Sunday, October 30, 2016

Leopards FB notebook: Kaizer Butler and more

Kaizer Butler was jogging around on the Fisher Stadium turf with some of his Lafayette football buddies Saturday morning.

When I asked him later in the day how much working out he’s been doing, he said, “If you asked me three weeks ago, I’d pass out doing pushups.”

The defensive back is a long way from being ready to even practice, let alone play football again; but the fact that he’s where he is right now is somewhat of a miracle.

In June of this year, the 19-year-old California was stricken with a rare autoimmune disease called Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis. It is an inflammation of the blood vessels that limits the flow of blood to organs like the kidneys, lungs, nose, windpipe, etc.
Kaizer Butler, Coach Tavani and Jerry Powe meet the media after the win over Georgetown.

Butler experienced kidney failure and his lungs filled up with blood. He was placed on life support at one point, but he managed to fight through the critical period.

He is still taking oral doses of chemotherapy, although they are being slowly reduced; he is taking steroids, which are also nearing an end, and he is being treated for high blood pressure.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Leopards, Hoyas both need a win Saturday

Dissa and Data, less than two days from the biggest football game of Lafayette’s 2016 season to this point.

LEAGUE HISTORY – In its 15 years in the Patriot League, Georgetown has won more than one league game just six times, with its best league mark coming in 2011 – 3-2. The Hoyas have been winless in six seasons, the last being 2009. Their league mark in those 15 years was 17-70.

In those same 15 seasons, Lafayette has been winless once (last year), has had three one-win seasons and seven seasons with four or five victories. Three of those five-win seasons produced championships (2004-6), as did the 4-1 of 2013. Lafayette has won 10 of the 15 head-to-head league matchups.

RECENT HISTORY AT FISHER – In Fisher Stadium league games between the Leopards and the Hoyas, Lafayette has a 4-3 edge. The least Leopard win at Fisher was in 2014. Maybe you remember that one. Lafayette had just 250 yards of offense, but Ross Scheuerman ran for three touchdowns. Jared Roberts had an 81-yard punt return that led to a score and Lafayette blocked a field goal. The final score: 24-21.

You might not want to remember the two Lafayette-G-town Fisher games prior to that one. In 2012, Lafayette turned the ball over seven times and handed the Hoyas a 20-17 victory. Two years earlier, Lafayette ran up 509 yards of offense, including a 131-yard rushing performance by Jerome Rudolph but also committed four turnovers and lost 28-24. Four players were injured in that game.

LAST YEAR IN D.C. – I’m not sure where you start with this one. While the 2015 season had lots of low points, none was any lower than this afternoon against a team that came in with a 2-3 record and had been walloped 45-0 by Harvard the previous week. The Hoyas played like all world – or the Leopards played like they were in another world. Kyle Nolan threw five touchdown passes a secondary that, compared to the rest of the team, was pretty much intact with Matt Smalley, Jared Roberts, Phillip Parham and Alex Merriman. And the Hoyas’ defense, which allowed 173 yards per game in the first five starts, allowed Lafayette just NINE yards on 20 rushing attempts. Five sacks. Eleven tackles for loss. Sad day.

HOYA BLOCK ATTACK – Georgetown is tied for first place in the FCS in punts blocked this season with three and is second in the country in total kicks blocked with six. In a Tuesday conference call, Coach Rob Sgarlata said, “I’d like to pat myself on the back and say we spend a lot of times on special teams, which we do,” he said, then he gave kudos to special teams coordinator Kevin Doherty and the players themselves. “They take a lot of pride in what they do. Once you get one, and another one, the kids start believing, so we’re excited. They’re always looking for different ways to improve their technique. They’ve impacted almost every game that we’ve had with a blocked kick , so hopefully it continues.” Hunter Kiselick, who wears #1 – a jersey the Leopards should be watcnin g for every minute – has blocked three of those kicks. He’s a fifth-year senior, and Coach Sgarlata loves his effect on the team. “He’s a special kid,” Sgarlata told us on Tuesday. “He has two speeds: stop and full speed. He’s an inspirational leader for the guys … Emotional and humble.”

