Friday, April 10, 2009

Final Week Of Spring Practice Next Week: Super Sophomores?

The Lehigh athletic department just released a spring update, and it's quite an interesting read. Four practices to go, with the annual Brown/White scrimmage taking place on April 18th at Goodman Stadium (free admission) - and interesting information has come to light:

Call it the revenge of the "super Sophomores", as there were a multitude of members of the sophomore class that were singled out:


Coen says he’s been pleased with the progress of that group overall. “Sophomore RB Matt Fitz has been impressive; he’s competed well and really improved from last year. Sophomore WR De’Vaughn Gordon and sophomore WR Jake Drwal have done some nice things, and on defense sophomore LB Fred Mihal at linebacker and sophomore CB Colin Newton have both had very strong springs. They have shown good signs of progress from when the season ended in November.”

Coen also pointed to sophomore P Alex Smith who has put together a consistent spring.

The emergence of Fitz at running back is an especially welcome development. It looks like junior RB Jaren Walker and Fitz could potentially be an interesting 1-2 punch out of the backfield, and with incoming freshman RB Zach Barket entering the competition when school starts in August there could be crucial depth in the backfield that has been sorely lacking the past two years. Add senior FB Anthony Fossati and sophomore FB Bryce Arruda in the backfield and you have a really intriguing mix.

On defense, could Newton also be looking at a starting role, alongside senior SS Jesse Sanchez, junior FS John Venerio, and junior DB John "Fear Itself" Kennedy? If so, he could be the final piece in what's looking to potentially be one of the best defenses Lehigh fans have seen in a long time:

Asked what has surprised him this spring, Coen pointed to the play of the defensive line. “That group has really played well all spring. Senior DT B.J. Benning has done what we expected, and that is what we need, for him to perform at a high level. And junior DE David Brown and junior DT Phil Winnett have both looked great out there. I thought the strength of the team would lie at linebacker, but the D-line has been a pleasant surprise.”

Coen then commented on the play of some of the Lehigh veterans. “Senior LB Matt Cohen has played very well as has senior LB Heath Brickner. And I am very pleased with how our secondary has been playing. They continue to get better with each practice.”

Wide receiver still seems like a wide-open competition, but Drwal and Gordon look like they're in the mix. It will be very interesting to see who lines up with the first team, as well as watching where junior WR Craig Zurn, sophomore WR Travis Artim, senior WR Jim Potocnie and senior WR Brien Ruyak might end up, too.

It's stunning how many underclassmen are listed as players to watch. That should make for a pretty exciting Spring game next weekend.

And they're not the only team working their way to the Spring game. Our opening-day opponents, Central Connecticut State, are also in spring season as well.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Lehigh Beats Lafayette Again.. In Engineering Research

Never one to refrain from crowing about Lehigh's successes over "that school in Easton", the Rivalry has gone into brand-new territory: engineering research.

The David Freed Undergraduate Research symposium, which took place on April 1st in Packard Lab (making it a "home game"), billed itself as an extension of the Lehigh/Lafayette rivalry in their write-up on the Lehigh website.


The Lehigh and Lafayette football teams have played each other 144 times since 1884, more than any other two college football teams in America.

On Wednesday, April 1, top undergraduate engineering researchers from the two schools faced off for the first time in Lehigh’s Packard Laboratory.

The occasion was the annual David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium, which is endowed by Andrew D. Freed ’83 in honor of his parents. Freed, a member of the RCEAS advisory board, is president and CEO of Medical Device Investment Holdings Corp. in Malvern, Pa.

The research symposium has been held each of the last five years. This year’s event was the first in which Lafayette students were invited to compete.

Unlike the football "Rivalry", it's hard to see any losers in this initiative - just winners, and likely some lucrative research situations or jobs after graduation - though it must be told that Lehigh senior bioengineer Stephen H. Henry won first place for his presentation "Understanding Bioneedle Penetration Mechanics" (pictured) over the best Lafayette engineers.

Think there was any taunting going on?

“The competitive aspect was definitely secondary to the academic aspect,” said Henry, who will enroll as a doctoral candidate in the University of Pennsylvania’s bioengineering program next fall. “Every one of the contestants deserved the honor that I received.”

Oh, well. Only 237 days until the next meeting on the football field.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lehigh Spring Practice Reports, In Print and In Video

This time of year for me, blog-wise, is more of a "Spring Cleaning" than anything: it's the time when I think about a blog redesign (simplify, simplify, simplify), when I dress up my LFN Twitter page, when I try to figure how LFN looks on an iPhone, whein I clean up my LFN page on Facebook (and uploading all those videos and photos I've been meaning to upload to Facebook since, oh, December of last year) and basically do all the things that I've been meaning to do, but haven't.

But spring football season is also in full swing, and recently two reports were filed on the goings-on at practice. One was of the print variety, as Keith Groller of the Morning Call mentions that Lehigh is marching into this season with new momentum. Overall, coach Coen seems very please with how the team has progressed this offseason, partually buoyed by the successful season-ending win against "that school in Easton":

''We've had a great off-season,'' said coach Andy Coen as he shivered his way off the practice field after the third of the team's 14 spring sessions that will culminate with the Brown and White Game on April 18 at Goodman Stadium.

''The attitude of every kid from one to 70 was to get better this winter. We had a good one last year, too, but our kids are really excited and have done a great job. This was the type of day when maybe they wouldn't be ready to work in the past, but they came out here with a lot of energy and enthusiasm today.''

Junior QB J.B. Clark also told Groller of his increased expectiations this spring:

''There's a totally different feel for me coming into this season from a leadership standpoint,'' Clark said. ''The rest of the guys have shown they have confidence in me, and I have confidence in them. We're all out there pushing each other every day.''

Clark said he's not satisfied, and still hasn't forgotten about the 5-6 final record and all the close ones that got away.

For Clark that means ''getting better every day and taking my game to the next level.''
Pretty good stuff - music not only to my ears, I'm sure, but also to any Lehigh football fans out there.

The second report is actually from Service Electric 2's "Sports Scene" (which, thanks to SUVballer7, is available on YouTube) and gives a video report of Lehigh's practice so far. (It's also available on my Facebook page.) Interviewed is coach Coen and senior LB Matt Cohen:

Coen: "The kids just had a lot more bounce in their step after this offseason. Not only beating Lafayette, but winning three of the last four games. To end the season on a high note was huge for the kids, and the great work in the offseason in the weight room, running, those types of things has really carried over in the spring."

Cohen: "Coach said yesterday that spring's really installing an entire season's worth of plays in 15 practices. We've been doing that but at the same time we want to make sure we're having fun out there, we're working hard, we're getting better each day. So we're doing a lot of competition drills - and it's good to see that off the field after practice that we're all still friends, too, since it gets pretty heated."

The video includes footage of spring - including a pretty good 50 yard spiral pass by Clark. I don't think he's going to be looking over his shoulder this spring for the starting nod, do you?
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