That's probably understating things quite a bit.
The season was not supposed to unfurl itself in this way.
The Mountain Hawks, rated in the Top 25 to start the season, remained that way after losing a tough game against Villanova, but then fell out of the national rankings when they followed that up with a loss to Monmouth.
And since, the team has just kept losing, each week more excruciating than the last.
Some Lehigh fans appear to think that the Mountain Hawks could turn things around and make a run at the Patriot League Championship in a world where the Patriot League is a combined 9-20 against out-of-conference foes.
I suppose it is still possible.
But to this fan, this goal can't be the focus of the coming week.
Speaking as a fan, I feel the focus of all the players and coaches needs to be on one singular goal: how to win one, singular, football game.
Every Lehigh football team, the best of teams and the worst of teams, have made mistakes at times. Legendary teams have had boneheaded penalties, interceptions, and errors, and they're part of the game.
The difference between the successful and unsuccessful Lehigh football teams I have observed over the years are how they respond to the errors, and how they get better from week to week.
Five games in, I am seeing a Lehigh team still making a bunch of first-game mistakes and, even worse, seeing those mistakes have a falling-down-the-stairs feel to them, where one mistake makes another, and another.
All three of these breakdowns were not because of one individual or one coach, but nonetheless are the type of breakdowns that, frankly, don't happen on championship teams. They might happen early on during the year - but not one after the other, and not when the games start to have even more meaning.
In order to win a football game, mistakes like that have to stop happening. Third downs need to be stopped. Plays need to be made. If you don't stop anyone on third down, you will lose. If you take a mistake and follow it up with another mistake, you will lose.
I have seen teams that have responded and improved after making early mistakes.
|LB Mike Groome (LVL File)|
But that Mountain Hawk team would start figuring things out against Fordham, especially on defense behind the emergence of of two of the Lehigh defensive greats, LB Mike Groome and LB Al Pierce. Each week, the team improved in leaps and bounds, eventually finishing with an undefeated Patriot League record and earning a trip to Northern Iowa in the FCS playoffs. (Whom they beat, 14-7.)
But I've also seen teams that have pulled themselves apart, like the 2014 team that started 0-5 and ended up 3-8 with the I-don't-want-to-talk-about-it 150th meeting in Yankee Stadium against Lafayette.
I don't know which way this 2017 version of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks will go.
|WR Gatlin Casey (Andy Bickel/Brown and White)|
Yet paired with the highlight-reel plays are the mistakes that lose games. Giving up big play touchdowns. Untimely turnovers. Special teams mistakes.
As this bitterly disappointing early season has unfortunately shown, sometimes mistakes are more pertinent to winning and losing games than statistics and highlights.
The sooner everyone associated with Lehigh starts realizing this is the sooner that this disappointing season starts getting out of its tailspin and into a better outcome - winning a football game.
Learning how to win one football game, this weekend, versus Colgate can, and must, be the only focus this week. The time is now.