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Lehigh 17, Lafayette 21, final

Today's word may as well be "playmaker".

A frustrating season comes to a close with another loss to Lafayette, as this senior class becomes the first class since 1949 to not enjoy a win against the Leopards.

What strikes me the most is that this was a winnable game. Lehigh was leading most of of the way. And there were a lot of things that went right. Senior QB Sedale Threatt played his guts out, as did senior DB Ernest Moore, junior DB Brendan VanAckeren, junior LB Tim Diamond, and others. Offensively, the first half was great for a team that hadn't had a lot of success all year. Lehigh didn't turn over the ball one time. The defense hit hard and never let up on the physical punishment.

Yet after watching this match the old football chestnut is very clear: the game comes down to making plays. And Lafayette made plays and Lehigh didn't down the stretch. The fourth quarter was a microcosm of Lehigh's inability to make the big plays to win football games all year.

Fairly deep in Lafayette territory, up by 3 points, we run the ball three straight times and the Leopards stuffed all three runs up the middle. Lafayette's senior DT Kyle Sprenkle (who I am very glad to see graduate) made plays, stuffing the interior each and every down each time - and we didn't make plays, gaining two yards.

We had a chance to force Lafayette to score a touchdown to beat us. Instead, junior K Jason Leo pushed a FG attempt wide left. Our kicker didn't make a play. A cynic may say "hey, it's only 3 points", but the truth is that three points would have changed the whole dynamic of the game and would have forced a kickoff situation and also forced Lafayette to get a touchdown.

Then Lafayette went on their game-winning drive. The defense made some big hits, and some big plays. But sophomore QB Rob Curley, junior QR Shaun Adair and senior WR Kyle Roeder made the plays that counted. The Lafayette coaching staff put their Leopards in a position to make the plays, and ultimately, they made it on a designed play that was executed to perfection, with Roeder coming from the far side and slanting inwards, using senior WR James Dixon as a smokescreen to draw a cover guy and to slow down Roeder's cover guy - and Dixon and Roeder made a play. Our secondary didn't.

With 3:23 left, there was a chance for Lehigh to make a play to win the game. Countless teams have this year with less time on the clock. But our offense couldn't make the plays necessary to win this type of game. 3rd-and-3. Threatt has some running room, but junior LB Andy Romans fights through his blocker and makes the tackle. Romans? Made the play. The blocker? Didn't. 4th down. Sedale rolls out, and the line gives him no room to run. All he can really do is throw it. The Lafayette "D" line? Made a play. The offense? Didn't.

Four chances to make plays: on offense, defense, and special teams. And all four times our team came up short. And quite simply, that's how you lose football games. That's not only the story of "The Rivalry", it's the story of the 2007 season.

We have a lot of players with individual talent. And this team didn't lose due to one injury, one glaring weakness or one particular breakdown. This team lost from paper cut after paper cut, and by the end of games bleeding to death.

You'll notice that a three of the key playmakers of Lafayette in the game this weekend wee one sophomore and two juniors. They have their playmakers. Fordham? Their playmakers are both sophomores and will be playing next year as well. Colgate? Try junior RB Jordan Scott. Holy Cross? Junior QB Dominic Randolph.

Another long offseason awaits while we figure out how to catch up to these teams.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Chuck, It's interesting how you put the entire game and season for that matter on the players. While it's true they do need to make the plays, they need to block, catch, defend etc. In my opinion there is another part of the game that you, and the coaching staff always manage to leave out of the equation, when doing a post game press conference or writing a blog. Reading your blog at times, I thought he finaly got it! only then to be dissapointed. You mentioned the 3 runs before the field goal attempt, you mentioned the other teams coaches putting them in a position to make "the play". How about our coaches putting our players in a position to make "the play" I'm just a little dissapointed that you or our coaching staff never seem to accept any responsibility. It's always "we didn't execute very well today" how about we didn't coach very well today, and didn't put our players in a position to make the "big play"
Anonymous said…
I agree with the first comment. I was in WI on the ten yard line and to run the ball three straight times and never , at leat, throw once into the end zone to give the players a chance to make the "play" was disappointin. You had the feeling after that series that teh Pards would march down the field to win it- and they did. With this coach , our future is not bright.
Anonymous said…
And as much as I hate anything about Lafayette, I have to give their coach his props. Frankie is amazing when it comes to beating Lehigh. He seems to know exactly what he needs to ask of his players to dash our hopes every year. Maybe Lehigh needs to come up with some sort of "gimmick" like new uniforms or shaving their heads along with maybe putting some pressure on the opposing QB.
Anonymous said…
Geez Louise!

