Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sedale Media Day Comments, Part I

With this "information lull" in terms of how preseason practice is going (and two days before Lehigh's own "Media Day" this Saturday), I thought I'd add to the preseason hype by transcribing some of senior QB Sedale Threatt's comments from his "Preseason Player of the Year" speech at Patriot League Media Day. After reading the comments, you can also surf over to the Patriot League page to get more interesting video comments from Sedale and head coach Andy Coen.

Part II will be coming up soon regarding my one-on-one interview with him on Media Day as well.

Are you as pumped as I am for September 8th, 1PM? Sixteen days away?

There's a word frequently mentioned throughout team sports that binds young men and women and ties the knot. This word brings them closer in both triumph and failure and in times of despair and joy. There's a great word that unifies people and gives them support to better the individual: family.

Family is one of the most important things in life. It gives us a sense of security, of belonging. It allows us to take refuge when the storm comes and bask in its glory in times of sunshine. I was fortunate enough to have a family throughout my life that really cared for me. Although this family is not all biological, nonetheless I can say that my family has stood by my side and has made me the young man I am today.

Every accolade that I've ever received was because of somebody else's dedication to me and what I believe in, and this preseason player of the year award is the same. I really owe it to men like John Reese, our center, whose 295 lb rear end (and the rest of the offensive line) give me time to throw some of those not-so-great passes - and then my wide receivers make me look good. Especially at my position when you feel like the weight of your team is on your shoulders and if you have a bad practice that's going to trickle down to everybody else. My team - my family - has always been there to help me out.

I'm blessed to attend Lehigh University, a small school with a sense of community and family. I've been blessed to have people like my coach, coach Coen, to be there. Every Patriot League student-athlete has been blessed with their individual families, their coach, every cameraman, every administrator - and one of the great things about family is that one has their immediate family, the nucleus, and then you have your distant relatives (like the other Patriot League teams). At my institution, I have my nucleus, I have my band of brothers.

At the end of the season, it's all about family. It's all about the Patriot League. It's all about being mad that the Ivies kicked our butts last year. It's about, 'I hope Colgate goes and wins a national championship (in 2003) because they're representing us.' It's about the folks that are representing us at the next level in the NFL. In the Patriot League, it's like a Patriot League family. We battle, we fight - but when it's all over and all is said and done, nobody else does what we do. We go to top 10 academic institutions, and we play Division I football.

I wanted to say thank you to the Patriot League for providing me a competitive atmosphere that promotes exellence in both academic and sports arenas. Every student-athlete here can attest to how prepared they're going to be after their college careers are through. I'd like to thank the coaches for being caring, honorable men that we all look up to and we all appreciate and literally and truthfully, we depend on y'all, and we thank y'all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Around The Horn

I thought I'd try to add an "Around the Horn"-type posting to the blog, summarizing other moves of interest around the league involving Lehigh opponents or the Patriot League in general.

  • Something that should be mentioned to all Patriot League fans is the piece on College Sporting News regarding the four-year moratorium and new proposals for FCS membership. From the definitions in the proposal, it seems like the Patriot League is in the clear.. for now. But will that last forever?

  • Columbia's Roar Lions, Roar blog mentions something interesting about Fordham this year:

    Last week, the Rams revealed they will use a "run and shoot" offense this season with sophomore QB Jeff Skelton at the helm and senior RB Jonte Coven as the main runner. I'm not sure it will work, but it will be interesting to watch. Fordham has two games, on the road at URI and then at home versus Albany before they take the Lions on, also at home.

    Talk about a massive upheaval of offensive philosophy. What did they do, put last year's playbook in the trash? (Granted, it was basically "(RB James) Prydatko Left, Prydatko Right, Prydatko up the middle".) Still, it's time to think of the Rams as a pass-happy team as coach Masella remakes the Rams in his own image. But it's hard to imagine that the transfer from the 1930's offense to the 1990's offense will be seamless. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

  • Colgate is trying an interesting idea to drum up early-season attendance: give away discount tickets to their game versus Albany. Actually, this is a fantastic idea to drum up support for people to come to Colgate games in September when the weather is great and Andy Kerr stadium can be a family-friendly destination. Actually, in years past I might have seen that Albany game as an easy "W" for Colgate, but with their resurgence last year it looks to be an extremely interesting game - to see how Colgate looks in the early going, and if the Danes will be continuing to torture FCS opponents again in 2007.

  • With Bucknell's first intra-squad scrimmage in the books, it looks like there's a real QB battle going there to go with a freshman WR in Josh Lovett that impressed the onlookers. Whether junior QB Andrew Lair, sophomore QB Marcelo Trigg or senior QB Terance Wilson gets the starting job by opening day is anyone's guess.

  • Careful not to put anything out there, coach Tavani hasn't really been giving a lot of meat to Lafayette fans on the official website. Quotes like this are par for the course: "Our senior group has really demonstrated great leadership up to this point. They've come together as a team sooner than maybe they thought we did last year and that's been because of the great leadership by (captains) DT Kyle Sprenkle and CB Marcel Quarterman. They have really helped bring the team together." If anything, it shows that the defense seems further along than the offense, which probably was to be expected.

