Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lehigh 38, Bucknell 7, Final

Now this is the way you want to go into a huge game next week. We survive, and move on to another huge game at Worcester, Mass.

Tomorrow I'll be looking at the tape of the game, but I heard the recap on the radio today after I witnessed Princeton win a thrilling 31-28 win over Harvard. Things look like they may just be starting to come together on offense at the right time. What I liked best was the team stats: 0 turnovers, +3 on turnovers overall, 5-for-5 in the Red Zone, and (my favorite) 8 for 13 on 3rd-down conversions. Fewer mistakes and giveaways. All music to my ears.

Marques Thompson's nice game was great to see, as was Sedale Threatt's solid game, but I really was glad to see sophomore WR Sekou Yansane get involved in the game with 5 receptions and a TD. All short plays, and a heady grab on his TD. If he emerges as a consistent threat next to Trovato, we could make a run at this thing.

On defense, some surprising new names appear in the box score - sophomore LBs Tim Diamond and Brad Thomas. Not sure if senior LBs Rusty Campion and Micah Greene were hurt during the game, but the super sophomores seemed to both have really good days. That's something I will be watching in the game film. Senior CB Brannan Thomas also picked up a key interception, helping our secondary pull things together at the exact right time.

It wasn't a perfect game. Lehigh did stumble on defense at the end of the first half, letting up a TD that made some fans squirm, wondering if another dogfight would be on our hands. But overall, it was mostly joy today, and the kids should revel in this for today - then, go back to work for Holy Cross.

Lehigh survives, and move on. Next week, they face the 6-2 (3-0) Crusaders who beat 2-5 (1-1) Lafayette 38-28 this week. The Leopards have dropped 5 straight and you've got to think they are in serious trouble now, especially since next week they face 3-4 (2-0) Colgate, who walloped 2-5 (0-2) Fordham 46-3. With these wins, Colgate and Holy Cross have put the league on notice - they ARE title contenders. Fortunately, so did Lehigh.

We survive, and move on to Worcester. You'll be hearing a lot from me this week about Holy Cross. Next week's game could be the most important Lehigh/Holy Cross game since 1991.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Water Cooler: Bucknell/Lehigh

Yes, there is a good reason why today's Water Cooler is not only late, but without its usual water-cooler graphic. That's because today I'm announcing my new LFN Store.

What is the purpose of the LFN Store? It's to show your support for this blog and show that you are a fan of Lehigh football. It supplies to you, the hardcore Lehigh football fan, products that you can buy to show the world that you're a fan. There are a bunch of items there: all sorts of shirts (many two-sided), mugs, and other great stuff.

It's not only for that: a (very big) portion of the proceeds from all the sales of items from this store will benefit Lehigh athletics through a donation made by myself. At the end of the year, I will make a donation to Lehigh athletics based on the proceeds from this store (even if it's only pennies) and I will publicly post the information here.

I'm not in this to get rich. I'm in this to support Lehigh athletics and make some cool stuff for folks to buy. I hope you enjoy the stuff, and please drop me a line if you like the stuff, don't like the stuff, or if there's something you want that is missing.

Last Minute Lehigh/Bucknell Information
It still should be a great day for tomorrow's 1PM start, so by all means don't forget those Bison burgers. It's Alumni weekend, so it should be a fantastic turnout. I will be looking forward to seeing the highlights on the internet video broadcast, since I will be covering the Harvard/Princeton game for I-AA.org this weekend. I've got quite a bit of football to watch: Harvard/Princeton, Holy Cross/Lafayette on tape, and Bucknell/Lehigh on the replay! (I may even try to catch the last quarter on ESPN Radio 1230/1320 if I'm lucky.)

For those who can't make it, it will be televised in the Lehigh Valley on Service Electric 2 and replayed on Fox College Sports Atlantic this Tuesday at 8PM.

Of course, Saturday night I'll be adding my thoughts on the game, but I'll (obviously) not be blogging live.

