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"Second Season" Starts Tomorrow

You can tell from the Lehigh player press comments that this week's theme is the "second season" and putting the first two games of the year behind them. Every press report is dotted with references to putting Delaware behind them and getting going for the rest of the way. It's a hackneyed expression to say "take them one game at a time", but it's true.

It seems clear the VMI has much to fear tomorrow. Not only does Lehigh seem focused and ready, but VMI had some bad news in that their leading rusher, senior RB Sean Mizzer, is gone for the year with leg surgery, further depleting the Keydet's attack. Keydet Coach Cal McCombs on Tuesday was going on and on about how Lehigh is always a sound football team; how they don't beat themselves; how they execute well on offense; and how on defense they don't allow themselves to get out of position. It's not clear if he's trying to pump Lehigh up to set them up for a fall, but his tone was clearly one of a coach who was still looking for answers. If you add that to Lehigh's apparent dedication to their mission, it looks like it could be a real long day for the Keydets.

Here's your press roundup. Hope that everyone's confidence will translate into a big "W" this week.

Oh, one more thing. In my I-AA.org diary on Lafayette/Richmond, I said, and I quote, "[A]bout facing teams from the Ivy League: "They're like a box chocolates - you never know what you're going to get." Coach Lembo, on Wednesday, quote: " "It just goes to show that polls are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get."

Coincidence? I think not!

Easton Express-Times:
Frenzied Hawks Set For Action

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh's Nine-Week Mission Starts With VMI

Brown & White:
Coming Off Bye Week, Hawks Set To Battle VMI

Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Keydet's Kicker Adds To Lexington Tradition

Your digest:

Lehigh's early-schedule break came at a good time... coming after a physically and emotionally draining 34-33 overtime loss at Delaware on Sept. 10 in a battle of top-20 I-AA programs.

But the Mountain Hawks (1-1) are eager to turn the page, eager to stop answering questions about what happened in the fourth quarter and in overtime in Newark and eager to show they can deliver a complete effort.

"We played extremely well on defense for three quarters and then got worn down a little bit with injuries,'' Lembo said. ''We also began to press. When the pressure is on, you need to stay totally disciplined and remember the fundamentals. We lost some of that."

"As a unit, we had a whole week to think about a lot of opportunities we left on the field," said Walker, Lehigh's super-smooth wide receiver and kick returner and the nation's leader in all-purpose yards at 204.5 per game. "We're just ready to get that out of our heads this week."

"We need to have more depth and more in the tank late in games," Lembo said.

...

This time, the Mountain Hawks plan to leave an impression in victory.

“Having to sit out a week makes it harder to forget it [the loss] and move on,” Selmasska said. “But that’s another thing we did this week at practice. Play hard and forget about the Delaware game.”

"Coming out of our bye, we feel like it's the second part of the season," Walker said. "Hopefully, this second season, we can end up 9-0."

"A football season is 11 games," Stinson said. "We still have nine games left. Our goals are still the same. We're not changing our goals because of one loss. We might not have an undefeated season anymore.

"But we still want to make a run at a national championship."

...

"The quarterback is so good," said seventh-year VMI coach Cal McCombs... "He's got a reliable arm and a quick release. It's hard to get any pressure on him. I'm real impressed with that football team."

“Mark Borda and Gerran Walker are playing at an all-league level right now,” Lembo said. “I hope they continue to improve each day in practice.”

...

"I've been telling our guys for two weeks that whether you're playing Army, Navy, Air Force, the Merchant Marine Academy, Coast Guard or any of the service academics, it's different," Lembo said. ''What these guys do from 3 to 6 daily at practice or from 1 to 4 on Saturday game days may seem like vacation to them. It's the easy part of their day.

"So, you know they are going to be very passionate, very physical and they will play you to the final whistle whether they're up 14 or down 14. Our guys need to understand that and respond."

“VMI is a much-improved team from a year ago,” Lembo said. “They are a full-scholarship program with great tradition and they play a tough schedule.”

“They are a very tough, talented team,” Selmasska said. “All of the players they field could start for the teams in the Patriot League.”

“On defense the Keydets have good team speed and a lot of experience,” Lembo said. “They have done a good job creating turnovers this year.”

[VMI K Barrett Way] stepped into the starting role last season and made quite an impression. He converted all 15 PAT attempts and was 8 of 12 on field goal tries, including a 53-yarder against Liberty that was a record for Alumni Memorial Field and the second-longest in school history.

"The last two teams we played were bigger and stronger up front than we were and decided they were going to line up in an 'I' and run it right at us," VMI coach Cal McCombs said.

“They like to line up and run the ball to open up other options,” [senior LB Anthony] Graziani said. “For us to stop them, we have to play physical and within the defense. Each person has to do their job and do it at full speed. We’ll need to improve our tackling and limit the mistakes we have made thus far.”

...

“Almost all of our defensive schemes have been working when we run them correctly,” Graziani said. “It’s the breakdowns, missed assignments and missed tackles that have hurt us. We know we need to get better each week.”

"I wouldn't say they're in trouble," Lehigh linebacker Travis Stinson said. "But we'll go down and prepare to play a tough game against them."

"They will be seeing," Gerran Walker promised, "a pretty motivated Lehigh team this weekend."

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