Poor performances from the offense and special teams units were the biggest contributing factors to the painful loss to Columbia on Saturday in New York. The offensive line couldn’t open enough holes in the running game or protect Check long enough for him to make the correct read in the passing game. It wasn’t just the first year starters that struggled as Eiselen was caught holding and Strother was beat on the outside on a few plays. Lamar finished with 77 yards on 14 attempts, but 44 of those yards came on one play. Dudek and Alston ran for 35 yards and 17 yards respectively. Jimmy Check had a shaky start forcing Reno to experiment with Patrick Conte. Conte went 0 for 3, before Check reentered the game. Check did settle down eventually to make some nice throws, yet too many of his passes were forced into tight coverage or were simply too low for receivers to snag. Check never developed a real connection with Shohfi, while relying too heavily on Klubnik in the final minutes. Check’s interception to seal Columbia’s victory was thrown into double coverage on Klubnik with an open receiver running down the right side. The Bulldogs were shutout in the second half and Check still has not thrown for a touchdown to date.
Columbia’s two quarterbacks threw for 51 yards completing just 4 passes. TE Casey Mariucci found holes in our secondary to account for 50 of those passing yards and added a touchdown. Our tackling was subpar once again allowing Columbia’s Ryan Young to run for 91 yards and a touchdown. Deonte Henson had a nice game with 6 tackles and a tackle for a loss. The defensive line was solid for the most part with Matthaei leading the unit with 5 tackles. Freshman Isaiah Dunham made a few crucial tackles and looks like he could develop into a player like Hayden Carlson down the road.
If the special teams units had played well, we still likely could have pulled off a victory. That was clearly not the case with a punt blocked, a missed field goal, two illegal procedure penalties and zero punt return yards. The lack of punt returns placed us in awful field position making it even more difficult for our offense to put points on the board.