JOEY CHENOWETH --  "We don't want another 1-10. Look at our facilities, the nicest in the  league; we have the best alumni support, great coaches. We should start winning games; we're going to start winning games. The coaching staff  is working 12 hours a day to get us better. The biggest thing is we can’t look at what’s happened in the past. It's going to be great for our momentum going into next year and will get us the confidence we had before the season started. We were so confident. We knew we had the guys to get it done. Everybody was fired up. We need to finish. These last three games are very important."

A LOOK AT THE 2016 OPPONENTS -- At 6-2, Villanova has the best record among the eight teams Lafayette has already faced this season. The Wildcats are ranked No. 11 in the FCS and are 4-1 in the CAA. Fordham is 5-2, and its game with Lehigh this week has huge league ramifications. Princeton is 4-2; Army West Point is 4-3 after getting whipped last week by North Texas; Bucknell is 3-4, Holy Cross 3-5, Delaware 2-5 -- five straight losses -- and Central Connecticut State 1-6.  That's an aggregate record of 28-29. 


Sunday, October 23, 2016

A note to "bison137" and the LSFF guys

I was looking over the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum comments from Saturday’s Bucknell football game and came across a comment from “bison137,” the forum’s resident Bucknell expert.

Reinhard seems a bit confused himself.  He says:  "A familiar Bucknell misdirection play, a naked flanker reverse that should have been no surprise, fooled the Leopards not once, but twice."

In fact, Bucknell had not run that play even once this year, and I haven't seen it run even once in Carter's four years.  They do very occasionally use him on a jet sweep, where he gets the ball on a direct handoff from the QB, but never on the sort of misdirection toss play that produced the TDs.  That was new to the playbook.  

Also Reinhard has Bucknell getting a first down on a fake FG, even though they did not line up for a FG at any point in the game.”

I did mess up on the field goal – I knew it was a punt and made the error. Sorry about that.

As for the flanker reverse on which Will Carter scored a pair of touchdowns, I specifically asked Coach Tavani about that play after the game and got the following answer:

“We have seen it. We had young freshmen out there, two of them. By formation we knew it and we got burned on it twice. That’s obviously not good. [It was] nothing new. We’ve seen it in practice and we’ve run against it and we didn’t do a good job with it, obviously. You’re telling them and you’re screaming it out, telling them the play’s coming. Coaches are calling it out.”

I couldn’t use all that in the story.

I may be old, and often can be confused, but not this time.

Great play. Lafayette should add it to the playbook. It was perfectly run. I almost used the cliché: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” In fact, I think I said that very thing in the press box when it happened.

Here are just a couple of other leftover items from the Saturday game, etc.

Someone else on the LSFF mentioned something about the move that put RB Mike Dunn on defense for the Army game. FYI: Dunn was never intended to be a defensive player, but the secondary has taken some big hits because of injuries, so he was put over there as short-term insurance. Then, when C.J. Amill and Mayfield were hurt, Dunn was immediately moved back to offense. At Bucknell, DeSean Brown played the first series, Rajhan Meriwether the second series and Dunn the third series. Series #4, #5 and #6 featured the same rotation and Brown played the final series of the first half. Dunn got his nifty 18-yard touchdown run -- watch that one on film if you can -- and played the entire second half.  We may have witnessed a changing of the guard there. He's only a freshman, but he did have a post-grad year at Cheshire Academy.

I guess it's impossible to calculate how much the loss of Brandon Bryant has affected the Leopards' defense. But I have to say Michael Root and Rob Hinchen are really working hard at the LB spots, and both return next year. Root had 15 tackles on Saturday to bring his season total to 70. Hinchen had nine and is now at 55 despite having been a backup prior to Bryant's injury. those three guys, with some more experienced guys in front of them in 2017, should be solid.  

