Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lehigh 45, Georgetown 0, final

The Yuenglings (finally) taste good in the Valley tonight.

With Lafayette losing to Colgate as well, Lehigh and Lafayette are now playing for one game, and one game only: "The Rivalry". And Lehigh's finally got some positive momentum going to that big game three weeks from now with a resounding win.

Lehigh found an opponent where they could dominate the line of scrimmage, and the Mountain Hawks were finally able to demonstrate the type of team they can be. Junior RB Matt McGowan, finally back at 100%, got 128 yards rushing and 2 TDs. Equally as important, Lehigh averaged 5.3 yards per rush.

Senior QB Sedale Threatt didn't throw a pass rushing 4 times for 37 yards and a TD, and sophomore QB Chris Bokosky didn't have an overwhelming day either, going 5-for-12 - but, importantly, Bokosky got his first TD pass of his career on a nice grab by senior TE Joe Sutherland. Hard to pass any judgment on the "two-headed quarterback" approach since Lehigh was able to run at will against the overmatched Georgetown defense. And getting Bokosky valuable reps will pay dividends for next year.

The defense showed up to play. Lehigh got their first shutout since 2002, with senior LB Rashaun Gasaway leading the team with 7 tackles (including 4 solos). They let up only 9 first downs, 51 yards passing, and 97 yards rushing for a grand total of 148 total yards. It was a dominating performance.

Lehigh needed a big win, and got it. Colgate will pose a sterner test next week, but tonight we celebrate. The three-game losing streak is over, and finally things feel pointed in the right direction. Whomever is the quarterback, they will need to play better to beat the Raiders. But tonight, we celebrate something that has been too long in coming.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Patriot League Picks, Week 9 (and some press links)

{Photo Courtesy of Andrew Maier, Brown & White)

This is late, and it's going to be very, very quick since I have a busy afternoon. I will be watching the Georgetown/Lehigh game on Lehigh Broadcast tomorrow and I will be offering my commentary after the game as always, but this posting will be brief just to get the picks out there and to list the press links.

The game will be carried on Service Electric 2 locally, AM 1230 and 1320, and online at LehighSports.com.

A quick note on Lehigh/Lafayette: it is sold out once again. It's the 10th straight year it's been sold out in advance, and I can't remember if it's even not been sold out. There are scheduled to be "standing-room only" tickets to possibly still be sold, but those are dependent on the weather (since those fans will be in the grassy horseshoe area).

Let's just hope that my prediction of the game today is wrong, and we don't see any more of that team that we saw last weekend.

Patriot Predictions
As always, some of these are cross posted in "The CSN Way" on the College Sporting News.

Holy Cross over Bucknell
The Crusaders should dispose of Bucknell easily, who lost 20-17 last week to Georgetown on a last-second field goal. But with their second resounding victory in a row, led be quarterback Dominic Randolph and wideout Tom Harrison, they could find themselves in the Top 25 for the first time in a long time: first their 59-10 domination of Lehigh, and now this blowout victory.
Cruisin’ Crusaders 45, Buffaloed Bison 7

Colgate over Lafayette
The Raiders and Leopards are playing once again for their playoff lives, but Colgate come in with the wind at their backs after putting away Towson of the CAA 27-17, while Lafayette is coming off a shock 34-23 loss to Fordham that in reality wasn’t really that close. With a team that tend not to kill itself coming to town, it’s not the time to have a quarterback controversy, and with senior Mike DiPaola struggling, Leopard coach Frank Tavani might be tempted to put in sophomore Rob Curley. In any event, Raider runningback Jordan Scott should be the difference: in a defensive struggle, the team with the better back wins, and that’s Colgate.
Revved Raiders 20, Lost Leopards 13

Fordham over Marist
I wouldn't be half surprised to hear that coach Masella had addressed the media to tell folks not to "underestimate" the Red Foxes, how QB Stephen McGrath is better than advertised, how they nearly beat Sacred Heart last week. Well, Ram fans, I will indeed be overlooking Marist this week, since quarterback John Skelton and the rest of your team deserves it. Look forward to next week, for it will determine the Patriot League championship.
Tough Rams 41, Flushed Foxes 0

