Saturday, September 25, 2004

God's way of editing

UGH. I lost my huge post to the big blogger in the sky (or, as I like to put it, God's way of editing down the size of my posts). I'm going to have to give a condensed version of that (now lost) post with all my picks for the week.

In the Patriot League:
Duquesne at Fordham. Can Duquesne make it 3-0 versus the Patriot League (after beating Holy Cross and Georgetown)? Three times is not the charm. Fordham 20, Duquesne 14.

Georgetown at Colgate. Hoyas keep it surprisingly close, but Raiders ultimately win. Colgate 24, G'town 16.

Lafayette at Richmond. A shocker, with Richmond letting down and Lafayette bouncing back, but Richmond still pulls it out. Richmond 23, Lafayette 22.

Columbia at Bucknell. A close defensive game that Bucknell pulls out. Bucknell 17, Columbia 14.

In the Top 25:
UNH at Dartmouth. Shocker of the week. I don't think UNH will be able to keep up with Dartmouth's passing attack. Big Green outduels an exposed UNH in pass-happy game. Dartmouth 44, UNH 34.

James Madison at 1-A West Virgina. Memo to A-10: Rutgers and Mississippi St. are not national championship contenders. West Virginia is. WVa 63, JMU 9.

Furman at 1-A Pittsburgh. Furman keeps them close for 3 quarters, but Pitt pulls away in the end.. as long as they hold onto the ball. Pitt 31, Furman 21.

Delaware at UMass. A classic "battle of the desperate teams", UMass has more to lose by going 0-2 in divisional play than Delware does by losing to 2 ranked teams in September. That, and the fact that they have their new coach finally on the sideline, and they're at home. UMass 21, Delaware 20.

Montana St. at 1-A Colorado St. Tempting to take the upset, but the Bobcats haven't proven they can score points consistently. CSU 28, MSU 7.

Northern Colorado at Montana. NCU has played Maine, Idaho St., and now Montana in consecutive weeks. Picture that trio of games in November instead of Spetember! Montana looks for someone to pound after losing to Sam Houston St. last week, and NCU fits the bill. Montana 34, NCU 0.

Hampton at Morgan St. (in E. Rutherford, NJ). The Urban League Classic now features #20 ranked Hampton playing Morgan St. Can Morgan St. keep it close? I'll do one better and predict a Morgan St. victory. Hampton was helped immensely by 7 turnovers in their win against ranked Western Illinois last week, and I think the Pirates lose in a shootout. Morgan St. 45, Hampton 34.

Appalachian St. at Northwestern St. A battle that could mean an at-large playoff invite for the winner down the road. Both teams have great defenses. I thing NW St. gets one more turnover, and win the game at home. NW St. 13, App. St. 6.

Northeastern at Towson. I don't see this one being competitive under the lights in Baltimore. N'Eastern 35, Towson 3.

Sam Houston St. at SE Louisiana. I predict over 800 yards of passing for these gunning teams, and I predict SE Louisiana will capture their second scalp over a ranked opponent this year at home. SE Louisiana 41, Sam Houston St. 32.

Villanova at Penn. Most experts call this a laugher in favor of Villanova. Oh, how wrong they are. Penn will painfully make this clear tonight. Penn 24, Villanova 3.

Southern Utah at Stephen F. Austin. This game would be interesting in different circumstances, but with SUU playing their thrid straight tough road game, I don't see it today. SFA 31, SUU 14.

McNeese St. at Portland St. Another hunch: Portland St.'s balanced attack will cause McNeese St.'s defense problems, as they pull off an "upset". PSU 27, McNeese St. 14.

Final notes:
* On CN8 today there is a real feast of 1-AA football in the NJ/Philadelphia area, with Delaware/UMass at 1PM and Villanova/Penn at 6PM. If you have picture-in-picture, you can also put the Penn St./Wisconsin game on too - in the *smaller* screen, of course.
* It's a shame the Western Kentucky/Florida International (1-A) game was postponed due to the impending hurrincane (again) in Florida. It would have certainly been another 1-AA win over a 1-A. (Fat chance of it getting rescheduled.)

(One bonus pick: Wisconsin 27, Penn St. 14.)