I can't be the only LU fan who sees this. We don't match up physically with the big boys on the schedule, which now even includes fellow non-scholarship programs within our league and the Ivies. LU players are smaller, slower and not as strong. We also do not have the depth of teams we play, or the depth of past LU teams duting the successful era (1998 - 2005.

Maybe the whole program was due to suffer a down turn, even with Pete Lembo here....but let's call it like we see it. Pete averaged 8 - 9 wins per year anf the offense managed to lead the league in passing, yardage, points every season. The D was athletic and talented and gave the O a chance. You knew that 21 points would not be enough to beat an LU tean in this era. Tosay, 21 points against us all but guarantees a win for the other side.

Yesterday's game was the season in microcosm, excepting the blow out wins and blow out loss. Five of the six losses were "winnable" games for LU. When you hold the other guys to three TD's, you need to win, simple as that. Offense, I believe is Andy Coen's forte. So far, it's not looking that way from where I sit. Are these players really that bad? If they are, then we need to cut Andy a little slack so he can really recruit four full classes of his people.

But - If the problem is preparation, teaching, game panning, then maybe we have the wrong coach here. Bottom-line - A program that averaged 8 wins a year is now a .500 team.
Anonymous said…
I apologize for my spelling errors in my 10:25 post, it's just that I can't abide by the swoon we are witnessing, and especially the PL record and the last four vs. LC. When I get excited, I type too fast.

Please Joe Sterrett --- please do something!
Anonymous said…
Watching this game on TV leaves little doubt in my mind that Coen is not Head coach material.

Opposing head coaches manage the game, are interested and get involved in the defense schemes, and motivate their players.

On TV you see our head coach walking the sidelines looking at his play sheet as if there is something there that would be different then the beginning of the game, when there is a defensive huddle he is still starring at his play sheet instead of at least trying to motivate his players or giving advise to the D coordinator and when the offense is off the field he is still starring at his play sheet instead of meeting with the offense and trying to motivate them.