Press Links
LehighSports.Com: Seeing Double (Laquan & Rashaun Gasaway)
Morning Call: Threatt May Not Start As Lehigh Looks To Rebound
Groller's Corner: You Haven't Seen The Last Of No. 3 At Lehigh
Express-Times: Hawks Try To Salvage Season
Brown & White: Hawks To Take Field With Heads Held High
Hoyasaxa: Georgetown/Lehigh Preview

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Preview of Georgetown/Lehigh

I realized at some point today that I have never had to write a preview like this in the five years that I've been doing this.

Since starting this blog up in 2003, every game I've written about or previewed either had as its focus the Patriot League championship or a potential at-large playoff bid.

Now it's not even Halloween, and Lehigh is no longer in the title hunt. It's strange, and like me, I think a lot of Lehigh fans are adjusting to the new reality.

But even without titles this year, there are still goals that should be attained that will help us close out the year on a successful note. That involves a winning record and a win over "that school in Easton".

Closing on a successful note would mean a great deal to this program. Ask Northern Iowa what it meant to them to win their last two home games against Western Kentucky and Illinois State last year to salvage a 7-4 season. Now, they're undefeated and cruising to a Gateway title. That success didn't just start this year: it was built in those last games in 2006 as well.

That's the reason to go to Goodman this weekend to watch the game. To not only root on the home team and to get the horrible taste of the three-game losing streak out of our mouths, but to play this four-game season to get things together for "The Rivalry".

We have a lot of unfinished business with "that school in Easton". There is a three-game losing streak to the Leopards that needs to be reversed at all costs.

Georgetown seems to be coming at a good time for Lehigh to try to take the first step at achieving these goals. The Hoyas haven't beaten us in the modern era - since 1925, in fact. Simply the fact of getting off this three-game losing streak would be huge for the psyche of everybody in the Lehigh family - players, coaches, and fans. Winning resoundingly, with the offense finally getting off a four-week schneid, would be even better.

I'll be watching again, as I always do, to see what happens.

Game Notes & Weather Report
The big wild-card in this game could be the weather. As of today the forecast is a 90% chance of rain: the first rainy day we've encountered this year. On a day where we're trying to get our offense in gear, this is not what the doctor ordered.

As for personnel, the changes really are only on the offensive side of the ball. Senior QB Sedale Threatt and sophomore QB Chris Bokosky are going to "split time", in the words of coach Coen. The freshmen running backs, freshman RB Kwesi Kankam and freshman RB Jaren Walker, will most likely go the whole way for the Mountain Hawks and another freshman in freshman OL Ricky Clerge will in all likelihood be joining freshman OL William Rackley on the "O" line at some point during the game. Youth, it seems, is being counted on to be the answer to the offensive problems.

A Word on Georgetown
Georgetown, in this year and ever since they have joined the Patriot League, have usually been greeted with the word "poor" preceding them, as in "Poor Georgetown." But thanks to the efforts of people like DFW Hoya, their season comes alive for fans across the country. (He also does great previews of the Georgetown games every week, and he's released his preview of this game, available here.)

Their life in the Patriot League has been less than accommodating. Since joining the Patriot League as a football-only member in 2001, the Hoyas have not enjoyed a winning record, and two years ago the Hoyas had two league wins for the first time. After head coach Bob Benson stepped down last year , Georgetown hired former Navy assistant Kevin Kelly to take his place. He brought with him an attitude of "fanatical effort" in everything the team does. (Undoubtedly that's also a key part of Academy training too.) He struggled, however, in a 2-9 campaign.

After starting the year 0-7 had their first victory of the year last week in a 20-17 victory over Bucknell. The victory partially came about because coach Kelly scrapped his initial offense and switched his offensive attack, which has resulted in closer games. The win gave a nice ray of hope for the Hoyas for this year, and actually puts some wind in their sails and some positive momentum for the first time this year.

