Skip to main content

Lehigh At Villanova Narrative Street: "Holy Cow. Villanova's Defensive Line."

Lehigh fans's reaction to the big task ahead of them this weekend seemed to echo what head coach Andy Coen said in this week's Lehigh Football Report from

"Their defensive line.  Holy Cow," he said.  "Their technique, their defensive end - ready for these numbers?  He's 295 lbs, 6'7, and he's got an arm span that you can't believe and he just wreacks havoc.  It's not just him.  It's a defensive philosophy that Villanova has had for the last 10, 12 years, and they've always played great defense."

When look at Lehigh's #NarrativeStreet this week, we can start there - the Mountain Hawks will be going up against "an FBS-level defense," as Andy said.

In last week's game versus Pitt, Villanova's defensive performance really stood out.

"That's a good team they have at Villanova," Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi said. "They are very well coached and they have a good quarterback. Give them a lot of credit. They didn't quit in the fourth quarter."

Villanova held Pitt to a 7-0 lead, and trailed only 21-7 going into the 4th quarter.

"I took out of the game that we are tough," Talley said. "We have a lot of grit, and we have a really good quarterback who is going to be better as our receivers improve. We have a good offensive line and a tailback who stepped up in RB Javon White. The offense will improve as we get stronger, and probably the best thing about this game is we got out without any injuries."

Villanova's only score last Saturday came from a 3 yard fumble return for touchdown by S Rob Rolle.

"We wanted to stop the run and we wanted to play our gaps," LB Austin Calitro said. "We thought if we could battle and could make the quarterback beat us it would be a good game. We succeed at that and we played a very crisp game overall. I think it's going to be the start of a great year for us."

This hasnt been comforting to Lehigh fans at all, and Brian Ewart's review of Villanova's defense from the Pitt game isn't any more comforting.

"Villanova's scheme -- which plays five defensive backs -- doesn't seem on paper like it would be a run-stopping scheme, but it really is," he told me.  "The Wildcats have a great defensive line anchored by DE Tanoh Kpassagnon -- who is a potential second-day pick in the NFL draft -- and an experienced group of linebackers who have bounced back nicely from the loss of Eagles practice-squadder LB Don Cherry."

"That group's experience and talent allowed them to put some pressure on the Pitt offensive line that had shuffled a bit from last season," he continued, "and lacked experience at center. The unit as a whole did a great job of getting to the runner and wrapping up their tackles."

“(Villanova) is probably going to be the most talented team we will play all season, especially on the defensive side,” coach Coen told The Brown and White. “Last year they only gave up 11 defensive touchdowns, which is not a lot. They’re a very strong, very powerful team with a lot of veterans so we really have our work cut out for us this week.”

As you might expect, Villanova head coach Andy Talley had plenty of kind words about the Mountain Hawks as well, calling Monmouth's win over Lehigh an "upset".

"We have a great deal of respect for Lehigh," he said in the CAA conference call this week.  "They run the same defense we do, and their offense is very wide open.  We've played them before, always have a great deal of respect for head coach Andy Coen and the group up there.  They're extremely well coached.  I love their quarterback, he's very good, and they have a great wideout, junior WR Troy Pelletier, who is excellent.  They've always been very good on offense, they've been one of the innovators throwing the football."

The mood from the players "is to prove ourselves," junior OL Tim O'Hara said in the weekly media session.

"We really do want to show the type of team that we can be and we know we will be at some point, but we really need to take those steps in advance so far," he said on's Facebook live segment.  "Cohesion on the offensive line is such a huge deal.  I'm expecting to see very good technique and a lot of effort in low pads.  One thing that that truly impressed me watching the Pitt game is that they were playing a lot lower than the Pitt offensive linemen were, and as an offensive lineman, you really have got to take that into account when you go into a game playing guys that are really good-effort guys playing with great technique."

O'Hara is ready for the challenge.

