Friday, August 25, 2006

My Take on the two-deep

Eight friggin' days away, and I very nearly can't stand it.

We are currently in that uncomfortable time when the team is just about to be unveiled, yet there's just so much that we don't... know. Will senior DT Royce Morgan work through his "personal and academic" issues? Who's going to step up on the "O" line? Who's returning kicks? So many questions, and I just don't have the answers just yet.

As we hit the last preseason two-a-days, we get this intriguing final report from Lehighsports.com showing some new faces to watch. Beleive you me when I say that my eyebrows were raised after reading the names.

One of those wide receivers Coen was speaking of is sophomore Mike Fitzgerald, who caught three touchdown passes in the scrimmage. “Mike is really ready to take off. He had been out a few days with an injury (prior) to the scrimmage, but he came back in a big way. He’s very shifty with his moves and we’re looking forward to what he can do for us this season.”

Following the scrimmage, he singled out sophomore Brian Jackson as a player to watch. “Brian has been making plays; it’s as simple as that. He’s been given an opportunity here in the preseason and I think he’s made the most of it.”

Another defensive player Coen spoke of is freshman linebacker Matt Cohen, who has quickly made a name for himself. “Matt’s another guy that due to injuries has been given a chance to play here in camp and has just gotten a ton of reps. He’s hung in there and really done a nice job. He’s had a nice first few weeks of practice.”

The backfield figures to be one of Lehigh’s strengths in 2006, and Coen was quick to point out that that group of seniors Marques Thompson and Greg Fay, junior John Piascik, and sophomores Matt McGowan, Josh Pastore and Adam Watson has been the most impressive of camp thus far. “We knew going in that this position would be strong, and these guys have lived up to that. With so much quality there, it makes for strong competition and should only help us during the season.”

First of all, that was not a typo. That was TWO sophomores and one FRESHMAN on the faces to watch. One, soph DL Brian Jackson, was nowhere near my radar, further causing me to cover my two-deep with even more black magic marker.

The frosh, LB Matt Cohen out of Allentown Catholic, is 6"1 and 200 lbs and was dominant at that level, but it has to be said it's a major surprise that he's in the mix.

Also, did anybody notice on the Lehigh roster that TE Pete Morelli is now an OL? (More black magic marker...)

With the conclusion of camp, my I-AA.org fan preview piece (part I) coming out very soon, and my vacation occurring now until next Wednesday when my preview of Lehigh/Albany gets posted), I thought I'd post my take on this year's two deep just so that the debate doesn't stop while I'm on vacation. Eight short days away.

QB: Sedale Threatt, Kevin Marshall
RB: Marques Thompson *or* Matt McGowan *or* Josh Pastore (rotated)
FB: Greg Fay, John Piascik
TE: Landon Maggs, Joe Sutherland
LT: Jimmy Kehs, Patrick Casey
LG: Jim Petrucelli, Colin Hewko
C: John Reese, Pete Morelli
RG: Kevin Bayani, Colin Hewko
RT: Jason Russell, Pete Morelli
WR1: Lee Thomas, Frank Trovato
WR2: Pete Donchez, Sekou Yansane
WR3: Mike Fitzgerald, Kevin Ackler

DE: Paul Fabre, Brian Jackson
DT: Royce Morgan, Paul Bode
NT: Erik Rakus, Ted Smith
LOLB: Bradley Thomas, Matt Cohen
MLB: Travis Stinson, Justin Weaver
MLB: Rusty Campion, Micah Greene
ROLB: Matt Mohler, Al Pierce
LCB: Brannan Thomas, Daynin Blake
SS: Courtney Elder, Brendan VanAckeren
FS: Julian Austin, Laquan Gasaway
RCB: Julian Ahye, Aaron Gilliard

P/K: John Leo
PR: Aaron Gilliard
KR: Richard Forman, Brian Tucker

See you Wednesday. Eight friggin' days.

Monday, August 21, 2006

More Clues from Saturday's Media Day

As we Lehigh fans get more clues on what our football team may be like in 2006, this picture to my left seems to show something: #11, senior ILB Travis Stinson, isn't fighting for a job - he's pencilled in. After the first scrimmage of 2006 this past weekend, some more answers... and more questions.

Announcing media day this year were three online articles, one from LehighSports.com, one from the Morning Call and one from the Express-Times. (There's a nice photo gallery as well from Media Day on the school website - but you may want to ask coach Coen why Kevin Ackler, Brannan Thomas, Greg Fay and Lee Thomas are *gasp* sitting down in their respective shots... a little winded, are we, from the picture-taking?)

Nothing really new enough to warrant a press mash-up, but there are some interesting developments to take note:

* The big bombshell from the Morning Call is that senior DT Royce Morgan is going through "personal and academic issues", and his status is uncertain. Of course we're all pulling for Royce to get through, but the prospect of having a 255 lb gap in the defensive line is one I'd rather not face. Coach Coen did single out DL Erik Rakus for praise, however, so it looks to me like he will get the nod at NT. His role will increase if Morgan is unable to play.

* Senior DB(/LB?) Rusty Campion appears to be impressing in camp, with a stint with the first-team offense on Saturday. Also catching coach Coen's eye are DBs Aaron Gilliard and Daynin Blake. It's got to be good news that we have plenty of depth throughout our secondary. I think Campion will be getting more looks through practice...

* The Morning Call said that senior CB Brannan Thomas was still recovering from a separated shoulder, but it sure didn't look like it from the media day photos....

* Junior OL Ben Caffery had a major knee injury, with early returns showing he could be out 4-6 weeks. A terrible blow to a good kid who was looking at a backup tackle role.

* Our three RBs - senior RB marques Thompson, sophomore RB Matt McGowan and junior RB Josh Pastore all look very good. I still think creative ways will need to be devised to get the ball in the hands of all three guys. All looked great Saturday from all reports.

* P/K Jason Leo is getting high marks both with a strong and accurate leg.

* Is "Air Lehigh" finished? There were no "wristbands" at practice with the complicated Lehigh aerial attack from years past. As of yet, there's no real "burner" on the edge like WR Gerran "G" Walker. Though I like the new emphasis on running, will the passing game be the same again?

I think the real unwritten story this offseason is that last point - the possibility that Air Lehigh will be grounded in 2006. Are we seeing a run-first mentality? No more hurry-up offense? No more complicated spread shotgun formations? All key questions in face of Lehigh's home opener September 2nd, now a scant 12 days away.
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