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Sunday's Word: If

Normally by "Sunday's Word" pieces are struggles to find the exact word: but I knew almost instantly after leaving the Bronx that "if" was going to be the Sunday word this weekend.

It's been a rough 36 hours for Lehigh fans. Point blank, beating Fordham is something that Mountain Hawks fans expect Lehigh to do every year, having only lost to the Rams one other time in our history. Fordham may be a better team than they have been the past couple years, but this particular loss has shaken the Lehigh fan base to its core.

Fordham is a good team; anyone who thinks that the Rams didn't earn this one on the field is truly mistaken. The way Fordham was playing, at no time did I feel like the lead, if we got it back again, would be safe. Their sophomore quarterback, who we'll be seeing again for the next two years, is starting to blossom into a really good QB who gets good production - and if he keeps the turnovers down like he did last week, the rest of the league had better watch out.

Yet fans, including myself, were shaken by the number of Mountain Hawk errors made on the field yesterday. Lehigh fans, some of them unforgiving in the best of times, cannot forgive the number of errors and missed opportunities in this game.

The point of this blog isn't to single out players or coaches to tell them how to do their jobs, but the point is to show what this particular Lehigh fan is feeling, and hopefully also express what other fans out there are feeling. And it's a feeling I've never seen before in games that don't involve "that school in Easton".

Efforts like this don't just put things like Patriot League titles in doubt. They put into doubt whether Lehigh will win any more games this year. This isn't mere exaggeration: with formidable Yale up next weekend, and Holy Cross after that, we have teams that put up 50 and 49 points on their opponents this weekend. It's not hard to imagine Lehigh losing both of these games when the offense has only managed 1 offensive TD in the last two games. "If" Lehigh goes 0-2, what then?

And now we're at the point of today's word: "If". "If" Lehigh goes 0-2, 1-1, or 2-0. "If". "If" there's a word that has plagued Lehigh for the past three years, it's that word. "If".

For three years, we've been haunted by the word "If". "If" we got that extra point in Delaware in overtime in 2005. "If" Mark Borda didn't get injured. "If" the 2005 game at Holy Cross wasn't played in a rainstorm. "If" the Lehigh defense had gotten to Pat Davis a split second earlier. "If" it didn't rain against Albany in 2006. "If" we had gotten the 2-point conversion against Harvard. "If" we could have gotten some key Ivy League wins. "If" we converted one of three FG attempts in the red zone, or drove for that game-winning touchdown against Fordham in 2007. "If, if if".

It doesn't stop there, either. How many times have I said the following to people: '"If" Lehigh's (offense, defense, kicking game, special teams) gets it together, they're the best team in the Patriot League, hands down?' How long do I have to wait for receivers to catch balls, or offensive linemen to dominate a game? How long do I have to wait for a defensive effort without mental lapses like I saw yesterday? Is it too much to ask to maybe limit the bad snaps to once a game? How long do I have to wait for players to deliver on the wonderful potential that I and others have seen in spots for the past three years?

I still look at this team, and the rest of these teams around the Patriot League, and I can't help thinking about "if". Lafayette has struggled at times to score points; Holy Cross has struggled at times to prevent teams from scoring points; Fordham has struggled to be consistent; as has Colgate. Hands down, "If they can just get things together..." they still have the potential to be the best team in the Patriot League - though that is no longer totally in their own hands. It's still not unreasonable to think Lehigh can still win the league: after all, no Patriot League team in the past three years has won the title without at least one league loss, so it's possible that it could happen again this year.

But at some point, potential for greatness simply becomes the present, and your record is right there, live in front of you. And it's happening to this team, right here and right now.

And it's also killing me, especially with senior QB Sedale Threatt. I want nothing more than for Sedale to be successful in life and to get a shot at the NFL. To me, he clearly has the talent for it, and I would never, ever say that if I didn't believe it. I feel he's the most talented quarterback I've ever seen put on a Lehigh uniform. He can do things with the football that quarterbacks on classic Lehigh teams could only dream of doing.

At times I've seen Sedale move the ball on offense for Lehigh, and it's a thing of beauty. I've taken to calling them "those drives", where everything falls into place, all the timings are perfect and it looks like we could move the ball against Georgetown, Yale, or even Penn State. It's not just Sedale, either: once a game, the blocking seems perfect, the receivers' timing seems perfect, the running backs seem to burst out of the blocks. But one of "those drives" only appears to happen once a game, and I wonder yet again, What "if" we could get three or four of these a game?

But there it is again. "If". "If" Sedale plays well the rest of the way, he might get a shot at the NFL. "If" some receiver could step up and consistently be Sedale's go-to guy. "If" one of our talented RBs can step up and take some heat off Sedale, and not turn the ball over. "If" our offensive line could dominate a game the way they're expected to. "If, if, if."

Sedale is one player. Wins and losses aren't only on the back of one player. It's on the back of the entire team, who has to work hard all week, and work hard the entire game. After all is said and done, it's the work of everyone on the football field to get the job done. You never want to look at the Fordham game - heck, any game - and say, what "if"? What "if" we worked harder? What "if" I had made more blocking assignments? What "if" I had made that tackle? What "if" I didn't commit that penalty? What "if" I didn't throw that interception?

Potential, in the end, is nothing. It's all about who works harder, who blocks better, and who makes fewer mistakes. If you do that, there is no "If". "If" means you're always wondering about what could have been, what potential could have been fulfilled, what wins we could have had. I'm sick and tired of "If".

If one positive comes out of the Fordham game, I hope it's the realization that it all has to come together right here and right now, next week against Yale. It's no longer "If". It's "Now".


Chris A said…
I've seen Sedale play 3 times. 2x on Lafayette Lehigh and once on TV.
It seems to me he has flashes greatness but that is about it. His overarching quality is escapeability.