Friday Water Cooler Picks: Patriot League, Week 8
Holy Cross over Lafayette. I ask you: Why pick Lafayette? They have struggled on offense and defense, and have lost four straight. Most people think somehow the Leopards will right the ship this week. I think that is disrespecting Holy Cross, who at 5-2 should have earned our respect by now. I think Holy Cross makes a statement here. Inquisition 35, Roadkill 27.

Colgate over Fordham. If Fordham can keep this close in the first half, I think the Rams could make a game of this. But if Colgate goes up by a couple of scores, I don't have faith that Fordham can play catch-up. I think Colgate gets the win here, and moves on. Gatekeepers 21, Also-Rams 7.

Friday Water Cooler Picks: I-AA Top 25, Week 8
Georgia Southern over #1 Appalachian State. Yep, I'm going to pick the upset here. I just get this funny feeling that the Eagles with their newly-discovered passing attack are going to do some damage against hated Appalachian State's defense this week. I think I'm mainly going with it since the Eagles have to win to have folks start talking about playoffs and SoCon championships, while the Mountaineers could afford a loss here on the road. The team that wants and needs it more wins. GSU 24, ASU 19.

#2 Montana over Weber State. Montana rolls. Griz 39, Kitties 13.

#3 Illinois State over Western Illinois. I love these Leathernecks, but these Redbirds should have enough to put them away as well. ISU 38, WIU 28.

#13 Northern Iowa over #4 Youngstown State. This one is simple; The Panthers have won five straight over the Penguins, and I think coach Farley will have the Panthers ready to roll over their hated rivals this week - and steady themselves for another run at the I-AA playoffs. Panthers must-win, and do. Cats 22, Icemen 20.

South Dakota State over #5 Cal Poly. Playing another hunch. The Jacks have really come on after losing some early, tough games, and this should be a defensive struggle where the kicking game comes into play. Advantage: K Parker Douglass and South Dakota State. Bugs 12, Mr. Ed 10.

I-A Minnesota over #6 North Dakota State. Bison, I'm proud of ya, and if you somehow can knock off Minnesota I'll vote you #1 next week. However, I ain't picking you this week. Golden Gophers 41, Blue Bison 10.

#7 UMass over Rhode Island. For Heaven's sake, take the points. This is a league game, right? ZooMass 30, Rhody 18.

#8 New Hampshire over Northeastern. Unlike ZooMass, the Wildcats are itching to make a statement, and they will - emphatically - versus the poor Huskies. UNH 56, N'Eastern 0.

#9 James Madison over William & Mary. The perfect game for the Dukes following their huge win over New Hampshire. A "letdown" game against a struggling team that will test them, but not THAT much. Hairy Dukes 35, Featherless Tribe 18.

#10 Richmond over Delaware. The Spiders just seem to be too much for a Blue Hen team that has more questions they need to answer week to week. Spidey 38, Super-Cluck 10.

#11 Furman over Chattanooga. You'd think Furman would right the ship here, or they are in some serious trouble. Paladins 24, Mocs 16.

#12 Hampton over South Carolina State. The Bulldogs, once again, endure yet another loss to Hampton cementing their exclusion from the playoffs. Every year, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. French-Speaking MEAC Champs 44, Southern-Fried Bulldogs 21.

#14 Southern Illinois over Western Kentucky. This one feels like another "statement game" for the Salukis after a tough loss to the Redbirds last week. Hard to picture them losing here. Sa-Luckies 38, Hill-Floppers 10.

#19 Princeton over #15 Harvard. The game I'll be going to pits the two best teams in the Ivy this year in what could be considered the game of the year. It will be fascinating to figure out if Princeton's smothering defense can stop the Harvard offensive machine. My bet? At home, Princeton guts out a tough, Ivy title winning, game here that goes to the wire. Princeton 23, Harvard 20.

#16 Eastern Illinois over Murray State. This one is easy; the Racers won't be in the same ballpark. I'm picking the team who didn't lose to Samford 33-7. Panthers 49, Horsies 6.