He needs to either find someone to call the plays (becuase he has proven he is no offensive "second coming" time and time again) so he can manage the game or send him on his way!
Anonymous said…
All of the comments I've read here today each say something a little bit different, yet are all pretty accurate. This can only mean one thing - we've got more than one problem to fix. Without rehashing everything that's been discussed to this point, I'll add one more theory to the mix. Andy Coen is not the coach that can lead us into our next run of prosperity. This man is not a head football coach. He's indecisive, doesn't have the know-how to call a complete game, and has demonstrated time and time again over the past two seasons that he does not have a handle on this program. He doesn't even understand the value or the capabilities of the players that he's got. A good football coach gets 110% out of what he's got on his roster. Coen doesn't. There are obvious weaknesses on this roster, and Coen doesn't have a clue how to fix any of them. Is the solution to go out and recruit some front line prospects? What good will that do? He had those this year and had no idea what to do with them. Let's face it, we're not going to return to our tradition of winning until we have leaders in this program who have a passion for not just football, but for Lehigh football. There is a difference.
Anonymous said…
As a former player who went 3-1 vs Lafayette and won a Patriot League championship in 1993, I think all of the criticism of Coen is completely off. I spoke at the luncheon on Friday and I know Coen/the coaching staff very well... He is doing some very positive things with this program. The needs on this program are being answered but they can't be done over night. These are still Lembos guys playing... Next year will be more of a sign of Coen...
These kids played there hearts out yesterday and being on the field after the game with them and coaches you could feel their pain... Not since I was playing, has a loss actually hurt me..
The players and the coaches will learn from yesterdays loss... They will take those lessons into the off season and push to move forward next year...
Anonymous said…
It took tavani a few years to turn lafayette around. It took Higgans a few years to turn lehigh around.
Holy cross was down and out when Gilmore took over. Give Coen another year
Anonymous said…
Actually Higgins didn't need anytime... He took over after the 1993 championship season and won his first in 1995....
Anonymous said…
Must have been a strong Soph recruiting class, hey!
Anonymous said…
Higgins was the D-Coor before coming up to the head coaching jobs... He didn't have to start from scratch.. Already knew the kids and what they could do... He was/is a great coach.. He was the best coach I had while playing at Lehigh...
Anonymous said…
lembo's guys? are we saying the talent lembo had was subpar or worht a 5-6 season? give me a break, lembo managed to put together a hell of an impressive resume while he was at lehigh and hes doing that Elon. Good coaches coach utilize the talent around them and bring the best out of their players, people need to stop making excuses for coach coen. We bash and criticize alot of players on this team when they quote unquote dont get it done. i havent heard excuses for any players except for sedale some warranted i would say. however, this staff recieves more excuses than any ive ever seen. so far this season, ive heard, the talent is not there, players are coming out flat, kids are not trying hard enough, they are not executing, and so on. How does a team start off 3-1 and then end up 2-5 in the last 7 games and have people say the talent isnt there? There's plenty of talent on this team, the older guys are talent and coen brought in a talent class this year. this season was plagued by coaching, throughout the season i find it very difficult to believe that the players are talented enough to compete in the first halves of games, take leads and all of sudden lay down and lose all sense of competitiveness in the second halves, that is coaching, whether its not motivating players or flat out being out coached. I believe both were the cases all season. Its been painfully clear and its evident by alot of the statistics this season. Coen flat out hasnt got it done, period. All season ive been disappointed with alot mainly our record, however ive noticed and taken away alot from this disappointing season. We have alot of talent on this team and hopefully we can get a coach in here to lead these guys in the right direction. Some players ive noticed to have great potential: Tim Diamond great linebacker one of the best in our league, could and should be mentioned nationally, Yansane i believe should be the top reciever in this league if this offense was more stable or utilized him more, looks like a playmaker at 6'3 195 and fast. Brian Jackson, undersized could put on more size but the kid is very talented, seemed to get double teamed and still managed a good number of sack. Jason Leo was inconsistent as far as his field goal kicking this year, however he is still very talented and his even elevated his punts to another level with this new technique. Jaren Walker has shown me enough to believe with development he will be one of if not the elite backs in the league. Matt Cohen, Quadir Carter, John Kennedy, and i havent seen much yet but there seems to be alot of buzz about JB Clark. These were SPECIAL talents that stood out to me this season, they are plenty of other talented players on this team but these players seems to me with DEVELOPMENT, keyword DEVELOPMENT should and will make special impacts on their lehigh careers. The development part is what i question, will it be hindered by coaching? as we saw with Sedale.
Anonymous said…
If you knew as much about college football as you thought you did, you would know that most coaches need time to put there stamp on a program... Lembo did do well while he was there but in the end, things were not going as well...
Before you can crucify Coen, there is time needed for his kids to play... Next year is a the real first season of that.. His guys will be Juniors & sophs and hopefully ready to make an impact....
As a former player, I know that being fired up for a game has nothing to do with coaching... Coaches prepare you for the game, if you need a coach to get you fired up for a game so that you aren't flat then you need to look in the mirror because you are playing the wrong sport... Not one game I played at Lehigh did I look for Small, Hiigins, or any of my coaches to fire me up... That's the player's job...
Coen has made strides since he has been there and hopefully this off season they will continue to progress... All of these losses to Lafayette need to end...
Anonymous said…
(Posted on another board)
Does this sound familiar?

1) One early touchdown and then the offense shuts down ( I know we scored a second one with assistance from a pass interference call as a make good for a brutal one against us as Lafayette scored its second TD, a 15 yard penalty for hitting Sedale out of bounds and a 40 yard screen pass which was something made from nothing.)
2) The bogging down once we get around the 20.
3) All season if the defense faced 3rd and 3, it was better than 3rd and 9. Our secondary was horrible all year without any adjustments.
4) No blitzing at all (only two I can recall, a sack and incomplete), the Lafayette Quarterback had all the time in the world.
5) Placing the entire burden of the game on a young man with a rotator cuff injury which meant, yet again, no adjustments again for the season.
6) A long drive that gets too conservative at the end and does not net points. The last run put the ball in the left hashmark where Leo (he’s fine but this is his Achilles heal) has missed all year. If he makes it we lose 21-20.

