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Sunday's Word: Uneasy

It's really the only word that seems to apply after yesterday's performance. "Uneasy".

Now, this uneasiness may simply just be a delayed reaction from the fact that the Patriot League doesn't feel like the Patriot League anymore. Maybe it has as much to do with Colgate getting demolished by UMass 35-17, only four years removed from their delicious humiliation of the Minutemen on the road to the 2003 I-AA championship game. Or Bucknell getting stomped on by Stony Brook 48-20, which puts a big dash in their fans' dream of getting back to the big time. Even Fordham, after their surprising (and heartwarming) win over Rhode Island last week, got brought back to reality in a 23-20 defeat to Albany.

But I really don't think those losses made their fans as "uneasy" as Lehigh fans feel after this one. Villanova made the most hay in our secondary. Think about that: the defensive backfield is supposed to be the strength of our team. Four seniors. And they gave up three passing TDs, 257 yards passing, and an average of 17.1 yards per completion - by a sophomore QB in his second career start.

Furthermore, Villanova was losing players in droves during this game. I understand it was 95 degree heat and it was incredibly hot. But I thought the Wildcats, already depleted by injury and beat up last week versus FBS Maryland, were going to fold and somehow the Hawks were going to pull it out with some great offensive drives. That Threatt and Yansane were going to go on one of those amazing drives that result in a game-winning TD. That RB Josh Pastore was going to be the back with flashes of speed and brilliance that I saw briefly last year.

But I was waiting for a drive that never came. Pastore ended the game with negative yards and a huge fumble (on a questionable call, though.) Late in the game, Threatt went on the quick out pattern one too many times, and the Villanova defense came up with a great play to get the interception to kill a big drive. Another drive stalled with two minutes to play, and Leo's long FG attempt sailed wide left. Too many drives stalled just at the edge of paydirt, forcing us to settle for 3's.

Threatt looked "uneasy" (was his bell rung in the game?). The whole offense (especially the running game) looked "uneasy" and low on confidence, perhaps because of the injuries or the heat. The defense looked "uneasy", totally off balance because Villanova's line beat us off the line of scrimmage to run the ball, and then killing us on the pass that was set up by that. And special teams at one key moment was "uneasy" which led to great field position and a quick score.

Some might say that we ought to look "uneasy" since we're playing a 63 scholarship team. I don't buy that for one second. Yesterday that team with all their injuries operated with no more scholarships than Lehigh gives out equivalencies. To me, there is no crutch concerning "giving Patriot League schools scholarships" or anything like that - with uneasiness like that, even 80 scholarships won't win football games.

With the possible exception of special teams, Villanova kicked our butts offensively and defensively. And they went after us in our "strength" in the secondary - and ate us alive.

This was also done in our house, Murray Goodman. It would be bad enough to have it done on the road, but at least you could make the excuse the team was playing on the road in an unfriendly environment. But just like last year we've now started a habit to allow visitors to feel right at home at Murray Goodman - something that's never happened before.

Home is supposed to make you feel comfortable. Not "uneasy".

The strength of your defense is supposed to make you feel comfortable. Not "uneasy".

The offense is supposed to be able to convert big drives in big spots. Not make you feel "uneasy".

It's too early to give up on the season or this team, but it's not too early to feel "uneasy". This team needs to fix the uneasiness at home, fix the uneasiness in these two key elements of the team, and Lehigh has a chance to have a very special year. This next month, I'm going to be looking at how this team fixes this big "uneasy". I'm hoping to be reassured.

Comments

Anonymous said…
"delicious humiliation of the Minutemen"

A game played in a blizzard before 4,000 or so empty seats?

You gotta be kidding.
Anonymous said…
The Patriot League should drop down a level and start playing the Kuztowns, Bloomsburgs and Cw Posts of this world. Their unrealistic aim of no scholarships and "higher" academic standards are anachronistic in today's college football. Their situation is as pathetic as the service academies' belief that they can also compete at the highest level.

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