#17 Tennessee-Martin over Samford. Speaking of Samford.... Carrier Pigeons 38, Bulldogs 10.

#18 UC-Davis over Southern Utah. A harder game to pick than you might realize, but I think the Aggies take this simply because they're playing at home. Aggies 20, Chunderbirds 17.

#20 Maine over Hofstra. The Black Bears are on quite a roll; the only question is can they keep it going. Finally able to spend a week at home with back-to-back home games, I think they do resoundingly. Man-Eating Killing Machines 28, Wounded Pride 7.

#21 Portland State over Eastern Washington. A no-brainer. PSU 29, EWU 7.

Drake over #22 San Diego. A win here by Drake would do wonders in maintaing my faith in the Big Guy Up Above. Seriously, isn't all of I-AA Nation hoping to see coach Harbaugh and the legions of San Diego fans shut up for good? Iowa Dogs 27, Beach Bums 21.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff over Alabama A&M. I hope everybody realizes that if AAMU and Jackson State keep winning, there's a decent chance that one of those two teams may be gunning for a spot in the I-AA playoffs - and have a better-than-decent shot at it. AAMU, though, will have their hands full on the road against a resurgent Golden Lion team, and end some of that talk right here. Golden Lions 34, Not-So-Golden Puppies 14.

Press Roundup
Allentown Morning Call:
Threatt, Lehigh Try To Regain Form
Upshot: Bucknell coach Tim Landis remembered how impressive Threatt was against his team last year, but said, "Everybody knows about him now. He's not going to fly under the radar. People will try to stop him, knowing he's the focal point of that offense."

Easton Express-Times:
New-Look Hawks May Use Old Tricks
Upshot: "I feel real good about our team," Petruccelli said. "We've got a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. We have the coaches and the players to get the wins. We just need to be more consistent. We're making some mistakes in key situations that have really hurt us."

Brown & White:
Big Win On the Line Against 4-3 Bison
Upshot: “Success is always a by-product of how you prepare and play,” Coen said. “We had had success against Bucknell because our players have done a good job of executing their assignments. This execution will be ever more important playing against an option offense. Our defense must be extremely disciplined.” “If we remain well-disciplined, we should be successful,” [senior LB Matt] Mohler said.

Daily Item
Bison Get Defensive
Upshot: "The defense was spectacular today [against Georgetown]," said coach Tim Landis. "They really carried the way and kept Georgetown pinned back all day. Phil Azarik had another great day punting, and we had the field position edge the whole way. [QB] Marcello [Trigg] had two or three terrific third-down passes," said Landis. "It's fun to watch him get better. We've had our share of injuries, no question, but our depth is better and young guys like Marcello are really stepping up."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Preview of Bucknell/Lehigh

We are going to find out exactly what we have in Lehigh football in 2006 this week. It's a week without "mystique" or fanfare, but a week that will tell us what type of team we have. One that will be playing important games in November, or those dreaded words "rebuilding year".

What do we have? A team that played great in all phases of the game at Villanova? Or the team that went up 24-7 versus Harvard and let them come back and beat us by 2 points? The team that only gave up a little over 200 yards to Georgetown? Or the team that gave up nearly 500 yards to Yale? The team that only gave up 4 FGs all year, including several blocked kicks? Or the team that muffed three kicks versus Albany?

I see that this Lehigh team is a good team with potential that hasn't put it all together yet. Another opportunity presents itself this coming Saturday at home versus Bucknell. The Bison are 3-2, 1-1 in the Patriot League, and will be hoping for a win here to vault them into the Patriot League race. They've seen the standings and the results. They know it's a "down year" for the Patriot League. They are probably coming in here with more confidence than they've had in a long time.

Last year in mid-October, Holy Cross came to town in a deluge and escaped with a 13-10 victory. The Bison must be looking at Lehigh's four-game home losing streak at Murray Goodman. I'm sure Bucknell head coach Tim Landis is saying, why not us?

