Archive For The “Chris Ruhl” Category
Everything about the 2015 season screamed “rebuilding,” even if the Lehigh faithful never really could bring themselves to completely believe it.
Lehigh was coming from a frustrating 2014 where the Mountain Hawks came close to beating James Madison at home, but couldn’t finish the game, making Lehigh slide to an uncharacteristic 3-8 record.
There was the departure in the offseason of RB Chris Leigh, the one player that scored a touchdown for the Mountain Hawks in the 150th meeting between Lafayette and Lehigh in Yankee Stadium, and RB Brandon Yosha, the transfer running back that battled injury and chop blocks leading to his retirement from football as well.
With pretty much any other team and any other fan base, expectations for the year would have been low. But at Lehigh, expectations are sky-high, for better or for worse, all the time. Perhaps it’s the historic success of the program; perhaps it’s the fans, who are spoiled by all the Patriot League championships, wins over Lafayette, and FCS playoff wins, but that’s what playing at Lehigh is all about.
What the 2015 Mountain Hawks will be best known for is righting the ship from that awful 2014 to return to the winning ways that all Lehigh fans seem to expect. Going into the 2015 offseason, the Mountain Hawks 6-5 record wasn’t good enough to win a Patriot League championship – though they came very, very close – but it definitely shows that the foundation has been rebuilt for future success.
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All the Rivalry games are memorable in their own way for everyone in attendance, from the seniors playing in their last game to the kids playing on the grass embankment.
The there will be four plays that will be remembered the most, the four plays that defined this game for Lehigh and really demonstrated how tough this team was in 2015, and how tough they might be in 2016.
Most importantly, though, was the fact that Lehigh finally was able to chuck aside any doubts about winning a big game.
Wins against Lafayette are always important for the many Lehigh fans in the near-16,000 people who attend these games. But winning this particular game was doubly important for this Lehigh squad that seemed to almost desperately need the win in order to demonstrate to the fans in the Valley who they are, who they were, and where they’re headed.
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Going into last weekend, most people thought that Holy Cross might pose a problem for the Mountain Hawks defensively.
The Crusader defense had shut out two opponents, contributing to wins over Lafayette two weeks ago, 42-0, and a CAA team, Albany, 37-0.
How would Lehigh’s offensive line do against Holy Cross’ defensive front?
Once the dust had settled on Saturday, the answer was: “just fine, thanks for asking.”
The Mountain Hawks did an awful lot of things right on offense last week, jumping out to a 41-10 halftime lead, carving out 543 offensive yards and executing 83 offensive plays. But the foundation for that offensive explosion came from a vastly improved performance on the offensive line.
We break down the Fordham game – and we give our fearless prediction below the flip.
Fans, coaches and players alike are keenly aware of the importance of this weekend’s game.
“If you look at our win against Bucknell and our win against Penn, which are our two best wins of the year, those were our two best weeks of practice,” senior TE Chris Ruhl told The Brown and White this week. “It was our most intense week of practice. It was our most focused week of practice, so head coach Andy Coen has been pushing for us to set the standard with that.”
Also in this week’s game notes for Lehigh, which I forgot about for yesterday, sees a big return on the two-deep as well in junior LB Colton Caslow.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do and we’re still working hard on getting better every single time we step on the field,” senior LB Noah Robb said this week. “We’ve made a lot of progress, even from two weeks ago. We’re getting there.”
Lehigh fans hope they “get there” this Saturday.
“It’s really crazy, honestly,” Robb continued. “To think I only have a couple months left, of football, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when it’s over… Off the field, Lehigh is a great place to go. I’ve had opportunities to network. I’ve received a great education and couldn’t ask for a better place to spend the best four years of my life. But I don’t want to leave Lehigh without a [championship] ring.”
|Lehigh QB Nick Shafnisky (Morning Call)|
Junior QB Nick Shafnisky spent Patriot League media day telling the gathered media about haters drinking the haterade.
Well, he didn’t exactly say it like that. But he did talk about proving the haters wrong.
“I love having people either be there for me or count me out,” he said. “Personally, I love it all. I love haters. I was just saying to my dad – the more people are talking bad about you, the more people you have to prove wrong. I love proving people wrong, and making my coaches from high school proud.”
Now finally healthy, Shafnisky finally has the chance to prove a lot of people wrong – those that doubted his ability to recover from a Rivalry game he’d rather forget, those that thought he might not get over the injury that severely limited him last season, those that picked Lehigh to finish fifth, sixth, or even seventh in the Patriot League.
Despite an infections optimism that carried all the way through the preseason, you could see the chip forming on Shafnisky’s shoulder that day, as well as junior LB Colton Caslow‘s.
How Shaf and Caslow perform with that chip on their shoulder is going to play a big part in the 2015 season.
“We want to show that the 3-8 team you guys saw last year is not what Lehigh’s about, and it’s not what Lehigh football is about,” Shaf said. “When they announced that we were picked fifth, Colton and I just looked at each other, and said, ‘We’ll see.’ Everyone has a different chip on their shoulder to prove everyone wrong.”
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|Coach Coen talking to team (Morning Call)|
With a depleted spring roster, there were some doubts that Lehigh would be able to have a full-blown spring game.
Late this week, though, it was confirmed that the Brown and White game was still on.
It will take place at 10:00AM at Murray Goodman stadium, and will be streamed on the Patriot League Network with Matt Kerr and Mike Yadush providing commentary.
(It will also feature stream-of-consciousness tweeting from this guy.)
“Andy Coen is scheduling an abbreviated session for Saturday’s 10 a.m. intrasquad scrimmage,” Keith Groller of The Morning Call reported today, “with just 40 to 45 live plays plus various drills as his team wants to preserve its limited roster entering the final week of the spring session.”
Still, the abbreviated scrimmage will allow a look, however brief, of the three quarterbacks that will enter the 2015 season’s depth chart.
It’s not exactly a secret that the foundation of Lehigh’s offense in the Andy Coen era is an exceptional pass blocking unit.
With graduates from this unit like OL Keith Schauder, OL A.J. Hood, OL Troy McKenna, C Matt Lippincott and OL Will Rackley, who earns his paycheck on the offensive line of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, it’s clear that offensive line is always a priority for Coen and offensive line coach Brett Sawyer.
This year sees Lippincott and Hood graduate, but also sees a lot of excitement with a lot of returning starting talent – including a bookend tackle in senior OL Ned Daryoush.
As of 12:30 PM today, the counter passed over to 88 days until Lehigh’s home opener versus Central Connecticut State. As such, we continue our day countdown towards the Lehigh football season.
Today, we highlight No. 88, sophomore TE Chris Ruhl.
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