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Sunday's Word: Ouch

Finally feeling better, I was able to take advantage of the (relatively) cooler weather to play a game outdoors with my son: "Ouch." For those of you who don't have a child in soccer, it's a game where your child tries to kick the soccer ball (or football) and hit you, the parent, with it.

"Ouch" is an appropriate "Sunday's Word" today for Lehigh fans as well. It's the end of preseason camp - matter of fact, all the players are showing up for their first day of classes today - and I'm sure everyone who practiced the past two weeks might be forgiven if they thought they were in Bogota rather than Bethlehem: heat index 90+, humidity damn near 100%. The heat, the humidity - and the contact from camp adds up to one thing: "Ouch!"

Preseason camp is always a time of optimism, and for Lehigh this year's offseason has been the most optimistic in some years. While a 5-6 record - loaded with frustrating losses - normally wouldn't be fodder for optimism, the 31-15 drubbing of "that school in Easton" has restored some of Lehigh' mojo for this season. Reading the hints in the official release from the final scrimmage of preseason camp, this team is not coming in too high, but still with loads more confidence than last year: you can tell the offense and defense are pushing each other in spirited competition.

With only two weeks remaining until the opener, senior DT BJ Benning said the Mountain Hawks must focus on the little things moving forward. “I thought I did ok today. The defense was solid; we had a few sloppy things we need to clean up and that’s what we’ll concentrate on from here on out.” He added, “Today is a good day for the freshmen to see where they are at. The upper class guys know what they can do but the freshmen are still learning and looking to earn time.”

Junior QB J.B. Clark added his thoughts. “We just need to clean some stuff up; keep communicating with each other and make sure the little things are taken care of.” He continued, “I thought this camp went better than my previous two. We were much livelier and came out with a purpose each day.”
So far, so great. But camp wasn't as flawless as even the most optimistic Lehigh fans might have hoped.

Coach Coen mentioned that there were a "few more injuries than he might have liked," and it's those injuries that should have Lehigh fans saying "Ouch!". First is the most significant one: the hamstring injury suffered by senior LB Al Pierce that (if early forecasts prove true) may see him out until mid-October at the earliest. Furthermore, two more starting linebackers - senior LB Heath Brickner and senior LB Troy Taylor - sat out the final scrimmage as well, left senior LB Matt Cohen and a host of unproven underclassmen in the front seven on Saturday.
While by all accounts the backups did well - led by sophomore LB Mike Groome - the attrition at linebacker has to be a concern. Will we have our full starting front seven in place before the season opener against Central Connecticut State (on September 5th)?

There's lots to still be optimistic about: at running back we seem to be relatively healthy and deep for the first time in memory (with junior RB Jaren Walker, junior RB Jay Campbell, junior RB Matt Fitz, freshman RB Zach Barket and freshman RB Tony Kablan). The receiving corps appears to have the goods with junior WR Craig Zurn and sophomore WR Jake Drwal (and freshman WR James Flynn, I'm wondering, may get some opportunites).

But I'm hoping these players saying "Ouch" are a lot less that it seems.

Comments

Lehigh 'Cane said…
Al Pierce, J.B. Clark, Mr. Vegas, John Kennedy, Matt Cohen, "Anytime" Cribbs, and Co. are going to tear it up this year!!!

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