Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Season Closes With Brown/White Game this Saturday

The spring season has featured October weather and an offensive line depleted due to injury.

But to head coach Andy Coen and the rest of the Mountain Hawks, it's been more sunshine this Spring season than clouds.

That's what a ten win season, a Patriot League championship, and the League's first playoff victory since 2001 can do.

This Saturday, the 2011 Lehigh football team will prove which team reigns supreme - Brown (defense) or White (Offense). And don't think it's anything but serious, the competition between the two sides. (more)

"The weather has been awful; this was our 11th practice and I think we've seen the sun only three times," Coen told Keith Groller of the Morning Call earlier this week. "But it is what it is and you just have to deal with it like you do in the season. Things are going all right."

There's a distinct possibility that the weather this Saturday will be no better.  Right now, the weather forecast calls for 47 degrees and rain - more like weather for an English Premier League soccer game than a spring football scrimmage.

In weather like that, it will be interesting to see the work on the running game - with junior QB Michael Colvin and junior RB Zach Barket.

"Senior QB Chris Lum has had a really good spring," Coen told in their official release. "He missed some time last week but it gave Michael Colvin a chance to get some reps with the first group. We’ll start Chris, but when it’s all said and done I’d like to see Michael get some experience playing behind the first offensive line. That will be something we’ll be looking for."

Colvin and Barket will run behind an offensive line with only seven healthy linemen.

Sophomore OL Matt Lippincott had been playing well, but suffered a high ankle sprain that will likely keep him out for the rest of the spring session.

"Plus, we had three guys coming off shoulder surgeries," Coen said, talking about sophomore OL Shane Rugg, senior OL Vinny Pellegrini and sophomore OL A.J. Hood. "So, we need to get some guys back and the competition will really heat up in the summertime."

One of the highlights in camp is the presence of fifth-year senior OL Keith Schauder, a player whom the Lehigh coaching staff will be looking at to fill the big shoes of a certain NFL draftee, OL Will Rackley.

"I could have been out of here, but there was never a doubt for me that I wanted to come back and play again this year," Schauder said. "For most guys this is the ultimate. Most of us are not going to go on to play in the NFL. So, you have to make the most of this opportunity and play as long as you can."

Oddly enough, if Schauder hadn't come back for his final year, there may not even have been a spring game, thanks to the fact that there are so few healthy linemen.

"Our theme is WAR — we're about responsibility, we're about repeating, we're about rings," Schauder said. "Last year is in the past. Last year is not going to help us win any games this year. We've got to go out and do it again."

Lum, also working with a depleted receiving corps thanks to injuries, has to be excited about taking on a defense that has had an extremely strong spring season.

“We’ve always had an extensive defensive package with a lot of movement and blitzes,” Coen said. “They are a group that wreaks havoc on all the offenses we go against during the season. We haven’t limited that during the spring. We will probably let them go into the game and do their thing. It might make it hard for some of those young offensive linemen, but that’s what we do on defense. I want to give the defense a chance to run all their schemes and I want to see them run to the ball, make plays and step up on third downs.”

Against a first-team group featuring six of seven returning starters, including emerging star senior LB Mike Groome, it won't be easy. The no-nonsense leadership of junior CB Bryan Andrews will be something, too, to watch in the secondary to show that his unit isn't a bunch of kids off the school bus.

“I think the biggest thing for us as we wrap-up the spring is to give kids one more opportunity to compete in a game situation,” said Coen, the 2010 Patriot League Coach for the Year. “We’ll have the same scoring system pitting the offense against the defense. We’re going to try to put them in as many competitive situations as we possibly can because it will be the last time until we get back together in early August. We want to see the guys go out and have fun and take another day to get better.”

"Last year at this time we were trying to figure out who our quarterback was going to be and were putting in so many new things," Coen said. "Chris Lum is now our quarterback and really looking good.

"[Offensive coordinator] Dave Cecchini and I were talking the other day and we agree that we're light years ahead of where we were at this point last season. So, I am happy and excited with where we're at. We just have to keep getting better."

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