Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ivy League Power Rankings

What a wild opening week it was for the Ivy League, with unexpected stars willing their teams to wins and startling upsets rocking the preseason favorites. As always, predicting the season outlook for teams based on the first game requires an phD in extrapolation and good faith. I have a good feeling that the Quakers will not go 0-10. Conference play starts this week, and with more on the line, expect teams to adjust from their Week 1 performances and play with renewed intensity.

Penn (0-1, 0-0)
In a rather uncharacteristic fashion, the Quakers were blown away at home, allowing a mediocre Lafayette team to defile Franklin Field. Turnovers, special teams miscues, and penalties marked a sloppy showing where three different quarterbacks were used, and Penn failed to find the scoreboard the entire second half. With a visit to Villanova looming, Penn QB Billy Ragone will have to make plays for his team, and the vaunted defense that stonewalled the Ivy League last year needs to make a statement.

Dartmouth (1-0, 0-0)
As my favorite saying goes, “Nick Schwieger ran over Hanover.” The reigning Ivy League MVP showed no rust from the offseason with a monster, 175 yards and 2 touchdown performance. His defensive counterpart, Shawn Abuhoff, blocked a kick and QB Connor Kempe played a controlled, well-managed game for an easy victory. This is the year the Big Green loses its dark horse candidacy and join the Ivy League elite.

Brown (1-0, 0-0)
What a thrilling win over the Stony Brook and a triumphant return of QB Newhall-Caballero. As exemplified by his track record the last several years, at his best, Newhall-Caballero is the best QB in the Ivy League, and with the help of his go-to receiver Tounkara-Kone and Lundevall, he leads a imposing passing offense. With a confused Harvard secondary, expect this trio to have another big game. Moreover, perhaps Tounkara-Kone and Newhall-Caballero should open a law firm together.

Harvard (0-1, 0-0)
It’s hard to point the fingers toward a single player in last week’s uninspired loss to crosstown rival Holy Cross. Winters faced pressure all night and made some avoidable errors; the defense looked sluggish and the secondary had no answer to Ryan Taggert; the backfield could not find holes to get the running game established. There’s a lot of questions that Coach Tim Murphy will have to answer, but there is no question that Coach Murphy can get the team back on track: Harvard hasn’t lost consecutive games since 2006.

Yale (1-0, 0-0)
In an unexpected shootout, the Bulldogs had a dogfight with the Hoyas with Patrick Witt establishing his presence as a premier QB of the Ivy League. He threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns, only marred by a careless interception. What’s more impressive is the resurgence of Yale’s running game: Mordecai Cargill had 92 yards on just 16 carries for the day. Expect another inspiring performance by Witt as the Bulldogs takes on the Big Red.

Columbia (0-1, 0-0)
Sean Brackett once again produced a powerhouse performance for the Lions, accounting for all but 52 yards of Columbia’s offensive output. Even though they came out with the loss, it was the Lions defense that turned heads last Saturday, which held Fordham scoreless on two red zone possessions and created turnovers. If the Lions want to play with the big boys of the Ivy League, they have to move away from the one-dimensional play of Brackett and create plays designed for the talented but underutilized TB Garrett.

Cornell (1-0, 0-0)
Year 2 of Kent Austin’s reign at Cornell got off to an auspicious start as the Big Red toppled unbeaten Bucknell with surprising efficiency. Second year starter Jeff Matthews continued his development with a crisp showing on the air, with an 87 yard touchdown to Kurt Ondash and a 64 yarder to Shane Savage. The offense didn’t allow a single sack and the defense limited the usually consistent Bucknell offense with DL pressure and blanket coverage. Things are looking up!

Princeton (0-1, 0-0)
The Tigers fell behind early and quickly, trailing by 27-9 in the 4th quarter. Even with a string of great plays - KO Returned for TD by Sr. Ivan Charbonneau, recovered onside kick, 26 yard TD by Tommy Wornham – Princeton could not punch it home for the win. Regardless, there offense gained more than 400 yards and the defense kept it close enough to make the game exciting.

Till next week...

1 comment:

  1. Schwieger's running mate at Dartmouth, sophomore Dominic Pierre, is becoming a dominant runner in his own right. A very powerful 1-2 combination. Beware Pierre!