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Bowdoin

Saturday, September 20, 2013: Middlebury at Bowdoin, 1pm

Middlebury’s 2013 season is hours away. Here is our Bowdoin team summary, two matchups to watch, and our key to the game:

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Griffin Cardew was the only NESCAC ‘backer with more tackles (97) than Middlebury’s Tim Patricia (85) last season.

2012 record: 1-7
2012 scoring offense: 11.0 ppg (10th)
2012 scoring defense: 22.5 ppg (7th)
Our 2013 projected record: 1-7 (win vs. Hamilton)

Griffin Cardew, Joe Cleary, and Brian Glazewski are three of the best linebackers in the league and are the best thing going for the Polar Bears. They combined for 195 tackles in 2012. The defensive line and secondary are not as strong. Offensively, running back Zach Donnarumma leads the way; he averaged 92 yards in the six games he played last year. Quarterback remains a question and an open competition, which suggests that nobody should inspire confidence, though a repeat of last year’s horrendous 3 touchdown, 19 interception passing game would be surprising. David Black is an elusive underneath receiver who is likely to lead the team in targets and receptions.

Matchup to watch: Tim Patricia vs. Zach Donnarumma
Last year’s NESCAC Rookie of the Year, Patricia, has a tough task before him in Donnarumma, a 5’9″ tailback who averaged 93 yards per game (3rd in the conference) last season. Patricia will take over a defense this season that misses former defensive cogs John Wiet and Keegan Ashley. Patricia should hope to keep Donnarumma around the 3.7 yards per carry he averaged last season, as Middlebury’s front seven will be focused on stopping the run. Expect safety Jared Onouye to join Patricia in the box early and often, daring Bowdoin to attack Middlebury’s unproven corners.

Matchup to watch: Bowdoin front seven vs. Middlebury offensive line
Mac Foote thrives when his receivers have time to reach the second level, and that was a luxury to which we were all accustomed last season. With the graduation of Ryan Moores, Harris Huguenard, and Ling Zhou, Middlebury’s offensive line is a major question mark and will be tested against Bowdoin. Griffin Cardew, Joe Cleary, Brian Glazewski, and Tom Wells are all high-caliber players who make Bowdoin’s front seven one of the best in the league. Their ability to stop the run and rush the passer will spell major problems for the Middlebury offense if the line play is mediocre. If Mac Foote has to make quick reads and utilize underneath routes, it might put the new wide receivers in a position that does not suit their strengths. If Bowdoin disrupts the offense at the line of scrimmage, Middlebury’s line play be one of the major concerns to watch all season.

Key to the game: Win the turnover battle
This is a game the Panthers should win, and comfortably. The offense is still one of the best in the league, and the defense should have another strong year. The recipe for the Polar Bears will be to fluster the offense by getting after the passer by bringing pressure and taking some chances in the defensive secondary, while maintaining possession on offense and wearing down the Middlebury defense with long, slow drives by featuring Donnarumma heavily. Foote needs to maintain composure and perspective if the offensive line struggles, or if the wide receivers are not on the same page with him early. Last year, Middlebury set the tone against Bowdoin with two first quarter interceptions, while a third quarter fumble was the only major blemish for the offense. If the defense shows up with the same ballhawking mentality as a year ago and Foote does not force the issue offensively, Middlebury should pull away by the second half.

Prediction: Middlebury 24, Bowdoin 7

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