Archive For The “Ed Mish” Category
Death by boa constrictor does not come quickly. It comes when the snake puts light pressure on the circulatory system of its prey, seriously disrupting the blood flow and causing the bloodflow system to go haywire, eventually causing cardiac arrest.
That’s a fairly accurate description of how the game flow went in Lehigh’s asphyxiating opening-day loss to Monmouth, 23-21.
With visions of Lehigh’s potent offense in their heads, most of the 4,828 fans in attendance thought they might see the type of offensive show they enjoyed the last time Lehigh played a football game at Murray Goodman stadium, something like the 49-35 win over their bitter Rivals Lafayette, for example.
Instead they saw the Monmouth boa constrictor slowly wrap itself around the Mountain Hawks and squeeze the life away, possession by possession.
The 2016 Mountain Hawks will be leaning on their offense to carry them in the early going on the season.
That’s because they return eight starters from last year’s squad, which was one of the more prolific offenses in all of FCS.
Looking over the stat sheet from 2015, there’s plenty of athletes carrying over that makes Lehigh Nation drool. The return of a sophomore that was a 1,000 yard rusher as a freshman. The return of an experienced quarterback that has started games each of the last three years. The return of a deep threat receivers that invokes fear in opposing defensive coordinators.
There’s not a lot of drama on the offensive side of the 2016 Lehigh football depth chart. But there’s a lot that has Lehigh Nation extremely excited about the potential for this year.
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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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Not that long ago, Lehigh football players had to take those dreaded 4 O’Clock exams, an essential, dreaded part of the Lehigh experience.
Today, though the 2015 Lehigh Mountain Hawks are getting areport card of a different sort.
Past the halfway point of the season, it’s time to take a step back and see where the Mountain Hawks are, and where they need to go to get back to the top of the Patriot League.
The season, as befitting a young team, has been inconsistent. At times, Lehigh has looked like a team that could possibly win the Patriot League title. At other times, though, they haven’t.
Fortunately for all Lehigh fans, the Mountain Hawks last game, a gritty 21-10 win over Bucknell, was the equivalent of acing the mid-term exam. That win, which brought Lehigh back to a 3-3 record, was huge. But tougher challenges await in the last five weeks of the season.
It doesn’t take an Engineer to see that much is expected of Lehigh football’s underclassmen this season.
As Lehigh football fans start looking at the season opener, a mere 5 days away, they’re looking at their theoretic depth charts and see some recurring themes:
Freshman. Freshman. Sophomore. Freshman. Sophomore.
Football is the ultimate team game, where experience counts in terms of knowing what it takes to win Division I football games. Yet up and down Lehigh’s roster, it’s very evident: to win in 2015, head coach Andy Coen will be relying on his underclassmen in a big way – underclassmen who will be a big part of this season.
“Thery’re going to get their opportunities early,” coach Coen told me during Patriot League Media day earlier this month. “I think we have 54-56 guys that are going to be freshman, sophomore-level eligibility. And there are going to be some kids from that freshman class that are going to play – that’s without a doubt.”
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