But Hoya fans sometimes feel like their school is competing with one hand tied behind its back. No school in the Patriot League is so hamstrung by the league's academic index restrictions, which dictate that the academic standing of football players needs to be commesurate to the rest of the student body. Adding to this, Georgetown also doesn't fully fund their football program, leading the Hoyas to offer fewer "scholarship equivalencies". So the Hoyas find themselves outweighed on the lines, and has some folks wondering if they'll ever be in the mix for Patriot League titles.

Georgetown actually has a great history of football tradition, including being one of the early powers of "Eastern Football" in the first half of the 20th century. They also were a major school in the very early days of football, too. The Hoyas had a huge rivalry with the "Columbia Athletic Club" which was a semi-pro team based in the District. Every year until 1894 Columbia A.C. and Gerogetown would play for the "district championship", until it was stopped in 1894 after the death of a Hoya player. Shortly thereafter, college clubs would be banned from playing semi-professional clubs.

Offense
Two weeks ago, coach Kelly went away from the ground-based triple-option attack he favored in the first games of the year and instead went to a more spread option offense, in part due to ineffectiveness (it wasn't working) and in part due to personnel (injuries were mounting at tailback). With 31 points against Fordham and a win against Bucknell, it's hard to argue with the results.

The triggerman is senior QB Matt Bassuener (pictured), and he does everything for the offense: run (171 yards, 4 TDs) and pass (1482 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTs). He's quick and mobile, and has been an effective leader of the new spread attack of the Hoyas. Contain him, and you contain the Hoya offense, but it's not as simple as it sounds. He has been great passing the football, especially in the past two weeks - Bassuener chucked the ball 92 times and completed 68 of them, for a 74% completion percentage. It is a short-passing game offense, but Bassuener has been executing it well. Take away the pass, and he can take off with it on the run as well.

Georgetown uses a spread offense, but still uses three backs and runs the option, which makes the running backs the focal point. Senior FB Kyle Van Fleet is their best athlete by far coming out of the backfield, a converted wide receiver, who has 198 yards rushing and 439 yards receiving to lead the team. However, he suffered a broken hand and torn hand ligaments in the win last week and may not be playing (though he is listed on the depth chart). If he's not available, he will be replaced by unproven freshman FB Dean Duchak. Both look like speedy outside runners rather than grinding yards through the tackles.

The slotbacks are sophmore RB Charlie Houghton and freshman RB Mychal Harrison, who are double-threat backs that can run and catch the ball out of the backfield. Houghton is a former Patriot League Rookie of the Year and is the closest thing Georgetown has to a bruising back. Harrison is a scatback that can catch screens and go to the outside. Combined, they have 196 yards rushing and 243 yards receiving - but only two touchdowns, one passing and one receiving.

Senior WR Brent Craft and junior WR Sidney Baker are the leading wideouts on the team, with freshman WR Keerome Lawrence also getting significant time. Although the combined receiving numbers aren't that impressive - 468 receiving yards, 1 TD - they have a vital role in this offense in blocking downfield to help the backs score big runs from the short passing game. It seems like none of them are speed demons, as the Hoyas like to stick to the short passing game so far.

Georgetown fans are fond of saying thatthey are outweighed on each line, but the linchpin of this line is a big, 300 lb lineman in senior C Dan Osterhout. When this line was asked to dominate a line of scrimmage to grind out rushing yards, it struggled. When this line was asked to pass block for a short passing game, it has done much better - they've only given up two sacks in their last two games.

Defense
The Hoya defense is a 4-2-5 formation, which I like to call a "big nickel". It replaces one of the outside linebackers with a permanent "rover" safety. It takes a speedy secondary to pull off, depends on a very solid front four, and asks a lot of your two linebackers. In my mind, this defense can be attacked on several fronts.

