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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton Football: What it would take to win

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The leaves have all fallen off the trees, and the Carleton campus is giddy for winter break. At the same time, we are officially in the midst of one of the best times of the year for sports. The NFL’s ratings are at an all time high, Division I college football is gearing up for the playoff push, the NBA is back in full force, and Carleton Men’s Football is 1-7. All feels right with the world. It is sad that coming to Carleton there are two guarantees: a great education and awful football. Now, before I get too far into this article, let me say that the players work really hard and should be commended for their effort. They are put in a situation where the MIAC is an incredibly tough conference. The Tommies and Johnnies are powerhouses and are two of the best in all of Division III. How are we supposed to compete with them when they have bigger, faster and more athletic recruits? We simply can’t. Carleton does not recruit well enough, have a rich tradition or have a bright future. So do we need a Football team on campus? Or do they just need to change their style of play?

The Football team, like other teams, is unique and a special brotherhood on campus. Along with the soccer team, they are the perpetra- tors of the repetitive House parties, and they can often be seen walking in packs wearing the same Carleton football sweatpants and hoodies. I could say they are a frat–they are.

However, I want to focus on their on field play. Since 2010, their record is 16-34, a winning percentage of 32%. If it weren’t for 2013 and 2008, this team would have finished under .500 fifteen years in a row. This is one of the worst stretches in Carleton athletic history. Looking back further, over the 2000s this team was lucky to scrap out 3 wins. There is a tradition of losing, but let me propose two radically different solutions:

1. Get rid of the Football team. Sorry guys, but results matter. Start competing at a higher level by recruiting harder, or what’s the point? Cut the cord, quick and painless. Or…

2. Change the system. I have watched the game tape for the last five football games and every single time I am amazed at the lack of presence the coaching staff has for the offense. This offense runs out of the play-making abilities of Zach Creighton, Chris Maddon and Andy Gustafson. But the Offensive line could use work. Running the ball out of the spread or taking the ball out of the shotgun is only as effective as the O-line’s ability to block. More quick screens, shorter routes and quarterback sneaks when pressure is felt would solve this issue. This will open up the running game and give a hint of the non-existent deep ball. Moreover, moving Maddon out to the wide receiver position is a waste of talent. His impact has been greatly diminished and during the game he can only hope to catch a couple screen passes over the middle and pray his head doesn’t get hit off. So, shift Maddon into the backfield and use Gustafson as a halfback or a change of pace back. This is the only way the offense could open up.

On the other hand, the defense is the main problem. The D-line is a mess. And the corners are regularly burned. The sole bright spot might be the linebacking core, who seem to be in the thick of things on just about every play. But, if the D-Line gets no pressure on the quarterback, the whole defense is going to fail. I could write for days about the Defense’s lack of ability, but it simply comes down to their lack of size, athleticism and the sheer size of opponents. We need bigger and faster players to compete; it’s that simple.

I don’t want to see Carleton football go away, and it probably won’t. But I will forever question their style of play and recruiting. We are a school that is not built to be a powerhouse, but we can at least try to compete by playing smarter and with more speed. We are trying to play like the Tommies and Johnnies, and that will fail every time; just look at our record. For any future success we need to recruit faster players and run a dynamic, quick-hitting offense. Maybe then Carleton football will be known for more than Dixon.

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