Contributing frosh -- Dunn wasn't the only Leopard freshman to play strong roles for the Leopards, even though the outcome wasn't what they'd want. DL Demetrius Breedlove had six tackles, five of them solos; Eric Mitchell had his first interception and a 31-yard return to help set up Lafayette's second touchdown and he also made three tackles; Yasir Thomas caught two passes and returned two kickoffs, the longest being 25 yards.

DISSA & DATA -- The Leopards came away without any serious injuries. T.J. Jones suffered a blow to the head and is under concussion protocol, which makes his availability for this week uncertain ... Hopefully C.J. Amill, who missed the Bucknell game because of a hip pointer, will be better this week and ready to contribute ... Only 25 defensive players were available for practice last week, Tavani said, and he said he may go to just one day of actual contact practice this week. Whether that day is Tuesday or Wednesday hadn't been determined when I spoke with him. Going to Wednesday would give players an extra recovery day from the previous weekend; going Tuesday would give them extra recovery time before this Saturday's game ...  


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dissa & Data: Talking Leopards at the lunch table

DISSA AND DATA -- Chewing on some stuff from Tuesday’s weekly football media luncheon:

THE RUNNING GAME – Asked about the problems with the running game, Coach Frank Tavani said, “I think there are a variety of issues. Some of it falls on us (coaches). You’ve got to have some patience with it and got to keep doing things. Don’t just run a play and then, if it doesn’t work, that you don’t call it again. Obviously, we’ve shown great ability to throw the ball, but also have shown that’s not getting it done. Some of it has been with the backs, some with the line. As soon as you mold the group together, then you have missing parts up front and they’re trying to regroup. I can say some is on us as well as far as emphasis in practice and following through with what you practice and getting those things called in the game and not to get impatient and move away from it. It’s a two-way street I’m evaluating it heavily.

THE DEFENSE & FRESHMEN – The woes of the defensive unit the past two games have been well chronicled, and when Coach Tavani was asked about the problem Tuesday, he said, “Too many young kids out there. That’s the bottom line. That’s not an excuse. Too many freshmen. In the secondary, they’re making some mistakes, but they’re going to be very, very good. I had individual interviews with all our freshmen, completed them just this morning. We’ve used quite a few young people. Anybody who loses arguably the best linebacker (Brandon Bryant) in the conference, that’s a hole in your defense. Say what you want, but I’d like to Nick Saban lose his best defensive linebackers and see what happens to his defense. We are missing his play and his leadership and and how much he cares. He’s on the sideline on crutches and he’s burned up like he had played.” For the record, freshman Demetrius Breedlove very quietly made his first career start last Saturday. He has nine tackles for the year. Other freshmen who have at least one tackle include Eric Mitchell (24), Dante Lonardo (freshman eligibility, 15), Tre Jordan (10)J, Colin Thorne (3), Strasburger (3), Kevin Hutchinson (3), Nick Pearson (3), Dmitry Smith (3), Mike Dunn (1), Yasir Thomas (1).  

PERSONNEL --  When he was asked about running back Tyler West, Coach Tavani said, “He’s been out with a hamstring pull. He was in blue (no contact) yesterday and still didn’t look 100 percent. He pulled his hamstring two weeks ago in special teams practice, and at this time of year, that’s not taking care of yourself. A soft tissue injury means you’re not hydrating properly and taking care of yourself.” (West and) Tommy Strasburger, a freshman who Tavani said “showed potential to help us at safety, where we could use help,” were hurt in the same practice, same injury, and Strasburger is still out. Tavani also said freshman running back Mike Dunn had been moved to defense last week to prepare to play because he had played outside backer and safety in high school, “so it was pretty natural. But giving what we’re looking at because we don’t know C.J. Amill’s status for a couple of days with a hip pointer, Dunn was moved back to offense “and he’s one of the three backs we’re preparing to play in this football game.” Others would be DeSean Brown and Rajhan Meriwether, who had four carries in the last two series of the Army game.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Lafayette-Army West Point game day schedule

If you’re heading to West Point, N.Y., on Saturday for Lafayette-Army West Point football, and you’re wondering what’s going on in connection with Homecomking at the Academy, here’s a little travelogue.

