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Friday Water-Cooler: Lehigh/Albany

This year, I'm going to change my format a little and call this the "Friday Water Cooler". Let's all get real - Friday before gameday, is anyone really working, attending meetings, or being productive? No, they're around the water cooler, talking about the weekend. At the "Lehigh Football Nation" water cooler, well, the talk is I-AA football predictions and this week's press mash-ups. So, for the first time, here it is.

Did you know?
Lehigh, Lafayette and Colgate are all ranked in the USA Today rankings. It's always been my policy to use these rankings for my picks (since it makes my lookup of the games on Yahoo! that much easier), so it's nice to see Lehigh with a ranking of #25 next to their name. Hopefully AGS and the Sports Network will catch up with the USA Today next week and put Lehigh in their rankings as well.

Can't make it to Goodman?
The game will be on Service Electric 2 in the Lehigh Valley, AM 1230 and 1320, and available on the initenet through Yahoo! Broadcast. On Wednesday the Lehigh game will be played on Fox College Sports Atlantic.

Hopefully the torrential rain will have blown out of Goodman by gametime, but bring hot chocolate, rain tarps, and ponchos tomorrow. (Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps is an LFN favorite.) It's also "Kid's Day" with lots of activities for the little ones starting at 11:30AM outside of Goodman. Again, hope the weather holds up for that - last year we brought our 1 1/2 year old to Kid's Day and he loved it.

Water Cooler Patriot Picks:
#22 UMass over #21 Colgate: As much as I'd love Biddle and company to give the Patriot respect, like '13 I believe in the Raider first-game jinx in a big way. It just seems like a tall order to be able to contain RB Baylark, QB Coen and company with a completely untested defense, though a monsoon could help the Raiders. Nonetheless, I see UMass exacting revenge for last year. UMass 21, Colgate 14.

Holy Cross over Georgetown: In this "Holy War" between Jesuit schools, who do you take? The school with the new option offense and the solid defense? Or the school with the young, developing offense and the defense with the third defensive coordinator in three years? I've got a hunch the Crusaders will be fired up and win this game. It won't be without a battle, but they will -- just -- get it done. HC 17, G'Town 14.

#20 Lafayette over Sacred Heart: The Leopards have historically started slow in September, and will probably again not look like world beaters, but somewhere in the middle of the 3rd quarter they will get this game done in the rain. Lafayette 26, SHU 10.

Monmouth over Fordham: The trap game of the week is right here. Monmouth saw some good players graduate from last year, but QB Brian Boland is still a Hawk, the same guy that put up 26 points against Lehigh's "D" last year. Has QB Derric Daniels regained the touch, and -- more importantly -- if the Rams get behind, can they win the game? I don't think so. Here's your upset. Momnouth 20, Fordham 14.

Bucknell over Duquesne: Duquesne is a good non-scholarship MAAC team, no doubt about it. But Bucknell has a lot to prove and should be fired up beyond belief after last year's 1-10 debacle. With navy transfer QB Andrew Lair running the show, watch "the team who needs it more" get the "W" - that's the Bison. Bucknell 27, Duquesne 21.

Water Cooler I-AA Picks:

I-A North Carolina State over #1 Appalachian State: I'm pretty much always rooting for I-AA's to beat I-A's, but I think that a game Appalachian State team won't be all that close with a brand-new QB at the helm. NC St. 44, App St. 10.

#3 Furman over Jacksonville State: Last year the Gamecocks proved they belonged with Furman, but this year they are rebuilding, and Furman is still a powerful team. The Paladins roll this time. Furman 28, JSU 10.

#4 Texas State over D-II Tarleton State: Not much to say here except that D-II Delta State put the fear of God in the Bobcats last year. Doubt that it will happen again... could it? Texas St. 49, TTU 0.

#6 Cal Poly over D-II Fort Lewis: Do I really need a pithy comment for this game? Cal Poly 55, Fort Lewis 3.

#8 Richmond over I-A Duke: Yes, I'm taking the trendy I-A upset of the week here. Richmond is a solid team defensively, and Duke's starting offense should not stretch them immensely. This should be a defensive battle where a late FG ices it. Give me the Spiders. Richmond 17, Duke 14.

#10 Hampton over #12 Grambling State: The best I-AA game this week (on ESPN2 no less), this could be the "Black College National Championship" in 2006 if the preseason rankings play out perfectly. Both sides are fighting to replace key elements lost to graduation, and Grambling State is looking to prove themselves, but I think the Pirates are just too tough in a game that will be an intensely hard battle. Hampton 41, GSU 21.

I-A Iowa over #11 Montana: I'd love to see a Griz win, but with star RB Lex Hilliard gone, there's pretty much no shot here. Iowa 56, Montana 13.

I-A Illinois over #15 Eastern Illinois: Take the points. Illinois 28, EIU 27.

I-A Colorado over #17 Montana State: Don't take the points. Colorado 56, MSU 12.

Wofford over #19 South Carolina State: It just seems like every year the Bulldogs come in with high expectations that don't pan out, and always seem to lose to a Coastal Carolina or Wofford to put them out of the Top 25 until November. Looks like a good candidate for an upset. Wofford 20, SC St. 10.

