For Holy Cross sophomore quarterback Brian Hall, the decision made all the sense in the world. Hall, a Dallas native, was recruited by many Ivy League and Patriot League teams, as well as other schools with similar academic reputations. Despite Hall's plethora of options, there were a few unique things Holy Cross had to offer that made it stand above the competition. First, Hall felt a sense of familiarity with the Holy Cross program, and he already knew some of the players. Hall's high school coach was a Crusaders back in the late 1980s. Moreover, senior kicker/punter Frank Traupman, senior wide receiver Clayton Lemmer and junior running back James Conroy all attended Dallas Jesuit High School with Hall. More important than having a few friends in the football program, though, was the opportunity Hall had to change Holy Cross' offense for the better. And that's exactly what Hall has done. Before Hall came to Holy Cross, the Crusaders ran a wide open offense that passed the ball around 70 percent of the time. The addition of Hall -- a mobile quarterback who both runs and throws the ball effectively -- enabled Holy Cross coach Dan Allen to add the option to the Crusaders' offensive scheme. "Being a passing offense, we would basically live or die just by the pass," Hall said. "With the addition of the option, defenses now have another factor to prepare for." Now the Crusaders offense features a greater emphasis on the ground game. In the 2000 season, almost 65 percent of Holy Cross' plays from scrimmage have been runs. "They spread you out all over the place with their running game, and then they come in and do a nice job with four and five wide receiver sets and spread you out all over the place with the pass game," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. Since Hall took over the starting quarterback position in the eighth week of the 1999 season, Holy Cross' improvement has been impressive. Before Hall won the starting job, the Crusaders scored 109 points in seven games. In the last four games of the season started by Hall, the Crusaders scored 110 points. This season, Hall's offense has picked up where it left off, and it continues to average slightly over 27 points per game. With a 3-1 record, Holy Cross is off to its best start since 1991, when the Crusaders went undefeated and won the Patriot League championship. "Brian has improved every week he has started," Allen said. "He is poised and energetic, which are some of the intangibles you look for in a quarterback." Hall's greatest asset for the Holy Cross offense is the double threat that he presents. He has completed 55.2 percent of his passes and has a quarterback efficiency rating of 102.03. Hall also leads the Crusaders' ground attack with 291 yards rushing. Hall has enjoyed plenty of success in the red zone, scoring a touchdown in each of his first seven starts at quarterback. "A lot of defenses stack the outside to stop the option and make me pitch the ball a little more," Hall said. Penn, however, plans to stick to its regular defensive scheme and focus on improving fundamentals instead. "Last year, we seemed to change with the opponent we were playing," Penn linebacker Travis Belden said. "This year we're pretty much sticking with our basics.... Everyone has got a certain thing they have to do on every play." The Quakers may not be altering their defensive scheme to fit Holy Cross' offense, but they have no option but to focus on a quarterback like Hall.Comments powered by Disqus
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