Activities Timeline:

THREE HOURS BEFORE KICKOFF: CADET REVIEW – A full-dress Cadet parade takes place on “The Plain.” The schedule reading from says “weather permitting.” Well, I see the low is supposed to go to about 33 degrees by 7 a.m., and by parade time it’s supposed to be bright sun and about 45 degrees. Sounds like that will allow for anything outdoors, including the changing of the leaves, which should be very nice – I hope.

FORT PUTNAM – The Fort, located within walking distance of Michie Stadium, is open to the public on game days. It is not handicapped accessible, however, due to the nature of the grounds. The fort protected the Great Chain across the Hudson River and blocked British Naval ships from using this route to Canada.

BLACK KNIGHTS ALLEY – An interactive fan zone with pray areas for children and autograph sessions, interactive sports stations manned by Army West Point cadet-athletes, a live radio broadcast, food and beverages, camouflage face-painting, bounces houses and more.

PREGAME MICHIE STADIUM EVENTS – You might want to take a seat early and take it all in.
1.       TWO HOURS TO KICKOFF – Stadium gates open.
2.      25 MINUTES TO KICKOFF – West Point Band takes the field.
3.      20 MINUTES TO KICKOFF – Cadet march-on.
4.      15 MINUTES TO KICKOFF – The National An them.
5.      10 MINUTES TO KICKOFF – Parachute demonstration and delivery of the game ball.
6.      5 MINUTES TO KICKOFF --  Army West Point team takes the field.

NOTE: Enhanced security measures remain in effect at West Point and at stadium access points for all home football games. All fans 16 and over must present a valid ID to enter West Point. The Academy strongly encourages all fans to arrive as early as possible.
Anyone who appears under the age of 30 and attempts to purchase alcohol must have a valid ID. Alcohol will not be permitted inside the stadium. Persons who appear to be intoxicated or acting disorderly or passing alcohol to minors will be ejected from the stadium.  A long list of items including artificial noisemakers, bottles, cans or other beverage containers, firearms, knives and weapons of any kind, footballs or throwing objects, laser pointers, profanity, signs or flags on sticks or poles, smoking, soliciting, umbrellas, etc. are prohibited. “Bags are permitted inside the stadium but are subject to thorough search prior to entering the stadium.”

This information was provided by Matt Faulkner of the Army West Point communications department.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Do Leopards have a secret weapon for Army?

Trent Crossan
If Lafayette wants to give Army West Point a dose of its own medicine on Saturday afternoon in Michie Stadium, Leopards Coach Frank Tavani has the right answer in his own locker room.

At 5-9, 195 pounds, he’s roughly the same size as Army’s starting quarterback, Ahmad Bradshaw (5-11, 196) or backup Chris Carter (5-9, 197).

Just like Bradshaw or Carter, this Leopard is going to graduate as a commission officer in the U.S. Army.

And just as Bradshaw and Carter, if they EVER pass in the Cadet offense, have 6-1 Jermaine Adams and 6-1 Jeff Ejekam to throw to, my QB has as a Leopard teammate a 6-2 target who is also a future commission Army officer.

But my secret weapon QB has one thing that neither Bradshaw nor Carter has on his impressive sports resume.

My man, a Lafayette sophomore defensive back these days, scored eight touchdowns in one game as a high school junior.

As a quarterback.

In a triple option offense.

You read it right. Eight touchdowns! In one game! Oh, and he also converted a two-point run to give him 50 points in that game.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Remembering some Army games; media day notes


1992 – A 9-yard touchdown pass from the late Tom Kirchhoff to Craig Roubinek give the Leopards a 36-35 lead over the Cadets with just 1:04 left in the game. But Army quickly moves to the Lafayette 36, where Patmon Malcom kicks a 43-yard FG with 4 seconds left to produce a 38-36 victory … a flu bug did what lots of linebackers couldn’t do and hit Erik Marsh so hard he had to miss the game … Roubinek account for 20 points with three TDs and a 2-point conversion … Kirchhoff was 24-for-32 for 294 yards and four TDs … Mark Wogenrich, who currently covers the Penn State beat for The Morning Call, covered Lafayette in 1992 … Who subbed for Marsh that day?  It WAS indeed Jarrett Shine, who was a freshman and ran 12 times for 70 yards against the Cadets.

