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Last Look: Lehigh vs. Drake

(Photo Credit: Bill Neibergall/The Des Moines Register)

On Mondays during the regular season in the past, I've offered up a "Press Roundup" of the week that was in Lehigh football.  I'll continue to do that this year, with just a slight modification: I'll post the wrap-ups with pertinent quotes, as I did before, but I'll also empty out my notebook and add my brain droppings to the mix as well.

The reactions to the game were a strange mixture of highs and lows.  Highs with the play of senior RB Jay Campbell and senior LB Al Pierce (who was Defensive Player of the Week in the Patriot League), but lows in the way that the Mountain Hawks let the Bulldogs back in the game.  (more)

Official Lehigh Release: Lehigh Rides Fast Start To 28-14 Win At Drake

“It was a good win, but we have a lot to coach off of,” explained Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “It’s nice that we can coach off a win.  We have to be better going into next week. In the third quarter tonight we had great field position a few times but couldn’t score. You don’t want to see a lot of penalties in the first game but we had a lot. You don’t want to turn the ball over and we didn’t but we did put the ball on the ground.
“At the end of the day, we’re 1-0 and that’s all that matters,” Coen concluded. “We’ll have a long day tomorrow with the travel, but now we have to get ready for arguably the best team in the country.”

LFN's observation: Watching Coen's reaction to the win at the beginning of the Drake Post-Game Extra, he certainly didn't seem happy with the mistakes.

Morning Call: Lehigh Starts Fast, Holds On to beat Drake 28-14
Morning Call: Lehigh Weighs Positives And Negatives After Season Opener
Express-Times: Strong Start and Finish In 28-14 Win Over Drake

Lehigh football coach Andy Coen said the Mountain Hawks' trip to Iowa for its season-opening game against Drake on Saturday night had a little bit of the "good, bad and ugly."
The ugly was the team's nine penalties for 105 yards, especially the 90 yards in walkoffs in the second half.
The bad was that was a 21-0 lead was cut to 21-14 and Drake was just 16 yards away from a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
But the good was that Lehigh got a key stop to end the Drake threat and put the game away with a clinching touchdown to wrap up a much-needed 28-14 season-opening victory.
"I was real happy with how we started and how we finished," Coen said from his office on Sunday. "I wasn't happy that we became penalty-laden in the second half and it got a little ridiculous there for awhile. That's part of the deal when you go on the road and have officials from a different league calling the game.
"[But] We finished strong," Coen said. "We encountered some adversity and responded to it."
"Overall, it was a positive trip," Coen said. "You always worry about how you're going to handle a trip like that. But our guys maintained their focus and came out playing good football against a good football team that's going to win a lot of games." 
"The bottom line is that we have to be more disciplined. There's a lot that happened that we can coach off this week, that's for sure."
LFN's Observation: I'm happy that Coach Coen isn't simply content with the win.  He knows Lehigh needs to get better in order to compete against Villanova, New Hampshire and Harvard.

Groller's Corner: Lehigh Got What It Needed: A Win

Lehigh fans were probably a miserable bunch through most of the second half of tonight's game at Drake if they watched on TV. They saw a lot of things that reminded them of last year and even parts of 2008 and 2007 for that matter.
They saw a team that got very careless with penalties and nearly totally gave away a 21-0 halftime lead.
But this team did what the 2009 version usually failed to do -- and that's step up and seize the moment and gain a desperately-needed victory. Yes, they did it on the Pierce overtime interception against Lafayette last year, but it really didn't happen any other time last season.
The naysayers, and Lehigh has attracted more than its share in recent years, will dwell on the mistakes that made the game closer than it should have been.
However, after seeing Lehigh snatch defeat from the jaws of victory so many times in recent years, it was refreshing to see the squad respond to the adversity and refuse to lose when Drake had seized momentum.

LFN's Observation: I agree with his observations - though how did Mr. Groller become the beacon of light for Lehigh football, and I became the naysayer-in-charge?  Did I miss something?

Brown & White: Lehigh Holds Off Drake

"Early in the game, we came out of the gates ready to play," Coen said of his teams performance in the first half.

"Junior QB Chris Lum really came out of the gates and was really sharp. I was really pleased with how he executed the offense. I'm proud of the job he's done."

LFN's Observation: Somewhat lost in the shuffle were Lum's performance - a workmanlike 23-for-36 performance, with 0 interceptions and 0 fumbles - and the stellar performance of the "O" line, who took the challenge of containing Drake's formidable front four and giving up 0 sacks and carving out 132 rushing yards, no easy feat against a Drake team that was among the NCAA leaders in rushing defense last year.

Furthermore, looking at the blocking on first two rushing touchdowns against Drake - with senior OL Will Rackley and senior OL Ricky Clerge dominating the line of scrimmage - look more impressive with each watch.

Des Moines Register: Bulldogs Dig Themselves In Too Deep A Hole

We just weren’t able to execute,” Drake coach Chris Creighton said. “They had long drives and scored and we weren’t able to muster any first downs. ... We didn’t change a lot in the third quarter at all, we just started executing.
The Mountain Hawks scored on their first two possessions, driving 69 yards in 10 plays on the first and 80 yards on nine plays on the second to lead 14-0 with 3:21 left in the first quarter.
A 23-yard touchdown pass from  Lum to senior WR Craig Zurn made it 21-0 with 10:40 to play in the half.
“It kind of hit like a tidal wave,” LB Nick Chenier said. “Once we got our feet under ourselves in the second half, they only got a couple first downs. We were busting our tails and I thought we played really well in the second half, we just didn’t come out the way we wanted to in the first half.”
“The positive for me is we were down 21-0 with no light and it was not going well at all,” Creighton said. “Then you look at the scoreboard and it’s 21-14. But they made plays. They’re well-coached.”

LFN's Observation: Nice wrap-up from the folks at the Register.  Got to love the fact that Chenier also said the Lehigh "hit like a tidal wave," something maybe Lehigh's "O" line can adopt as a slogan.  "The Tidal Wave".  I like it already.


ngineer said…
From seeing a number of comments on the Drake boards, I think they underestimated us from our lousy 2009 season. The puffery of their defensive beasts upfront and how they'd be living in our backfield was shot to hell.
The game plan was very good. It has been years since I saw a Lehigh team dominate another in one half. Maybe the Lehigh-Central Connecticut game of 7 or 8 years ago.
However, game plans are only as good as the execution, and the intensity seemed to be missing in the third quarter. The muffed kickoff in the fourth certainly got everyone's attention, and we saw what happened: a great defensive stand and an offensive statement to close out the game. No where near fact I'd give the team a C+/B-. But there seems to be a different air about the team that should help going forward.

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