This is the week. Lehigh needs to show them why it shouldn't be them. The way to do that is to execute well and be the more aggressive and harder-working team on Saturday. It's not about streaks or mystique. It's about going out there, working harder, executing better, and finding some way to win a football game even if the final score is 3-2.

I feel in my bones that this team can be successful in 2006. I see the talent; I see the flashes of great play. There are good kids out there that are working hard in practice. If we come out this week and play a good game, I will feel a lot better about our chances the rest of the way. One game to put it all together. There's no point in holding back now.

Injury & Weather Report
OUT:
OL Ben Harden
DB Jarvis Lewis
DB Courtney Elder
LB Al Pierce

Same injury report as last week, but there's a surprise on defense as senior DB/WR Brannan Thomas is now starting at CB over junior DB Aaron Gilliard. That's a move which is bound to make some folks happy as our secondary gets some more support with a speedy guy who has proven that he can do it (he started there last season). Another interesting new starter is sophomore DT Brian Jackson, who is getting rotated in with senior DT Royce Morgan in his spot as well. I'm real curious to see how the two new guys respond in their new starting roles, especially Thomas at CB.

Right now, the forecast in Bethlehem is calling for 60 degrees and a perfect sunny day. It should be a great day for football, and a great day to come to Murray Goodman for an important October game. Bison burgers? They, without a doubt, have to be on the tailgating menu. So what drink goes with those? Stock up on full-bodied red wines (I'd suggest a nice Cabernet Sauvignon) and pale ales (my suggestion: Stoudt's American Pale Ale).

A Word on Bucknell
The Bison have not beaten Lehigh since 1997, which, not coincidentally, was the last time Lehigh had a losing record in football. Lehigh has played Bucknell every year since 1950, and the Moutain Hawks enjoy a 37-29-3 series lead on the Bison. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, these games had Patriot League championship connotations seemingly every year. Although difficult to fathom now with Lehigh being so dominant in the league over the last ten years, the games against Bucknell were more highly regarded that the games against "weak sister" Colgate.

I hesitate to bring up history (since the "mystique" is clearly gone), but since that loss to Bucknell in 1997 Lehigh has dropped more than 40 points on the Bison five times in the past eight years. I'm not sure if this team will be able to drop 40 on them this year, but it does show that in the past we've done well against them.

For the past three years, Bucknell has had major injury problems before playing Lehigh, and this year is no exception. This year is not nearly as bad as 2005, where DB Dante Ross was pressed into starting QB duty since the four QBs ahead of him on the depth chart all went down, but key playmakers are hurt on offense. Oddly, this could be the healthiest we've seen the Bison at this stage of the year in quite some time, especially on defense. Their starting eleven have essentially been intact all year.

Offense
Bucknell coach Tim Landis runs the spread option offense, which is similar to the type of offense run by Wofford currently and the classic Georgia Southern teams in their championship years. It is very difficult to prepare for in one week's time, though since we have Bucknell as a league opponent every year, we have seen it and know how to prepare for it. In a nutshell, it is a predominantly a running set using 2 wideouts, 1 fullback, 2 "slotbacks" that play RB or TE, and the QB as a rushing threat. So, get ready to hear "Marcello Trigg, 2 yard gain" on Saturday.
In the spread option, the most critical position on the field is the triggerman, the QB. Bucknell's preseason QB options, Navy transfer QB Andrew Lair and QB Terrance Wilson, both are hurt and will not be able to play. That leaves the "triggerman" duty to true freshman QB Marcello Trigg. As you might expect for a true freshman, he has been struggling a little to learn the offense, completing less than 50% of his passes and averaging only 14.7 yards per game rushing. Having said that, he hasn't turned over the ball this year and Bucknell fans claim that he offers "more of a passing attack" than Lair or Wilson.

