Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Curry Game Preview

The twelfth ranked Hobart College Statesmen will travel to Milton, MA to take on the Curry Colonels of the New England Football Conference (NEFC). Curry (0-2), once a perennial playoff team and NEFC championship contender, has fallen back a bit since their hey days of the prior decade.

Part of Curry's growing pains are due to inexperience. #15 SO QB Sean Conroy for example will be making only his third career start when he lines up against the Statesmen defense Saturday. Conroy has good size (6' 1" 200 lbs) and is likely to attempt over 40 passes in Saturday's game based on his current stats. Conroy has passed for 305 yards and two TDs but has thrown four interceptions.

Look for Curry to spread the field and use a variety of receivers. Leading the Colonels going into this game is #84 SO WR Jake Cawlina with 84 receiving yards and a TD. Curry's run game is not a strength, as shown by the Colonels only gaining 82 rushing yards (that's a total....) and a paltry 1.5 yards per carry. These stats are kind of surprising given the size of #7 SR RB Trae Weathers (6' 230 lbs), but the Revere, MA native only has 55 yards on 17 carries this season.

Defensively Curry is led by #6 SR LB Jose Rodriguez with 15 tackles, including one tackle for loss (TFL). Rodriguez led the Colonels with 55 total tackles last season.

Keys to the Game:
1. Get on the Board Early - Although they've been outscored 50-14 on the season, Curry's defense hasn't given up a TD in the first half this season. In fact, only a FG has been scored on the Colonel's so far. It'll be an uphill climb for Curry if they fall behind early in this one.
2. Collapse the Pocket - Curry is a one dimensional team and if Hobart's DL and DEs get to Conroy, it'll be game over. The young Statesmen secondary will have to play smart and use this game as an opportunity to continue to learn and improve defending the spread. I feel they're overdue for an interception (or more) too. Credit must be given to SO DB Todd Collier for a great game last weekend against Endicott. He "brought the lumber" delivering some hard hits and make big plays from the boundary and was recognized by the Liberty League as the Defensive Player of the Week for his 10 tackle performance.
3. Special Teams - This is nitpicky but there's definitely room for improvement in this department. Hobart pretty much dominated Endicott (0-2) on both sides of the ball in the first half last week, but a couple of special teams errors in the return game kept the Gulls hanging around.
4. Execute - Hobart fans have been a bit spoiled and thus don't see 11 and 10 point wins as "good enough". This game has potential to be a blowout, but the score really isn't as important as seeing the group of new starters get more experience and improve. Selfishly I'd like to see more of an emphasis in a short passing game, utilizing SR TE Mike Berkowitz or the WR corps on 8-9 yard slants or quick outs. That style of three step drop play mixed with straight ahead running (or a bubble screen here and there) by the Ellis-Hartigan-Burns-Furtado (EHBF) crew would improve Conlan's pass completions rate and keep opposing defenses on their heels (which is right when Coach DeWall gets them with a long bomb call ;).

Prediction:

A big Hobart crowd is expected to attend game thanks to former TE and 2011 Team Captain Greg Clifford '12 organizing an Alumni / Family tailgate party. The party aside, there should be a lot to cheer about if you're a Statesmen fan. No disrespect to the Colonels but Curry just doesn't have the depth and experience to compete with Hobart this season.

I'll take Hobart to win 35-7. My ITH co-host Frank Rossi said 42-3 and I wouldn't be surprised by that either. If you missed our interview with SR DE Tyre Coleman, check it out here.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Coleman and "The Goz" Highlight ITH 9-14 Show

Last night Frank Rossi and I had the pleasure of interviewing Hobart grad Tom "The Goz" Goslowski '12 of ESPN 1260 AM "The Score" and SR DE Tyre Coleman.


You can hear the playback of the show here.

We also recapped the Hobart-Endicott game and looked ahead for Week 3's match up vs. Curry. UofR SR QB Jordan Golinowski was also a guest.

I hope you'll give the podcast a listen. With all the bad news about football players coming to light in the national media, last night's interviews are a good reminder of how many good kids suit up to play this game and will go on to lead lives of consequence.

Coleman, arguably one of the most decorated football players in Hobart history, couldn't have been more humble. He talked about his study abroad experience to Wales, the importance of finishing his bachelors degree and the family atmosphere of the football team and HWS.

Give the show a listen. It's a refreshing and encouraging change of pace and is really why guys like me (and readers like you) support D3 football.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hobart Clips Gulls, 28-18

The twelfth ranked Hobart College Statesmen made the first of what will be three trips to the Boston area when they traveled to Beverly, MA to face off against the Endicott College Gulls.