Senior DT Nmandi Obaiko, at 6'0 250 lbs, is the biggest and best defensive lineman on this team right now, with 40 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. With standout defensive end junior DE Atefiok Etekuren off the depth chart this week, the Hoyas have less depth than usual on the "D" line as they rotate a lot of bodies in there. If there was ever a time to get our "O" line back on track, this smallish, decimated unit would be the one to do it against.

Two underclassmen - sophomore LB Scott Coffman and freshman LB Nick Parrish - anchor the most important position on the defense. Parrish is the better of the two with 53 tackles and 3 tackles for loss, but both - in theory - should be beatable by our offensive line. If we were ever to get a 100 yard rusher this year, this is our chance.

The secondary has two big standouts in sophomore safety Chris Rau (the "rover") and senior CB Kevin Cherepski. Rau, with 59 tackles and 1 sack, is the leading tackler on the team, while Cherepski has 52 tackles and has 1 of this secondary's three interceptions on the year. Again, it seems like this isn't a dominating unit, but with our struggling offense now being completely rebuilt, it remains to be seen if our offense will be able to take advantage of this.

Special Teams
Senior PK Eric Bjornerud only has 3 FG on the year (he's converted all three he's attempted), but the biggest two he's ever made came last week against Bucknell, including the 38 yard game-winner. He's also 13/14 on extra points, so he's a good kicker. That goes with another special teams standout in senior P Chris MacGriff, who is averaging 43.6 yards per punt.

Junior KR Kenny Mitchell is the key weapon in the return units, with 513 return yards on kickoffs, while freshman RB Mychal Harrison is the primary punt returner (he also had a 63 yard kickoff return). These guys are legitimate threats and need to be contained - a sleepwalk by our special teams units could find these guys find the end zone.

Keys To The Game
1. Make something happen. It doesn't have to be pretty; I don't have to like it; all I'm asking is that the offense make something happen to score points. I don't care if the ball is underthrown by 10 yards, or the ball bounces off two defensive backs, or we have to fumble the g-d thing into the end zone. All I'm asking is that our offense make something happen to score points. Tackle-eligible? Run and shoot? Three tight ends? I don't care. Just get it done.
2. Special Teams. This unit will have to play at its best for us to win this game - that means containing the return men, great tackling, and no dumb penalties. The stats don't lie: these units could very well break one, and it could be the difference in the game.
3. Pass Coverage. Holy Cross picked us apart on defense last week, and Georgetown absolutely has the tools to do the exact same thing here unless our pass coverage improves in some way. If we sit back in a soft zone, get no pressure on Bassuener and sit back in a zone, they have the opportunity to gain big yards on us just like Holy Cross did. We can't let this happen.
4. Helmets. If this team looks at Georgetown's helmets, and only sees the "G" on there and assumes we're going to win automatically, they are dead wrong. If we come out flat because we think we're "big, bad Lehigh" and that Georgetown is simply going to run away, we will have learned nothing from the last three weeks. I can stomach losing to better teams, like Holy Cross, Yale, and Fordham, if we play hard all the time and play to our potential. I cannot abide players assuming they are better simply because "we're Lehigh". And I cannot abide by players not learning from their mistakes.

Fearless Prediction
Like many Lehigh fans, my faith in this team was deeply shaken after last week's performance. I've never seen such an inept display of Lehigh football ever since I've written the blog. There have been tough losses these last five years, and even a few times where we lost big. But even in those games we battled, and against Holy Cross we gave up the battle.

On paper, Lehigh wins this game. But will they? Will they work harder than Georgetown? Will this reshuffling on offense really work to kick-start everything? Will the defense make the adjustments necessary to keep Georgetown from playing their game? Will this team refuse to come out flat emotionally once again?

I so desperately want to say "yes". I want to say that this team has learned the lessons of the past three weeks. I want to see this team be the Lehigh that I remember even last year, that closed the year strong and dominated Bucknell. The team that played well on offense, defense and special teams. I want to see a team that plays better, plays with pride, plays with emotion.