With a spread option offense, you have to count on a team which is predominatly rushing the ball, and Bucknell has the #5 rushing offense in Division I. What's more amazing is that they've done this with three starting backs out due to injury and no individual back having gained more than 300 yards. Their leading rusher, FB Josh DeStefano, is out with an injury and is a huge blow to the Bison. In his place is sophomore FB Kevin Mullen who has done a decent job replacing him so far. The other "slotbacks" are the "old man" of the backfield, senior RB Peter Kaufman, and true freshman RB A.J. Kizekai. Both slotbacks are the speedy kind, with Kizekai a back to watch averaging 8.9 yards per carry. Of the three backs, only Kaufman has shown any ability to catch the ball out of the backfield at all, and even then he only has 3 receptions on the year.

The main receiving threats are both very young. Sophomore WR Daniel Zvara and true freshman WR Cale Cadman are this week's starters, and neither as of yet have shown the ability to stretch a defense. Sophomore WR Alex Odenbach will also find his way into the game, but all three are receivers who hang around the first-down chains.

Bucknell's "O" line has been steady and solid all year - but, as seems to be every year, are undersized. Still, there are three seniors on this line led by OL Stephen Niemczyk with lots of experience and have paved the way for a lot of rushing offense this year.

Defense
Bucknell's biggest strength is on defense, where a handful of seniors have been helping to have their unit gel very well in the first half of the season. There is lots of youth to spare in this basic 4-3, but they have been playing almost completely unbroken as a unit since Week 1.

No part of this defense is younger than the Bison "D" line, but there is some good talent here marked by standout true freshman DL Josh Eden. He leads the Bison with two sacks on the year.

The LB unit, though, is the heart and soul of this defense. Senior LB Dorian Petersen is an All-Patriot type of talent, already amassing 66 tackles on the year and three forced fumbles. But he's not it. Junior LB Ryan Slater and true freshman LB Sam Nana-Sinkham have also been playing great ball - both not far behind Petersen in tackles. They may not quite be Witherspoon/Costanzo/Bennett from that school in Easton last year, but they're not far off.

Bucknell has two experienced senior CB in David Frisbey and Matt Palermo - but both are 5' 11. Over the middle, the safety combination of junior FS David Collage and true freshman SS Brigham Farrand are taller and also offer decent run support.

Special Teams
Returning kicks are a couple more young players in sophomore CB Nolan Applegate and freshman CB Jason Davis. Neither have broken one for a TD so far this year and haven't really stood out returning kicks. Sophomore PK Will Carney seems to have a good leg for kickoffs, but has been largely unproven on FGs this year. Sophomore P Phil Azarik is a very good punter, averaging 41 yards per punt.

Keys To The Game
1. Simplicity. I think, overall, this team needs to relax and get back to the basics of executing the game plan effectively. I don't think we need tricky stuff here. Pure hard work and execution.
2. Short Corner. I'd like to test those corners deep with our taller receivers. If there was a week where one of our stable of receivers could emerge as a consistent threat on the other side of "Al Del Greco" Trovato, this is it.
3. Plugging Gaps. Plugging the gaps in the line and outside pursuit of the speedy slotbacks will be key in containing this spread option offense. This will be a big day for our outside LBs in Campion and Mohler. They will need to be agressive, pursue well and tackle well in order for us to win.
4. Just Win, Baby. The win doesn't have to be pretty. Just find a way to win and go with what works. If necessary, go at something until they prove they can stop it. Just find a way to win.

Fearless Prediction
I have an odd peace this week that Lehigh will be able to put things together this week. There's no reason to be tentative, and I know there is a lot of talent on this field that has had to make a lot of adjustments from last year. Even in last week's loss, I saw some players really starting to emerge and play better, and I think if this continues this week, we "survive and move on". I sense some confidence coming back into this Lehigh team just in time for the rest of the league schedule.

Lehigh 30, Bucknell 10

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Press Roundup: Lehigh/Yale

Let's hurry up and get this Yale thing behind us so we can focus on the games that will make or break this season. I'd still like to single out some players this week for game balls.

