It was a great day to be at Lehigh and to see the pads on and hear the hits once again. It was great to roam the sidelines again, taking pictures, chatting on the sidelines, and talking to some of the soon-to-be alumni out there. It was a great crowd there, and after the game, the South Side Boosters had a fantastic post-game spread for everyone - including the best pierogies my wife and I have ever tasted. (My wife was also raving about the orzo salad, which played well with her Greek heritage; my son, the grapes and cookies.) The South Side boosters are the best! It really put the exclamation point on a great day.
With my regular computer in mothballs until we move into the new house, it will take me a few days to upload the photos - but look for them soon, as well as some exclusive post-game commentary from coach Coen. But I will share some of my impressions from today's scrimmage.
- The biggest question of all -- who will be the starting QB in the fall -- remained unanswered. Much will be made of their inability to score on the defense (with only one offensive touchdown), but all three showed some flashes of promise. Probably junior QB Chris Bokosky had the best day of the three, going 9 for 16 with a 21 yard TD fade pass in the end zone to senior WR Mike Fitzgerald. But all three were flushed out of the pocket often with mixed results. Sophomore QB J.B. Clark had probably the strongest throw on the day to senior WR Ben Ivester (46 yards), but went 5 for 16 in the face of the pressure. Sophomore QB Trace Cisneros a little better in the face of the pressure (8 for 15, 65 yards) and (like Clark) has a nice touch on the ball, but (also like Clark) he turned over the ball quite a bit. It must be emphasized that no QB here was a slam-dunk - and that all the QBs showed flashes that they could be "the guy". This battle will rage on into the summer for sure.
- It wasn't easy for the QBs at times, though, since it looked like the "O" was running behind a patchwork line. The line had some sloppy moments with some missed snaps at center, holding calls and the like - and had a tough time protecting the QB at times. It is the spring, though, and there's time for improvement. Better for these problems to come out now to work on them in the summer. If there was one guy that stood out, it was the guy that was no surprise - senior OL Kevin Bayani.
- The flipside to this is - what a defensive performance! Junior LB Al Pierce was a real standout on defense, with three tackles and two interceptions, including taking one back for a touchdown late to put the cherry on top for the defense. But junior DT B.J. Benning, junior LB Troy Taylor, junior FS Jesse Sanchez, senior LB Tim Diamond, and junior LB Matt Cohen all made great plays on defense, hitting gaps well and making some crushing hits. They really pinned their ears back and swarmed the ball, stuffed the run extremely well, were aggressive, flew around and just played awesome overall. Overall, very, very impressive.
- I'll be awful happy if our defense averages eight takeaways a game every week during the season, let me tell you.
- I didn't see senior OL Chris Tiefenthal or sophomore OL William Rackley play at all, two guys who are likely to be starters in the fall. Their absence definitely seemed to have an effect on the offensive struggles.
- Sophomore DB John Kennedy impressed me too - he was so impressive, in fact, that it's hard to believe that he was considered at WR. He was fantastic shutting down his assignments on the day - and he also did the little things well, too. I hope we'll be hearing a lot from him. To me, he's a player, period.
- Sophomore RB Jay Campbell put himself out there with some good interior runs today. He impressed me too, and seriously eased my mind about the depth at RB.
- Some surprising names at WR made an impression on me. Fitzgerald really seemed improved from last year, Ivester's grab was great, and another name I heard a lot was senior WR Jason Figura who had some nice grabs.
- Senior P/K Jason Leo's leg was awesome again, with a 50+ yard punt and a 40 yard (I think) FG. His misses basically came off of bad snaps for the most part.
More in the next few days. This has the potential to be one heck of a defense. The questions, once again, seem to be on the other side of the ball. We'll see how it all comes together.