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It's Not The End Of The World

I read my own harsh words on the Lehigh/Albany game from yesterday, and sad as the result was, contrary to any previous reports, it's not the end of the world. I can't say I'm particularly happy, but it's not the end of the world either.

First of all, looking at yesterday's scores, did any Patriot League teams look like world-beaters? Colgate played a great team in UMass of the A-10, but managed under 200 yards of offense in a 28-7 loss. Lafayette was trailing to Sacred Heart of the NEC at halftime, and needed late-game heroics to ice the victory - hardly a championship moment. Bucknell needed a last-gasp drive to squeak by non-scholarship Duquesne 31-28 in overtime. Holy Cross, predictably, had troubles scoring in a 26-13 win over Georgetown, and Fordham never really was in their game versus Monmouth of the NEC, losing 20-9.

Did any of these teams look like "the team to beat" in the Patriot? The scores betray the fact that every team seemed to need serious work, even Lafayette. There's plenty of time to right the ship, but it has to be soon. Last I checked, the Patriot League champion gets the autobid for the I-AA playoffs, and it doesn't get taken away for losing a bad game in September. As long as Lehigh corrects their problems with "unforced errors", they can still compete for championship rings.

Work still needs to be done, obviously. Fortunately, there's still lots of time to get it done with ten games left, and a chance to get an impressive win over an A-10 opponent. It will not be easy against a Villanova squad that will also be eager to avoid a 0-2 start, but if Lehigh pulls off the upset, the truth will be that they will own the best out-of-conference win in the Patriot League. It's a challenge, but not impossible.

In a way, I'm eager to see Lehigh play on a slop field one more time this year to prove that they can get the job done. From this game, Lehigh has to prove that it can win this type of bad-weather game after having lost the last two (Albany, last year's Holy Cross game). I know I'll be watching closely to see if Lehigh can play well in adverse conditions.

If we learn anything from this game, it's that Lehigh has to prove itself again. Gone are the days when wins were automatic, or when they were always the most talented guys on the field. Every week, Lehigh needs to prove itself. That can be a great thing.

Of course it's way too early to write coach Coen, the offense, the defense, and the special teams off after one game this season. Nobody should be writing the athletic department complaining that coach Coen should be run out of town on a rail. (Speaking of which, anybody notice that coach Lembo got his first win with Elon yesterday, downing nationally-ranked Coastal Carolina 23-20?)

The bottom line is it's one game in September that will be forgotten by November if Lehigh can right the ship. The key to this season will be how the Lehigh players and coaching staff responds to this game next week, and the game after that. And it only gets harder, and more is at stake, from here.

Football fans are funny - you can make them forget really easily by winning the next week. Every fumble or bad snap will be forgotten. We all want to forget it. Here's hoping, next Sunday, we will.


Anonymous said…
The only team the Lehigh offense looked comfortable on Saturday was when they ran last year's offense (hurry-up) just before half-time.

The defensive line (never liked the 3-4 myself) was being pushed all over the field. Lehigh was waiting for the Albany backs to come to them. By then they had already picked-up 5 yards.

They didn't look at all ready to play, but I'll reserve judgement until Villanova.
Rob said…
It really comes down to those 3 bad long snaps. you can blame one on the rain, you can maybe blame two on the rain and first game jitters, but at some point you need to blame the athlete. I am very excited about this year, and I believe that LU will pull it togther, but this game goes to show just how important some of the little things in special teams can be.

The upside is this: after a game like saturday's that problem will be fixed very quickly. I would wager there will not be another snap over Leo's head this season.
Lehigh74 said…
I'm not quite sure why everyone has forgotton the snap over the punters head which was recovered by Lafayette inside the 5 yard line. That gave Lafayette an easy touchdown. So it is not just three bad snaps in a rain storm. It is bad snaps two games in a row which led directly to losses. In my opinion, the only aspect of the Albany game in which Lehigh was outplayed was Special Teams. It was a lot more than just the bad snaps, our kicking game, our coverage teams and our return teams all stunk.
Anonymous said…
With all due respect Lehigh 74, Lehigh's D-line was getting shoved back 4-5 yards every play. The Linebackers couldn't/wouldn't fill the holes when they did appear. Lehigh's best defensive player was the slippery ground. It was the only thing slowing Albany's ground attack. When Bucanegro slipped or the ball slipped out of his hands it created 1st or 2nd and long situations which Albany had trouble converting. From where I was sitting Lehigh looked bad in more aspects than just special teams. I guess this week will tell us whether this is just an aberation
Anonymous said… guys are incredible...take it from a former long snapper...looks easier than it is...I was at the game on Saturday - first snap was bad...the snaps on the field goal and extra point were not the long snappers fault - good snaps missed by the holder and the bad snap in the second half, for some reason the punter was standing only about 9-10 yards behind the line when he should be 13 to excuses...but the long snapper is only noticed when things go about the missed passes or the fumbled snaps or the snap over the head of the qb on the effort guys.......sorry as a former Lehigh long snapper I have to defend this kid on some of the miscues......
73engineer said…
Anonymous is right, the Engineer offense never clicked or had any rythm all afternoon except when they were in the hurry-up at the end of the half. McGowan ran the ball well, but it looked like some balance was needed. WR's have to catch the ball in big situations.

The D also looked out of sorts all day, maybe that is the adjustment to the 3-4. I remember in 1986 and Hank Small's first game against Holy Cross we made a lot of mistakes. They need to work hard to get back on track.

My biggest concern is that Coach Coen is trying to implement a more run oriented offense with a team that is built for speed and finesse passing game. Maybe they have to wait for a couple of recruiting classes to come through before they make the full switch to a running team.

I watched the replay of the Easton teams game agianst Sacred Heart and they looked bad. Maybe it was PAtriot league first game jitters. Let's hope a good week of practice leads to a better performance at Villanova.
Anonymous said…
Brannan Thomas did was limited in action due to past injuries.

Royce Morgan did not play.

Travis Stenson was limited in action due to past injuries.

The team is as young and inexperienced as any Lehigh Team in the last 4-8 yrs. Not to mention, the defense has to adjust to a new defensive system in GAME situations.

As a past and recent member of the football team, this weekends lost was disturbing, to say the least. Nonetheless, with my understanding of the players and Coach Coen, the team will play MUCH better in the weeks to come.

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