It still seems weird that, with all of Lehigh's offensive prowess from last season, their thrilling FCS playoff victory would some down to that rarest of scoring plays, a safety.
Yet there he was, senior DE Tom Bianchi, in position to give Lehigh a lead they wouldn't relinquish in their 40-38 shutout win - and he executed.
In my "Hawk Squawk" series, I talk with Tom about the safety, and the upcoming season.
LFN: Really, how many times did you replay that safety vs. Towson inside your head this offseason?
Tom Bianchi: I remember directly after the Towson game my friends and family were sending me links of videos to the game so I didn't even have to search for it online. But waking up the next morning after the game and re-watching it online multiple times on YouTube was an amazing feeling..I also have great action shots of the safety at home along with the newspaper articles.
[Ed. Note: As luck may have it, that YouTube clip is right here. All the highlights are, um, awesome, but BIanchi's deciding sack comes at 3:59 in the clip.]
LFN: How has camp been overall for you, and what are you working on in your individual game the most?
Tom: Camp overall for me has been a great experience. Being that it is my final year of college football, I really want to enjoy every moment I have left. But mostly during camp, I'm aiming to improve my game and sharpen my techniques. In the run game I'm working on holding the point better and keeping blockers off the linebackers, while also working at my speed and hand quickness in the pass game.
LFN: Has it been any different on the "D" line in your role with coach Kotulski gone, or has your role largely stayed the same?
Tom: With Coach Kotulski gone I believe my role has predominantly stayed the same. Coach Roberts and Coach Wilcher have maintained the basic defensive schemes we've done in the past with Kotulski, but only with some small changes.
LFN: Do you "D" lne guys have any friendly competitions with the other units?
Tom: Our "D" line competes with the "O" line every day at practice. We have 1-on-1's for 10 to 15 minutes mostly every day where we go up against each other and try to rush the quarterback. We take pride in our attitiude of being more athletic then offensive linemen in general, therefore the friendly competition benefits our team as a whole by making our "O" line better while they are making us better.
LFN: Finally, how hard do you think it will be to win a third straight PL title?
Tom: I think because of our success in the past two years, similar to last year, we have a target on our back. Coach Coen talks to us about this a lot in our meetings. Myself and the group of seniors on our team are confident that this will only make us play better and more motivated as a group. But that's not our only motivation to win a 3rd Patriot League championship. We also don't want to be remembered as that group who couldn't put together a threepeat. I think our biggest opponet will be ourselves.
We need to play consistent physical and focused football, and winning a third straight Patriot League championship will be R.E.A.L.
[Ed. Note: R.E.A.L. is Lehigh's slogan for the 2012 season, which stands for Relentless Effort Achieves Legacy.]