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Are you ready for some drama?; Lehigh/Stony Brook Game Balls

Are you ready for some drama?
Lehigh Nation is experiencing some drama this week. The message boards are abuzz with concern about the offense (though, oddly, none gives the defense as much credit as they deserve IMO). The talk is, Keating, Conner, or Borda? all over again. Should a change be made? Or should Borda remain the starter?

First, the game summaries from the local news:
Morning Call (Allentown)
Lehigh Stumbles, but Stays Upright, in 25-2 Win
Express-Times (Easton)
Lehigh Defense Puts Clamps on Stony Brook
Lembo Sticks with Borda as QB
LehighSports.Com (Lehigh)
Lehigh's Defense Shines in Season Opener
Brown & White (Lehigh)
Hawks Stifle Stony Brook in Season Opener

Choice quotes:
"Lehigh's season opener against Stony Brook Saturday at Goodman Stadium was not televised. Count that as one of the positives on a day when many among the Mountain Hawk faithful needed to search for good things to say about a 25-2 win that was as uncomfortable as the late-summer humidity.

"Maybe it was just the usual first-game snafus. Maybe it was that Stony Brook was much better than people expected, and maybe patience will be required for a Lehigh team that is young at numerous spots. But this was not one that will go down among the greatest wins in the program's storied 121-year history.

"Head coach Pete Lembo said you could take either ''the-glass-is-half-empty or half-full'' approach to analyzing this one.Those choosing the half-full approach will look at a defense that picked off five Stony Brook passes. Neal Boozer-Gallman returned one 98 yards for the day's most memorable play. It was the second longest return in school history."

"Time after time, they stopped Stony Brook on a short field," a proud Lehigh coach Pete Lembo said of his defense. "This could have been shutout. I'm very pleased with how the defense played."

"I don't feel like he ever got down [about Borda's performance]. Mark's pretty good that way," Lembo said. "He wasn't going to come in and play the perfect game. I give him credit for being patient with himself."

"You're not going to come in in your first game and set the world on fire," Lembo said. "We've got a lot of kinks to work out with the first unit. We were off-schedule a lot and out of sync a lot."

Mountain Hawks coach Pete Lembo gave his new quarterback a vote of confidence -- albeit a tentative one -- following Borda's rough debut Saturday as Lehigh's starter.

"I don't want him looking over his shoulder," Lembo said.

For that reason, Lembo said he never even considered making a quick quarterback change in Saturday's 25-2 victory over Stony Brook -- despite an ugly first half that had Lehigh clinging to a 3-0 lead at intermission.

"I wanted to give him a chance to see what he can do," Lembo said.

That's also why it's a good bet Borda will remain as Lehigh's starter this coming Saturday for the school's first-ever showdown with perennial Division I-AA power Villanova at Goodman Stadium.

"You saw glimpses of Mark," said Rath, who was playing his first college game in two years. "It was his first game, too. You can look amazing in practice and come out on the game field and look terrible. You can look terrible in practice and come out on the game field and look great. It's football, you get that.

"Our passing game, it's going to come along, guaranteed."

The view from the Nest
First and foremost. What matters the most in this game is that we won. Period. Lehigh Football Nation can certainly forgive some struggles this week in a game we won. Had we lost (and a couple of plays going one way or another might have made that happen), it would have been different.

But Lehigh was sloppy today in all aspects of the game. Despite a great defensive day, there were no less that 4 personal fouls called against the defense that kept Stony Brook drives alive. That needs to be fixed.

Also, special teams had a great day against the Seawolves' kicking unit (one safety, one blocked FG, and a blocked punt). However, three missed FG by freshman kicker Matt McNeils is a concern. To be completely fair, all three were just about 40 yard attempts.

On offense, it is no secret that QB Mark Borda struggled this past weekend. But how much of that was Borda's fault, and how much was a team breakdown?

Every member of the offense in general seemed out-of-sync, with the exception of RB Eric Rath. The 'O' line in particular, tabbed by me just a few days ago as one of the great strengths of this team, simply did not do their job in protecting Borda evidence by the fact that they gave up 5 sacks to the Seawolves. Since Borda was running for his life all day, he made some bad passes and made some bad choices. Furthermore, Borda was unable to get a rhythm going because of six holding or procedure penalties (one in the red zone, and another which negated a 9-yard Borda run).

They say that the "O" Line doesn't get enough credit when the offense is doing well. Well, in this case, they must shoulder a good part of the blame of the offensive struggles this week.

One thing keeps going through my mind - if they struggled so mightily this week, how will they do against 2 top-flight 1-AA defensive players up front next week, Jamil Butler and Bryan Adams?

In addition to the "O" Line struggles, Borda's should-be top two targets, TE Adam Bergen and WR Gerran Walker, dropped at least 4 passes among them. (Walker also had a penalty called against him for illegal procedure.) And of the other receivers, nobody stepped up as the next go-to guy with the starters struggling.

Again, Borda does not get a pass on making some bad mistakes. Throwing 2 interceptions to DB Chad King, is troubling to me since Borda should have been aware of King's whereabouts at all times, being that King is the Seavolves' best player. You can't force the ball in over talented DBs, even if they're from a non-scholarship school.

After doing the analysis, one thing becomes clear. As a Lehigh fan, you can't say that having Keating as the QB would instantly have solved Lehigh's problems. Therefore, here at Lehigh Football Nation, I stand by Lembo's decision to name him the starter against Villanova.

That's not to say that Borda, or the rest of the offense for that matter, deserve a pass for their ugly performance this weekend. What I hope is that the "O" guys get their heads together for next week. Especially that "O" Line which I still think is one of the best in the Patriot League.

Game Balls
This week's game balls go to:
Senior DB Neal Boozer-Gallman (98-yard INT for a TD, 3 tackles, TFL of the punter)
Senior LB Anthony Graziani (8 tackles, 1/2 sack, 1 TFL)
Senior DE Tom Alfsen (9 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 TFL)
Junior DB Kaloma Cardwell (8 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TFL)
Soph RB Eric Rath (190 all-purpose yards, 1 TD)

Coming up this week:
Lehigh/Villanova Preview; National Rankings; Tailgating

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