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Lehigh 14, Villanova 33, Final

My wife, son and I came back from Villanova later in the evening after watching the 33-14 defeat to the Wildcats. The question I have now - which is the same question I had right after the game - was, what does this show us? After looking again at the stat sheets and reflecting on the game, I'm still having a hard time.

Was Lehigh blown out of the building? Not really. The Lehigh defense, as expected, did a pretty good job, especially in the first half. Senior LB Tim Diamond was a force of nature, with an interception and a strip of Villanova RB Aaron Ball which Diamond reovered and rumbled to the 1 yard line, which set up Lehigh's first touchdown. Junior LB Matt Cohen also came up big with a 4th down stop in the first half and several key stops.

But two other phases of the game -- offense and special teams -- struggled mightily against the #21 team in the nation.

Sophomore QB J.B. Clark's statline was not pretty: 20 for 44 passing, 200 yards, 1 touchdown, 4 interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. Clark was running for his life a lot of the day: although the statline shows only three sacks registered by Villanova, the seven rushes for -17 yards also spoke volumes.

Senior RB Matt McGowan, who was so effective against Drake, wasn't able to get too much going with 12 rushes for 29 yards and 4 receptions for 29 yards.

Special teams, aside from not being able to break sophomore DB John Kennedy free on kickoff returns, were also allowing Villanova to really put our offense behind the 8-ball. On seven returnable kickoffs, four times we didn't make it out to the 20 yard line. Also, a fake punt on 4th-and-18 was well short of the first-down marker, giving Villanova a short field.

That led to a familiar scenario that Lehigh fans saw frequently in 2007: the offense doesn't hold onto the ball for sustained drives, while the defense is on the field way too much. 82 plays for an offense as good as Villanova's is simply catnip. "We tired their defense out. We had them running ragged," Coach Talley candidly said in the post-game press conference.

There are really two ways to look at this for Lehigh: half-empty or half-full.

The half-full view is that this is really Clark's first "start" since the Drake game wasn't really representative of a typical game situation, with J.B. asked mostly being asked to hand off to McGowan. Furthermore, he's working against one of the best teams in the nation who could very well be on their way to a CAA title. The Wildcats might be putting a lot of hurt on teams defensively this year, and it's a rough assignment for a rookie QB in his first "start" no matter how you slice it.

The half-empty view looks at what Lehigh was able to do against Villanova the past two years, and doesn't like the way things are heading. The half-empty person looks at things and says, "Two years ago we beat Villanova, and last year we might have taken that game with a few bounces. This game was never closer than two scores by the end of the first half. I remember when we used to win these games!"

Me? I take a look at that glass right now, and it's looking a lot more full than empty. "We played a very good football team today," coach Coen said first thing in the post-game press conference. "Those a people we want to compete against, and that's the type of team where we want to get to be. I hope we don't play a defensive front as talented as theirs the rest of the way." He's right, too. I think Villanova will be making more teams look bad when all is said and done.

I also saw some good things out of Clark on a tough "introduction" to FCS football against a playoff-caliber FCS team. He made some excellent reads, and had a great deep TD pass called back on a holding penalty. Give him time, the glass-half-full in me says. By the Fordham and Harvard games he'll be a completely different quarterback.

I think for the most part I see a full glass. The season is young, the defense will continue to be solid. and this team appears that they will learn the lessons of Villanova and move forward. I see it in the press conference when junior WR Mike Fitzgerald hangs his head and says things like "The defense is carrying us right now, and we've got to step up our game, make plays, put points on the board."

Yet sometimes I take backwards glances at this glass, and I see "empty". But that's a subject for tomorrow's "Word".

Comments

Anonymous said…
What is in the glass Coen's drinking from?
"Those are the kinds of teams we want to compete against" by the way "I hope we dont see a defense as good as that the rest of the season" "JB made some good reads" I think he needs to lay off the glass! It's one thing to give credit to your team to keep them motivated, but to make it sound that rosey and everyone else saw something different!
van said…
Chuck, I was at the game too. I thought our offensive line did a good job in pass protection given that we could not run at all. Disagree that Clark was running for his life. Out of 44 pass attempts, my guess is he was flushed 6 or 8 times. He looked sharp at times, and at other times he looked like a rookie. Potential is there, but you cannot beat Villanova with potential.
Anonymous said…
Its a vivid and sobering view of just how far the program has fallen off. It's disgusting that the once proud program with such history has been reduced to an embarassing level. I don't see it ever getting better with the administration that is in place, nor the league's ostriches with their heads firmly planted in the sand. Soon the public address announcer won't be talking about leading attendance figures. Who really wants to come out and see that mess. Does anyone remember just a few short years ago, when Lehigh goal line stands James Madison, beats Nova, loses to Delaware at night at their place 34-33? I hate to say it, but will someone explain how you stop the spiral downwards. By the way, who's calling the plays this year and was that game plan scripted?
Anonymous said…
Clark had protection? You have to be kidding, are you sure you were at the game? Bokoski doesnt make those mistakes, sorry. I see Clark is the future for sure, but how about going season to season with your best option to win at the moment. The Nova defense ruined our O line. Two short years ago we smashed their faces in, with someone elses recruits.
Anonymous said…
Very good point!