Elon over #23 Coastal Carolina: A nod to Coach Lembo's first game as Elon's head coach, I absolutely think he can win over an overrated Coastal squad. Elon 29, CCU 28.

I-A Kansas State over #24 Illinois State: It'll be pretty close, but I think K-State will find a way to win this. Take the points. KSU 31, ISU 27.

Press Mash-Up
Without a credible writeup from the local Albany newspaper (all I could find is some bozo columnist denigrating his own local team), it's a leaner, meaner press mash-up this week.

Morning Call: Ready To Get It On and Get It Over; Threatt, Lehigh Set Lofty Goals
Easton Express-Times: QB Will Take It From the Top

Albany, returning 17 starters from a 5-6 squad, may not have the depth to stay with Lehigh for 60 minutes, but its frontline players will test the Mountain Hawks and probe for potential weaknesses, especially up front.

"This is a good team and the more I watch them on film I see some neat things," Coen said. "They have a really good quarterback [Daniel Bocanegra] and have a really big offensive line that averages well over 300 pounds.

"We're a little undersized on our defensive line, so I'm sure that's a matchup they feel good about. They may try to pound the ball at us and run some option with their quarterback. And they have a really talented defensive front that will be the biggest challenge for our offense, because we want to be able to establish a running game against some real sturdy guys."

But the real intrigue will be on defense where the 3-4 scheme gets its unveiling under new coordinator David Kotulski, the much traveled, much respected coaching veteran who comes to Lehigh after spending last year at Holy Cross. "He was a key hire for me," Coen said. "I wanted a guy who had a lot of experience, a guy who I knew and who had the type of personality the kids would respond to, and I hit the nail on the head with David.

"I have very little involvement with what goes on over there. I have turned it over to him and I have all the confidence in the world in him, Gerard Wilcher, Donnie Roberts and the rest of the defensive coaches. The kids have been playing very hard and that's what you need to have on defense."

"It will be a challenge to see how our defensive line rushes the quarterback," Coen said. "I'd love to see us be able to rush only three or four guys and get to the quuarterback, because that would put us in the driver's seat. If we can't do that, we have an extensive pressure package that we can use to get after people.

"Even though I'm an offensive guy, I believe the defense has to set the tempo. Every good football team I've ever been on has had the defense set the tone. I want them to be crazed dogs, and have a lot of fun and knock people down."

Senior strong safety Julian Austin, one of the team's three captains, is ready to comply with Coen's wishes. "We're buying into the new 3-4 and love it a lot because it gets more speed on the field,'' said Austin. "The biggest problem was learning the terminology. The concepts are basically the same."

"We're changing the mentality, especially up front," Coen said. "We want the linemen going forward rather than retreating all of the time. We're not going to be in a two-back, two-tight end set for 80 snaps per game, but the kids are buying into the physical approach we want to have, especially at critical times."

"I try not to think about it," said Coen, "but the last few days, as the game's getting closer, the mantle just become a little more apparent. I am the head coach, and we do have a game coming up and there are very high expectations.

"Nobody's expectations are higher for this team than mine."

"Coach Coen is such a competitor," Threatt said. "We want to win the game for Lehigh. Coach Coen is that figurehead of Lehigh football right now. We want it just as much as he wants it... It's very important for us."

"Sedale is obviously a great athlete who will make plays with his feet," Coen said. "But I'm more impressed with how hard he has worked on his overall game, whether it's his drop, his reads, his checks. He takes a lot of pride in all that he does."

"One of the telltale signs is everybody perceives him as a leader," Coen said of his quarterback. "He's kind of infectious with the other kids. They have such confidence in his ability."

"I think the offense is going to go as he goes," said defensive back Julian Austin, who joins Threatt and center John Reese as the captains. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."

"That's why you play the game, that's why you love it," Threatt said. "I started playing Pop Warner football when I was 9 years old and I've always had fun. You can't play the game without having fun. But I will admit when you win, you have more fun."

"I enjoy the spotlight, but that's not why I am here," Threatt said. "I'm here to play football. I understand the media is going to say this and say that, but what matters is right here — sideline-to-sideline, and end zone-to-end zone.

"I've handled pressure all my life. My dad played sports [professional basketball] and my mom played sports [track and basketball] and I was raised around competitors. I got my chance last year and this year I want to open it up. There's really no additional pressure. I set my goals high and so has the team."

"I'm a better quarterback than I was," Threatt said. "I'm better prepared mentally and physically. My team elected me captain and I am honored by that, being only a junior. That alone makes me want to elevate my game.

"We worked hard all spring, all summer. I wanted to work on the total package, fine-tune things. Last year, I was just getting my feet wet. Now, entering a full season, I'm much more confident, much more comfortable. Last year, Lafayette and Colgate were where we want to be [this year]. I want the ring they have."

Sedale, the nickname is just waiting.


go lehigh tu owl said…
Sedale "Double Weapon" Threatt....
Lehi88 said…
I like "Sirius" Threat(t)

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