On offense (this will come as no surprise) the award goes to senior WR Frank "Al Del Greco" Trovato with 4 receptions for 73 yards. All four of his receptions came in key moments; all four catches resulted in 1st downs, including a key 3rd-down conversion in OT. Every week he does something to help Lehigh get into position to win. He earns a ball this week.

On defense the lucky winner is senior NT Eric Rakus. It's rare you see a nose tackle with more than 4 or 5 tackles, but his eight tackles (sometimes coming across the field to make them), a tackle for loss and forced fumble show real promise that our defensive line is coming together. His performance in particular really stood out.

I'm going to give our two special teams balls this week. One goes to sophomore RB Josh Pastore, with a nifty 60 yard return to keep the pressure on the Elis in the middle of the game to go with his 30 yard average. The other goes to sophomore FB Adam Watson for two excellent sticks on special teams that helped keep the Elis pinned deep.

Press Roundup
Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh Hangs In, Then Bows Out, to Yale in OT
Upshot: "We show we're a very capable football team, but only at times," Coen said. "We do some good things, just not enough of them. We're not consistent enough and that's my job. We're not getting it done right now. We're not where we need to be."

Despite Another Loss, Lehigh Retains Hope
Upshot: "I don't like that [inconsistency] is our M.O., but until we produce, that's what it is," quarterback Sedale Threatt said. ''We talk and talk and talk about consistency. Do it."..."If you look at all our games, except for Georgetown, it has come down to our last drive with us either having a chance to win it or tie it and we tied it [at Yale] but we didn't get it done in overtime," said normally upbeat senior wide receiver Frank Trovato. "All of our goals are still intact. You still want to win [a game like at Yale] and ride some momentum into that last five-game stretch. We've just got to put everything together. That's what we've been talking about. When we do put everything together, we still think we're a pretty football team. But like Sedale says, we can't just keep saying it. We've got to go out and do it." The Mountain Hawks (2-4, 1-0) had better do it soon.

Easton Express-Times:
Role Reversal in Yale-Lehigh Game
Upshot: "They've just got to continue to work with each other," Coen said, "continue having trust in each other. We will show up next Saturday to play Bucknell. I guarantee you that."

Brown & White:
Overtime Loss Moves Record to 2-3 (sic)
Upshot: “I am confident the guys will put it behind them come Sunday and be ready for next week,” Threatt said. “It is do or die now, with the rest of the season being all Patriot League games. We are focusing on the Patriot League championship; that is our goal.” “We will find out where the team is going next week,” Coen said. “I am sure the kids are disappointed right now, I am too. I am not disappointed at all in the players though, they play hard and we just keep coming up a little short. I am happy with the guys.”

Hartford Courant:
Jumping To Conclusions
Upshot: "There's just something about this team. That's the reason I came back," said [WR Chandler] Henley, the Yale captain and fifth-year senior who missed last season with a shoulder injury. "I'm loving every minute of it. I love the guys here. They're so resilient. They don't want to lose. We went out and took it there at the end. That's something that's changed a bit from the past."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday's Word: Mystique

This week's word is "mystique". Why? It's something that Lehigh used to have, but with this weeks' performance, the last vestiges of the Lehigh "mystique" are finally gone.

We had "mystique". It was built during coach Kevin Higgins' tenure as head coach, and continued during coach Pete Lembo's tenure as well. When coach Lembo himself chose to leave Lehigh for a new opportunity at Elon, the Mountain Hawks still had it. (Note: If any fans out there are foolish enough to think I helped drive Lembo out of town, I invite you to read my many posts of 2005. I think anyone who has read my blog since at least last year could tell you that I was hardly a harsh critic to say the least.)

In order to have "mystique", you have to have success. You have to have streaks. You can't have opponents completely dominate you like Lehigh was dominated last week. A back getting more than 250 all-purpose yads against us, and 200 rushing yards? A team that got nearly 500 yards of total offense against us? Our offense going 5-for-12 on 3rd down conversions? 3.2 yards per rush? 13-for-25 passing?