This is two years of no adjustments, flat halves and/or quarters, leaky secondary, baffling red zone calling. I suppose it doesn’t matter when our school president is ready to ban the traditional bonfire due to environmental concerns and a study is commissioned to check this out. As stated earlier on this board we have gone from John Cooper-Pete Lembo (can’t beat Michigan, can’t beat Lafayette) to Norm Turner-Andy Coen (good offensive coordinatior – not so good head coach.) I am surprised Kotulski hasn’t done better. He had a good track record. If changes are not made, I expect the same as this year except the downward spiral will continue. After Lafayette scored the go ahead touchdown with a few minutes left, even the most loyal of Lehigh fans were getting up to leave. A quarterback with a rotator cuff injury is going to drive a team the length of the field? The game was over to most fans after seeing the performances of the last two years.
Lehigh74 said…
Andy Coen seems to be a great guy and a very good recruiter. However, he is trying to be both the head coach and the offensive coordinator. You can't do both jobs effectively. He needs to get an offensive coordinator who he can trust to do the job and concentrate on being the head coach. In my mind Kotulski has been a disappointment. He consistently allows accurate passers to sit in the pocket all day until they can find an open receiver. Even the best defensive back cannot stay with a receiver indefinitely.
Anonymous said…
Sterrett needs to beg Dave Cecchini to take over the porgram. Look at the numbers he posted as Off Cor at Harvard and now Citadel. Joe had two opportunities to hire him and blew it. The players have no love for Coen nor do they have good relationships with the position coaches. Overhaul the whole system.

The run on 3rd and nine proved he coaches not to lose instead of coaching to win.
Anonymous said…
The last poster raises a concern I have.

How are the players responding to this frustrating season? What are they doing to improve their outlook? Is there dissension among the ranks (which I suspect) and is it directed toward the coaches? Or do we just have some disgruntled holdovers from a previous coaching regime who are graduating anyway?

Meanwhile, to add my two cents to the thread, I think Andy needs a new offensive coordinator, someone to teach the receivers how to run patterns so they can get open, and eliminate the indecision on the sideline about play-calling.
Anonymous said…
Coen has the personality of a stone! he is far from a "player coach" Has anyone seen a fired up coach who motivates his team on the sidelines? he has his head burried in the play sheets, he has no interest, and, or doesn't understand what the d-coodinator is doing. He takes no responsibility for poor game day performances etc. etc. how much respect could he possibly have?
Anonymous said…
You guys out there who say the players have no love for Coen(or his staff) and the Coen is not a players coach, know NOTHING about this program... I was spoke at the Lehigh/Lafayette luncheon and know these players coaches/players... These guys gave 110% for Coen... They left everything they had on the field... That doesn't happen if a player has no love for his coach...

As for Coen firing them up, we won Lehigh's first Patriot League championship with Re-Born Christian Hank Small as our head coach... There wasn't a bone in his body that knew how to motivate a player... And he didn't need to because players get themselves fired up on game... Players don't need a cheerleader coach to get them fired up... Not once during my career at Lehigh did I need a coach to get me fired up... If you know anything about college football you would see that... Leaving the jumping around for the cheerleaders....
Anonymous said…
I think these players did give 110%I would argue that they did it for Coen. As you stated in your earlier posting "players" motivate themselves. What makes you think they did it for their coach? you seem, based on your coments to be a "politician" becuase there is no "meat" to your comments that this coaching staff has "made strides!" please explain to all of us who don't know anything about College football just exactly what those "strides" have been? name just 2 or 3 for those of us that are blind!
Anonymous said…
Over the last year, how many players have just quit? That would tell you something about Coen and his staff.
Anonymous said…
Coen has made strides on some various obvious ways that my teammates and I noticed from this year to last year's game... The toughness and fundamentals(tackling, blocking, etc) have progressed. In 2006 they were outplayed and out hit... I was ashamed to say it but LU looked soft last year. But this year I think they came out and played tough... They showed a lot more toughness than last years game.. Now if that can continue to grow, things can only get better...