1989 – Army wins 34-20, but Ted Meixell writes in The Morning Call that the Leopards played their best football of the season … Frank Baur was 22-for-39 for 222 yards but no touchdowns … Tom Costello carried 30 times for 107 yards … Tom Moncman, who went on to be a Lafayette assistant coach and then head coach at both Liberty and Parkland high schools, recovered a fumble … Daryl Boich and Dwayne Norris and 24 and 22 tackles, respectively … Army gained 417 yards rushing in the game with its wishbone offense …

1988 – Army wins 24-17, gaining 450 yards on 76 running plays … Cadets had two 100-yard rushers in the game and would have had a third had he not took two clock-killing knees at the end of the game … Baur was 24-for-42 for 286 yards. He passed for one TD and ran for another, but he also was intercepted four times …

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Wanna beat the Rams? Scheme for more than Edmonds

When you mention  Fordham offensive football, it’s easy to think of Chase Edmonds as a one-man wrecking crew.  But, it simply isn’t true.

He said it himself when somebody asked him about it after his monster night in the Rams’ 58-34 Patriot League victory over Lafayette.

“Are you ever concerned that a lot of the offense is coming from you?” the junior tailback was asked after rushing for 359 yards and scoring four touchdowns to set a bunch of Patriot League rushing records.

“No, no,” he answered immediately. “I’m not sure what Kevin (Anderson) threw for today (181 yards and three touchdowns), but I knew he had an efficient day throwing the ball (12-for-18). He also ran for 100 yards (actually 108 on 10 carries, one for a touchdown). There are going to be games like that. These last couple of weeks, we have high expectations for our offense. We haven’t been clicking on all cylinders as we should be.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

FB Notebook: Leopards running game ... Rams coach ... Eric Mitchell

How many time have you heard Lafayette football Coach Frank Tavani talk about absolute need to be able to run the football?

Sometimes it seems like every week. He said it again after the loss to Holy Cross, in which the Leopards threw 46 passes, completing 33 for 280 yards and rushed 23 times for 93 yards.

“Now, do you need 300 yards a game rushing?” he asked rhetorically. “No, but 150 anyway. And that’s just starting. You need to have that element. The defense has to be kept on their toes. Now they know what we’re doing. You saw at the end of the game when they know we have to throw, they just pin their ears back. And we have some guys up front who are first-year starters and they’re struggling.”

Tavani’s inference that a running attack that gave his team 150 yards a game would be good enough for him, got me thinking. When was the last time a Lafayette team averaged 150 yards per game?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bryant, Reed injuries and other Leopard notebook stuff

No more tackling in 2016 for Lafayette's Brandon Bryant. Bummer.

It doesn’t seem right to start a blog like this with an injury report, but this isn’t just any injury. It’s Brandon Bryant, a guy who was on target to put his name among the best linebackers in Lafayette history before this year was finished.

Now, the 5-11, 225-pound junior from Cherry Hill, N.J., will be spend the rest of this year and probably the first half of next year rehabbing his knee after a freakish accident in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game with Holy Cross.

Here’s how Bryant put it in an email to me: “I was blitzing off of the edge and as I was grabbing the QB (Crusader Geoff Wade), my body swung out to the side. My knee bashed into his and caused my leg from the knee down to wipe.”

What makes the thing freakish is that the “his” in Bryant’s statement is Leopard teammate Beau Bosch, who also was chasing down Wade.  Wade got away and Bosch and Bryant went down to the turf in opposite directions. Bryant tried to get up and walk, but he was unable to do that. When he went back down, I knew it was not good. I just didn’t know what not good meant.