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Sunday's Word: Zero

I got up in the middle of the night last night. I couldn't sleep, and it was all due to a game I didn't even see in person this weekend. It was a game that - in every way - was a "zero".

****

My wife, son and I had a party to go to that started at 3pm on Saturday. I watched the Lehigh game online with the commentary of Mike Zambelli and Mike Yadush - long enough to see the quarrterback change at halftime, the "zero" to "zero" halftime score, and eventually I'd also see only score of the game.

At about 2:45 pm, I had to leave with my family. Even at that point it was a long, torturous game with punt after turnover after punt, and yet it was only the end of the third quarter.

I didn't feel great about leaving at that time, even though I felt pretty sick watching the game, too. I listened to Matt Kerr and Kody Fedorcha, the radio voices of Lehigh football, in the car until I got to the party. Unsurprisingly, I heard more about punts and turnovers.

Then it was six hours of further agony.

To me, the game was in a state of suspended animation. The margin of victory was only a touchdown. I heard that a ball was intercepted on the radio - hope, however faint, that Lehigh could turn our way. Not that I thought that Lehigh would - they had frankly been horrible all game - but there was that agonizing chance that they could.

Lehigh *could* have driven down the field and tied the game - at least avoided an historic "zero" on the scoreboard with a field goal or something. Lehigh *could* have rattled off a touchdown - hell, maybe even three field goals - in the eternity that was left. And some level of hope was warranted. Lehigh had never been shut out by an FCS team, and certainly never at Murray Goodman stadium. Right?

We ran some errands after the party. I bored my wife and son to tears talking about how poor Lehigh's offense looked through the third quarter, and how worried I was about seeing the "zero" on the scoreboard for Lehigh - and yet, Lehigh could have still pulled it out in theory.

Finally - with me more insufferable than ever - we got home, and put our son to bed. My wife knew better - she steered clear of me while I ran to the computer, trying to catch the archived video of the football game. At least I would now know, one way or another, how the game turned out. I had to know. I had to experience the game as a viewer, without knowing the final score.

I watched every ugly minute. It, of course, ended up being "zero". Lehigh scored "zero" points.

In that fourth quarter, they got one first down. There were plenty of punts. And two huge opportunities. One involved a drive starting on the Yale 21 and came away with "zero" points. s

And the other opportunity, in a game where nothing was working, was a last-gasp drive in the final two minutes that at least offered some small level of hope that Lehigh could force overtime. A rare pass completion was actually a hook-and-ladder play - that ened up being botched and ended up in a Yale linebacker's hands.

"Zero". And then, things only got worse.

*****

I normally wait to get postgame reactions, but in this case I made an exception.

Obviously struggling to find any words to say, Keith Groller of the Morning Call filed a terse report. And the internet message boards were lit up with fans registering their disappointment, to put it mildly.

I hate seeing it. I hate reading it. And yet, it doesn't change what was on the field this Saturday. It was a debacle, plain and simple.

A Lehigh offense getting the handed ball on the Yale 21, and coming away without points? A fake punt on which a linebacker ran 50 yards? 50 yards? Nobody saw fit to tackle him?

Lehigh's defense shutting out two straight opponents - but we lost one of the games? (Think about that a second.) Losing a game where the defense kept Yale out of the red zone? Are you kidding me?

It's a mixture of sadness and anger. I'm sad for the kids, coaches, everyone. I've met some of the kids and the coaches. I want them all to succeed at what they do.

Yet I'm angry. How can this be happening? You can't put any lipstick on these "zeroes": these are pigs. "0" for third down for the entire game. "0" made FGs in 2 tries. "0" points. At home. To an FCS opponent.

A hook-and-ladder may work great in Madden 98, but in the real world it's the type of play that can only work when the offense is working with incredible brio and confidence. It's NOT a day for that when you've yanked one QB, thrown another in the mix that hasn't had full practices with the first team all week, and for Heaven's sakes not when they've had eight completions combined on the afternoon.

