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News, Position Battles, and Injuries

The biggest news out of this weekend was not the issuance of my new T-shirt line for the Lehigh/Villanova game, the new poll for Murray Goodman's 20th Anniversary (scroll down on the left-hand side) here on the blog, or the impending issuance of the College Sporting News football preview issue.

Without a doubt, the big story was concerning the injuries after the first week of practice - some minor dings, but at least one big one that shakes up the depth chart.

Placed innocuously in Keith Groller's latest blog posting on the Morning Call, he drops this bombshell:

Most notable were injuries that sidelined both tailbacks Matt McGowan and Josh Pastore. McGowan's injury was more serious, a torn hamstring. It's expected to keep him out of the Sept. 8 opener against Villanova and could hamper him for weeks beyond that. The former Hazleton star was set for a breakout season and this injury is not a good way to get things started.

So starting tailbacks #1 and #2 were held out this weekend. Pfffffff. That sure doesn't make me feel good. I was counting on McGowan (who transferred here from Richmond) to be a major factor in this year's offense after sitting behind RB Marques "Double Deuces" Thompson last year. That's not to take anything away from (now likely) starter junior RB Josh Pastore (who transferred here from Kent State) who also has the capability to be a good starting back, but McGowan's rushing will be missed - and it without a doubt shakes up the depth chart.

We do have a decent #3, it must be mentioned, in senior RB Richard Forman, and I've often wondered how he could do given the chance, but after that there are (count'em) three freshmen on the depth chart: RB Kwensi Kankam, RB Jay Campbell, and RB Jaren Walker. (Sophomore RB Sean Parrott, who had a nice spring game, quietly is not listed in the current roster.) In the official wrapup of the week's practice, coach Coen singled out Walker as one of the kids that did well during the first week:

Coen mentioned several freshmen that have stuck out thus far, including offensive lineman Will Rackley, running back Jaren Walker, wide receiver Travis Artim, and defensive back Jerard Cribbs. Walker looked impressive throughout Saturday’s scrimmage, bruising his way to positive gains all afternoon long, while Rackley has more than held his own going against the upperclassmen defensive linemen.

And from Keith Groller's blog:

Coen ticked off the names of several freshmen: DBs John Kennedy and Jerard Cribbs; WRs Travis Artim and Craig Zurn (from Whitehall and Jim Thorpe respectively), RBs Kwesi Kankam and Jaren Walker, and offensive linemen Ricky Clerge and William Rackley who have all played well and appear ready to contribute immediately.

Which leads to another interesting position battle where a freshman could, just could, make a difference: the right side of the "O" line. Freshmen OL William Rackley (6'3, 270) and OL Ricky Clerge (6'3, 285) evidently made some noise and makes you wonder - could they challenge for a starting or backup spot? There's a logjam of other players there competing for time, notably sophomore OL Frank Giacalone, junior OL Chris Tiefenthal, senior Chris Sutherland, and junior OL Alex Kuziel. Who will end up starting for the Villanova game?

Overall, though, the mounting injuries are a concern. With the exception of the McGowan injury, all the other ones appear to be smaller ones that should be healed by opening day. But that's not to say that the injuries are not a big problem. They are:

The injury list was such a concern that Coen was reluctant to even name about four or five starters for the Villanova game. He said that if the Villanova game was on Sept. 1, when most teams open, Lehigh wouldn't nearly be ready. So, maybe, the bye week coming on Week 1 will be beneficial after all. “The effort has been good throughout and the kids have been working hard, but I am not pleased with the amount of injuries we’ve had,” Coen said. “Due to the injuries, a lot of other guys have gotten many reps, but they start to wear down after awhile.”
There's some more important positional information that will be coming out of this camp: who the starting linebackers will be; the starting defensive linemen; the receiving corps; and who will end up starting at fullback. But getting healthy is the top priority at this point.

Thank goodness we're starting September 8th.


Lehigh 74 said…
In addition to Parrot, there was another running back named Moore who played a lot and ran hard in the spring game. He also does not appear on the fall roster.

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