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Sunday's Word: Fitness

I put a lot of thought into this Sunday's word. "Hubris"? Was it hubris that had us losing this game? "Ivy"? Was it the Ivy just simply putting the smack down on us? "Granite"? Was it our guys, whenever we needed a big running play, they looked like they simply ran into a block of granite?

After watching the replay, to me the word that sticks out is "fitness".

Why? I can't say if the players went out there expecting to beat an Ivy team before the game was even played, so "hubris" gets thrown out. Similarly, the "Ivies" put a real good hurting on the whole Patriot League this week (heck, even Colgate was down 7-6 at half to.... Dartmouth.) It *could* be league-wide hubris. But that's not why we lost.

"Granite" comes closer. On 2nd-and-goal from the 3, we hand off to senior RB Marques Thompson and he gets stuffed by Princeton LB Doori Song. 3rd-and-6, and then we see another incompletion. 4th down... and the FG hits the post. When we got into the red zone, Thompson and the running game hits a block of granite and comes up with nothing.

But "Granite" is related to "Fitness". And "Fitness" is the word this week.

If football games were 30 minutes, we'd be unstoppable. But it's clear that as the game goes on the effectiveness of the offense is going down. In the fourth quarter, we're not ripping the huge gains and getting the TDs. Instead, we're getting stuffed at 2nd-and-goal at the 3.

Why? "Fitness" could be as good a reason as any. When the game is on the line, and we need a big 4th-and-1 or a big push at 2nd-and-goal, we're not getting those yards. It's not just the line, or the QB, or a receiver. It's the whole offense as a unit.

You can see it. Off-target throws, for a variety of reasons. Mental errors resulting in penalties and killed drives. Drives deep in the red zone with no points to show for it. (I give Donchez a pass for the pass interference call, which probably prevented an interception.)

Sedale had another game where he looked sharp in the first half, only to struggle in the second. The types of errors that occurred seemed to me to be the type that occur because Sedale is trying to do too much out there, especially by forcing passes. Princeton has an experienced, wily secondary. I'm hoping that this game was an eye-opener for Sedale.

Not that the defense gets a total pass either. In the second half, Princeton stepped on our throats and we looked lost out there at times. A terrible mental error gave Princeton the ball at midfield and it took all of four plays to score.

Lehigh lost to a very very good football team on Saturday. Anyone who tells you Princeton is a bad team is not looking hard enough at the films. Princeton is a solid, talented team that tackles well, can play effecient offense and can block. Our last three losses at home - to Lafayette, Princeton and Albany - were to good teams. (Yes, Albany DID beat Delaware at the Tub on Saturday night, 17-13 - that wasn't a typo.) One of the things that bugged me about the film was that Lehigh was getting beat on both lines. Princeton's lines may be small, but they got the better of us on Saturday.

But if the offense finds their "Fitness", and strings together a full 60 minutes of effectiveness, we still have a chance to win championships and play in the I-AA playoffs. Again, last I checked, if Lehigh wins all their league games they don't have to worry about at-large bids to the playoffs. We still can do it. Hopefully, two weeks from now against Harvard, we'll see more "fitness" against another brutally tough Ivy team.

I still beleive we've got a good team here, and I think our best Saturdays are yet to come. If our team develops some "Fitness" and can execute well for 60 minutes.


Go Lehigh TU owl said…
Chuck you're one crack if you think Princeton is a "very very good football team". Umass, App State, Youngstown are very very good football teams. Princeton is program who i believe has had 1 winning season, last year, in the previous 8 years. C'mmon and get serious.
Anonymous said…
Spoke to students. Team was out at parties and drunk after game. No remorse or cares. Maybe this is fitness cause.
Anonymous said…
You are full of crap....I was out to dinner with about six or seven of these kids....dropped them off at about 11:00 p.m. and then picked them up for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. before heading home...if they partied all night long I would have known...and most of these kids were starters....some of whom had played every single snap on either offense or defense depending on their position...don't give me this crap about them not caring and drinking to all hours of the night...not saying some players partied...but, I know a half a dozen or so who did not. I love all the bloggers who pipe up with their opinions about why the team lost....Do not generalize. If a kid goes out or relaxes a has a beer or two after a game it doesn't mean that they are out of shape or that they don't probably kick back on Friday night and have a couple and if I accused you of not being ready to do your job or not caring you'd think I was crazy....About 40 of these kids spent all summer working, taking classes and working out every day in the summer to get ready for this season...and now because of a couple losses their all a bunch of drunks who don't care....I cannot believe how many people like to get up on their soap box and spout off like they know whats happening with this team....Sometimes you lose...Some of these "kids" might make dumb plays or have a beer or two on game night....but make know mistake I know that they care and are giving it their two weeks if they came up with another big would all be singing their praises....First week they were all bums...second week they were wonderful and now they are a bunch of out of shape you see a pattern here? Get a life.
hawkineer said…
Monday's word: sanctimonious

There is a middle ground between a very, very (yes 2 verys) good football team and a bad team. No Princeton is not a bad team. However, they are not a very, very good team. What would you classify the Montana's, UNHs, and App. States of the world as?