 The Hobart offense looked sharp early as they scored on consecutive first quarter possessions to post a 14-0 lead thanks to touchdown runs by SR QB Patrick Conlan and SO RB Brad Burns (a career first). Unfortunately a poor and unlucky special teams decision by SR WR Troy Robinson gave the Gulls their first break which lead to a 17 yard Kyle Regan field goal after the Hobart defense stiffened.

A second special teams mistake saw SR WR John Fasano elect to field a booming 61 yard Regan kickoff at his four yard line instead of taking the a touchback. Pinned deep, Endicott sacked Conlan for a safety making the score 14-5 Hobart with 6:44 to go in the half. A SO PK Sean Kirshe 39 yard field goal attempt missed wide left and the Statesmen nursed a 14-5 halftime lead.

The Statesmen started off the second half strong as Conlan would find Fasano on a nine yard route to push the Hobart lead to 21-5 after the Kirshe point after was good with 7:48 to go in the third quarter. Although Endicott made things interesting with two fourth quarter scores, the Statesmen would win the game 28-18.

Hobart was led by Conlan with 173 passing yards and two touchdowns. Defensively SO CB Todd Collier had a game high 10 tackles. SR DE Tyre Coleman sacked Frenette twice in the game, giving him 41 in his career and tying for sixth All-Time in Division III.

The Gulls were led by senior quarterback Drew Frenette with 221 passing yards and two touchdowns. Endicott’s Connor McLaughlin led the Gulls defense with nine stops.

The win improves the Statesmen to 2-0 overall and Hobart will go from north to south shore when they travel to Curry College next Saturday. The loss drops Endicott to 0-2 and the Gulls will travel to Union, New Jersey to take on Kean.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

#NeverForget

Each year on this date it's good to reflect and remember the events of 9/11/01.  They were tragic, terrible and changed our society, if not world, forever.

That day Hobart College lost three alumni, Scott Rohner '01, Michael Simon '83 and my former teammate Andrew Glokin '93, who's wearing #37 in the Hobart Football team photo below.

In memory of Andy I hope everyone will consider a donation of any size to the Andrew Golkin Memorial Scholarship Fund:

http://www.seo-usa.org/andrewgolkinfund/index.html

#NeverForget

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dickinson Review / Endicott Preview

The 12th ranked Hobart College Statesmen will make the first of three trips to the Boston area this weekend when they take on defending New England Football Conference (NEFC) Champion Endicott College on Saturday in Beverly, MA. The Gulls (0-1) are coming off a Week 1 20-17 loss to defending Massachusetts States College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Champion Framingham State (1-0).

The Gulls outgained the Rams by over 150 yards and eight more first downs in the game but were upended by five turnovers, including four interceptions thrown by SR and Preseason All-America QB Drew Frenette. Otherwise Frenette had a solid outing passing for 292 yards and two TDs. The SR QB attempted 47 passes, so the Hobart DB and OLB coverage will really need to improve from this past weekend's performance of allowing Dickinson QB's to go 16 of 22 (72.7%) for nearly 200 yards.

Looking Forward in Reverse

Starting off, check out these photos from the Dickinson game that were posted by the DC SID (taken by SR QB Cole Ahnell's father). I thought this shot of one of SO PK Sean Kirshe's FGs came out pretty well:


The good news from last weekend is that Hobart clearly was the better squad. The size, speed and athleticism of the players in the program is definitely apparent and will likely be superior to any team they play in the regular season, at least. That said the youth of this year's team will mean some growing pains. Fortunately the aforementioned advantages will help the squad and potentially make opportunities for "new stars" to emerge.

The OL had their moments but there were times when handoffs were missed and SR QB Patrick Conlan's game seemed a bit off at times. It is clear though in seeing the game film his interception was more due to the right side of the line not picking up a blitz leading to Conlan being hit vs just making a bad pass. Check out this highlight reel (which had pretty sweet ESPN FB music appended to it :) which was produced by the Centennial Conference. At about six minutes in they show all the key plays from the Dickinson game. 

It was interesting to see Hobart attempt about 22 passes in the first half alone, even while the running game was getting over 8 yards per carry - mostly blostered by SR FB Dominique Ellis53 yard TD. Ellis looked awesome Saturday and the rest of the backs from JR RB Connor Hartigan, JR RB Alex Furtado and SO RB Brad Burns all had some nice carries. Burns has a great forward lean and will continue to get better, especially if he can get more elusive and look to side step like Hartigan instead of trying to bowl people over.

SR WR Elvin Souffrant's 86 yard TD catch was a thing of beauty, from Conlan's throw to Elvin's catch and run. Hobart did leave some points on the table, as at least one TD pass was dropped in the end zone and Conlan's earlier interception was on the Dickinson side of the field and could have ended up in points if avoided.

SO PK Sean Kirshe looked good in the kicking game. The 39 yard FG would have been good from further out. Although he did miss on one kickoff, the rest were deep and would have set up the Hobart defense if the coverage was a little better.  Fortunately for the Statesmen, Endicott's  return game wasn't great against Framingham last weekend. To be fair however, the Rams may have just had a better coverage team than the Gulls' return one.