But the team I saw last week wasn't that team. If that team comes out again this week, we will lose this game. And I am not yet convinced that we've seen the last of that team that came out last week.

I'm done making picks on hopes and dreams. I'm going to pick the the game based on what I've seen. And from what I've seen, Georgetown will beat Lehigh for the first time since 1925.

Georgetown 23, Lehigh 17

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Bill" Leckonby Passes Away

This Monday, the Lehigh football family lost one of its legendary coaches and athletic directors in "Bill" Leckonby at the age of 90. You may read the press accounts about his death, but it really doesn't take into account his transformative effect on the Lehigh football program and even the initial visions of the Patriot League.

A star tailback at St. Lawrence and on the Brooklyn Dodgers of the AAFL (but as a "triple threat" he could also be considered a quarterback), he would leave pro sports to fight in the Navy during World War II. When he returned in 1946, he would be the youngest head football coach Lehigh has ever had at 28 years old and in four years would lead Lehigh to their first-ever perfect undefeated and untied season (9-0-0) in 1950. The first-ever Lambert Cup would be won by Leckonby's 1957 squad, and in his final year of coaching he would win another in 1961. Overall, he would have 85 coaching wins and six "Middle Three" championships.

As a coach, he was an outspoken advocate for Lehigh. In 1957, he played the press like a violin in advocating Lehigh for being "ranked in the top 20 teams in the nation" and "No Ivy League team, save Dartmouth or Princeton, would give us much trouble." He also campaigned for a new rating between "major" and "small" colleges where Lehigh seemed to fit - a cut above the Oberlin's of the world, but a step below the Michigan's. When the NCAA moved to Division I-A and Division I-AA in 1978, it could have been seen as "Leck"''s ultimate vision coming to fruition.

"Leck" liked to have smart students. "A boy has to be a student and athlete to be on our team." "With boys of higher intelligence, teaching is a snap."

In his first year as athletic director, he made motions to leave the "Middle Atlantic" conference, which at the time included Delaware, Muhlenberg, Bucknell, Gettysburg, and Temple and Lafayette in football. In 1962, he told the football writers in New York that the ideal league for Lehigh would be an "organization similar to the Ivy League," according the the New York Times. He wanted a school with "better balance" academically and athletically. He could have been describing the Patriot League of today.

"Leck" was the athletic director though interesting times at Lehigh: the admission of women and the creation of the first women's sports teams; the plans to demolish Taylor Stadium and start the plans for Goodman stadium; and he also hired Pete Carril, who would later become famous for his slowdown, passing style of basketball at Princeton.

Bill Leckonby was a real visionary, a real man, and a great Engineer. He will be missed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Around The Horn, 10/21/2007