"Mystique" sure as hell doesn't block.

To be sure, the "mystique" was already being whittled away week by week with each new loss - even in the win against Georgetown. But after this week, it's gone. Flat-out gone.

I have to admit, though, it was still there on Saturday. Even though Yale dominated the game, we had a shot. Every single person who loved or hated coach Lembo; everyone who said anything good or ill about Lehigh yesterday and today; even all the Yale fans in the Yale Bowl - they beleived in the "mystique". Somehow, Lehigh would manage to pull through, get some big character-building win which serves as the springboard for the rest of the season. It seems to happen every October. Even the Yale players seemed daunted - all their talk this week was about "finishing", as if they weren't themselves able to face Lehigh's mystique and talent.

When the Yale kicker missed the FG, the game was sent to OT, and "mystique" was still there. We would pull it together. Just like Sedale did last year against Yale.

Then, the mystique came apart. We couldn't score in OT, and Yale picked us apart and got the game-winning TD.

"Mystique" won't put the ball in the end zone on 1st-and-goal from the 7.

It's all gone now. What everyone sees - Lehigh fans, Patriot League fans, I-AA fans, everybody - is a 2-4 team that cannot find ways to win football games. Talented? Sure. Dominating? At times. But not when it counts. And until this team starts getting it done when it counts, there is no "mystique". There's no road winning streak to lean against. No safe, comfortable Murray Goodman to rely upon for wins. No NEC or Ivy opponents that are easy marks.

Yet, we are fortunate. Our Patriot League brethren are also facing some real crises in confidence themselves. Lafayette and Colgate never really were in the games they played this past weekend. After Lafayette went down 17-7 in the 3rd quarter against the Crimson, they weren't seriously heard from again in a docile 24-7 defeat. And Colgate got one of their biggest beatings in recent memory from a team other than Lehigh in a 38-14 drubbing.

Holy Cross, the "class" of our league at this point, barely escaped against 0-5 Dartmouth in OT. Bucknell is showing improvement week to week, but their team right now is a M*A*S*H unit. Fordham just squeaked by non-scholarship Marist 13-9. And Georgetown is mathematically eliminated from the Patriot League title chase.

There is still a chance at five wins in five weeks, which is what it will take to win our league and get to the I-AA playoffs.

But it sure as hell won't be because of "mystique". And if the Mountain Hawks come out and expect to win just by showing up and having the opposing team quaking in their boots - there isn't a snowball's chance in hell we will go the distance. Opposing teams don't quake anymore when Lehigh comes to town.

The earlier our own team sees this, the better.

Coach Coen has taken some heat elsewhere for his handling of the OT. Convention tells you that if you win the coin toss, you automatically go on defense, so that you know what you need to do after the opposing team gets the ball. But coach Coen chose "offense" because his defense was dead tired, having been on the field for 10 minutes in the 4th quarter. If you ask me, coach Coen made the right call there.

Say what you want about coach Coen, but he has stood up and taken responsibility for this 2-4 start. I respect that about him. It's not the officials' fault, or the QBs fault, or the "O" line's fault. If he feels like his playcalling didn't let QB Sedale Threatt do his thing, he'll say so. If he feels like his team is making too many mistakes, he'll say so. If he feels like his team didn't put the hammer down, he'll say so.

Having said that, I'm not happy about a 2-4 start, just like every other Lehigh fan. I'm unhappy that not a single receiver has been able to emerge as a consistent threat on the other side of senior WR Frank Trovato. I'm unhappy that we are unable to get any sort of consistent pass rush that seems to allow every opposing QB to pick our defense apart. I'm unhappy that a punt gets blocked from an unmarked defender.

The question in everyone's mind is: Will this team will improve enough in these last five games to win the Patriot League title? In seasons past I could look at the streaks, the solid play and the "mystique" and say that there was a good chance they would.

Now? I have no idea.
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