Yes Albany did beat Delaware, Yes , Albany did lose to Fordham which good pounded by Columbia. So what's you point? It is possible that both LU and UD are not good football teams.

It would be nice if every once in awhile you responded to some of these posts instead of acting sanctimonious when it comes to 1-AA football.
hawkineer said…
Sorry don't want to make my LU education look bad.

Yes Albany did beat Delaware, Yes , Albany did lose to Fordham which got pounded by Columbia. So what's you point? It is possible that both LU and UD are not good football teams.
The Last Engineer said…
Chuck makes some good points, but the word "fitness" doesn't seem quite right. I'd say "focus" or "consistency" instead. This is the same squad that wore down a big, physical Villanova team 10 days ago. The team was up for that game and it showed as the 4th quarter rolled around. The team (and the crowd) was flat against Princeton.

I think we all came in to 2006 with expectations that were too high for this season. We lost a lot of contributors to graduation. We have new coaches. We have new schemes on both sides of the ball. Simply put, this is a rebuilding program. The iron-clad mortal lock of 8+ wins every year no longer applies.

Coach Coen knows that this team could easily be 3-0 right now and I'm sure he shared that opinion with the players. Give him time to get everyone (including himself) up to speed. The progress with game prep, adjustments, and discipline will come as everybody's level of familiarity increases.
Ngineer said…
Yes, 'focus' is the word. It implies discipline. Mental mistakes and stupid penalties belied any focus. No question we have a talented group of players, but they certainly haven't 'jelled' as a team. Senior leadership needs to step in and get everyone's attention. Coach Coen is fully aware of this as noted in today's email. It is true that expectations may have been high for this year with many seeing Coen's return as the 'Second Coming'. Transitions and getting familiar with expectations doesn't occur overnight, but I certainly hope to see major improvement in the next few weeks. As for 'Anonymous' cheap shot--that's what it is. People who take second and third hand hearsay without any substantiation are cowards and love to throw darts at people whenever there is some adversity. Yes, perhaps some players had a beer Saturday night--there are plenty of days when my ass has been kicked that I come home and have one too. It's also important to remember, that life goes on, and when we lose and have setbacks, we get back up and boogie forward. No sense for a funeral, and while not a reason to be the 'life of the party' sometimes stepping away for a few hours helps the pain.
The team needs support at this time, not a bunch of back-biting crybabies.
Anonymous said…
im pretty sick of having to read this crap day in and day out....why dont you all sit on the HOME side when we travel to Easton this all claim to be fans and yet you jump ship at the drop of a dime...just say what you all want to say...GO LEOPARDS....because you clearly arent with US.
Ngineer said…
Well, actually Anonymous most of have to sit on the 'home' side at Lafayette since there aren't sufficient seats on the visitors side..:-)
HOwever, you obviously didn't read my post very well. I strongly urged all alums/fans/whatever, to support the boys and not get too bent out of shape.
You obviously haven't been around Lehigh very long to understand the passion people have, but also the unfortunate fact that people have been spoiled over the past 10 years. 15-20 years ago 6-5 seasons were considered successful. The bar has been raised...
Go Lehigh TU owl said…
I have never got down on them. I didn't give up after the Albany game and i'm not about to after Saturday either. I think what's frustrating is the mistakes the team made that really impaired their ability to win against Princeton. If they don't have so many self inflicted penalties and mistakes it isn't so bad. However, when a team does those things to it self is frustrating from a fans perspective, especially with so many Jr. and Sr's out there.

Ngineer- I'm not sure if a 6-5 season even 15-20 years ago was considered a successful season. Lehigh had a couple rough years, '92, '96 and '97 come to mind but that was by far the exception rather than the rule. Lehigh was 7-4 in '90, 9-2 in '91(awesome team), 7-4 '93, 5-5-1 '94(Higgins first year), 8-3 in '95. I believe once the HC sholarships wore off in the early '90's the expectations of this program was always to win the league and be the premiere program in the league. The resources have always been there. Obviously they will not always win 8-9 games but given what Lehigh has to work with and the support it receives a losing record should not happen IMO.
Ngineer said…
Lehigh-TU--I was generalizing. yes there were a number of excellent seasons in there, but if you look at the overall 'recent' history of LU football from 1982 forward until the 'heights' were reached in 1998, on average 6-5 was about what we were doing (later half of Whitehead's tenure and most of Small's was mostly just above or just below .500,and people were not jumping off the Hill to Hill Bridge. ;-)

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