Skip to main content

Preview of Lehigh/VMI

After a seemingly-endless week off after the bye week, Lehigh resumes play this weekend down in Lexington, VA against VMI. The only broadcast of the game will be on AM 1230 and AM 1320 in the Lehigh Valley, and on the internet through Yahoo! Broadcast or lehighsports.com. I'll be listening to the game in dibs and dabs over the internet, as we've got company over that day.

Lehigh Injury Report
DB Daynin Blake (Ribs, Questionable)
FS Courtney Elder (Shoulder, Questionable)
CB Andrew Nelson (Hand, Questionable)
DB Brendan VanAckeran (Knee, Questionable)

Although Lehigh seems to have healed up well from the hard-hitting Delaware game, it seems like all our injuries are still concentrated in the secondary. Nelson is the only starter who is hurt, however, and sophomore DB Aaron Gilliard will get the nod once again as the starter. Should Blake, Elder, or VanAckeran be unable to go, junior DB Devin Dobson, sophomore DB Julian Ahye, and junior DB Calvin LaMont will be on the field.

10 Things You Didn't Know About VMI
1. Founded in 1839, the Virginia Military Institute is the first state-based military college founded in America. It occupied a former arsenal used in the War of 1812, and provided a place for the students defending our military assets to also get an education.
2. The school nickname "Keydet" is derived from a southern drawl pronunciation of the word "cadet," which puts VMI on the cutting edge of misspelled and mispronounced school nicknames. Using this vernacular, Lehigh's "Mountain Hawks" could instead be called the "Mahntun Hacks".
3. Confederate Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson did not attend VMI as a student (he instead was near the top of his class at West Point), but he did teach classes at VMI from 1851 to 1861. He was not a beloved teacher - aloof and dour, he was frequently the subject of student pranks. Only when he was on the battlefield did his mastery of motivation and tactics highlight his military brilliance.
4. Along with "Stonewall" Jackson, many VMI graduates ended up serving the Confederate army as officers and generals. One general who served under Jackson, James A. Walker, was a former student of Jackson's at VMI and was expelled from the school after insubordination in his class. When he was in confinement, he challenged Jackson to a duel.
5. VMI's biggest game of the year is the "Military Classic of the South" versus the Citadel Bulldogs. This year they will be competing for the "Silver Shako" trophy against a team coached by former Lehigh coach Kevin Higgins.
6. The last time VMI had a winning record, incredibly, was in 1981, when the Keydets compiled a 6-3-1 record. It's hard to picture being a VMI fan with that sort of New Orleans Saints-esque lack of winning tradition. What do you root for? "Let's get closer to .500 this year!"
7. VMI's most famous football alumnus would have to be former Super Bowl head coach and current Army coach Bobby Ross. As a QB and DB in 1959, he captained the Keydets to a 8-1-1 record and a SoCon championship. That year, along with a win over Virginia Tech 37-12, the Keydets beat Lehigh 7-6 at Taylor Stadium.
8. VMI's last win over Lehigh came in Lexington in 1960, beating the Engineers 18-14. That year Lehigh was 4-5, including wins over Delaware and Lafayette, but also including losses to Tufts and Davidson.
9. The VMI Mascot is a kangaroo. There's no really good reason why it is a kangaroo, being that Lexington, VA is about as kangaroo-free as you can get. Apparently some cheerleaders thought it would be a cool idea, and then proceeded to "procure" one to roam their sidelines.
10. There's no evidence that Citadel fans taunt VMI fans by singing "Tie me Kangaroo Down, Sport", but dammit, they should.

Overall
VMI, out of the Big South, is a team that has struggled to win for quite a while. But they are methodical, disciplined, and don't kill themselves with penalties - a source of pride for the Keydets. They are also in the midst of trying to bring back the winning ways to Lexington, and they would like nothing better to start that tradition by knocking off nationally-ranked Lehigh. Let's see whay the Keydets have to offer.

Offensive Breakdown
Junior QB Jonathan Wilson is an extremely accurate short-range pocket passer, completing 69.2% of his passes for 2 TDs. He doesn't appear to air it out too much, when he does pass it tend to be underneath - no receiver has a catch for more than 25 yards this year. He also doesn't seem very mobile, which could be a problem for the Keydets.

His favorite target is senior WR Zohn Burden, who already has 16 receptions in 3 games for 142 yards. Senior WR Gary Price is on the other side, who has 9 receptions for 65 yards. TE John Fox seems primarily to be a blocker.

VMI appears to try to balance the run and pass fairly well, and the three-headed RB of senior Sean Mizzer, sophomore Nate Jackson, and junior Colby Hollingsworth are the guys who get all the yards. They combine for more than 100% of the Keydets' rushing yards - yes, you heard right - as all their other backs net negative yadage.

