Updated 10/8 at 11:30 a.m.
The football team’s offense has struggled mightily thus far in 2013, and Saturday’s 53-7 loss to Princeton was no exception.
Columbia (0-3, 0-1 Ivy) never even came close to getting into a groove against the Tigers (2-1, 1-0 Ivy), and most of the numbers from the game are truly dismal. Princeton had 32 first downs to Columbia’s five, ran 92 plays to Columbia’s 49, and outrushed the Lions 315 to -6.
The Lions tried to get things going in a variety of ways—including by benching their quarterback. When first-year Kelly Hilinski came in for sophomore Trevor McDonagh with 10:03 to play in the second quarter, it marked the Lions’ second quarterback switch in three games, showing that head coach Pete Mangurian is not going to hold back from making big changes.
“We’re not standing pat,” Mangurian said. “This is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable for our football team, it’s unacceptable for our university, it’s unacceptable for the alumni. It’s unacceptable for all of us.”
After throwing for 108 yards with an interception and taking six sacks against Monmouth in his first career start, McDonagh had another rough outing at Princeton. Before getting pulled from the game, McDonagh completed just four of nine pass attempts for a total of 10 yards.
“It was time,” Mangurian said of the decision to put Hilinski into the game. “It didn’t work for him [McDonagh] last week very well, and it really didn’t work very well for him at the beginning of this.”
“I’m not gonna wait ’til week eight or week nine to say we should have done this or we should have done that,” Mangurian added.
Hilinski did not exactly star in his first-ever collegiate action, but he did show some potential, completing 10 of 21 passes for 132 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He was also sacked three times.
“I thought that towards the end you saw some of the things that Kelly’s capable of doing,” Mangurian said. “And that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a spark. We’re looking for something to get us going.”
If he ends up being given the keys to the Light Blue offense next week, Hilinski will have to figure out how to make the most of a somewhat depleted receiving corps. Sophomores Chris Connors and Isaiah Gross, who both turned some heads as first-years, have yet to play in 2013. The current group of receivers has had difficulty getting open and problems with dropped balls thus far in 2013. But Mangurian is not yet ready to commit to the first-year signal caller.
“We’ll go back and evaluate the film and decide whether it’s a permanent change,” he said.
The uncertainty at quarterback is emblematic of the collective shakiness the team displayed on Saturday. There are a lot of question marks for the Lions, and according to Mangurian, Columbia will not shy away from toying with its rotations until something clicks.
“I’m not gonna sit here and just dangle on the fence,” Mangurian said. “We’re going to make changes and continue to change and move and evolve. So if we are going to go through this kind of slump, we’re gonna come out of it better on the other side.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Hilinski entered the game in the first rather than the second quarter. Spectator regrets the error.