  • I'm really starting to like coach Tom Masella of Fordham. He goes out and coaches a huge win for Fordham by pretty much dominating Lafayette 34-23, and then he turns around and says, "I'd say we're officially in the mix for a Patriot League championship." Um, coach? If you beat Bucknell, who's winless in the league, and beat Holy Cross at home, you ARE the championship... that, sir, is not "in the mix". That's "in the driver's seat". Sophomore QB Josh Skelton is just getting stronger and stronger, completing his first 11 passes on the day on his way to a 323 yard passing day with 2 touchdowns passing and one running. He says how they kept Lafayette on their back foot: "We knew they'd blitz a lot and I think our first three of four passes were all screen passes and that helped us get them off balance. Then once we were able to figure out their blitz we were able to get it downfield." Here's something else: they're the first team to have figured out Lafayette's blitz all season. Two weeks from now, Fordham will in all likelihood be facing Holy Cross in the Bronx for the championship, and I think they have a great chance to do it.
  • With Lehigh's tough time this weekend, what has fallen under the radar a little bit is how Lafayette has lost their last two games. That school in Easton is 4-3, but with wins over Marist, Columbia, a Joe Sandberg-less Penn, and Georgetown, their fans are also wondering how they will be finishing up the year as well. Although still techincally in the playoff chase, they need some help as they've now lost to Fordham (who beat Lehigh) and lost to Princeton and Harvard (whom Lehigh beat). Granted, their backfield has been injured extensively, and sophomore RB De'Andre Morrow has taken up the rushing load, but senior QB Mike DiPaola has struggled being "the man", especially against the better teams. Last week, he went 16 for 34 for 166 yards, 1 TD and an interception, prompting Tavani to put in sophomore QB Rob Curley who promptly went 11 for 12 for 107 yards and 1 TD. Can you say, "QB Controversy"?
  • Colgate refused to go away in the Patriot League title chase as well, as they picked up a nice out-of-conference victory against an old "friend" in Towson. In their 27-17 victory over the Tigers, they also got an assist from Towson QB Sean Schaefer, who lofted three interceptions. But super junior RB Jordan Scott ultimately wore down Towson's defense, pummeling them for six first down runs in the fourth quarter and putting away the game-clincher with 45 seconds left. "I think we just stepped our game up as an offensive unit," Scott said in typical understated fashion. They will be a tough out the rest of the way, and their game against Lafayette next week will be in effect an elimination game for the loser. Should be a dandy.
  • Finally, Georgetown won their first game of the year in Lewisburg, PA by a 20-17 score and giving head coach Kevin Kelly his first-ever Patriot League win as well. It was a game where the Hoyas battled through their own mistakes, with a fumble and senior QB Matt Bassuener throwing two interceptions. But Bucknell could not capitalize on the errors, and after Bucknell tied the game at 17 on 8 yard TD pass to freshman WR Shaun Pasternak from sophomore QB Marcelo Trigg with under 1 minute remaining. But a bad squib kick allowed the Georgetown offense to drive to the Bucknell 21 and allowed Georgetown to boot the game-winner through. Unfortunately for the Hoyas, though, senior WR Kyle Van Fleet, who had two key receptions on the game-winning drive, had a broken hand with torn ligaments - which could deprive Georgetown of one of their better offensive players.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Press Links & Two Thoughts

The press links are below. Pretty they are not, but there they are if you're interested.

A couple thoughts for a Monday night, where I'm still a little stunned. The first is: college sports can never test your loyalties, since no matter what happens you're still always a fan of the school that is your alma mater. If the Eagles lose a heartbreaker to the Bears, I can always throw away my Donovan McNabb jersey and buy a Peyton Manning jersey and pretend I've been a "diehard" fan ever since the moving vans left Baltimore. But you don't throw away your Lehigh hat just because the team lays an egg. You're still Brown and White, and you still play every game in the season. And you always want to - maybe have to - beat Lafayette.

The other thought involves my players of the week, for which I'm still a bit stunned. I thought it would be fun to put up players of the week every week and have the fans vote on who should be the player of the week. Who could you possibly put up this week? The past three weeks I didn't put the poll up, since either the effort was so flat or there seemed to be too few people deserving of awards. And in the fourth week, I didn't put up any offensive players since the offense didn't score any touchdowns in the 20-13 win over Harvard.

No offensive players were deemed worthy of recognition for four straight weeks. That's unbelievable.

Morning Call: Holy Blowout!
Morning Call: Holy Cross' Emotion Burns Up Lehigh
Express-Times: Holy Cross Humiliates Lehigh
Worcester Telegram-Gazette: Harrison, Randolph Help HC Bury Lehigh

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday's Word: Emotion

Yeah, it would have been very, very easy to take one of a buffet of different words that describe what should be called from here on out as the "Mountain Meltdown". Take your pick, "Bad?" "Ugly?" "Stink?" "Disarray?" "Humiliate?" Taking one of those words and running with it would be way too easy, and talking through a nightmarish list of everything that happened on Saturday afternoon. But I'm not going to do that.

Instead, it's "emotion."

I keep going back to the words in the press conference after the Fordham loss from coach Coen, something I've mentioned over and over here. "The next two weeks will define who we are as a football team," he said. This week, with awful clarity, we see what football team this is. A team with no "emotion".

