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Archive For The “Football” Category

Lehigh Mid-Season Report: The Surprising Resurgence Of the Lehigh Defense

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Lehigh Mid-Season Report: The Surprising Resurgence Of the Lehigh Defense

Every head football coach hates to use the word “rebuild” when it comes to their football team, but going into the 2019 Mountain Hawk football season, it was hard to avoid it.

From the preseason conference call where Lehigh was picked to finish 5th in the league – a reflection on last season’s 3-8 record and the 5-6 record that preceded it – the word “rebuild” seemed to hang over this team.

“Over 40% of our team are first-year players,” Lehigh head Tom Gilmore said on that call.  “And we’re excited to see what some of these freshman can do to enhance our roster and push the upperclassmen to be the best version of themselves on the field.”

To a fan base that had grown accustomed to the way freshly retired head coach Andy Coen handled preseasons, already there was a sense that under coach Gilmore, things were different.

But there was also the sense that perhaps it would take a bit of time to get things to where the Mountain Hawks would be every year competing for the Patriot League Championships.

Indeed, under Tom Gilmore things have been different.  Lehigh has been going through the adjustment of new ways of doing things, and evolving as true freshmen and players getting their first significant game action adjust to the speed and rigor of Division I football.

But a funny thing has happened on the way to “rebuilding”, or at least what passes as rebuilding in a league that has struggled to find its place recently in the world of FCS.

Colgate, who started the season ranked in all the major Top 25s and were the prohibitive favorites to win the conference title, discovered that they forgot how to win football games.  After Lehigh held them a half yard short of the goal line last week to hold on for a 21-14 win, the Riaders were then stunned last week at home by winless Bucknell, dropping them to 0-7 and almost certainly eliminated from the Patriot League title race.

With the stunning fall of Colgate, just like that, it looks like the balance of power in the Patriot League is, for better or worse, wide open – and “rebuilding” Lehigh appears to have as good a chance as anybody to come away with this thing.

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Lehigh at Colgate Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction, 10/5/2019

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Lehigh at Colgate Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction, 10/5/2019

Lehigh and Colgate is always a big game, whether both teams are going in undefeated or, as in this case, an 2-7 team is squaring off against a 8-0 team.

In a testimony to how evenly matched both of these teams have been over the years,  no team has won more than 3 straight against the other since the inception of the Patriot League.

Colgate and Lehigh have faced off 55 times, and the overall record has been, fittingly, close, with Colgate holding a slender 30-24-2 advantage.  The last tie came in 1980, a 17-17 tie at Taylor Stadium in which Lehigh’s John Whitehead and Colgate’s Fred Dunlap faced off as head coach.  In a way, that hotly-contested tie sort-of epitomizes the competitiveness of this rivalry today.

Last year, Colgate cruised to a 48-6 victory, one of the more lopsided in the rivalry’s recent history.  This year’s edition is unlikely to be a similar outcome.

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Merrimack at Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction, 9/28/2019

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Merrimack at Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction, 9/28/2019

It’s what we do every week: copiously go over the opposing game notes and analyze the upcoming game matchup.  I’m starting to call these the “football nerd” previews because it feels like the audience for these detailed team breakdowns are other football nerds like myself. 

For Lehigh fans, there is no greater need for a “football nerd”-level breakdown of an opponent than Merrimack.  Few opponents have been as big as an unknown to Mountain Hawk fans as the school that formed right after World War II in North Andover, Massachusetts.  Helping that sense of mystery is that the Merrimack Athletics’ website offers no football game notes, and when you click on the link called “Weekly Two-Deep”, you get a two-deep from 2018.

Merrimack, until recently a member of the Northeast-10 conference in Division II, announced they are going to join the NEC as a full Division I member in time for the 2023-2024 season.

