Saturday, April 30, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Coach Shannon Morrison Leaves to Join Marshall Staff

Breaking News: Defensive coordinator Shannon Morrison has left Lehigh to coach linebackers at his alma mater, Marshall University. This means Lehigh will be starting the 2005 season with their 3rd defensive coordinator in 3 years. Tom Gilmore left after the 2003 season to take Holy Cross' head coaching position, bringing secondary coach Issac Collins (now at Delaware) with him. Lehigh may also be looking for a linebackers' coach, as coach Morrison held that position as well.

How did this happen? Marshall University appears to have cleaned house regarding their coaches pending their entry into Conference USA in football. To that end, they brought in a new head coach, Mark Snyder. Morrison was one of the sought-after names that Snyder wanted to sign to fill out his staff. Given an opportunity to return to the I-A program where he played as an undergraduate, I'm guessing, was too good an opportunity for coach Morrison to pass up.

It will be interesting to see who will fill Morrison's shoes. As Lehigh has become a nationally recognized I-AA school, annually there has been lots of turnover on the coaching staff, so at some level I've come to expect it. However, as a Lehigh fan I am not looking forward to seeing my 3rd new defense in 3 years. I was very much looking forward to the players becoming more comfortable in Year 2 under Morrison, and now when camp opens there will one more new name running the defense. I'm eager to see who that guy will be.

Official Release from Marshall University
Herald-Dispatch: Snyder Closing in on Staff Decisions

New coaching faces include a familiar one in Shannon Morrison. The former Thundering Herd defensive back (1991-94) most recently served as defensive coordinator at NCAA Division I-AA power Lehigh.

Shannon Morrison returns to Marshall as the linebackers coach. The four-time (1991-94) letterwinner in Marshall's secondary was an all-Southern Conference and honorable mention all-America selection in 1994 and is still sixth on the school's all-time interceptions list with 11. Morrison, who served as a graduate assistant coach at Marshall following his graduation (1995), spent last season as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Lehigh after three seasons as defensive coordinator at Southeast Missouri State University.

Coach Snyder on Shannon Morrison: "Shannon Morrison played for Mark Gale and now takes over Mark's coaching position on the field. I think it's important to bring back people who did great things here at Marshall. He's a native West Virginian who went out and made a name for himself as a young coach on the rise and we're excited to bring him back."

May is ALS Awareness Month

ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Recently, Lehigh football alumnus Brett Snyder '00 was diagnosed with this disease, and I wanted to set up my blog to raise awareness for finding a cure for ALS. As May is ALS Awareness month, I thought, what better time?

Clicking the banner on top of my blog will take you to http://www.alsa.org, the ALS Association website, where you can contribute to finding a cure, or just learn more about the progress against ALS as a disease.

Through the ALSA webpage there are specialty events for fundraising and lots of other information. If you'd like to know more I'd encourage you to click the banner above and go there.

If you'd like to contribute directly to Brett, I beleive it is still possible to send money directly through the Lehigh athletic department. Be sure to make the checks out to "Brett Snyder" and mail them to:

Lehigh Football Office
ATTN: Brett Snyder
Taylor Gymnasium
641 Taylor Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015

From there, they will be forwarded on to Brett. If you want, add an extra .01 to show that your decision to help came from here.

(FYI, as a disclaimer, I don't know the Snyder family or Brett personally. I was just touched by his story, and I would like to do what I can to help.)

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Senior RB Eric Rath at Spring Practice Posted by Hello

Junior WR Grant Hartman at Spring Practice Posted by Hello

Lefty QB Kevin Marshall at Spring Practice Posted by Hello

Mark Borda at Spring Practice Posted by Hello

New Spring Practice Photos!


These are photos, courtesy of Blake Neiman of the the Brown & White, of spring practice. (Thanks colgate13, for spurring me on to get photo upload set up! Can't have the new upstart Colgate blog look better than mine, you know... :) ) Posted by Hello

White 23, Brown 9

The long-awaited update of Lehigh's spring game is finally here - in-between my blog "makeover" and the whirlwind of activity surrounding the NFL draft.

