Friday, August 18, 2006

Saturday: Lehigh Media Day

As we approach "the most wonderful time of the year" (football season), our beloved Mountain Hawks are now entering their second week of practice. Lehigh's official website has announced on LehighSports.Com that Lehigh Media Day will be held at 10:00AM at Goodman this Saturday. Team pictures will be taken, and coaches will grant interviews with the local media until around 11:00AM. After lunch, the Mountain Hawks will scrimmage at Murray Goodman at 2:30PM for their regular summer practice.

I'll be unable to go (due to other commitments), but I'll be eager to hear the report from not only the local media but any fans who wish to give reports on what they see.

Now's a good a time as any to report what I've noticed so far in practice, from folks I've talked to and what I've researched so far.

  • Our "Class of 2010" got a little smaller as one OL (I can't remember his name) was removed from the list. It shouldn't be a huge issue for this year, but next year I'm hoping to be a great year recruiting OL.
  • On the positive side, notice sophomore OLs Kevin Bayani and Patrick Casey are now listed at 300 lbs, joining penciled-in starter Jimmy Kehs as the big guys on the line. It will be very interesting to see if one, or both, will be starting on what could potentially be the biggest "O" line in the PL.
  • DT Royce Morgan? Don't worry, he's there. There was some concern that he wasn't going to be playing this year (mostly from his accidental omission in the media guide), but he's penciled-in as well at DT.
  • Coach Coen singled out the freshman linebacking corps of Matt Cohen, Al Pierce, and Heath Brickner for praise, complicating an already-crowded race for linebacking spots. Aside from senior OLB Matt Mohler - a lock for starting - anything could happen on the LB depth chart. The big question - is senior ILB Travis Stinson's job safe?
  • Could RB Marques Thompson see some time at WR, with RBs Matt McGowan and Kent State traansfer RB Josh Pastore looking for touches? Not to mention FB Greg Fay as well. Seems pretty plausible... And don't forget scatback RB Richard Forman either. There are a lot of good RBs in camp dying for touches.
  • OK, you knew that junior QB Sedale Threatt was the starter. But tell me that seeing his stats on the roster at 6'3 210lbs didn't make you smile. Maybe Sedale will earn that nickname "The Total Package" before all is said and done... especially if that "O" line will be as big as I think it is.
  • Sedale can talk. If you haven't heard a portion of my interview with him on I-AA Waves on 8/8, please go download it now. I can't wait to get him in another interview, hopefully.
  • Everyone I've talked to, to a person, has talked about how excited they are about *practice*. Players, coaches, staff - they feel real excitement coming into the fall.

There will be more this coming week in this space on the last week of practice. If you can, attend Lehigh's media day!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

PL Interviews: Dick Biddle

You may have heard some of my audio interviews on Patriot League Media Day on I-AA Waves the past two weeks, including the opening statements by executive director Carolyn Femovich, some Patriot League players, and some truncated interviews. I had many more but the quality of the audio was not good enough for broadcast. (Colgate QB Mike Saraceno's and DB Geoff Bean's interviews, for example, were unsalvageable.)

I'm going through them again and will be posting transcripted highlights here. Even though this *is* Lehigh Football Nation, I figure that Lehigh fans would be quite happy to read about the goings-on with other teams in our league. The first transcript will be Dick Biddle, Colgate's head coach from the past eleven years. I thought this peek into his views on his team, his coaching style and Colgate were a nice peek into a program that maybe doesn't get the proper respect from the traditional media - but should.

Tonight I'll be talking about Patriot League Media Day more in-depth on I-AA waves, so be sure to tune in at 9PM EDT tonight. (No word if I'm going to talk about this nearly 10-year old picture of coach Biddle shown above.) And for the next few weeks, stop by for more Lehigh news, and more exclusive Patriot League content!

Here's my interview:

CB: Tell us a little bit about Colgate University.

DB: Colgate is a very good academic school located in central New York in the town of Hamilton.. it's a very pretty school, very prestigious academically, one of the top twenty liberal arts schools in the country. It's a school of about 2800 students, probably one of the smallest schools in the country to play I-AA football. We've also been very successful in this division. It's the type of school that gives you a great education at the same time as a great football experience.

CB: This will be your eleventh season as Colgate head coach. What should a student-athlete get out of a four-year experience as a Colgate football player?

DB: First, they get a great education that will put them in good stead for whatever they want to do in life. Graduates of Colgate go on to work in business school, medical school, the best grad schools in the country, and some of the best careers. Our athlete graduation rate is one of the best in the country, close to 90%. We're always in the top 10% APR nationally. I think what distinguishes Colgate is you get that type of education, but you're also going to play at a very competitive, very traditional, and very successful football program. We try to stretch students both athletically and academically. Some schools can give you the academics; some schools can slack off on the academics and give you the football experience; I think that Colgate gives you the best of both worlds. You can take football to the highest level of our division, but you also get the education. We've played for a national championship, which is the equivalent of our "Super Bowl" - we've taken it as far as you can go.

CB: What is your coaching style?

DB: I've got very good assistants, a defensive coordinator that's been with me a long time. I let the coaches coach. I think I'm hands-on in a lot of areas and hands-off in others. My job is to get the personnel in the right place, deal with those types of problems, and I also do some assistant coaching of defense a little bit. Basically, my job and what I try to do is to be as best prepared as possible to games. I don't know if I'm a players' coach, but I want to win. There are certain things that I'm demanding about, and other things I'm less demading on, but I want to win very badly. The difference is I think I do understand some of the things that kids will experience at Colgate. You need good players to win - don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. I think that's one thing I've realized.

CB: What games do you circle on the calendar?

DB: I think they're all key games, but I think our first opening game versus UMass is a key game. They're a very good team, and they're in a great football league (the A-10). This is the fourth year in a row that we've played them and we've got a good rivalry going. Last year we were fortunate to upset them at our place, and I'm sure they're pointing to us. I try to focus on our "next game" as being our most important game since every game counts whether it's a league game or a game which you may need to win (if you don't win your league) to get into the playoffs. I try to break the season into our opening game is a big game for us, a week off, and then we get into our regular season of 10 straight games.

CB: What do you think are the strengths of your offense and defense this year?

DB: I think the strength of our offense will be a couple of players in our skill areas... and I think we're in pretty good upfront, so I think we'll be in good shape offensively. Defensively, we're very good in the secondary, but our front seven needs to be rebuilt. We've been pretty good on defense but we've lost a lot to graduation, so we're going to have to start some young guys -- that's a big concern of mine. I think we'll be OK offensively, but we'll have to get our defense up to speed. I think maybe we'll be a team that may struggle early in the year, but will get better as the year goes on.

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