    Interestingly, coach Tavani has also been floating the idea of playing two or three QBs on gameday. I somehow think that this "experiment" could end after Lafayette opens against Marist of the non-scholarship MAAC, but nonetheless it's interesting that no front-runner has emerged from senior QB Mike DiPaola, sophomore QB Josh Curley, or sophomore QB Josh Jones - and that none of the freshmen in QB Marc Quilling, QB Patrick Carey, or QB Peter Raymond are cracking the list either. Keep in mind, though, that this same situation played out in 2004 when QB Brad "The Executioner" Maurer and QB Pat "I almost beat App State" Davis shared duties early.

  • VMI's spring practices have featured young defensive players that really can hit. “We played base defense and we played good, hard physical defensive football which we need to this year in order to compete. We had excellent third down offense. We had six to eight starters out and the guys really competed.”

  • One of the aspects of our 2007 schedule that has gone unreported is that this year's schedule is arguably the most challenging out-of-conference schedule in recent memory. Want evidence? Aside from the game versus Villanova (of the CAA, which is arguably the best conference in FCS), take a look at where the Ivy League Media Day poll picks our 2007 Ivy opponents:

    1 Yale (14) 125
    3 Harvard (1) 95
    4 Princeton 87

    Also worthy of mention is that Princeton and Yale finished as co-champs of the Ivy last year, and Harvard was a not-so-distant third. No prizes if you also remembered that Lehigh went a lamentable 0-3 against "H-Y-P" last year.

Monday, August 20, 2007

News, Position Battles, and Injuries

The biggest news out of this weekend was not the issuance of my new T-shirt line for the Lehigh/Villanova game, the new poll for Murray Goodman's 20th Anniversary (scroll down on the left-hand side) here on the blog, or the impending issuance of the College Sporting News football preview issue.

Without a doubt, the big story was concerning the injuries after the first week of practice - some minor dings, but at least one big one that shakes up the depth chart.

Placed innocuously in Keith Groller's latest blog posting on the Morning Call, he drops this bombshell:

Most notable were injuries that sidelined both tailbacks Matt McGowan and Josh Pastore. McGowan's injury was more serious, a torn hamstring. It's expected to keep him out of the Sept. 8 opener against Villanova and could hamper him for weeks beyond that. The former Hazleton star was set for a breakout season and this injury is not a good way to get things started.

So starting tailbacks #1 and #2 were held out this weekend. Pfffffff. That sure doesn't make me feel good. I was counting on McGowan (who transferred here from Richmond) to be a major factor in this year's offense after sitting behind RB Marques "Double Deuces" Thompson last year. That's not to take anything away from (now likely) starter junior RB Josh Pastore (who transferred here from Kent State) who also has the capability to be a good starting back, but McGowan's rushing will be missed - and it without a doubt shakes up the depth chart.

We do have a decent #3, it must be mentioned, in senior RB Richard Forman, and I've often wondered how he could do given the chance, but after that there are (count'em) three freshmen on the depth chart: RB Kwensi Kankam, RB Jay Campbell, and RB Jaren Walker. (Sophomore RB Sean Parrott, who had a nice spring game, quietly is not listed in the current roster.) In the official wrapup of the week's practice, coach Coen singled out Walker as one of the kids that did well during the first week:

Coen mentioned several freshmen that have stuck out thus far, including offensive lineman Will Rackley, running back Jaren Walker, wide receiver Travis Artim, and defensive back Jerard Cribbs. Walker looked impressive throughout Saturday’s scrimmage, bruising his way to positive gains all afternoon long, while Rackley has more than held his own going against the upperclassmen defensive linemen.

And from Keith Groller's blog:

Coen ticked off the names of several freshmen: DBs John Kennedy and Jerard Cribbs; WRs Travis Artim and Craig Zurn (from Whitehall and Jim Thorpe respectively), RBs Kwesi Kankam and Jaren Walker, and offensive linemen Ricky Clerge and William Rackley who have all played well and appear ready to contribute immediately.

Which leads to another interesting position battle where a freshman could, just could, make a difference: the right side of the "O" line. Freshmen OL William Rackley (6'3, 270) and OL Ricky Clerge (6'3, 285) evidently made some noise and makes you wonder - could they challenge for a starting or backup spot? There's a logjam of other players there competing for time, notably sophomore OL Frank Giacalone, junior OL Chris Tiefenthal, senior Chris Sutherland, and junior OL Alex Kuziel. Who will end up starting for the Villanova game?

Overall, though, the mounting injuries are a concern. With the exception of the McGowan injury, all the other ones appear to be smaller ones that should be healed by opening day. But that's not to say that the injuries are not a big problem. They are:

The injury list was such a concern that Coen was reluctant to even name about four or five starters for the Villanova game. He said that if the Villanova game was on Sept. 1, when most teams open, Lehigh wouldn't nearly be ready. So, maybe, the bye week coming on Week 1 will be beneficial after all. “The effort has been good throughout and the kids have been working hard, but I am not pleased with the amount of injuries we’ve had,” Coen said. “Due to the injuries, a lot of other guys have gotten many reps, but they start to wear down after awhile.”
There's some more important positional information that will be coming out of this camp: who the starting linebackers will be; the starting defensive linemen; the receiving corps; and who will end up starting at fullback. But getting healthy is the top priority at this point.

Thank goodness we're starting September 8th.
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