Lehigh, oddly enough, is 1-"0" in the Patriot League. In theory - despite everything that has transpired to this point - they could actually run the table, win the Patriot League, and be sent to Richmond in the playoffs.

About that, though, I feel like I'm in that same awful limbo I was in Saturday afternoon. Lehigh COULD win the game - hell they COULD win the Patriot League. But I have no confidence they will actually do it.

I looked at video of some teams this weekend, as I always do. Three of the games I recorded involved Liberty, South Carolina State, and Richmond, among others. Every one of these winning teams in made the games they played in entertaining - not perfectly executed, mind you, but well executed enough to put some points on the board and make the games fun to watch. And a all of these teams may even be good enough to play in the playoffs, too.

The teams I watched this weekend didn't consistently shoot themselves in the foot. Every single one of them executed better. They played physical. Played with confidence. They beat some pretty good teams, too, especially South Carolina State who beat Florida A&M.

Lehigh resembles none of these teams. They would have a hard time hanging with the teams they beat, let alone these Top 25 teams themselves.

Does it pain me to say it? Absolutely. But it's the truth. And it's not unreasonable to expect Lehigh to compete with the best.

I really thought this season would be different. I didn't think Lehigh would be undefeated, but I honestly thought they were in the upper echelon of the Patriot League and have a shot to win the title if everything came together right.

This team has proved that it is in no way deserving of being thought about in that way. While the defense has improved, the offense has not come together at all. Special teams have had some good individual performances, but have had heinous lapses that - in this case - lost us the game. Things are NOT coming together. We're back to square one, only it's week seven and Bucknell coming up, not Princeton.

The team I saw this weekend will only win a couple more games if they're lucky.

Hopefully not "zero" more games, like my nightmare from last night.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Here are some more numbers pal:

Lehigh averaged 9.7 wins per season prior to Coen; that's 78 wins in the eight seasons prior!

They are a crappy 17-22 since.

We once dominated the Ivy and PL...today:

vs Ivies: 2- 10

vs PL: 12 - 7

vs Out of Conference foes: 3 - 5

Under previous coaches, LU won close games.

Under Coen: 1- 13

Fourteen close games and the best he can do is 1 and freakin' 13!

You tell me- Is it talent or is it coaching?
Anonymous said…
I can't wait to see what verbal diarrhea Coen has to offer on tonight's Lehigh Sports Magazine. My guess is that he'll throw the team under the bus as usual saying that they made too many mistakes, and the like. Get over yourself Andy, you and your staff's in game coaching mistakes that is making this team lose.
Anonymous said…
Groller gets it right again. No excuses - no justification, no words. He saw this mess coming before the season even began.

What will happen against the likes of Colgate and HC, who have pretty fair defenses?

The good news is that these losses are close, not blowouts. A smart new head coach will see that in the game films and realize the rebuilding task is not as bleak as it seems today.

We do have talent on the field. These players are not quitters, at least from what I can see. After putting up with so much adversity (and more to come I'm afraid), they make me a proud alum.
Anonymous said…
Oh my Gosh........... this arrogant, pompus ass is switching QB's again!

Beyond another stupid call( I was opposed to the switch to begin with, even though JB gets rattled to quickly) and screwing up another QB becuase of the inept coaching abilities of Coen and his staff, what makes him think that his players aren't bright enough to see his lack of loyalty to any player on this team? the ability to make the right call when it comes to what players should be on the feild?

Does anyone out there "Mr. AD" think that this guy has any respect from his players?

I would not be suprised to see Lum transfer out of this "side show" and go else where.

Does he realy think he's going to be able to recruit any top notch players with his record, not only with "W's" but with the way he constantly seems to take a kids confidence and break it.

Joe, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Marketing said…
Can you please send me your ad rates for lehighfootballnation.blogspot.com. to angel{at}hstreetmedia.com

Thanks!
Anonymous said…
Coen nice guy, but time to go. Switch to Clark the last straw God forbid we have any continuity. How many players can we deprive of confidence. Brown biggest dunce in football above Midget League

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