“The College’s 2011 strategic plan, the Agenda for Distinction, called for Merrimack College to become a Division I institution to compete and excel at the highest level,” president Christopher E. Hopey said almost a year ago in announcing their move to the NEC. “We are pleased that our record of achievement and growth has resulted in this invitation to compete in the NEC and partner with its outstanding member institutions.”

“There’s no question we have the top tier players to be successful,” Warriors head coach Dan Curran said before the season started. “They’ve always been able to play with anyone.  What we need to do going forward is to develop more depth because injuries are going to happen. We’re not where we want to be but we’re getting there. We’re starting to see the gap between the starters and the backups get tight.”

They’ve certainly shown already that they’re not a team to be taken lightly. Besides their two overwhelming home wins against sub-Division I opponents, the Warriors led at St. Francis (PA) at halftime and took Central Connecticut State down to the wire, who came oh-so-close to upsetting FBS Eastern Michigan last week.

“Eight of our 11 opponents are Division 1 and this is by far the most competitive schedule we’ve ever had,” Curran said before the season. “We know what we’re getting into but we’ve shown we can play with the top teams and we’ll be ready.”

The Warriors head coach Dan Curran was a former University of New Hampshire fullback, who helmed the Wildcats under head coach Sean McDonnell and then-offensive coordinator Chip Kelly. His teammate was Walter Payton award-winner RB Jerry Azumah, who broke a multitude of I-AA rushing records and would later play cornerback for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.  After Azumah’s graduation, he ran for 1,000 yards in his own right his senior year and spent some time on NFL rosters professionally.

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Lehigh at UC Davis Game Post Mortem, 9/14/2019

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Lehigh at UC Davis Game Post Mortem, 9/14/2019

This weekend, late into the wee hours on the East Coast, Lehigh faced a huge challenge in playing No. 4 ranked UC Davis in their home opener this weekend.

The Aggies, looking every bit the No. 4 team in the nation, executed on offense at a very high level as they beat the Mountain Hawks 41-14.

We’ve all had a few days to catch up on our rest, get back on East Coast time, and think about where Lehigh is after their adventure out West.  So, where are we?

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Lehigh at UC Davis Game Post Mortem, 9/14/2019

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Lehigh at UC Davis Game Post Mortem, 9/14/2019

This weekend, late into the wee hours on the East Coast, Lehigh faced a huge challenge in playing No. 4 ranked UC Davis in their home opener this weekend.

The Aggies, looking every bit the No. 4 team in the nation, executed on offense at a very high level as they beat the Mountain Hawks 41-14.

We’ve all had a few days to catch up on our rest, get back on East Coast time, and think about where Lehigh is after their adventure out West.  So, where are we?

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Lehigh at UC Davis Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction 9/14/2019

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Lehigh at UC Davis Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction 9/14/2019

It’s what we do every week: copiously go over the opposing game notes and analyze the upcoming game matchup.  One thing that has been undoubtedly very cool about this rare West Coast game for the Mountain Hawks is how great the Aggies have been in terms of getting out game notes, cool content celebrating the 1977 Division II semifinal, and even local press (I see you, Davis Enterprise).

We live in a world where local press is dying, along with it the written word about previewing what are interesting, fun sporting matchups.  This week has been refreshingly fun, and easy to break down, thanks to all the content celebrating the first meeting, and previewing the upcoming meeting.  It’s great to see two football communities from across the country come together for a week of good-spirited competition.

A special shout-out has to go to The Davis Enterprise again for the incredible pictures of not only the Division II semifinal game but also the eerie, foggy atmosphere of the morning.  They are absolute treasures and really bring the game to amazing life.  Don’t just go to that for the pictures alone – also by all means read their extensive preview of tomorrow’s game as well.  But few pictures leave me speechless.  The five that they provided with the article did.

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Lehigh at UC Davis Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction 9/14/2019

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Lehigh at UC Davis Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction 9/14/2019

It’s what we do every week: copiously go over the opposing game notes and analyze the upcoming game matchup.  One thing that has been undoubtedly very cool about this rare West Coast game for the Mountain Hawks is how great the Aggies have been in terms of getting out game notes, cool content celebrating the 1977 Division II semifinal, and even local press (I see you, Davis Enterprise).

