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Patriot League Training Camp Roundup, 8/22/2016

Let's take a look at all the training camps around the Patriot League and see what's up.

Last week, I talked about the first week of Lehigh's training camp and you can read about that here.


Bucknell on Friday held their first... and last... scrimmage on a hot afternoon at Christy Matthewson stadium.

“We are only going to do one scrimmage," head coach Joe Susan said.  "We’re not alone in college football. You want to get to the games with the right people healthy.”

Susan singled out the play of freshman RB Chad Freshnock, saying he's "going to have the opportunity to be a big player here."  He also said that the Bison offensive line is a work in progress, though pro prospect senior OL Julie'n Davenport certainly isn't.

“Offensively, we hit some big plays and that is one of the things that is important for us this year. If we can get a chunk of yardage at a time, that means there are snaps we don’t have to take. That is one thing we really have to improve upon from last year. We have the playmaking ability. Obviously, we don’t want to give up the big plays, but I think our defense played well today.”

*****

Colgate's big practice announcements, officially are - wait for it - updates to Andy Kerr Stadium parking guidelines.  (That's not as good as Syracuse's home newspaper, which at least gave some information to its readership about how Colgate might not be the same pushover that 1-10 Rhode Island was last year.)

Practice has indeed started, as per Colgate's Twitter feed, and the as-expected strength and fitness testing is complete, as you might expect.  Yet relatively few upates, either through the media or the Colgate football twitter account which probably suits the Colgate people just fine.

Some digging on the message boards did discover that the backup to the no-doubt-about-it starter, QB Jake Melville, has transferred.   QB Bret Mooney, is now at a D-II school, Ferris State, after an ill-fated attempt to walk on at Indiana, which opens up an interesting question - who will emerge as the backup to Melville this season?

Since Melville does a lot of running, and Colgate will be opening the season against FBS rival Syracuse, the identity of his backup is no small matter.  There are four other QBs on the depth chart, with the most likely candidates for Melville's backup being sophomore QB Frank Ferrari, sophomore QB Sage Atwood, or senior QB Danny Copeland.

The other big offseason note from Colgate might be their new helmets:

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Compared to "Radio Silence" upstate, Fordham's presence in the media capital of the world means we know quite a bit about the Rams' preseason thus far.

"It took a little longer than expected due to a string of storms that crossed through the Bronx on Sunday night," one such report said, "but the 2016 Fordham football Rams held their first scrimmage of camp on under the lights on Jack Coffey Field where both sides of the ball showed energy and intensity."

Even better is the unit-by-unit breakdown of the Rams, which is currently up to the linebacking unit.   Though the offensive previews pretty much confirmed what we knew already - whaa, senior QB Kevin Anderson, the guy with 32 passing TDs, is the starter, and all-world junior RB Chase Edmonds is starting too? - the more interesting previews come on defense, where the Rams lost some significant talent last season.

Senior LB George Dawson and junior LB Niko Thorpe seem to be the two go-to guys that new head coach Andrew Breiner will be looking at to answer Fordham's biggest question mark going into the season.  And if they can have monster seasons for the Rams and improve Fordham's defense, they could be a very tough out in the Patriot League race.




The other question mark centers around the head coach Breiner, who is replacing Joe Moorhead, the offensive wizard who took his skills to Penn State this offseason.

As Keith Groller of The Morning Call revealed a few weeks ago, though, Breiner is from the local area.
"We'd come up every couple years on Thanksgiving for the Easton-Phillipsburg game," Breiner said. "We'd even go to the bonfire. So, I am well aware of the football in the Lehigh Valley and how important it is. I also came to understand the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry and how special that was. My grandmother on my dad's side used to sing some profane song about Lafayette, or maybe it was Lehigh. I don't remember. But I remember learning a very profane song when I was young."

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Hoping This Is Sport Holy Cross Will Play Against Football Team In 2016
Breiner and Nathan Pine, athletic director at Holy Cross, also made a splash recently at Yankee Stadium.

They threw out ceremonial first pitches at a Yankee Game in order to promote their big neutral-site game this year at Yankee Stadium, the Ram-Crusader Cup.

"That was a pretty special day and I left even more impressed than going in," coach Gilmore told me.  "The Yankees are a class organization and their facilities and people are top-notch!  We are looking forward to that tremendous opportunity in November."

This is the second Patriot League game to be played at Yankee Stadium in the last three years, in 2014, the 150th version of The Rivalry was contested there, with an outcome so disturbing I can't bring myself to mention it here.  (Want to torture yourself?  Read about it here.)

LFN can't be happier for both teams - however, there's the matter of the 2016 season that needs to be addressed.

Most worthy of mention was the announcement of the return of three defensive players, senior DE Ryan Smithsenior DE Dewayne Cameron, and senior DB Steve Martinez, all granted fifty years of eligibility due to medical hardship.

“That gives us two great players on the bookends,”  head coach Tom Gilmore said. “I think we’ll be able to apply a lot of pressure on the quarterback.”
“I thought about not graduating with my buddies, and it was a different vibe during spring semester interning and not taking any classes,” Cameron said. “I was a little bit detached not being around campus as much and being on my own. At the same time, I needed that personal time to work out and get my body right, body, mind and spirit together as one.”
As he stood on Fitton Field Friday, Cameron was certain he made the right decision.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I knew when I made the decision that it was for the best. I have unfinished business at Holy Cross."
*****

Georgetown is also in the thick of the preseason too.
However, the biggest story out of DC might involve former DB Ty Williams, who is rehabbing from a broken neck suffered last season.  He is attacking physical therapy and rehabilitation in the same way he attacked football, as detailed in this truly inspirational article:.
Williams, who is majoring in government, said that going back to Georgetown “was rough at first. But after the first month or so I was pretty ready and as the semester went on it got easier because I got a lot better at doing things.” He said, “Everyone on campus is helpful as much as they can be. My friends are there all the time, checking in on me. Faculty and staff have been amazing.”
Georgetown has a tradition of offering a memorial number 35 jersey embody the spirit of a former player, DB Joe Eacobacci, who was an energy trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, worked on the 105th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center and was lost on September 11, 2001.

This year's recipient, for the first time, is a quarterback, senior QB Tim Barnes, a player who was the backup to recently-graduated QB Kyle Nolan but has gotten some significant playing time behind him.  He and senior TE Matthew Buckman will certainly be the focal points of a fairly young team at the beginning of the season.

*****

Finally, Lafayette also hasn't been staying still after a rough 1-10 season last year.  They've held a fan forum, had their media day, and are working hard to put their brutal 2015 season behind them.

"This is a small but strong senior group," head coach Frank Tavani said. "It's a group that knows how to win championships (as freshmen in 2013), a group that knows how to win a big game in front of a national audience (over Lehigh at Yankee Stadium in 2014) and after last year (1-10 record) knows how to get knocked down and get back up again. These have had a whole range of experiences."

Probably the most significant development for the Leopards is a lack of injuries thus far in camp.  Tavani has shared with the local press that at one point, he only had 51 healthy bodies before a particular game last season, an insanely low number, and he's hoping the 80 or so he has now will portend a better season.  Switching afternoon practices in the sweltering heat to lower-humidity mornings might be helping.

Senior QB Drew Reed, who helmed the Leopards to a Patriot League championship as a freshman in 2013, seems to not necessarily be the starter yet, with senior QB Blake Searfoss still hanging around in the conversation.





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