Compared to Lehigh's "O" line, VMI's line is a bit undersized, averaging only 277 lbs across. Senior LG Jeremy Ward is 300 lbs, and is probably the best on the line.

Defensive Breakdown
The Keydets play a strange defense with 3 safeties and a mix of roving linebackers and linemen. Similar to Albany's strange defensive alignment, you could call the Keydet defense a variation of the "Big Nickel" defense where there are almost always 5 DBs on the field at one time. As a result, the Keydets have lacked a consistent pass rush. That also could open the way for a big day running for Lehigh should our gameplan choose to exploit it.

The "D" Line's best athlete is senior DT Vichael Foxx, their biggest lineman at 6'4, 280 lbs. Behind him are the strength of the team, the linebackers. Most impressive is senior LB Justin Huggard, who is averaging 10 yards a game. Not far behind is senior LB Todd Baldwin with 7 tackles per game.

The defensive backfield has held teams to less than 200 yards passing a game, so this would appear to be a position of strength for VMI. Senior SS Kamau Hull is averaging 9 tackles a game and also has an interception this year.

Special Teams Breakdown
Sophomore PK Barrett Way hasn't been really proven under pressure, but junior P Adam Peters is decent with a 41 yard average. Senior CB Titus Green is averaging over 21 yards a return, so he will have to be covered well on kicks.

Keys To The Game
1.Stick to the plan. It looks like Lehigh should be able to establish their gameplan on top of the Keydet defensive plan. Plugging away with a balance of rush and pass should be able to be effective.
2.Key on the RB. They are balanced, but shutting down the running game and forcing Wilson to pass deep should keep VMI grounded.
3.Keep mistakes down. VMI does not kill themselves with stupid penalties. Giving the game away with stupid mistakes and penalties could absolutely spell an upset possibility.

Fearless Prediction
Lehigh rolls. A focused and balanced Lehigh team, still mad about the Delaware defeat, goes to Lexington and shows I-AA nation that it means business for a Patriot League title.

Lehigh 46, VMI 14

Comments

Anonymous said…
The injuries to the secondary is bothersome. Nelson hasn't played a down, yet, this year and while Gilliard has shown himself to be a tough kid with potential, he's no Nelson and teams have picked on that corner. I suspect a short pass game with three-step drops will be part of their plan to avoid our pass rush. W&M's offense seemed to have an easy time moving the ball,as should we. My pick is LU 42-10.

-Ngineer

Popular posts from this blog

Nick Shafnisky Is Pushing Hard to Get To Play at the Next Level in Football

"Don't take anything for granted, just keep pushing."
Those are the words of QB Nick Shafnisky, told to The Whitehall-Coplay Press all the way back in 2013, about his preparation as a high school athlete.
And they seem to summarize the Whitehall, PA native perfectly, then as now.
Dubbed the "Male Athlete of the Year" by that publication, the article goes on about Shaf's many exploits at Whitehall high school - leading the Zephyr football team to a co-Lehigh Valley Conference title, becoming the first player ever in that conference to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards, and earning the league's co-MVP award as well.
He also was a member of the Zephyrs playoff basketball team, and for good measure also helped set a record for the 4x100 relay team as well.
At Whitehall, and at Lehigh, coaches pushed him, but it was his own hard work that helped make him the best athlete he could be.
This weekend, Shaf, like every eligible college football player, will be …

#TheRivalry Flashback: November 21st, 1987: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 10

Since becoming an undergrad at Lehigh back in the late 1980s, I first heard about the historic nature of the football team and "The Rivalry" through the stories that fellow students would share.

I did not attend the final meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Taylor Stadium, which was the final time a football game would be played there.

Those that did attend said that was that it was cold.

"I remember it being one of the coldest games ever," Mark Redmann recollected, "with strong Northwesterly winds and the temperature hovering around 20.  By the end of the game, the stands were half empty because most of the fans just couldn't take the cold.

"Fortunately, several of my fraternity brothers snuck in flasks to help fend off the chill."

Dominick Bragalone Goes Into Monster Mode As Lehigh Is One Win Away From Title

It has been a most unusual season for Lehigh.

Starting the year off at 0-5 and getting swept in their out-of-conference schedule, the Mountain Hawks were in danger of having their season go off the rails.

But two things have come together over the last five football games that have put Lehigh on the brink of back-to-back championships.

The first is the late blooming of the Lehigh defense, which kept battling every week since the low point of the September 30th loss to Wagner to do the job in four of their five Patriot League conference games. 

The second is the development of junior RB Dominick Bragalone into a bellcow running back, a back who has to be in the conversation for Patriot League offensive player of the year.

In five Patriot League games, Bragalone has run for 863 yards in 5 games, rushing for 11 touchdowns and adding two more receiving touchdowns as well. 

The South Williamsport, PA native certainly wasn't unknown before this week - after all, as a freshman and a sop…