Jan. 30, 2012
Nine Innings with Neil McPhee
Nine Innings with
Innings with Kevin Leighton
By Phil Stanton
week, we are going to have head coaches from New York and Boston
give their thoughts on Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Giants
and the Patriots.
Today we start with Kevin Leighton, the
first-year head coach at Fordham. He was the head coach at
Manhattan for the past six seasons, posting at least 30
victories each year. In 2011, Leighton led the Jaspers to their
second MAAC Championship and second NCAA Regional appearance.
Manhattan was 34-19 overall and 20-2 in league play as Leighton
was named MAAC Coach of the Year. Leighton was 200-119-1 in his
six seasons with the Jaspers.
Leighton gives us his perspective on the NFC
Champion, the New York Giants.
First Inning – When the Redskins beat the
Giants 23-10 in Week 15, did you still think they had a chance
to reach the Super Bowl?
way! I remember watching that game and saying "These guys are
terrible!" I figured they would struggle having a stretch with
the 49ers, Eagles, Packers, and Saints, but the Redskins... Come
on, they lost both to them this year! It just goes to show that
some teams match up against you better than others. Sometimes it
takes a loss like that in week 15 to wake your guys up, but
teams respond differently to a loss like that, some wake up and
some roll over and die.
Second Inning – What makes the Giants so
successful on the road during the playoffs?
think in football it is different than baseball, I know the home
crowd is big, but in baseball you hit last. That would be like
guaranteeing that you have the ball last with two minutes to go
in football. I think they have embraced it. You hear them on TV
saying how they look forward to going into another team's
stadium and beating them. They have an attitude and confidence
which goes a long way, and they back it up. I also think
sometimes there are less distractions on the road. I know for me
I like knowing where our guys are and who they are with the
night before a game.
Third Inning – Would you take any other NFL
quarterback on your team ahead of Eli Manning?
is a tough one! I think right now there are some very good ones
out there. In my opinion Eli is a guy that you need to watch a
lot to get an idea of how good he is. He is the reason the
Giants are where they are now and he does it year in and year
out with what seems to be new guys at multiple positions every
year. I think that Eli deserves a lot of credit for the success
that Victor Cruz has had this year. He also does it quietly, and
always puts the team first. I guess my answer would be if I had
to draft a quarterback out of the quarterbacks in the NFL, I
probably wouldn't pick Eli because I do think there are more
talented guys out there. But after the season ends, I would
probably say I should have! The guy knows how to win!
Fourth Inning – What makes Tom Coughlin
successful as a head coach?
always thought that a coach’s job is to get the most out of
his/her players. A good coach knows his team's strengths but
more importantly knows his team's weaknesses. I think Coughlin
did that this year towards the end of the year. I also think
they finally got healthy which helped. What I really like about
Coughlin, though, is that he stays in the background and
acknowledges his team and coaches more than himself. Coughlin
knows his team and he knows himself. He enjoys the role of the
underdog and doesn't care if he is front page news or not. He is
honest and his players trust him and that is why I think he is
successful. It is funny, though, because a few weeks ago just
about every Giant fan was calling the radio talk shows saying to
fire him and now we all want to build him a statue! New York is
like that though, you can win the Super Bowl this year and if
you don't do it again next year it's time to go!
Fifth Inning – Who on your team would make the
best Giant, and what position would he play?
is another difficult question! I am still getting to know our
guys being that I am new here. I think that I would have to go
with Brian Kownacki, "The Fordham Flip." He is a freak athlete
and competitor. I think he would probably be either a cornerback
or a running back. I would say a wide receiver, but I think
being 6'0 he's too small at the pro level! He could probably be
a quarterback too! He runs, has a plus arm, and makes some of
the most athletic plays you will see. Close second would be a
freshman that we have, Dave Judisky. The kid is an animal and
would be a great linebacker! He's 6'3, 220 solid muscle, runs a
6.8 sixty... I would be afraid of him on a football field! Third
would be Ryan Maghini. I've seen him kick some long field goals,
and those kickers although they don't get much attention, are
Sixth Inning – Who is the biggest Giants fan
on your team/staff?
don't know this one for sure, but I do hear Dan Camano and Ryan
Phelan talk a lot about the Giants. I imagine I will find out
after this is released.
Seventh Inning – Which player from the
Patriots do you fear most?
think most would say Tom Brady, but the guy to me that the
Giants need to have circled is [Rob] Gronkowski. The guy has
been Brady's favorite target lately and leads the team in
touchdowns during the regular season and postseason. I think the
problem is that you have to cover [Wes] Welker, [Deion] Branch,
and Gronkowski and all three can beat you.
Eighth Inning – Why will the Giants win?
I am a
Giants fan, but I am not saying that they will win! Every game
they have played since the Redskins I have said that they will
probably lose, so I'm sticking to that! If they do win, it will
be because their front four will get pressure on Brady, and Eli
will be able to pick apart New England's defense.
Ninth Inning – What will the final score be?
Unfortunately, I would have to go with 31-20 New England. I hope
Extra Innings – What should we expect from the
Fordham Rams this season?
excited about this team. I think we have a good group of
returnees and some talented newcomers. No matter what, our guys
will battle, we will play the game hard, and we will try to
outwork the other team. You aren't always going to be more
talented, but you can outwork and hustle them, and sometimes
that's enough to beat them. Looking at some of the preseason
stuff that has come out I expect our guys will have a little
extra motivation. I can't wait to get going!
(photo courtesy of Fordham Media