Last Saturday, Lehigh's offense beat Lehigh's defense 23-9 in the annual Brown/White game. It wasn't exactly easy to find the boxscore of the game, and it will probably be disappearing from the Express-Times archives soon, so courtesy of the Express-Times, here is the boxscore of the game:

Brown 2 5 1 1--9
White 6 4 6 7--23

First quarter
B -- Defensive stop without first down (2 points)
W -- FG Justin Musiek 23
W -- FG Musiek 26

Second quarter
W -- Offensive first down (1 point)
B -- Eric Rath tackled in end zone by Micah Greene, safety (2 points)
B -- Defensive stop (1 point)
W -- FG Musiek 39
B -- Defensive stop without first down (2 points)

Third quarter
W -- FG Tom Viscuso 19
W -- FG Musiek 36
B -- Defensive stop (1 point)

Fourth quarter
B -- Defensive stop (1 point)
W -- Bilal Morris 21 pass from Sedale Threatt (Musiek kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING -- Rich Forman 2-13, Rath 6-10, Matt McGowan 3-6, Frank Trovato 1-2, Ryan Copacia 3-2, Mike Probst 1-0, Mark Borda 3- (minus) 2, Marques Thompson 4- (minus) 2.

PASSING -- Borda 11-15-0 for 147, Threatt 4-7-0 for 46, Probst 3-8-0 for 56, Kevin Marshall 2-7-0 for 18.

RECEIVING -- Rath 4-37, Kevin Zebluim 3-56, Winfred Porter 3-48, Lee Thomas 3-31, Morris 2-26, Gerran Walker 1-28, Adam Kovacs 1-16, Pete Donchez 1-13, Trovato 1-11, Grant Hartman 1-9.

MISSED FIELD GOALS -- Viscuso, third quarter, 36 yards, wide left.

Here's the links to the sundry game previews and summaries on the web:

Offical Lehigh website:
Offense outscores Defense in Annual Spring Game

Morning Call:
Mother Nature Gives PL champs a Break

Express-Times:
Facing the Musiek Could Be a Good Thing
Captains: Graziani, Borda, Selmasska, Cardwell

Brown & White:
Spring Game Showcase for Unproven

My summation of the spring season will come later today, or tomorrow. In the meantime, here's your spring game digest:

On Borda: “Among all the very good things he did last year, the areas that he needed to improve upon, and continues to need to improve upon, is the ability to get rid of the ball on time, and also to progress his reads in the passing game from primary to secondary and even beyond that receivers in the pattern,” Lembo said. “I think he’s done a much better job doing that this spring and I think he’ll continue to improve on both areas.”

At one point, Lehigh rising senior quarterback Mark Borda connected on a pretty 31-yard touchdown strike to classmate Winfred Porter, who has impressed the coaching staff throughout the spring.

Borda summed up the offense’s overall performance on Saturday: “We have the opportunity to be good,” he said, “but we know we’re going to have to work hard over the summer in order to take advantage and be successful.... 'We did OK, but I'm not ecstatic because we should have put the ball in the end zone a little more.''

Team Captains: Borda, along with linebacker Anthony Graziani, offensive lineman Adam Selmasska, and defensive back Kaloma Cardwell are the team’s captains for the 2005 season. All are seniors in 2005, and for Cardwell, this season will mark his second straight as a team captain.

''It's a terrific honor given to me by the team,'' Borda said of his captaincy. ''I'm expected to lead by example every day. I'm ready to take that on.''

"It's a real honor," Graziani said Saturday after making an interception in a warmup drill and then making the second tackle in the team's annual Brown and White spring football game. "Ever since I got hurt in the freshman year, I had to plan to come back for a fifth year. It's nice to be back here as captain."

On the kicking game: "[Kicker] Matt [McNeils] left school in the middle of this semester, for personal reasons," Lehigh coach Pete Lembo said. "It was disappointing for me. I just don't feel like he jumped in with both feet at Lehigh, both academically and socially."

'I felt comfortable today and have all spring,'' the Hanover, N.H., native and Rutgers transfer said. ''A lot of it is mental. Being a transfer, I was a little shaky coming in last year. Now I'm comfortable with the guys, the city, everything else. Having [McNelis] around was added pressure. It's nice to know I don't have to look over my shoulder.''

''I was extremely pleased how Justin kicked under pressure today,'' Lembo said. ''When you look back at last season that was an area where we probably had our greatest inconsistency. It's amazing we were able to win a league championship considering how inconsistent we were. It was nice to see him come out and have success under pressure."

