|Brown/White Game 2015 (LehighSports.Com)|
Junior QB Nick Shafnisky came in for one play - a hold on an extra point attempt, booted by the punter, senior P/PK Austin Devine.
We didn't see much of the kicking game - Devine, who didn't kick conversions last year, is likely in August to revert to full-time punting duties, with an incoming freshman having a golden opportunity to win the starting kicking job.
We saw a little bit of offensive line play - but it's hard to judge how well this unit will represent the same group in the fall, only because the unit was racked by injury.
So what did we learn, exactly, from Saturday's Brown and White game? The answer is: more than you might imagine.
1. The new, aggressive defense looks like a winner. The energy brought by senior LB Noah Robb, junior LB Colton Caslow and senior LB Cody Kondas was in full view on Saturday and it showed a tantalizing glimpse at what could be a very improved defense in 2015.
All the members of the front seven gave the White team's quarterbacks a lot of pressure, and though some of that can be attributed to the depleted offensive line, more of it came from the comfort level of the unit. Considering that this was a spring with fewer reps than usual, too, this was a very encouraging sign.
Even better, that pressure resulted in some great opportunities in terms of interceptions - something head coach Andy Coen also said is a point of emphasis after a lack of generated turnovers last year.
"I really didn't know what to expect because this was the first time in 12 practices that we really let them compete and the defense was flying around with a lot of energy and making plays and did some good things," Coen said afterwards. "Nobody was timid out there. Had they not given up two big touchdown plays, it would have been a one-sided game.
Coen said last season the Mountain Hawks ran more four down-linemen sets, with limited success, and instead he switched to a three-man front, which he felt did a good job on Saturday.
2. NG Tyler Cavenas' position switch looks like a great move. Cavenas, who spend some time on the defensive line last year, was plugged in different roles last season as a freshman. With a full spring under his belt this year, though, he looks like he has the potential to be an impact player.
Nose guard isn't a position that gets padded with statistics, but Cavenas showed a lot of push up front in the pass rush, and if "QB hurries" were a stat on Saturday, he certainly would have been credited with a few.
You might not see Cavenas' name in the headlines in the fall, but it's not hard to see a huge amount of potential there.
3. Wide Receiver U. Is Alive And Well. We didn't see a whole lot of the anticipated starting wide receiver group for August, sophomore WR Troy Pelletier, senior WR Stefan Sansone or senior WR Derek Knott.
We did, however, see exactly how deep this unit actually is, with junior WR Mike Anderson hauling in a nice 50 yard TD pass, and sophomore WR Sasha Kelsey getting wide open to grab another touchdown.
Wide receiver clearly has the potential to be one of the great strengths of the Lehigh offense in 2015, based on their solid performance, and Anderson, Kelsey, and junior WR Trevor Soccaras definitely made their case to work their way into the offensive gameplan.
"You look at our receivers and, I said from the end of this past year, they're going to be our depth and our strong position on our team, offense and defense," Shafnisky said after the spring game. "You got five, six of them that can legitimately start here. It's going to be a lot more fun than last year."
4. A Battle Royale Shaping Up At No. 2 QB. We know that junior QB Nick Shafnisky is, barring injury, going to be the starter at Central Connecticut State on September 4th.
We also know that many members of Lehigh Nation are chomping at the bit to see what incoming freshman QB Brad Mayes is going to be able to do.
The incumbents, though, did a good job on Saturday with a full spring under their belts, sophomore QB Matt Timchenko and sophomore QB Brendan Craven, both with a touchdown apiece facing a furious pass rush.
Both Timochenko and Craven showed that it's going to be a continuing battle going into camp for the No. 2 position behind Shafnisky.
5. Running Back Will See A Need for Freshman Contribution . Injury and departures left Lehigh in the spring with one healthy running back, senior RB D.J. Kee, who got the scoring going for the White offense with the first TD of the morning.
Calling the other backs "fullbacks", junior FB Evan Kauffman, junior FB Mackenzie Crawford and sophomore FB Nana Amankwah-Ayeh, Kee will certainly be No. 1 RB on the depth chart going into August.
Though fullback seems like a deep, solid position, especially with Amankwah-Ayeh leading all rushers on Saturday, it's clear the incoming running backs will be expected to come in right away and contribute - leading again to a battle at that position.
Though Coen wasn't entirely happy with the run game on Saturday, he was hopeful that Kee, like RB Rich Sodeke before him, blossoms in his senior year to be the feature running back. When RB Brandon Yosha was essentially lost for the season early in the year, Sodeke became a workhorse, leading the team in rushing with 766 yards. Kee has a golden opportunity his senior year to make a similar jump in August.
That still gives the incoming players, freshman RB Dom Bragalone, freshman RB Micco Brisker and freshman RB Nick Thevaganayam, a golden opportunity to get minutes and reps at running back, which will make for very interesting viewing when August rolls around.