Friday, August 17, 2007

Dizziness?

No, really. The subject of this blog posting is dizziness. Could it be from the 24-hour stomach flu that caused me to sleep about 17 hours of a 24 hour day yesterday? For sure. Could it be the final push to help get the College Sporting News magazine out the door? Definitely. Could it be the amount of references to "Lehigh Nation" in the latest Alumni Bulletin? Definite maybe. Could it be the amount of brand-new features available in the run-up to September 8th, when Lehigh takes on Villanova? Most definitely. Could it be the new poll I need to make for "Goodman's 20th", and the shirt design out in time for September 8th? And the breakdown of position battles for preseason camp?

Dizziness.

The Alumni Bulletin does seem like the logical place to start. Lest you think I sit around and simply count the references to "Lehigh Nation" in the magazine every month (note: two of which were mentioned in President Alice Gast's "From the President's Desk" - mighty high praise from a Bostonian - but I digress), of special note is the feature called "Finding Emo" which talks about senior FS Ernest Moore and how assistant coach Gerard Wilcher recruited him. It's not available online yet, but I will post a link here when it is - just in case you needed any extra reasons to get excited for the 2007 football season. (And I'll just have to get used to calling Ernest "Emo".)

Of course, while leafing through my copy of the Bulletin I almost missed that John Reese was officially named a Sports Network third-team All-American. Also making TSN's All-American team in the Patriot League were Holy Cross' CB Casey Gough, Fordham's P Benjamin Dato, Colgate RB Jordan Scott and Colgate LB Mike Gallihugh. Lehigh also didn't quite make the TSN Preseason Top 25, though neither did any other Patriot League team. The Patriot League team which had the most votes? Lafayette (90), followed by Lehigh (77).

And did I mention another spring report by Paul Solokowski at the Express-Times about incoming freshman Brad Walter? Talented WR, recruited by UConn of the Big East to possibly play CB - but ultimately wanted to play close to home? And the intriguing comment by coach Coen: "He's a big and strong and physical wide receiver who can run. We have very high expectations for him." Now all Brad needs to do is get over his freakish leg injury...

Finally - and here's some really big news - Lehigh is planning on creating a lot of free content available via podcast on something called iTunes U. Here's how it works: if you have an iTunes account you will be able to download a lot of programs for free on your iPod, PC or Mac - or if you don't, you can still access the content via the Lehigh News Center. And what programs will be available? Interviews with Lehigh Athletic Director Joe Sterrett, head football coach Andy Coen, our new men's basketball coach Brett Reed, and other Lehigh coaches as the season goes on.

Pretty awesome stuff! Even if it does make me dizzy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spring Practice Report

Three really quick hits: first of all (and I hope this is a regular thing) Lehighsports.com posted today a report on their first preseason practice.

“I’m very pleased with the excitement of our guys and the effort they have put forth up to this point,” second year head coach Andy Coen said afterwards. “With so much information given to the freshmen at once, I think they have picked it up well. I’m excited about this freshmen class and what lies ahead for them.”


Yeah, I know, it's not a lot of meat. But throw a starving man a bone... it gets you thinking. "He's excited about the freshman class.. who could be pushing for starting nods? Who's going to be that backup left guard? How many hours until 1PM on September 8th?" It's probably the superfan in me more than anything else. Still, I realy hope they will keep this up.

Second of all, a word on polls. It looks like the winner of the T-Shirt poll was "Westbrook Can't Help You Now", which I have to admit was my favorite too. Look for a new one soon - and speaking of polls, the Morning Call has one that Lehigh fans may want to vote on.

Finally, College Sporting News should, barring anything unforeseen, be releasing the FCS Preview magazine (in PDF format) by the end of this week. (That's where this graphic of Sedale comes from.) Look for instructions on how to get your copy soon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

August: Time of Renewal?

Most of the time, we think of the fall as a "time of renewal". For Lehigh, as we finally kick off preseason camp for the Mountain Hawks it looks like (to go along with less-than-seasonal cool weather) this year, it's coming a month early.

