 tries (28%). The Statesmen dominated TOP, holding the ball for nearly 39 minutes.

WPI only mustered 20 rushing yards on 13 carries and only had 10 first downs, all via the pass. Hobart's defense was led by JR LBs Trayvon Toney and Jacob Stanley with six stops a piece.

With seventh ranked Saint John Fisher losing in OT to Salisbury I expect Hobart to jump a spot to #8 in the National Rankings. I'll have highlights from today's game and discussion around Hobart's first half of the regular season tomorrow night on www.inthehuddlle.com. Tune in live at 7:30 pm or catch the podcast.

More thoughts on this game and the upcoming contest against a rolling Springfield (4-1, 2-0), who defeated Union in a 42-35 shootout today in Schenectady.

Thanks for reading and go Bart!