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Passion And Competition Today At Lehigh Preseason Practice

The spectators at tonight's scrimmage couldn't have missed the emotion coming from the sidelines.

Sure, it was a practice, not a game situation, but as Lehigh was practicing its red zone defense, the sidelines - darkened somewhat by the lights, which had gone out briefly as the sun set in the Lehigh Valley - was loud.

The defense was behind each other, as a unit, rallying their Brown shirts to deny the offense a chance to punch the ball in the zone.

It was more than a passionate tweak at the day's competition, the White-shirted offense.  It seemed like it signified that they were ready to take on all comers.

The defense stopped the offense in the Red Zone once again, and it felt good - for both the defense and the fans gathered on a beautiful summer evening, a cool breeze blowing through the Whitehead practice fields.



"I feel like we're getting the hang of it now," sophomore DL Tyler Cavenas told Lehighsports.com after the game.  "It's now all repetition.  I think we got to the quarterback well tonight."

Installing an aggressive new defense, it felt like the defense was ahead of the offense, at least in the first part of the scrimmage.  Tipped balls and interceptions were a big part of the action, one coming from junior CB Brandon Leaks, as the combination of pressure and solid secondary play seemed to be the big takeaway tonight from me.

Defensively, Cavenas, Leaks, senior DE Cody Kondas, junior DE D.J. Bourgeois and freshman DE Harrison Kauffman all impressed me at different times.  I'm excited as to what senior S Laquan Lambert might bring on Saturdays, too.

On offense junior QB Nick Shafnisky looked like the leader that he is, with sophomore QB Matt Timochenko, sophomore QB Brandon Craven, and freshman QB Brad Mayes all looking good at different times, though at other times looking like they were shaking off underclassman jitters.

Sophomore RB Nana Amankwah-Ayew got a lot of reps at running back, while the big offensive star tonight, senior WR Derek Knott, was a big force on the field on both the offense and during punt drills.

"Overall we came back at the end, made some plays in the red zone in different situational drills ," he said.  "Overall it was an even day for both offense and defense."

Knott in particular looks like he could be the type of "glue" in this senior class, a vocal guy who brought energy in everything he did on the practice field, whether it was making a big reception or calling fair catches on punts.

The best part of the practice was that overall this team felt like it was together, a feeling that sometimes felt lacking last season.  And as a fan, it was a great thing to see - and something to be very excited about for the upcoming season.


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