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Princeton/Lafayette Press Roundup; Bye Weeks

I want to give credit where credit is due: I think it is superfan ngineer who said that he wished that this loss didn't come during a bye week. The loss hurts all the more with an extra week to think about it. Not only the team; it hurts the fans as well. (Just looking over my inbox makes THAT point pretty plain.)

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!

Press Roundup
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

Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh Gets Caught on Rebound

Brown & White:
Hawks Offense Sputters; Coen Suffers Second Loss

Trenton Times:
Strickland Named Defensive Player Of The Week

Press Mash-up

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.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Sedale has regressed with every game I've seen him play. Maybe his success early in his career was more a case of unfamiliarity on the part of the opposition than any special talents. He has trouble seeing wide-open receivers, he is too prone to run rather than dump it off and all too often he just throws the ball too damn hard for people to catch. He is by no means the only reason they stink but he isn't showing me any reason to hold much hope for next year either.
Anonymous said…
Lafayette: this week lost at home to Penn...who was 5-5 last year and LOSERS OF THEIR LAST 4 GAMES in 2005. Lafayette also lost to Harvard and Princeton last year ...yet were at the top of the Patriot League in 2005.
Colgate :lost to Dartmouth (low tier Ivy) last year... and yet were at the top of the Patriot League in 2005.
Lehigh:I don't have to remind you that it took overtime for Lehigh to beat Yale last year...who finished 4-6!
Those still living in the '90s should turn off their reruns of Seinfeld and Friends, stop harping about a different decade, and take a closer, fresher look at the landscape of 1-AA football... it's trends, recruiting techniques and it's obvious PARITY! Every game will be a contest... and that should NOT reflect badly on the team you reputedly "support".
Remember, Lehigh is 0-0 in 2006
Patriot League play. "GO HAWKS!"
metamorphosis taking place in the football landscape of both leagues. In fact, a top tier Ivy (without injurys) would probably be favored in most contests vs. at op tier P.L team( barring injuries). The reasons? 1.NFL. The Ivys are no longer an oddity when it comes to the NFL. Turn on the Giants and see a U of Penn grad starting at fullback.
Anonymous said…
To continue how the NFL is affecting recruiting in the Ivy League... A D-1 prospect now knows he can get an Ivy League education and a shot at the bigs if he's good enough. They have the "band system of recruiting allowing them to get a certain number of high end recruits (usually reserved for certain positions), who don't meet the educational standards of the school. So... if Harvard needs a wideout... they can use their 1 slot for any D-1 prospect across the country who hasn't signed yet. And because they are Harvard, the potential recruit will at least listen. They have instant name recognition. They can talk a kid out of attending Rice,Tulane, Northwestern, Duke, Wake Forest etc. This is why we should start looking at these Ivy foes as formidable. What their programs lack is the depth at positions...1 injury away from disaster in some cases.
Anonymous said…
This comment is addressed to Anonymous who posted at 1:47:

Find something else to do on saturday afternoons. Lehigh players, past and present, won't miss you in the stands. This young man was voted the "Player of the Week" just a week ago. By your comments, I doubt very much that you ever played on a D1 college level in any sport.
Ngineer said…
Agreed. "1:47" doesn't have clue. QB's at every level miss open receivers--especially if they're running for their life at times. Yes, Sedale will make mistakes as will every other player. I'm sure "1:47" has superfans watching him like a hawk on everything he does at work and stabbing him in the back. He has to take it out on someone....
Anonymous said…
I admit that I only see at most one Lehigh game a year and I'm not exactly an x's and o's guy. But for some time I have been under the impression that the type and sophistication of the offense we ran served to make us more formidable than the physical abilities of the kind of players we get would otherwise permit.

I understand why it was maybe important to have a power running game due to problems that a l;ack of one presented. But isn't this particular style of offense more likely to doom us to mediocrity? At least on a national scale if not in the PL in general.

Just curious what others think.
Anonymous said…
Nice comeback guys: The old "You never played so what do you know" bullshit. I was never President of the U.S. but I know when one is doing a crappy job.

Last time I looked, Lehigh wasn't in D1 dumbass. Truth be told, I played Division III ball a couple decades ago.
Anonymous said…
The point that was loss on "Anonymous 3:43" is that Sedale won 2 awards just last week for his outstanding play against Villanova. He was voted ECAC Player of the Week and The Patriot League Player of the Week. By being a "Boo Bird" and drawing such conclusions about Sedale's ability to quarterback this team this early in the season, shows you as someone with an ax to grind. Was the hotdog at the concession stand
hot enough for you?...or should we look for another provider?
As far as Sedale's passing goes, maybe you should ask his receivers if he throws a catchable ball. They have been catching his passes non-stop since the beginning of June. Oh, there's one of the differences between D1 and if you prefer,D1AA, and D3... THEY PREPARE ON CAMPUS & PRACTICE YEAR ROUND! Last I looked, D3 opened camps just a couple of weeks ago (and no spring ball). You'll also find that they have much different rules and dates and in their recruiting . LOOK IT UP, D3!

