But before you're ready to give up on this season, I want to say a couple more things.
Lehigh is a young team, with a brand-new coaching staff and a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Too often we've looked at teams like Princeton and thought that we're going to dispatch them simply because we're playing at home; we're nationally-ranked; or simply because we're Lehigh and they're Princeton. Those days are over. Lehigh can win and lose every week to anybody.
We're a young team that is pretty raw, especially on offense. Not only on the field, but in the coaching staff as well. This is a group that is trying to find its way with the players they have. They've largely jettisoned the old offense and installed something new, with some success and some struggles. In the preseason I said that the large unwritten story involved the overhaul of "Air Small" -- the offense we've run since the mid-1990s -- and here we are three weeks later and it still is.
I believe in these players, and this coaching staff. They absolutely have a point about playing more physical and punching the ball in from the 3 yard line, something Lehigh didn't always do consistently before. But it's Week 3 of the most radical overhaul of the Lehigh offense I've ever seen, and there's still kinks to be worked out. I don't like them, but I think the kids will work them out.
I beleive everyone is working hard to win football games, and I believe we're moving in a positive direction. Like everyone else, I like coach Coen. Most importantly, I beleive that our team in week 5 will be better than the team we saw in week 1. Let's not judge the team as to where they are in September, but where they are in November.
Who thought Lafayette last year would be competing for titles when they lost to Princeton and Colgate? Who though Colgate had a shot after losing to Central Connecticut State, Dartmouth and Lehigh? That's the reality of the Patriot League in 2006, folks. The Patriot League is still a good league, but the Ivy and NEC are getting better. We're all still in the Patriot race - and ultimately, that's all that's going to matter in November when Lehigh/Lafayette rolls around.
So two weeks from now, let's see how the team gets better versus Harvard. It will be another stiff test for us, and like every week Lehigh will have to get better in order to win. We cannot just show up and win. We'll have to work for it.
I'll be back for the "Bye Week Water Cooler" on Friday. Be safe and Go Lehigh!
Allentown Morning Call:
Groller: Lehigh's Coen Making Great First Impression
Threatt's Remarks Aside, This Loss Was a Team Effort
Groller: Tentative Hawks Feel Out At Home
Lehigh Gets Caught on Rebound
Brown & White:
Hawks Offense Sputters; Coen Suffers Second Loss
Strickland Named Defensive Player Of The Week
Roger Hughes, Princeton’s head coach, was happy to escape Lehigh with a victory. "This was one team we have not beaten yet as a staff,” Hughes said. “My team many not even appreciate how hard it is to come in to Goodman and win.”
Strickland's first interception and 32-yard return set up the Tigers' go-ahead touchdown. The senior's second pick near the goal line thwarted a potential go-ahead drive for Lehigh in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game. "He's our bus driver," defensive backs coach Eric Jackson said of Strickland. "He put himself in position to make the big plays. His hard work knowing both the Lehigh passing game and the running game paid off. Some of his tackles were just as important as his interceptions."
“We can be a good football team,” Coen said. “But we’re not going to be if we play as inconsistently as we played today. This is not acceptable right now at any level. We can not be up and down.”
"I learned a lot about myself after the Albany loss," he said. "I looked at myself in the mirror and said that I had to put it behind me and be the leader of this team. You can't dwell on the negative. You move forward. I was able to do it, and, more importantly, the kids were able to do it."
“As a player, it would kill me coming off the [Princeton] game,” Coen said. “Just the effort coming out for the second half caught me by surprise.”
"We've talked about finishing," Coen said. "We had an opportunity in the first half and missed some more opportunities in the second half. I'm really not happy with the penalties. We can't have these things. We have to execute. It's hard to become consistent with the mistakes we're making."
"We tried our best to stop them, but it just didn't happen that time," said Moore, a junior and a bright spot all season at free safety. "It was rough. At the start of the second half, they changed their tempo by throwing the ball more. In the first half, they were trying to get their option game going."
"Honestly, I expect to win wherever we go," said free safety Ernest Moore, who had two interceptions and five tackles against Princeton. "I don't play this game to lose. I never in my life decided this game is more important than that one because we're going to be playing here."
"I didn't play," said Threatt, who threw for 207 yards and ran for 52 more but couldn't generate the critical big plays that beat Villanova. "I love my team. Nobody's going to say it's anybody's fault. The truth is, I didn't play. I had Lee for a touchdown, didn't make the throw. I had Brannan Thomas on a post, didn't make the throw."
Coen reiterated that football is a team game and that everybody is responsible for a loss. "Sedale's a competitor, a leader, and his own biggest critic, and I respect him very much for that," Coen added. "But it's more than 11 guys who take a share in this. You can't have a game where the offense plays great and the defense doesn't or vice versa. We need to find a way to become a more consistent football team."
“It is something that we talk to these guys about,” Coen said. “Accountability starts and stops with me.”
"I talked myself into going for it at that point," Coen said. "We were dominating up front and I had faith in the kids. The last time we had that situation, we had a 40-yard run [against Villanova]. Looking back on it, it would have made it 13-0 and we would have only needed a field goal to win the game in the fourth quarter.
"But we had other opportunities and I won't last long in this business if I second-guess myself on decisions like that. I had faith in the kids and I'd probably do it again."
"I will be very disappointed if it's not a very motivated football team that comes back to practice on Tuesday," Coen said.