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Around The Horn: 9/3/2007

Since Lehigh didn't play this weekend, today is a good time to post some information on the games this weekend concerning the Patriot League and Lehigh's future opponents. Worthy of mention is that the Patriot League went 4-2 in their opening weekend, including wins over tough teams like Albany and Rhode Island, which goes a long way towards getting our league a lot more respect.

  • Although UMass made mincemeat of Holy Cross' defense early in a 40-30 victory over the Crusaders, there are a few things to keep in mind about this game. First, senior all-American CB Casey Gough suffered an injury in the second quarter, which had to be a crushing blow to that defense. Also, Holy Cross really had something very positive to build on after overcoming an early 37-9 deficit to score 21 unanswered points... and had the ball with 6:01 left in the 4th quarter in a position to tie the game at 37. The Minutemen did end up getting the ball again on a 3-and-out and kicked a game-clinching FG, but the Holy Cross offense was able to score against one of the top teams in FCS. Seeing the seriousness of Gough's injury is something to look at, but that offense should continue to get better as the year goes along, and Holy Cross looks to be a team that will be tough to reckon with this year.
  • In a game which I said would be "surprisingly uncompetitive", I was spectacularly wrong. Fordham surprised Rhode Island of the CAA with a 27-23 victory. Sophomore QB John Skelton engineered the game-winning drive down 23-20 (though aided immensely by a Rhode Island pass interference call on 4th-and-10) with big passes to senior RB Jonte Coven, junior WR Richard Rayborn and sophomore WR Jason Caldwell with 15 seconds left. Defensively, sophomore CB Isajeah Allen is proving to be a budding star already in that defense with 11 tackles, a sack and an interception. These young pups have now demonstrated that they are more than capable of pulling off an upset or two in the Patriot League.
  • Bucknell as well showed what they can do when they get their gameplan going in a 28-19 victory over non-scholarship Duquesne. Absolutely my best pick of the Patriot League weekend (picking sophomore QB Marcelo Trigg as the starting QB, and picking a 35-17 victory for the "Bisonators"), by the second half Bucknell really got their gameplan going in earnest by smothering the Dukes defensively (shutting them out) while Trigg and sophomore RB A.J. Kizekai combined for an eye-popping 456 combined all-purpose yards (with Kizekai getting 260 himself). Yet another young team that at this point seems quite capable of pulling off a league upset.
  • Colgate struggled to a 13-11 win that the Post-Standard accurately called "ugly, but satisfying". A lot jumps out from the Post-Standard writeup: the extremely large chip on coach Biddle's shoulder; they only ran three simple running sets called lightning, thunder, and blizzard in between the tackles with junior RB Jordan Scott taking an unbelievable workload (44 rushes for 180 yards); and 6'6 sophomore WR Pat Simonds making a huge clutch catch late in the game on 3rd-and-13 from their own 7 to allow the Raiders to run out the clock. But here's something else that's real interesting: you take away that 33 yard Simonds catch, the two Raider starting QBs only would have gone 5-for-15 with 39 yards passing. Colgate is looking like a smashmouth team, and they are going to need to find some sort of effective QB if they're to get into the title discussion (like freshman QB Charles Babb, perhaps?).
  • I thought Lafayette would manage to get time for 4 QBs in their 49-10 rout of Marist, but they only got three in there (senior QB Mike DiPaola, sophomore QB Rob Curley, and sophomore QB Josh Jones). DiPaola in about a half of work certainly looked good enough (10-16, 124 yards, 2 TDs, but more importantly he seemed to have a prety good rapport with star junior WR Shaun Adair (4 catches for 73 yards) and he seems beyond a shadow of a doubt to be the starter for the forseeable future. Other than that, the second half proved to be an opportunity for the second-stringers to show what they can do. Overall (and this is worthy of mention): Lafayette seems like this year, they seem like they will be a much harder team to beat in September than in years past. They also seem deep: their backups aren't that much of a drop down from their starters. All indicators are they will be around in the Patriot League race until the very end.
  • Even Georgetown had a pretty good opener even though they fell to Stony Brook 35-28. Even with the Seawolves 12 (!) FBS transfers (11 of them on defense), the Hoyas tied Stony Brook in the 3rd quarter at 21 after a fake FG attempt and successful 2-point conversion. Senior QB Matt Bassuener racked up a nice day with 20-of-26 passing with 244 yards to go with 40 rushing yards and a running TD. However, the Hoyas also let up 542 yards to the Seawolves as well, including an eye-popping 349 yards on the ground (with two 100-yard rushers).
  • Not sure what to make of Villanova's 11 yards rushing and 176 yards passing in a 31-17 defeat to FBS member Maryland. First-time starting sophomore QB Antwon Young went 17-for-28 with 1 TD pass and 1 interception, but Villanova's linebackers and secondary were extremely impressive with 3 interceptions, while junior LB Michael Hollanad and senior LB/DB Zach Mariacher combined for 21 tackles, a sack and an interception. The safe bet is to say that Villanova's offense isn't as bad as they demonstrated last weekend, while it will be interesting to see how coach Coen tries to handle those talented Villanova linebackers next week at Goodman.

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