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Lehigh Fall Practice has started

Lehigh Fall Practice
Has it really been 11 days since my last post? Have I really been so immersed in my work, the Olympics, and my Rick James MP3 collection that I had forgotten this annual event?

Not really. Lehigh Football Nation is indeed on top of things, contrary to popular belief. Lehigh's fall practice started on Monday the 9th.

Lehigh opens camp with another top 25 ranking (8/9, LehighSports.Com)
http://www.lehighsports.com/release.asp?RELEASE_ID=2948

McNeils Getting His Kicks (8/12, Express-Times)
http://www.nj.com/sports/expresstimes/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/1092314120117720.xml

Soggy conditions change Lehigh gameplan Friday (8/13, LehighSports.com)
http://www.lehighsports.com/release.asp?RELEASE_ID=2955

Camp has opened and it's looking like long, hard, wet days are ahead practicing for the upcoming season. It's here where players show the coaches what they're made of - their intensity and work ethic.

It's hard to get a feel of how the practices are going from the scant media reports. Saying the practices are hard are surely no secret. There are some clues in the Express-Times piece above that practices will be intense - and that McNeils (taking advantage of Rutgers transfer Justin Musliek's quadriceps injury) is showing some promise as a placekicker.

More Top 25 rankings for the Engineers
The USA Today and Sports Network released this past week their preseason 1-AA polls, and Lehigh figures at #23 in both.

ESPN/USA Today 1-AA Poll:
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?poll=4

The Sports Network 1-AA Poll:
http://www.sportsnetwork.com/default.asp?c=sportsnetwork&page=/cfoot2/news/AGN3431661.htm

High expectations for this year. Hopefully the team will be able to justify their ranking - starting with Stony Brook (only 18 days away!).

United Way Benefit: September 4th vs. Stony Brook
Speaking of the game against the Seawolves, LehighSports.Com has announced a promotion with the game on their website:

Lehigh kicks off season with United Way benefit
http://www.lehighsports.com/release.asp?RELEASE_ID=2956

If you are going to the game, be sure to follow this link. This will get you to the page with the form to fill out to ensure that 60% of the proceeds go to the United Way.

Finally...
The Patriot League Preview from the Sports Network just came out:

http://www.sportsnetwork.com/default.asp?c=sportsnetwork&page=/cfoot2/news/AGN3432049.htm

Their writer Matt Dougherty is predicting the Brown and White to finish second:

2. LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS (8-3, 6-1 Patriot)

COACH (RECORD): Pete Lembo (27-8 in three seasons)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (7 offense/6 defense)

MAJOR DEPARTURES: RB Jermaine Pugh (768 yards), RB David Wilson (466 yards, 4 TD), WR Dave Crockett (490 yards, 3 TD), LB Tom McGeoy (86 tackles, 3 sacks), LB Mike Taggart (51 tackles), CB Lawrence Williams (57 tackles, 4 INT), DE Mike Gregorek (49 tackles, 8.5 sacks), S Trevor Micklos (74 tackles, 4 INT)

OFFENSIVE STAR: TE Adam Bergen (70 receptions, 840 yards, 6 TD)


DEFENSIVE STAR: DT Royce Morgan (30 tackles, 6.5 sacks)

OTHER KEY PIECES: QB Kyle Keating (1419 yards, 16 TD), WR Gerran Walker (291 yards), RB Eric Rath, C Justin Terry, OG Jason Morrell, DT Tristan Lawrence (30 tackles, 3.5 sacks), CB Duane Smith (29 tackles), LB John Guynes (32 tackles), S Karrie Ford (43 tackles)

NEWCOMERS OF NOTE: K Justin Musiek (Transfer/Rutgers)

SCHEDULE: Lehigh has the advantage of hosting most of the tougher opponents on its schedule. The Mountain Hawks take on Villanova (9/11) and host Bucknell, Colgate and Fordham in Patriot League play. Lehigh also travels to Yale (10/16).

PROGNOSIS: The Mountain Hawks just missed the playoffs with an 8-3 record in 2003, and were only a few plays away from finishing 10-1. Though talented players are gone on both sides of the ball, they have the talent to make another playoff push. Keating returns at quarterback with top target Bergen and most of the offensive line. However, the running back and receivers positions do have major question marks. The top five tacklers have departed on defense, meaning a group of players that received part-time action will have to step up their game. The biggest advantage for the Mountain Hawks could be the schedule, as the top teams in the Patriot all travel to Bethlehem. If the Mountain Hawks protect their home field, they should be able to punch their ticket for the playoffs.

Let's hope Matt is wrong - let's think about taking care of business this year, rather than letting the 1-AA committee decide whether we're in or out the of the playoffs this year.

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