"It's a Top 25 team," he said.  "You really want to show yourself to the nation, and say, 'this is who we are, and this is what we can do.'  To be good, you have to play teams like Villanova, where you have to play consistent and good football all the way from the 1st quarter to the 4th quarter.  You can't play inconsistent like we did against Monmouth."

Sophomore S Sam McCloskey also talked with The Morning Call's Keith Groller about Villanova as well.

"Defensively, we needed to clean up on the tackling for sure," he said.  "I think we go down there with a good mindset - to finish tackles, finish plays in the game.  If we do that, we have a good chance."


Finally, Lehigh fans, I'll leave you with this in regards to #NarrativeStreet this week.

In the modern era, Villanova is 5-1 against Lehigh, the lone win coming in 2006.  You could say the difference in those teams in the past vs. the team today is the fact that Lehigh now offers conventional football scholarships.

But scholarships don't win football games against CAA squads - players do.

The teams of the 1990s and 2000s frequently competed with chips on their shoulders.  The players were called "non-scholarship" by friend and foe alike, and it's my impression that the players hated it.

Every time they went into a game vs. an ostensibly bigger, faster, stronger, more scholarship-y school, they knew they would have to out-work, out-scheme, and want it more than the other side.

It's my impression that those players carried themselves with a swagger that came with the realization that, whatever happens, Lehigh wouldn't be out-worked.  Lehigh might lose, but the opposing team would remember who they were, win or lose.

And I wonder if this Lehigh team goes into this game with that kind of swagger, the kind backed up by a similar realization, that good things might result from that going into the rest of the season.


Popular posts from this blog

How To Get Lehigh Fans To Games, And Keep Them There?

You don't have to have attended more than twenty-five years of Lehigh football games to know it's a completely different world out there for your friendly neighborhood sports fan.

When Lehigh's Murray Goodman Stadium was opened in 1988, there were only about a dozen channels on the small, eighteen inch black and white TV we had in our dorm room.  Only two channels might have had "major college football" games on at the same time a Lehigh football game was being played live over the mountain.  (Notre Dame, the only school who had all their games televised, almost always played their games at 3:30 PM.)

Nowadays there's way more entertainment options on a typical college weekend than ever, and it's very logical to think that the increased amount of competition might not just keep students away from attending football games, but local fans as well.

It's not an issue confined to Lehigh - in 2014, home attendance at all FBS games dropped to their lowest le…

Fifteen Guys Who Might be Lehigh's Next Football Coach (and Five More)

If you've been following my Twitter account, you might have caught some "possibilities" as Lehigh's next head football coach like Lou Holtz, Brett Favre and Bo Pelini.  The chance that any of those three guys actually are offered and accept the Lehigh head coaching position are somewhere between zero and zero.  (The full list of my Twitter "possibilities" are all on this thread on the Lehigh Sports Forum.)

However the actual Lehigh head football coaching search is well underway, with real names and real possibilities.

I've come up with a list of fifteen possible names, some which I've heard whispered as candidates, others which might be good fits at Lehigh for a variety of reasons.

UPDATE: I have found five more names of possible head coaches that I am adding to this list below.

Who are the twenty people?  Here they are, in alphabetical order.

Trump's Disinvitation of the Eagles Commits the Cardinal Sin against Philadelphia - Slighting Them

Monday evening, less than 24 hours before they were scheduled to visit the White House, Trump "disinvited" the Super Bowl Champion Eagles from coming.

The "reasoning" for disinviting the Eagles - if you can call it that - was included in a statement released by the White House.

"They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly (sic) stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart (sic), in honor of the great men and women of out military and the people of our country," it reads, conveniently ignoring the fact that no Philadelphia Eagles kneeled during the National Anthem during the course of the entire season.

I don't think Trump fully comprehends what he has done.

Certainly Trump probably thinks he is speaking to his "base" - the people Trump thinks voted for him in 2016, and people who think will continue to vote for him and his preferred candidates in the future.

But Trump's bottomless bad faith in "disinviti…