Monday, November 15, 2010

Analysis of the Week - Lafayette

This week, I have turned to one of the most astute and knowledgeable posters of the Holy Cross football team: breezy. Aside from his great thoughts from the games--many of which he travels to--I have found that he constantly digs deeper with regard to the team. He often inquires about how many of the younger players on the team are doing by seeking out reports from the Junior Varsity games, and keeping a close eye on the depth chart and participation reports. I always enjoy reading what he has to say about Holy Cross' games come Sunday morning. Thank you, breezy, for providing us with the "Analysis of the Week."

Back from the game today in Easton -- great day for a football game -- who knew it was the middle of November?

Good turnout on the Holy Cross side, and the fans had plenty to cheer about today.

Lafayette QB Ryan O'Neil (brother of former HC QB John O'Neil) played very well and displayed none of the inaccuracy that Lafayette fans have bemoaned. HC QB Ryan Taggart also played well although he started slowly in the passing game.

HC special teams deserve special kudos in this game -- the fumble recovery on the Lafayette FG attempt at the end of the second quarter that was returned for a TD, some excellent kickoff returns by Zitnik and Fess, recovery of both onside kicks, the blocked punt, and some deep kickoffs by Lemieux that were well covered stopping the Lafayette returner around the 20-yard line several times.

Although Lafayette had a wide margin in total yardage, much of that was due to a couple of long drives in the 4th quarter when the HC defense was playing prevent style (someday someone will explain to me what the prevent defense actually prevents).

HC offense played much better in second half and each time Lafayette would close to within 3 points, the offense responded with a TD.

HC had two penalties early in the first quarter but only one more penalty for the rest of the game -- a very questionable pass interference call.

Fortunately, the game was played without any apparent injuries on the HC side and only one injury to a Lafayette defensive back that did not appear to be too serious.

It's a good thing, too, because HC has had a ton of injuries this year. Freshman RB Reggie Woods got his first action of the season, rushing three times to give Sam Auffant a breather. Freshman DT Michael White saw substantial action alternating with Tony Ruoti. On many passing downs late in the game, freshman LB Mike Tucker was inserted at DT in an effort to put some pressure on the Lafayette QB.

A good day. Let's get a win against Bucknell next week to end the season with a winning record.

I completely agree with this assessment, especially the recognition given to the Special Teams units, which is what I will harp on in my assessment. Just as these units outclassed the Colgate Raiders, they made Lafayette look like a feeble Pop Warner team out there. Often times, Special Teams is a great way to take momentum from an opponent and use it to ignite the entire sideline and team. 

For all intents and purposes, Holy Cross was as dead as a carcass for much of the first half. The first four drives of the game for HC went: punt, field goal, downs, downs, and punt. While Lafayette was not doing much on the offensive end themselves, they were the better team for the first 29:32. Lafayette was poised to go up 13-3 as their stellar kicker Davis Rodriguez (you would not know how good he was in his last three performances against Holy Cross) lined up to kick a 42 yard field goal. Enter: Cav Koch and the field goal block unit. Benefiting from a bobbled snap, Koch took the ball 68 yards to the house to give the Crusaders a 10-7.

Boom. Just like that instead of being down by 7 or 10 at the half, HC is up by 3. One can make the argument that it was not the Holy Cross Special Teams that were so good, but it was the Leopards' that was simply atrocious, but HC simply did their job on Special Teams. The Crusaders ostensibly did not deserve to be leading at halftime, but thanks to Special Teams, they took the momentum with them into the locker room and it carried over into the second half. 

In the early stages of the second half, Special Teams came up big once again. With Tom Kandish standing inside his 20 yard line, Perry Townsend blocked a punt giving HC fantastic field position. In Kandish's defense, he was practically mimicking Dustin Pedroia by crouching down to field a ground ball at second base. The snaps for Lafayette were low all day, and Townsend capitalized on the Leopards' miscue. The ensuing drive for Holy Cross stalled after just three plays, and as Rob Dornfried lined up for what would be a mere chip shot from the 23 yard line, the field goal unit for Holy Cross would fail and execute all in the same play.
  • Failure: Lafayette was able to get a strong push through the middle of the Holy Cross line and block Dornfried's three point bid.
  • Execution: The headiness of Dornfried to track down Brandon Ellis, who recovered the blocked kick, was a touchdown saving tackle--the first tackle of Dornfried's career I believe.
    • Talking to senior offensive lineman Graham Gawryszewski on the ride home from Easton, Graham commented that it was not Cav Koch's touchdown at the end of the first half that was the play of the game, but it was Dornfried's tackle along the Lafayette sideline that was the big play. I agree with him. If Ellis takes it pay dirt for six, Lafayette regains the lead 14-10--a major momentum shift.
Special Teams is all about retaining or giving away the momentum in a football game. Our offense greatly struggled to get going until the latter stages of the game, the defense allowed Ryan O'Neil to sling the ball all across the field, yet the Special Team units were there throughout the entire game. Thank you, breezy, for shedding light on the play of Special Teams along with several other aspects of Saturday's game in Easton, PA.

Check back in the coming days for a final look at the Lafayette vs. Holy Cross game.

Kevin Doyle '11


  1. Kevin --

    Thanks for your kind words, and for the great job you and others are doing with the Chu Chu Rah Rah blog.

    I'm looking forward to a win against Bucknell this Saturday and will continue to check out the recruiting websites and Google each day to follow HC football during the recruiting season for the Class of 2011.

    Keep up the good work.


  2. Congratulations to Kevin and all of the HC football seniors on today Senior Day, the last game of the season! Hope for a win against Bucknell! However, regardless of the outcome of today's game, the entire Holy Cross community is proud of you! Well done!

  3. What response is the HCGLC going to take to the recent non-decision handed down by the PL Presidents?

    When does the second phase of the write-in campaign to the BOT, regarding withholding future donations to the college, begin?

  4. I have exchanged e-mails with our AD and have a meeting tomorrow morning on campus on this very topic.

    I have already requested a statement indicating a 'commitment to excellence'.

    Will be interesting to see how DR responds. Will keep you posted.

    Larry Doyle '83
    Chair, HCGLC

  5. Larry,

    Any update that you can share at this time from your meeting?