After getting permission to see practice from the athletics department this past Sunday I was in the area for Eagles practice and stopped to also see the Brown & White later that afternoon. The practice was already pulled into Rausch field house at that time since it had hailed just about an hour earlier in the Valley.
I took great pains to stay out of the way, and see exactly what was up. Since it was a split squad match (and I only saw the one of them), no real conclusions can be drawn. I did see sophomore RB Jaren Walker sporting his new #8 jersey as Lehigh go through some physical drills in "shells" (to the uninitiated, in helmets and about half the number of pads as normal).
The only real "news' I can offer from the practice was the presence of a walk-on in the QB derby. Yes, you read right. I spied a #16 in practice taking reps at QB who I later learned was a walk-on, freshman QB Thad Kosciolek. That makes the grand total of QBs in practice at five.
Coach Coen told me after the practice that the weather didn't "cooperate", but he was pleased with the work they were able to get done inside on Sunday and Monday (where once again the weather was bad).
Building on this, coach Coen reported this week that he's still looking at the team's overall conditioning, and he's looking forward to the heat to see how they troops' condition really is.
“I thought we ran the ball well today,” Coen said. “The defense rallied late and that’s usually the way the early part of camp goes, with some give and take on both sides.” He continued, “Our pass skeleton drill was up and down with some dropped balls but kids were making plays too.”
Coen said it has been tough to get a clear read on the team’s overall conditioning in the early going due to the favorable weather. “With such good weather, it’s tough to tell where we’re at. I’m hoping the temperatures pick up soon here. The double sessions will also give us a good read on what type of shape we’re in.” Coen added, “I think it’s clear that there is a noticeable difference in the strength in a lot of our kids. Many of these guys put in long hours of work in the offseason and it has shown.”
Although the team has had just five practices, Coen said it’s easy to see that the newest group of Mountain Hawks is not shying away from competition. “I’m very pleased with our freshmen. It’s a group of competitors. They’re still learning the system and thinking too much, but the effort they’re giving and how eager they are to get better has been very impressive.”
This is all music to my ears - the freshmen are entering the meat grinder pretty well early on, and the overall strength is up on the team. I see it in this way: coach Coen has set a bunch of goals for this team (like building strength), and the team is meeting the goals. Now, let's just keep those injuries away...