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Sunday's Word: Build

While originally I thought about writing a "Sunday Word" that would have accurately reflected some of the thoughts going through my mind after yesterday's loss, it would be too easy to sit here and dwell on the errors of yesterday's game, or the first two games for that matter.

No, I didn't like losing to a team that only gained six first downs. No, I didn't like tearing my hair out watching the game.

But kvetching about it will not help. The first three games are in the books, and they are losses. They happened. They are over.

A win would have gone a long way towards making people forget the errors in the first three losses. But that didn't happen.

Right now the only thing that is important is how everyone involved with the program reacts. It's this critical time that will determine the course of this season.

*****

There are two reactions everyone can have: to "build" and learn from the hard lessons of those games, or not to learn from those games let the season fall apart.

And I have to beleive that there is enough to "build" on to turn things around. Do I like everything I've seen on the field this year? Of course not. But there is plenty of good stuff to "build" on. Really. This is a team with real parts that can be used to win football games.

Senior LB Matt Cohen and senior DT B.J. Benning have been everything as advertised on defense, and senior SS Jesse Sanchez and junior FS John Venerio have been enforcers underneath.

Junior DB/RS John Kennedy (30.2 yards per kickoff return, 1 TD) and junior RS/DB Jarard Cribbs (4.8 yards per punt return) have given Lehigh a dominating return game.

Junior RB Jay Campbell is averaging more than 4 yards per carry, and his 88 yard performance last weekend means that he has an opportunity to "build" off that performance and be a bigger part of this offense. Something that may be overlooked as well is that he's only had one run for negative yards all season.

Sophomore WR Jake Drwal is emerging as a big target after starting his first game a month ago, with 173 yards receiving and 2 TDs this year.

And freshman QB Michael Colvin has given Lehigh a very new dimension on offense, with 4.2 yards per carry. It's just that right now - a dimension - but it could be even more.

*****

It's also tempting to take what happened this weekend - when sophomore QB Chris Lum came in for junior QB J.B. Clark late in the game - and to give some sort of endorsement for who should be the starter, or who Lehigh's offense should "build" around.

Instead, I'm going to do something I basically never do: say what I would do in this situation.

If I were the coach, the game notes this weekend would read: junior QB J.B. Clark OR sophomore QB Chris Lum OR freshman QB Michael Colvin. I would use whatever quarterback fit the situation - running the "Wildcat" from the get-go, subbing in which QB is needed.

The reason for this is Lehigh needs desperately to "build" an identity on offense.

Right now, it doesn't feel like there is any identity: one week we're mad bombers; the other we're sort-of Wildcat lite; the third week we're Ground Lehigh, trasmuting into Air Lehigh Lite when we're down ten points.

And in my humble opinion, the "wildcat" offense has to be what Lehigh needs to go to first, and foremost, and always.

It can work: you just need to look at the Eagles today and Villanova any given Saturday to see that it can be effective. When run well, it's incredibly hard to stop, especially at our level of FCS football. Nobody else in the Patriot League really has the same system - run well, it could be a game-changer. It's groundbreaking, just like Air Lehigh was back in its day.

And what could be most important reason of all is: the wildcat fits our personnel the best. We have a speedy running back, and receivers that can kill. We have an "O" line that can take over when necessary, just like on that 5 yard TD run this weekend. And we have three different styles of quarterbacks with enough versatility to give Lehigh a ton of options running, passing, or even receiving.

It doesn't put all the pressure on one quarterback to win the game all by himself. You can list them all as starters in the game notes since they're all getting in the game. I honestly believe that all three athletes we have at quarterback have strengths and weaknesses - every one of which can be used to Lehigh's advantage, if folks just embrace the Wildcat completely. When asked to announce "who's the starter", just say "that's an outdated concept - we run the Wildcat, and we have three starters."

We have the personnel to run this well. I know this. But it will require "building" a new mindset: no quarterback will run the offense every single series. Egos may be bruised. It may not be what everyone signed up for. But it can be successful - this season. It could even - hard as it is to believe right now - still bring Lehigh a Patriot League championship.

But it won't happen unless it's a primary commitment on offense. The Wildcat is not just a tool you pull out when you need it. No more half-Wildcat. It's a philosophy you really need to believe in and something that you have to tell the players to beleive in.

In other words, it's something you "build" around.

Comments

Anonymous said…
dont piss on our legs and tell us its raining. how many more years do we have to put up with this? andy coen's annual chuck amato impression.
Anonymous said…
did anyone else notice that SR fullback Fossati missed the entire second half vs Princton. SO Bryce Aruda took over for him.
Anonymous said…
I normally agree with most everything Chuck says, but I'm afraid I must disagree on fully committing to the Wildcat. It's a gimmick play/formation and should really only be used sparingly, in my opinion. Yes, we have some personnel to run it, but the D should know by now that every time #15 enters the game, he's going to get the ball (it's happened every time). Why not put in 2 QBs at once, or line both up in the backfield in the shotgun? Heck, put ALL 3 QBs in and throw the defense for a loop. At worst they could call a time out (maybe our staff will learn how to call a time out for once!) Like I said, I think it should be used only as a gimmick every now and then to keep the defense honest. I also don't agree that having 2 or 3 "starting" QBs is the answer. As the saying goes "When you have 2 QBs, you really have no QBs). By no means am I saying that we should stick to our current gameplan, which has been just dreadful week after week the past few years. Maybe we should try and just air it out with Lum in a no-huddle, hurry-up, up tempo style offense. It worked on Saturday to some extent. I'm sure there's a worse gameplan that could be drawn up, and I wouldn't put that past Coen. What more do we have to lose besides another out of conference game to Harvard? Remember, we're still undefeated...in the Patriot League...for now...
Anonymous said…
The wildcat is now the identity of the Lehigh offense?

Play all 3 QBs? A wise person once said any team that has two starting QBs, doesn't have any and you want to play 3.

Speedy running back? - almost mistaked the two tailbacks for Ron Jean and Brian Baker.

Receivers that can kill? Yeah that separation against CCSU, VU, and PU has been astounding.

What are you watching? Please ponder a little less.

Geez!
Anonymous said…
I also dont agree with using the wildcat all the time. Or having 3 qbs on the field. This would only hurt us.

Least Lum is getting the start this week. Lets see what he can do.....
Anonymous said…
I get the feeling we are in the old Soviet Union where "Five Year Plans" were in place indefinitely with never any real progress. The fact is that this program has sunk under Coen. After averaging 9 wins a year fo nine years...this.

We are spoiled to be sure, but heck, we expect good football. What's wrong with that?

I think the talent is fine for this level; what's missing is good preparation, good strategy, good adjustments, good coahing plain and simple.

Adam Scheier jumped ship when he saw this coming. What will it take to turn this around? In all my years, I would say the dreaded "vote of confidence" from Sterrett should do it. Once I hear that, we will know Andy's days are numbered.

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