Friday, April 10, 2015

LFN's 2015 Spring Preview - Offensive Line

Senior OL Matt Ford
We live in a world where we can judge the work of an offensive line by the overall output of the offense.

Gone are the days when you can look at a starters' height and weight and judge whether they will be a great Patriot League player, or not.  And at Lehigh, especially, the bar is particularly high for offensive linemen, with OL Will Rackley making the NFL, and players like OL Ned Daryoush, OL Keith Schauder and countless other all-Patriot League offensive linemen to provide the protection and push to keep drives alive and allow the skill players to make things happen.

Yet last year's statistics, overall show again that, as a unit, this team too needs to improve.

Chip Kelly's Oregon teams averaged 82 offensive plays per game, which allowed the Ducks to become a perennial Pac-12 powerhouse while he was there.  By this admittedly high standard, Lehigh's 70 offensive plays a game falls short.

Some statistics that show signs that Lehigh's offensive line did a good job in 2014 - like 4th down conversions (24th in the nation) and rushing offense (58th).  But one thing's for certain - this unit, with four returning starters, will need to make one more leap to the next level if Lehigh is to compete for Patriot League championships once again.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

LFN's 2015 Spring Preview - Defensive Line

Lehigh NG Tyler Cavenas
The 2014 numbers don't get any better when you look at them five months later.

Team Sacks: 104th.

Team Tackles for Loss: 118th.

Rushing Defense: 100th.

In order to have any chance of improving those poor numbers from 2014, one of the biggest areas for improvement will have to be in Lehigh's defensive front seven, a fact that head coach Andy Coen is all too aware of.

"When we put pressure on the quarterback it was because we were blitzing," he said in Lehigh's spring preview.  "We need to be able to get a rush to the quarterback and create more of a mechanism to get after that guy. We have to get back to being more aggressive in that respect."

It stands to reason that Lehigh's defensive line will be the start of that aggressive defense.  And fortunately, the Mountain Hawks have some young talent that started to emerge last year that could be poised to firm up this part of the defense in 2015.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Arguments Over Bowl Payouts Makes Me Wonder Whether A MEAC/SWAC Reorg Is Better

I actually feel bad for the schools and athletes of the MEAC.

Last year, the players and coaches of the schools of the MEAC knew that they all had an equal chance to compete for a national championship, just like all the other schools in Division I Football Championship Subdivision, or FCS.

But with the announcement of the Celebration Bowl, a postseason bowl game which rips the MEAC's champion away from the playoffs to face off against the winner of the SWAC, none of the talk anymore is about the athletes.

The talk on the internet around the bowl, financed and created, essentially, by ESPN, is how much money each host school could or could not bring home if they qualify for the game.

Rather than haggle over money, though, I think HBCU conferences are probably better served by doing something that probably has been needed to be done for decades - reorganizing.

The reason, oddly enough, is the bowl game.
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