As for kids quitting being a sign, that has nothing to do COen or his staff... It would have more to do with guys seeing the writing on the wall about their playing time, things get too tough for them, etc..
Anonymous said…
First of all, I took alot of positives out of the game. I know a loss is not good v. Lafayette, but be hones Lafayette is a better football program right now than Lehigh is. Coen deserves praise for his preformance on Saturday. I haven't agreed with all of his decisions this year, but I thought he made huge improvements on saturday. Compared to last year, Lehigh did a much better job on the line of scrimmage. Lehigh won the battle of OL and DL. They lost the battle between the skill positions of WR and CB. Lehigh's talent at WR and CB is raw and UNDEVELOPED. Coen had a good offensive game plan using Sedale as best he could considering his injury. Lehigh needs to keep Coen for atleast another 2 years. Cleaning out house would only delay the programs success. I truely believe Coen will turn this program around, but not as fast as some would hope. Changes still need to be made. The offensive coordinator must go. Lehigh needs to bring in a better coaching staff, becuase the Head Coach cant do it all. I also want to say, great effort by all the seniors espeically Sedale. He didn't deserve any of the criticism he took all year and i really wanted Lehigh to get that win for him. Everyone must be patient and with a few changes, next year should improve. Thinking Lehigh will go back to dominatance and win the PL is unrealistic. Next year Lehigh needs to beat the teams they should beat and pull one or two games out v. good quality teams.
Anonymous said…
Coen is the O-Coordinator... So you realy do think he should go? The D-line did okay against the run, although it was mostly the linebackers making the plays. They had no push to get to the QB! the CB's who you say where "raw" where all seniors. And lastly, this years LC team had no where near the talent that last years did!
Anonymous said…
I think the key problem facing this team is Andy Coen and his playcalling. I talked with multiple offensive starters after the game Saturday and they told me that Coen's playcalling was a joke. He ran the same QB draw over 10 times, word for word, the EXACT same play. So, to say that Coen has the full support of the players is far from the truth. It is the coaches job to put the players in a position to succeed, and right or wrong, this team does not have faith in Coen's ability to lead them to success.
Anonymous said…
Cohen has one more year to show big improvement (PL Title and playoffs), or he should be out. No pressure on the QB and Sedale overthrew players at key times. There is something lacking here.
Anonymous said…
Every program has it's lulls and needs to retool. Many mention Higgins--who was already here and stepped in, in 1994 after a 7-4 Championship Season and went 5-5-1. In 1995 he bounces back at 8-3, but the next two years goes 5-6 and 4-7 before his glorious run. IT TAKES TIME to get your own program going. Lehigh NEVER had a run like it did from 1998-05 in its 120 year history. It is impossible in today's college football world to constantly be on top. The key is knowing how to retool when the lull comes. 'Big Bad' Delaware over the last several years has had some very mediocre seasons, 5-6 and 6-6 before this year. With so much parity today, we need to accept the fact that at this level and with the amount of 'support' Lehigh gets, we're not going to be champions every year. I do agree that we should be doing whatever we can to be champions. Attracting good assitant coaches who want to stay is important. We have had little stability in our staffs since the Troika of Lembo, Gilmore and Cecchini. I don't accept losing easily, but at the same time we need to not jump to emotional reactions rather than taking the time to build. Next year will be Coen's time to take his players and make the move.
Anonymous said…
The problem with LU is not that they have no deep speed, no power runner or line size. The main problem is that the team does not have fear of Coen or his staff. Look at the past two years. After losing to Albany on two bad snaps, LU plays with emotion & beats Villanova. The next week they play poorly and lose to Princeton. After that no position changes and the team got comfortable with lackluster play against GTown, culminating in going through the moves at Lafayette. This year was the same, beating one team with a winning record, packing it in early against Holy Cross, and whipping VMI, GTown, and Bucknell. If players get comfortable & don't worry about seeing the bench they are less apt to do the little things to win. LU with Coen are now comfortable in their spot being a second division team. Players fearing for their positions is the only cure, ask the guys who play for Gilmore & Tavani.

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