That alone does not a great Lehigh quarterback make. I've seen many other Lehigh QBs that have struck much more fear into my heart as a Lafayette fan.
Just food for thought.
Anonymous said…
I completely agree and to say sedale is the best to put on a lehigh uniform at the position of qb and other ob's only dream of having his athletic ability is not only stupid but insane. Give me borda,hall,stambaugh,etc etc before threatt. And NFL hopes are you serious? That can't be a serious comment. Almost comical!
hawkineer said…
Sorry Chuck,

Read your blog religiously, but this is plain absurd:" I feel he's the most talented quarterback I've ever seen put on a Lehigh uniform. He can do things with the football that quarterbacks on classic Lehigh teams could only dream of doing."

Do you realize how many great LU QBs you have now disparaged?

He is not even in the same class as Stambaugh, Rieker, Hall, Borda, McQuilken, or Horn. Your logic would lead one to believe that the most talented in the NFL is Michael Vick because of his athleticsm. The most talented QBs in the NFL are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning because of their ability to manage the game and, most importantly, win.

The one thing that Threatt can't do with a football that other Lehigh QBs could do is complete passes on a CONSISTENT basis and win.

I really think you need to defend this statement. Otherwise, you look an awful lot like a Threatt apologist.

I would have expected better from you at this point. My goodness!
Anonymous said…
this should just prove to everyone that chuck knows nothing about lehigh football
Anonymous said…
he should go into the film room on sundays and see the simple mistakes and misreads the so-called best qb in the history of lehigh is making before he makes these bold comments.
Anonymous said…
people have to realize that chuck doesn't know anything about lehigh football or football in general
Anonymous said…
Wow Chuck, we have a few rabid Lehigh fans. AMEN I too can not wait to read your analysis and comments before and after any game. For the most part I usually agree with 99.0% of what you write. The Sunday analysis I believe is too skewed toward players. Yes they play the game but the HC, OC and DC call the plays. If your QB is having an off passing game, add a varity of run plays i.e. off tackle, traps, end runs, anything. How many plays has Lehigh BLITZed on this year? We can still make this a very good year, but we have to do some things different. Lehighdad
LehighWrestling said…
Hello, I am a Lehigh football fan. i am dissappointed in Lehigh's loss. They should have played wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better than that. Will you be attending the Lehigh vs Yale game?? I will not be due to my grandfather being sick. I also didnt attend the Lehigh vs Fordham game same reason. Did you take any pictures at the Lehigh vs Fordham game?? Will you be attending the Lehigh game on Alumni day and the Lehigh game on family day? Will you be attending Lehgih vs Colgate and The Lehigh lafayette game?? email me at Yulia
Anonymous said…
I was at the Fordham and Villanova games. Sedale is not an accurate passer. The coaches have designed the wrong offense to take advantage of what Sedalle does do well. He should be running the option or rolling out and not dropping back to make passed from the pocket. He can not pick apart a defense throught the air.
Anonymous said…
You need to stop posting because you have no idea what the sport of football is all about. The fact that you love sedale so much shows your ineptitude to understand the fundamentals of the game of football. Sedale in no way compares to the accomplishments of other lehigh quarterbacks such as mark borda, and should not be considered in the same sentence. With all the talent Sedale is surrounded by on this offense, there is no way the offense should struggle as it has. Any other Lehigh quarterback would be setting records with the talent Sedale has to work with.
Anonymous said…
Hello Lehigh football fanatics!I understand the anxious moments you are feeling with a loss that is pretty much unexplainable. Wanted to wish you great luck against our nemesis Yale this week. I play for Harvard and have to actually back Sedale. Our loss to you was for us unexplainable given the amount of time we held the ball and the amount of plays we ran. your defense is spectacular! The offense cant keep the defense on the field as long as they do and expect them to continue to be as effective as they have been. Ultimately the defense got beat at Fordham, but keep in mind that they did put you in a position to win. We chose to run an all out assault on Sedale because we believed that he could beat us. We decided to cut off the head of your team. It almost paid off for us as we held you to 0 touchdowns, we just couldnt get it done when we had to. In defense of your quarterback, he doesnt have alot of time to make decisions right now as he is always being challenged by opponents that find a way through your line. We chose to exploit your freshman guard when your senior went down and were able to get to Sedale with relative ease. I think better days are ahead for your team, just stay loyal and beat YALE yuk! Side note: I wish we had a forum as active as yours, you are great fans!
LUHawker said…
I think some of the comments here are bordering on vitriole. Chuck does a great job of previewing, reviewing and giving us all a place to stay connected to Lehigh football. I'm not always in agreement, but to claim that Chuck knows nothing about Lehigh football is disrespectful. He does good research and his points are often on-point. The defense of Sedale comments are a little surprising and maybe reflect his personal interaction with Sedale, who is a classy guy. That being said, how about we cut Chuck a little slack and move on to some other points. I think we'll still be talking Sedale for the rest of the season, but there is no need to crucify Chuck here.

Go Lehigh!
LehighWrestling said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LehighWrestling said…
I forgot to tell you, yOur Blog site is veryyy good. I went to check the pics thru the link you gave me in the email and nothing is coming up? Why is that? Is there any other ways that I may view your Lehigh vs Fordham photos? Or would you be kind enough to email me ALL of the photos to me in full size? tahnk you
jen said…
no one has to read if they don't wish to.

thanks, chuck, for all that you do. your blog helps me keep tabs on lehigh and my brother, who plays. i have appreciated it through the last four years!
Anonymous said…
My goodness, I've given up all hope that you know anything at all about football. Sedale is in the bottom 10% of LU starting QBs over the past 20 years.

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