Defensively I thought the team looked very solid up front and in the LB corp JR Jacob Stanley had an excellent debut as a starting ILB. He also had a big special teams played when he killed a potential momentum builder for the Red Devils by blocking a FG early in the second half.

Scouting the Gulls

The challenge of this game is Endicott's strength is Hobart's current weakness. Still, Frenette showed he can be rattled into making mistakes and/or forcing throws. The key for the Statesmen will be to pressure him early on and not allow the passing game to get into a groove. Field position will also will be important, as Endicott has a couple of talented and experienced split ends in SR WR Nate Lewis (caught nine passes for 175 yards and one TD vs. the Rams) and JR WR Alec Matys (led the NEFC with 12 TD catches in 2013). The Gulls will try and spread out the Statesmen and force them into coverage mistakes.

Out of the backfield the Gulls have a solid runner / receiver in JR RB Spencer Walsh. He carried the ball 26 times against Framingham for 93 yards and added five receptions for 31 yards. He has good size standing 6' 215 lbs so Statesmen defenders better wrap up on initial impact.

On defense JR LB John Elnagger led the way with 11 stops against the Rams. SR LB Andrew Holfinger is another strong player who earned first team All-NEFC had a sack and a tackle for loss last Saturday.

Aside from the overall large size of their roster (they had 125 players in preseason camp), Endicott looks like their DL/DEs are smaller than the Hobart OL. On the flip side, the Gulls OL has good size, albeit their center JR OL Sam Rose is pretty stocky at 5' 7" (250). Endicott's OL did a good job containing the Framingham pass rush and only allowed one sack in that game. Five TFLs were made by the Rams defense, but for a small number of (negative) yardage.

Keys to the Game:
  1. Fluster Frenette / Control TOP - Frenette deserves the defenses' respect but it should be noted he's thrown seven interceptions dating back to last season's one and done playoff appearance. I am guessing he'll attempt close to 50 passes against Hobart Saturday which is more than twice the number throws the Statesmen had to defend against the Red Devils. In that case, I'd like to see the Statesmen forego airing it out 30 times and run the ball more. Endicott's pass defense limited Framingham to only 83 yards on 12 completions (out of 23 attempts). While I can't speak to Rams QB Matthew Silva's abilities or lack thereof (not to mention the Rams are more of an option team), there's a compelling case to run. The Gulls DL is undersized, case in point Ellis is the same size or bigger than most or all of their down linemen. In my opinion the best way to protect a young secondary is a great pass rush to sack Frenette and a great rush offense to keep him off the field.
  2. Turnovers / Field Position - This was mentioned above but this Endicott team has a ball control issue. If the Statesmen can force a handful of turnovers and/or avoid giving the Gulls short fields due to their own mistakes, special teams or otherwise, they'll be in good shape.
  3. New Surroundings, But A Familiar Foe - Endicott HC JB Wells recently brought in Tom Blumenauer to be his Offensive Coordinator. Coach Blumenauer coached against Hobart from 2010-13 when he was on the staff at Saint Lawrence. This familiarity should help Endicott somewhat with respect to knowing Hobart's defensive personnel and schemes, but it obviously gives the Statesmen staff a few hints on the type of strategy the Gulls could deploy on offense as well.
Prediction:

Frenette is likely the best QB the Statesmen will face barring the return to his SO form of now SR QB Connor Eck from Union College (who did have a nice game vs Ithaca last weekend). On Sunday night on "In The HuddLLe" I predicted 35-28 Hobart win over Endicott but that was before I saw the Framingham box score. I still like Hobart to come away with a win, but it may not be as close as I thought, especially if the Gulls turnover the ball. Guess we'll find out on Saturday. I'll be tuning in to WEOS to hear the game and we'll recap it with highlights Sunday night at 7:30 pm on ITH.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hobart Beats Dickinson in Season Opener, 33-21

My apologies for the delay in getting my season opener review up but this weekend was.....epic.

I had the pleasure of returning to Geneva for the first time in over a year and made the most of it. During my visit I:
  • Attended classes taught by former professors
  • A special Happy 65th Birthday to Capt Jack Harris who was my Honors Advisor during my SR YR
  • Met with students at the Career Development Center
  • Mingled with Hobart Teams of Distinction from the 70's thanks to Coach Hanna '68, Kevin Martin '81 and Tom Korn '75
As the grand finale of the weekend, the twelfth ranked Hobart College Statesmen opened their 2014 campaign against Centennial Conference rival Dickinson College.

After I briefly blew out the public address system with my rendition of the Stars Spangled Banner, the Statesmen needed only a few plays until SR FB Dominique Ellis broke free on a 53 yard run to get Hobart on the board.

