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Despite 48-34 Win By Offense In Brown and White Game, Lots to Like From Defense

Many will look at the spring game final results and stats and see that the offense "won" this Saturday's Brown/White game, 48-34.

They'll see a stat sheet they might expect from a Mountain Hawk team: 121 yards passing from junior QB Brad Mayes, touchdown receptions from senior WR Troy Pelletier and senior WR Gatlin Casey, as well as a touchdown run by junior RB Dominick Bragalone.

But that doesn't tell the full story of the game, played on a wet Saturday morning under mostly overcast skies.

In the early portion of the scrimmage, the Brown defense racked up sacks, tipped passes and shut out the White offense for nearly an hour before Mayes would finally find Casey in the end zone.

If there was any question how the new four-man defensive front might work out for the Mountain Hawks, they were answered today with a solid performance early.

"I wasn't happy at times, particularly early in the scrimmage," head coach Andy Coen said.  "The defense was really dominating and I was looking for some spark that we could get things evened up. Throughout the spring you'd see the defense dominate the offense and vice versa so to me it shows that the guys are really competing against each other. We've got a long way to go. Every team in the country has a long way to go, but I'm pleased with where we're at right now."

Since the practice was not a full-tackle practice, "sacks" were really the defensive players touching the ballhandlers with two hands.  But that didn't slow down Lehigh's starting four-man defensive front of senior DT Tyler Cavenas, senior NG Jimmy Mitchell, senior DE Harrison Johnson and junior DE Juwan Morrow, who made things difficult in the early going for the offense.

In fact that pressure helped junior CB Donavon Harris jump the route and get the first turnover of the game.

Though the stats are unofficial and tackles were not easy to tally, junior S Nick Thevaganayam led the defense with 6 tackles, followed by 4 for Harris.  Cavenas, junior DE Harrison Kauffman and sophomore LB Keith Woetzel all registered sacks as well.  Sophomore DB Alex Duke would add another interception to the defensive tally later as well.

"Our defense is outstanding and played well today," Mayes said after the game. "We started out slow, but [OC] Scott Brisson preaches not getting down on ourselves or moping around. So, we bounced back and put a few drives together."

The early tone seemed to spur the offense to life, getting the pistons to fire with the type of accuracy and skill Lehigh fans have come to expect.  Mayes' touchdown strike to Casey in particular, the first touchdown in the game, had fans wondering how soon September would get here.

Lehigh "D" line
"Switching to the four front really gives us a lot of energy," Cavenas told me after the game.  "We are really to emphasize being quick off the ball and being aggressive.  We want to be something.  We are all competing for spots, and we need to compete to the best of our ability."

One huge goal for the defensive line this spring season was to develop depth along that unit, and but Andy Coen and Tyler Cavenas were very happy with that aspect of the spring.

"The good thing is we have some depth [on the defensive line]," Andy told me after the game.  "They're all ready to play, and having Jimmy [Mitchell] back is huge.  Sophomore DL Matt Prendergast, he played well here in the Brown/White game and all spring, and sophomore DL Colin Nace has done a real nice job, they really give us depth there."

"We want to be an interchangeable defensive line," Cavenas said.  "As a whole, offense and defense have been going back and forth, and this is going to be guy going into this summer and fall.  It's huge that Jimmy's back.  He adds a leadership aspect, and he's a great defensive lineman that does his job to a T.  We need that leadership to keep us all together."

One area where Andy didn't seem settled was linebacker, where he gave the impression that the battle for starting spots would be continuing as soon as August's camp starts.  Woetzel seemed to have the upper hand for a spot for now, but that could change at the start of camp.

P/K Oliver Clowes
In the secondary, Harris' play stood out, and Thevaganayam, a converted running back, also made the most of his opportunity as well.  Sophomore CB Marquis Wilson also had some good plays and notched a couple of tackles.

Another interesting "problem" Lehigh might have is that they have depth at punter and kicker.  With junior PK Ed Mish sidelined this spring, two kickers, sophomore P/K Oliver Clowes and sophomore P/K Austin Henning, did a good job overall in the spring.  Both kickers nailed 38 yard FG attempts, and one of them may end up competing for a position at punter.

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