Coach Gilmore came out and said in the press conference, "I thought Lehigh was going to be a really emotional team with a league loss already. I stressed that point all week with our players that we would have to win that emotional [part of the] game."

What he didn't say is that Holy Cross seemed to win that part of the game before the opening snap. He could have, but he stopped himself short. He saw no need to pile on. The emotional state in this team is simply not right.

It's those type of emotional things, that maybe only are noticed by someone who is nuts enough to blog about Lehigh football may notice, come into greater clarity after this loss.

Like 2006 when the Lehigh team jumped on the Yale logo at halftime when they were getting their butts handed to them on the offensive and defensive lines. They did it again right before the Lafayette game as well in 2006, which handed coach Tavani a golden opportunity to become the master motivator he is. Tavani knows better than even coach Gilmore how to handle "emotion".

Both the Yale games and Lafayette games were losses. Both emotional outbursts of stomping on the logos were attempts by the team to show a bravado that "hey, we're Lehigh. We're faster than you, we're better than you, and you may as well not show up." It almost looks now, in retrospect, like a way to deny the reality - that we're no longer the best team out there. Yale's offensive line, they're good. Lafayette's offensive line, they're good.

Yale and Lafayette in 2006 were no longer buying into the "Lehigh mystique". The intimidation didn't work at all. Certainly not Lafayette, who thrashed us 49-27. I can't help thinking of the similarities between that game and the game this Saturday in the sense that going into both games, Lehigh had shown signs of playing good defense and playing good enough offense going into the game. But the defense was dissected, bit by painful bit. An exceptional quarterback found the open men, wide open, with nobody around them for big first downs.

For those that have been following Lehigh football as long as I have, they see the irony: the great teams in the late 1990s that went undefeated in the regular season didn't need to jump on logos to prove they were better. They would just get on the field and put the ball in the end zone. Their "emotion" was focused: Get on the field, shut up about it, and get it done.

And here, the season now resting in tatters, I see with clarity that the team felt the same way they did in 2006. And when I say team, I don't just mean the players, I also mean the coaching staff. They felt Lehigh was the most talented team out there. "We're Lehigh. We're going to get it all together, somehow, since we've got the faster players and the better players." It's as if Holy Cross was simply going to run away because we showed up.

We didn't need to work hard. We didn't need to go with any different gameplans that play better to our personnel strengths. We have great athletes. The other team is simply going to run away since we're always better than they are. "We're Lehigh."

Somewhere along the line, actually having dominating teams gave way to teams that simply fed off the legacy.

At no time did this 2007 team, even during the win against VMI, really earn that right to be called a dominating team in any phase of the game against anybody. This doesn't seem to be a team that has learned much of anything from the defeats in 2006 to the latest slide of three straight games.

Coach Gilmore, Holy Cross' head coach, must see the irony with clarity as well. He was on the coaching staff, next to coach Coen, coach Lembo, and head coach Kevin Higgins on those dominant Lehigh teams. Those teams did have "emotion", but it wasn't the "logo-jumping" kind of swagger. The emotion was focused into execution on the field of play. Coach Gilmore's current Crusader team shares that with the teams he was on at Lehigh.

It is that emotion which separates Holy Cross, who is in the hunt for their first-ever shot at the FCS playoffs (whether they win the Patriot League or not) and Lehigh, who is out of the hunt.

Coach Gilmore mentioned one other interesting thing from the press conference: that he "fully expects Lehigh to rebound and learn something from this, just like we would. It's a tough pill for them to swallow, but I know what the people here at Lehigh are all about, and I know they are going to respond in a positive way."

It is exactly how this coaching staff, and these players, respond to this beating that is the big question at this point. Coach Gilmore thinks that this staff will respond in a positive way. What I think is that this coaching staff needs to spend great, agonizing detail in getting in touch with "emotion". And it won't be easy.
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