While all three facets of the game looked good, the general consensus is that there is plenty of room for improvement before September rolls around and the Mountain Hawks begin defense of their Patriot League crown. Lembo is confident, however, that the team will work hard over the summer to be ready when preseason practice begins.

''You got to see glimpses of some of the team's strengths,'' Lembo said. ''Zebluim, Thomas and [sophomore and Becahi grad] Pete Donchez played well among as did several others. Receivers are a definite area of strength.''

“Winfred [Porter] has had a good spring,” Lembo said. “He has improved from a consistency standpoint and we have seen glimpses of what he can do. The receiver position is an area of strength on our team.”

On the negative side, Lehigh never generated a running game. Sophomore Rich Forman's 10-yard run on the second series came on a rare opening.

''The offensive line is typically the last part of a team that jells,'' Lembo said. ''I believe in our guys up front. They need to work hard in the summer and get better.''

Lembo said he is interested to see offensive linemen junior Tom Toth, sophomore Jason Russell and freshman Jimmy Kehs battle against sophomore defensive ends Matt Mohler, Paul Fabre and Terrell Jenkins. He said the defensive ends have a big task ahead of them if they hope to replace Alfsen and Lawrence, but that they have the talent to do so.

“Tell you what, those are some big shoes to fill,” Lembo said. “Those are two guys that played a lot of downs for us and played with some great intensity and emotion. I feel good that [Mohler, Fabre and Jenkins] as well as some younger guys, Mike Murawinski and Joel Kriss, have a lot of ability and now it’s a matter of gaining experience and playing with more confidence. We hope they continue in the right direction.”

“This is a low-maintenance group that likes being around each other,” he explained. “The key for us is to develop some guys up front [on the offensive and defensive lines], remain humble, and continue to work to get better.”

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Whirlwind Day for Bergen; Signs with Cardinals as FA

A harrowing day for Adam Bergen. After going through the entire draft without getting picked, on I-AA.org it has been reported that Adam Bergen has signed with the Arizona Cardinals. After a draft day which was oddly light in the number of I-AA players picked, Bergen's falling through the draft came as a surprise to quite a few draft-day analysts. Many had him as a top-10 TE.

(UPDATED with new Arizona TE information and links to Morning Call, Express-Times articles.)

I can only imagine what it was like for the Bergen family at home. According to this Morning Call article, Adam planned to watch the draft with his family and close friends "like he does every year". I can safely say there were a lot of folks, I-AA fans and Lehigh fans, that were also watching the draft pulling for him from their corners of the world as well.

The Cardinals, a team that apparently has had one of the best drafts in 2005, still had TE listed as a "need area" after their great draft. The Cards didn't draft a TE.

Looking down their 2004 roster, it looks like Adam is going into a good situation to challenge for playing time as a pass-catching TE. Their starting TE last year, Freddie Jones, is a free agent, and looks likely to move to another team. Their 2 remainng TE last year had 8 *total* receptions last year. I am not the biggest draftnik in the world - nor the biggest pro football fan you've ever seen - but to this untrained eye it looks like Bergen will have a chance to compete on this Cardinal team.

Congratulations, Adam. You have your shot - a very good one, in my mind - at the NFL. The Cardinals gained another fan today - and undoubtedly many others in the Lehigh Valley.

From the media writeups on Bergen's signing:
Express-Times: Bergen Accepts Cardinals' Offer
Morning Call: Bergen Catches On with Cards

Here's your Adam Bergen digest for the day:

Even though Lehigh's All-American tight end didn't get drafted Saturday or Sunday, he agreed to a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals shortly after the completion of the draft.

''Actually, we were talking with Arizona during the final hour of the draft,'' Bergen said from his Long Island home. ''You can say the day was a little disappointing, but it ended well and I will get my chance. I thought I would be drafted, but I am signing with the team that I thought would be taking me all along.''

''There was never a realization that I wasn't going to get drafted because I always thought I was,'' Bergen said. ''I'm not sure what happened. It was disappointing, but Arizona is a great fit.''

"Basically," he said, "it gave me a reason to just go out there and work harder. I still think I can play in this league."

''I'm not sure what their situation is at tight end; I think they just have a bunch of free agents,'' he said. ''I'm not sure when I'll be reporting, but I can't wait.''

"I think the Cardinals will give me a fair shot," he said. "That's all I want."
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