Next week: Letters; Stories; Lehigh vs. Albany at home

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Press; Game balls: Rankings

Flame Extinguishers
Lots to report form the press. Not only do we have many game writeups, but we also have FS Kaloma Cardwell, who was selected as Patriot League co-Defensive player of the week.
Cardwell captures Patriot League Honors
Morning Call:
Rath Rumbles in Lehigh Victory
Steady Improvement has Lehigh feeling its oats
Rath, Borda lift #24 Lehigh

Your quotes:
"After an especially impressive performance at Liberty on Saturday, Lehigh junior captain Kaloma Cardwell has been named the Patriot League’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week. In the 18-point victory, Cardwell recorded ten tackles (three solo), including one for a loss. Equally as important, Cardwell picked off two Flames’ passes – returning one 31 yards for his first collegiate touchdown. "

''We have what I think is the best offensive line in the Patriot League, if not the nation,'' Rath said. ''They do a great job of dominating people up there, and we're getting great looks in the backfield.''

[Eric, I hope you're right about the 'O' Line. I think they did a great job last week. But, best in the nation?]

"With a bye week next to work on a few of the early miscues that mired Lehigh in a 6-0 hole deep into the second quarter at Liberty, coach Pete Lembo seemed certain his club was ready for the heart of its schedule."

''In the first half, it was a physical wash,'' Lehigh coach Pete Lembo said. ''But in the second half, there was a point where we took it to them physically. We haven't done that often. I was very proud of the physical effort, and I thought there were times when we were efficient, too.''

"Our guys are on board," Lehigh coach Pete Lembo said. "I really liked our effort out here tonight. We still have plenty of room to get better, but I thought we played well."

''We got better from Week 1 to Week 2, and we definitely got better from Week 2 to Week 3,'' Lembo said. ''The effort has been tremendous.''

''We had a great week of practice, and we're getting better,'' Borda said. ''Still, we're not anywhere near where we're going to be. It's good to have a bye week coming up so we can heal up and correct some of our errors.''

[Music to my ears.]

"Just as refreshing for Lehigh fans would have been the sight and sounds of defensive coordinator Shaun Morrison screaming in the coaches' box late in the fourth quarter Saturday night.Even with victory assured, Morrison wanted more from his players, a tell-tale sign that the defensive passion of the Tom Gilmore Era didn't depart with the new Holy Cross head coach.'"

'We can improve,'' Cardwell promised. ''We've seen it on film after the first two weeks and we'll see more during the bye week.We're not satisfied at all. Sometimes we just need to get the anxiety out, calm the nerves, and play within ourselves.''

'After a jittery opening-day win over Stony Brook and a disappointing loss to Villanova, Lehigh fans can also calm down for a while and settle in for the long ride ahead.'

[This quote seems directed at my blog comments - but I agree. I'm pretty optimistic about the games ahead. Hope the rest of Lehigh Nation feels the same way.]

Game Balls
This week, the game balls go out to:
Junior QB Mark Borda (20-27 passing, 2 TDs)
Sophomore RB Eric Rath (144 yards rushing, 1 TD)
Senior TE Adam Bergen (6 receptions, 48 yds, 1 TD)
The entire 'O' Line: (for dominating Liberty physically)
Sophomore RT Jason Russell
Senior RG Jason Morrell
Sophomore C John Reese
Junior LG Adam Selmasska
Senior LT Justin Terry
Senior CB Neal Boozer-Gallman (12 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT)
Junior CB Andrew Nelson (10 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 forced fumble & recovery)
Junior FS Kaloma Cardwell (10 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 returned for a TD)
Senior DE Tom Alfsen (4 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks)

An honorable mention also has to go out to a couple backups who did a great job in the game: sophomore DT Tyrell Jenkins (with 1/2 a sack), and freshman Richard Forman, listed as a RB but playing at DB (7 tackles, including a sack!).

Congratulations all!

Lehigh Football Nation was bitterly disappointed to see that Lehigh actually went DOWN in the rankings in The Sports Network down to #25. They remain in the Top 25 at the #25 spot:

Sports Network (#25)
ESPN/USA Today (#25)
Any Given Saturday (#21)

My biggest beef with the so-called experts in the polls involves putting previously unranked teams above Lehigh for upsetting "better" competition. Hampton at #20 for beating Western Illinois at home? Sam Houston St. at #24 for beating Montana at home? Understood, these are fine wins. But Hampton has beaten Jackson St., a horrible SWAC team, and Howard, a bad MEAC squad. Sam Houston has lost to SMS, a middling Gateway team, and pounded a Division III school called Ouichida Baptist. And somehow Penn moves up a couple spots for pounding San Diego, a school that had its hands full with Holy Cross?

And while I'm on a tirade, how can UMass, Villanova, and New Hampshire only lose 5 or 6 spots for losing at home to, at best, middle-of-the-road A-10 teams?

It's a good thing it's a bye week. I can calm down by the time we play Albany!

I'll check in later this week with my picks of the weekend.
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