Start with the news we've been waiting for since late November: the Philadelphia Eagles are graciously breaking camp at Lehigh and 2007 Mountain Hawks have finally started spring practice. Look for an analysis a little later this week about positional battles, but you'll see from the mash-up of the press reports that coach Coen couldn't be more excited about getting started again for the 2007 season. Also of note: coach Coen said the following: “We have lots of jobs open as we enter into it and I think that will make for a great deal of competition.” This could mean it will be an interesting preseason to see what happens. We may even see some freshmen move into important roles - we'll see.

The other "renewal" comes from the swift hiring of assistant men's basketball coach Brett Reed as the new head coach following Billy Taylor's departure. At 35, he will be one of the youngest Division I head basketball coaches - which Billy Taylor himself was when he was hired six years ago. The most important aspect of the hiring seems to be that the immediate uncertainty following coach Taylor's departure has been stemmed very rapidly by Athletic Director Joe Sterrett. The recruits and players are very familiar with coach Reed as well, meaning that there's no major overhaul in direction. I've got to give kudos for Mr. Sterrett for heading off the situation and making a great choice.

Here's the mash-up. Look for a post later this week on the position battles!


"I mentioned it at the beginning of camp that over the years they've done a fantastic job," coach Andy Reid said following his team's final workout at Lehigh until next season. "Every year it seems to get a little bit better, and I just appreciate their overall effort.

"The unsung heroes of the crew that work behind the scenes, putting the camp together with the Eagles, did a heck of a job," he said. "Everything from security to marketing and so on, it was a very nice job.

"They set a new record for attendance, which is pretty impressive. We've had a lot of people show up here in years past, and to be able to say that in the short period of time we spent here is a compliment to the organization."

"This camp was good for me just from the physical aspect of it," [former Cal Poly] linebacker Chris Gocong said. "It feels good hitting, and I really can't wait to play in the (first preseason game tonight at Baltimore vs. the Ravens)."

...

“I’m really excited about this camp,” Coen said on Friday morning. “We have lots of jobs open as we enter into it and I think that will make for a great deal of competition.” He added, “There is a lot less to familiarize ourselves with. The kids know what to expect from the coaching staff and we have a much better handle on the kids and their personalities heading into this camp as opposed to last year.”

Coen continued, “Heading into the first couple of practices we have a lot of questions to answer, particularly along both lines. We want to try and create some depth along the defensive and offensive lines as we move through camp.” He went onto say, “I hope to see big plays in this camp, from our wide receivers, our quarterbacks and our running backs. On defense, I think we are more athletic as a whole and I expect to see kids step up and make plays.”

"This is where we really have to get down to business and develop depth and look for at least two guys to establish themselves," Coen said. "Not only are we looking for guys to get off the ball and give us a pass rush, but we're also looking for size and strength up there," Coen said. "Last year in a few games we found ourselves undersized and got pushed around and worn down. The Yale and Lafayette games come to mind.

The team will practice in split sessions on Sunday and Monday as well before the first full-squad workout on Tuesday afternoon. Lehigh will hold its first two-a-day practice sessions on Thursday, August 16 which is one of three double sessions scheduled for camp. "We're going to be practicing for a longer period of time, but because the NCAA restricts the number of practices you can have, we won't have as many double sessions as we've had in the past," Coen said. "We're only going to have four days of doubles this year. Last year, we had seven or eight."

The freshmen moved onto campus on Friday morning and were quickly introduced to the college football atmosphere as they went through physicals, equipment distribution, a series of meetings and a weight room session. On Saturday the upperclassmen will be tested in the Welch Fitness Center and then one-half of the team will take the field for the first practice session of camp. A second split-squad practice is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, with both practices taking place on the Kaufman Fields, which are adjacent to Goodman Stadium and behind the Lehigh softball field. The Mountain Hawks will remain on these fields until the Philadelphia Eagles conclude their training camp at Lehigh on August 12.

“It’s important to begin integrating the freshmen with the upperclassmen and get them exposed to our system and the type of practices we run right from the start,” Coen explained. "There's going to be more competition for spots than there were last year and that creates a healthy environment," Coen said. "The big difference between this year and last year is that the players now know what to expect, they know what we're all about and they know where we're going as a program. You can't overestimate what a comfort level does for kids.

"Obviously, last year didn't end the way we wanted it to [with Lafayette scoring the last 21 points in a 49-27 rout]. It's time to put that behind us and focus on what's ahead. We're anxious to get started."

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