A game recap, including interviews with Coach Cragg and JR RB Connor Hartigan can be found here. Statistically SR QB Patrick Conlan led the Statesmen with 217 passing yards with a touchdown and interception. Ellis scored two TDs and Hartigan led all rushers with a 103 yards and a TD. Defensively the Statesmen were paced by JR LB Jacob Stanley with a game high 11 tackles, including a key FG block. Dickinson was led by Ahnell with a 163 passing and 11 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

I will share some additional thoughts and analysis tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest. There was a lot of good but definitely some opportunities to improve overall. Endicott is a tough draw but I think the Statesmen can come out with a win if they learn from the mistakes made in the Dickinson game that kept it closer than the 33-21 score indicates.

More to come....thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dickinson Game Preview

The Hobart College Statesmen and Dickinson College Red Devils will face off for the 23rd consecutive season this Saturday. Kickoff is slated for at noon in Geneva. What was once a very competitive rivalry (Hobart leads the series 12-10-1) in the prior decade has been four straight wins by the Statesmen by an average score of 33-6. The Red Devils are coming off a tough, injury plagued 2013 campaign that saw them go 3-7 overall.

Last season Steven Webb had a career day rushing against Dickinson to the tune of 200+ yards and three TDs (the official box score had 207 but the SID game recap had 203 so you be the judge). The Statesmen defense shut out the Red Devils until the final two minutes of the contest and Hobart won the game 30-7.

Hobart enters this season's contest ranked 12th in the nation in the D3football.com Top 25 and picked to finish first in the Preseason Liberty League Coaches poll. By contrast, Dickinson was ranked 141st by D3football.com (out of 244 teams) and picked to finish 8th in the Centennial Conference Coaches poll.

While there is hope in Carlisle (PA) for this season given the return of several key players, this Dickinson squad does have an uphill battle once again in 2014. The challenge for the Devils is overcoming inexperience in key areas and a general lack of size, especially on the line of scrimmage. A good article covering the aforementioned is listed here written by a current Red Devil player and posted on the Dickinson Athletics website.

The Devils' in the Details:

Key players on the field for Dickinson this Saturday include:

#9 SR QB Cole Ahnell – what he lacks in size (5’7” 185 lbs), Ahnell compensates for with experience and leadership. The Rockville, MD native has started for the Red Devils going on four years so he certainly knows, and is statistically a big piece of, the Red Devil offense. Last season Ahnell only played in seven games due to an injury. In that time period he passed for 766 yards with five TDs compared to four interceptions. He was second on the team in rushing, carrying the ball 126 times for 516 yards (4.1 YPC), scoring five rushing TDs.

#2 JR RB Shawn Wilson – led the Devils with 769 rushing yards on 152 carries (5.1 AVG) and matched Ahnell with five rushing TDs.

#91 SR DL Walker Moriarty – missed 2013 due to injury but was solid in 2012 tallying 50 tackles, including 12.5 TFL and 7.5 sacks.

#37 JR S Jake Myers – was the second leading tackler in 2013 with 66 stops, 38 solo. Myers tied for team lead with two picks.

Keys to the Game:

1. Easy Does It – The Statesmen offense will feature several new players this season, so the first couple of possessions will be important. While it would be nice to score points out the gate, the Hobart offense just needs to make sure it’s clicking, blocking assignments are being made and not put too much pressure to have a big lead by the end of the 1st quarter or at the half. Last season Dickinson was outscored 99-28 in the first quarter and only averaged 15.5 PPG overall. The Red Devil offense is deliberate so a shoot out is highly unlikely. Also, with a high chance of rain on Saturday, the ball could get a little slippery and turnovers could happen. It's important pyschologically and field position wise to avoid the latter as much as possible.

2. Establish (and Stop) The Run – The Statesmen have a cadre of four SR receivers, but common sense dictates Hobart will look to run the ball a good deal Saturday. This is critical in building up the confidence and skill of the OL, not to mention giving the RB’s a chance to show the fans and the coaching staff what they can do as well. Conversely, the defense needs to establish itself early and force Ahnell to pass which isn’t his strong suit. I'll go out on a limb and predict at least one interception will be made by the defense Saturday (probably by either an I or OLB).

3. Protect The House - Hobart has enjoyed a regular season home winning streak dating back to September of 2012. There will be a large amount of alumni and others in town to see the 2014 opener, so capping the weekend with the 11th straight regular season home win would be a great start.

Prediction:

I am going to play it safe and stick with around the four year average, so I’ll take the Statesmen to win 31-10.

Thanks for reading and say hello if you're at the game Saturday. Otherwise tune in tomorrow night at 7:30 pm at www.inthehuddlle.com or catch the podcast on Thursday AM.

Go 'Bart!