The AD is to complacent to tell Coen the future is now!

How does this guy have the opportunity to knock this program down to where it is and have the opportunity to see if he CAN build it up?

As for the pass protection, yes they came after him. The snack bar ladies could have told our coaches they where going to do that!

A big part of the blame is directly on the heads of the staff for not preparing our kids. Our o-line wasn't giving any size away aginst this defense.

It was very apparent this kid was not ready for this (again a coaching issue to some extent) holding on to the ball, very poor reads, running straight up and down on a QB draw, very slow feet, etc. etc.

Someone said it well in another post, thank god for the screen pass!

Coen's banking on the PL being so much easier. They watch films with the snack bar ladies and will be teeing off all day!
Anonymous said…
I think that the team will get better week to week, but the school has settled for mediocrity in all sports. There some people in the decision making positions that don't really get it, nor do they care about athletics. The rest of the patriot league teams stink except for Holy Cross and Lafayette, so 6-5, 5-6 should be the yearly record. They could sink further to a Georgetown level and it almost seems like that is in the realm of possibilities. I guess just drink more in the parking lot and it may not look as bad as it actually is.
Anonymous said…
Take a look at the Colgate web site and you will see NO excuses for loosing to number #23 ranked Furman. Check out the stats below.


FUR CU

FIRST DOWNS 26 17
Rushing 16 10
Passing 9 7
Penalty 1 0
YDS RUSHING 304 159
RushAttempts 48 34
Avg Per Rush 6.3 4.7
Rushing Td's 2 3
Yds Rushing 310 179
Yards Lost
Rushing 6 20
NET YARDS PASSING
211 183Completions-Attempts-Int 15-24-0 17-21-0
Average Per
Attempt 8.8 8.7
Average Per
Completion 14.1 10.8
ToTAL OFFENSE YARDS
515 342
Anonymous said…
The last two years we heard that the o-line was small and weak, now that's not the problem and it never was. On the interception the pressure came after the RB whiffed on his block on the Villanova rusher. The Villanova announcer summed up the problem for the last 3 years, "Villanova's defenders are faster & more athletic then Lehigh's skilled players" There are no Bergens, Pughs, Walkers, Evans, etc on this team. That's recruiting. This is a team that will still do ok since the PL is at its weakest in 15 years. Lembo and his staff would never get a pass on this performance. How many did Elon score Sat?
Anonymous said…
Losing Lembo has become a disaster. During his last 2 seasons there were some tough losses, but they were all kind of bizaar to say the least. They were simply ill-fated losses that were not his fault. His offenses really showed something, and his attention to detail made his preparation second to none. Those who put pressure on him should be ashamed. My best wishes to Pete and his Elon team which can really score points. Oh, to have him back!
Doug H said…
Our days of trying to compete with CAA teams is getting near an end.. The price difference is too great to rely just on need based scholarships.. Wrestling and Hoops gets its scholarships.. so should football but I guess the cost for football with the numbers you need is too great The only private schools that can afford scholarships get bigger crowds paying real money or have the endowment to fund the sports...

I see Fordham lost to PFL Dayton so the Pat League really stinks except for Holy Cross that hung with U-Mass
Anonymous said…
As bad as Clark played I do NOT want to see Boloskly, if anyone i would want to see the freshman.
Engineer '92 said…
My God you people are incredible whiners! The Lehigh football program is not on its death bed. Nobody should be thinking we need to shut the doors and turn off the lights. Coen is in his third year. This is the first year with a team made significantly of players he and his staff drafted and worked up the system. Clark at QB is a SOPHOMORE. Of course we had trouble with a ranked full scholarship school in one of the best divisions.

I think you will see this team improve week after week. They have a week to rest and will get to see Princeton in action against Citadel (can you say Coach Higgins). I say give this team and Coen a chance.
Engineer '92 said…
Oh, I forgot....

GO ENGINEERS!
Anonymous said…
Well said.There were several plays against Nova that just missed and would have completely change the outcome. We will build on the positives and get better.
Anonymous said…
Speak to the people at Lehigh. The problem is with Gast and her ilk. The only things she cares about are Green and Diversity. We are where Lafayette was 8 years ago. Lafayette coaches laugh at how we handle recruits needs and at our facilities. All our sports are down. Our coaches poorly paid and our recruiting budgets non-existent.
Unless the alumni, concerned faculty and Trustees act we are going down fast. Did you notice we slid three spots in US News rankings
Anonymous said…
Aside from our fast spiral downward in sports, apparently President ghastly is spending too much time revelling in her undeserved position. Kind of reminds you of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. She needs the boot and so does the hapless AD. Officials in those positions at Lehigh, should not be allowed to just collect a paycheck. Can anyone site positive changes made by Sterrett and Ghastly?

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