A side note D3: D1AA is looking into dropping the AA and just being named D1.
LU in NJ said…
>>>>>>>For the record, this is not a "young team"------there is only one starter that is not a sr or jr and more than half of the starters returned from last yr.

And the coaching staff is experienced and was hired with the intent of taking a quality program/team and making it even better.

Let's be honest with the situation-------this team has not performed up to it's ability so far.

I'm not knocking the players----it's really a function of Coen and the coaching staff.

I liked lembo for one simple reason---he won games.

Yes, Air Lehigh was highly entertaining, but the bottom line was Lembo, who certainly wasn't a perfect coach, won games.

Now it's up to Coen to win games, and the initial results are not encouraging.

All his proponents said he'd be the perfect fit and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I have a hard time listening to the Lembo haters switch tunes and now say that with parity and all, we really can't expect too much.

There is plenty of talent on this team----certainly more than enough talent to be 2-1 or 3-0.

It's time to hold Coen tot eh same high standards as Lembo and stop making excuses for sloppy play and coming out flat in the 2nd half vs. Princeton.

Bottom line---we were outcoached by Albany and Princeton----the players and Lehigh football supporters deserve better.
Ngineer said…
These are frustrating times--just like last year with three close losses that we all know should have been wins and an undefeated season.
Now we're sitting at 1-2 with two close losses that we all know should have been wins and undefeated to defeated.
Had the team been blown out in these games then, yes, a major shift is needed.
While the arrival of Coen has been received with much optimism, it has to be remembered that this is his first time as a HC and coordinating an entire staff. He has been upfront and taken responsibility for the uneven start, recognizing deficiencies and promising to address them. He hasn't passed the buck.
So we can all nitpick, but the bottom line is players have messed up on executions and coaches are still learning what they can and can't do in certain situations. I still feel this will turn around. But the back biting doesn't make things easier.
Anonymous said…
Take it from an insider - the players despised Lembo. He always blamed them or the assistant coaches for any losses. Dressing down your assistant coaches with some very colorful language in front of the players does not gain you any respect. If it is all about winning games...then Lembo did win...but, give Coen time...he already has the players loving and respecting him....he will get this program heading in the right direction...give him time...
Lehigh74 said…
I'm with you anonymous 7:06 AM, I think that Coen will eventually be an outstanding coach. We just have to be patient and give him some time.
LU in NJ said…
>>>>>>>Interesting comments----Lembo was too tough on the asst coaches and players, and we need to accept the fact that Coen needs more time to figure out how to win games at this level.

I'm a long time season ticket holder and I wish all the best to Coen and the players.

But I'm also a realist, and Lembo, despite all his faults and fan complaints, produced the best w-l record of any coach in Lehigh history.

Coen has a tough act to follow, and so far, he hasn't been up to the task.

It's nice to say we're going to emphasize the run game, but the ultimate goal is to score points, and ten points vs Princeton is pretty anemic.

Lembo was very demanding, and the team won.

Coen is a nice guy, and the initial result is 1-2.

I sencerely hope things improve over the remainder of the season, especially for the seniors who have worked hard over the past 4 years and knew success under Lembo.

But let's be clear, if Coen needs more time to figure out how to win at this level, then he wasn't ready for the job.

If he is the right guy----which most people seem to think, then it's past time to start getting the job done.

Coen should be held to the same demanding standards that fans put on Lembo----to do otherwize would be hypocritical.
Anonymous said…
-the reason lehigh is struggling is talent. constant staff turnover has hurt lehigh's recruiting. this team is not as talented as last years and not in the same ball park as Lembo's first year. there has been a slow and steady decline. It will take two to three years to get out of this rut. Lembo was dying to get out for a reason.
Anonymous said…
I agree...Lembo knew that there was going to be a less talented team this year and he left before he had to deal with that...the seniors who are here and had success under Lembo...and still work hard and want to win - will tell you that even though they are 1-2 - they respect and enjoy playing for Coen so much more than Lembo...The only assistant coaches that most of them liked are still there....you might forget that several kids who could have helped this team this year decided not to come back and play...and I know for a fact that their decision to not come back was based on the idea that Lembo was going to be back as coach....I also know about 2-3 starters who would not have been back if Lembo didn't leave...so the team would have been even weaker if Lembo was still here...and I'm sorry he really wasn't that great of a coach that he could have overcome a lack of talent. Coen will have success....he wants a hard nosed tough team and when he gets these kids, or next years kids where he wants them or gets a chance to recruit those type of kids Lehigh will be back at the top. Its nice to believe that your team is always going to be on top...but, realistically you have got to expect some down years.
Lehigh74 said…
If you stop and think about all the coaching turnover since Kevin Higgins left, it is pretty amazing that Lehigh has been able to continue to play at a high level for so long. What we need now is stability and a little patience.

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