We live in a world where local press is dying, along with it the written word about previewing what are interesting, fun sporting matchups.  This week has been refreshingly fun, and easy to break down, thanks to all the content celebrating the first meeting, and previewing the upcoming meeting.  It’s great to see two football communities from across the country come together for a week of good-spirited competition.

A special shout-out has to go to The Davis Enterprise again for the incredible pictures of not only the Division II semifinal game but also the eerie, foggy atmosphere of the morning.  They are absolute treasures and really bring the game to amazing life.  Don’t just go to that for the pictures alone – also by all means read their extensive preview of tomorrow’s game as well.  But few pictures leave me speechless.  The five that they provided with the article did.

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Lehigh at UC Davis Tailgate Report 9/14/2019: Hip Hop Rivalries, Vegans At the Gates!, And More

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Lehigh at UC Davis Tailgate Report 9/14/2019: Hip Hop Rivalries, Vegans At the Gates!, And More

Welcome back to the Lehigh Tailgate Report, a free public service from your pals over at Lehigh Football Nation.

The idea of the Lehigh Tailgate Report is to provide a fun report on what to expect at the game, or not at the game, for this week’s upcoming game.

If you’re planning to go to this game, it means one of three things: 1) you live in California, 2) you have way more disposable income than me, or most likely, 3) both.  Nonetheless, below I’ll have some information on where the stadium is and where to tailgate.

If you can’t make it to the game, it is available to watch or listen in a variety of ways.  Note that the kickoff of this game is at 10:00 PM EDT, or 7:00 PDT, so it’s one of the latest kickoffs in all of Division I football. 

The local radio broadcast, which starts an hour before kickoff and sets the table for the game, can be caught on your AM dial on Fox Sports Radio AM 1230 or 1320. Matt Kerr, Matt Markus, and Steve Lomangino are on the call this Saturday.  If you’re on the East Coast, that means 9:00 PM EDT.

Through internet radio, the pregame, game, and postgame can be streamed through TuneIn or just simply going to the LVFoxSports.com webpage.

The best part about this game is that the video stream will be available via a free service called Pluto.TV.  It is available from any web browser here, but where it really shines is if you have a Roku box (install and run the Pluto.TV app, and search for UC Davis) or Google Chromecast (on your phone, load up the Pluto.TV app and cast it to your 55 inch TV).

The LFN Approved way of catching the game is streaming the radio call of the game via Alexa, the internet or whatever, and broadcasting the video to your big-screen TV.  (That, of course, and keeping lots of LFN’s “Drink of the Week” handy.)

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Lehigh At Villanova Game Post Mortem 9/10/2019

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Lehigh At Villanova Game Post Mortem 9/10/2019

This weekend, Lehigh had a tough evening on the Main Line as the Mountain Hawks fell to Villanova 38-10.  After jumping to a 3-0 lead, Villanova would go on 17-0 and 21-0 runs in between a Lehigh touchdown to make the evening a happy one for most of the 8,000 fans in attendance.

Unlike last week, this wasn’t one that got away – this was a more comprehensive loss.  Here’s five thoughts I had after looking over the game last week.

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Lehigh At Villanova Tailgate 9/7/2019: Chicken Sandwiches, Terrible Parking, And More

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Lehigh At Villanova Tailgate 9/7/2019: Chicken Sandwiches, Terrible Parking, And More

Welcome back to the Lehigh Tailgate Report, a free public service from your pals over at Lehigh Football Nation.

The idea of the Lehigh Tailgate Report is to provide a fun report on what to expect at the game, or not at the game, for this week’s upcoming game.

If you’re planning to go to the game, great! It’s at Villanova Stadium this Saturday evening at 6:00PM. If you’ve got questions on how to get there, scroll below.

If you can’t make it to the game, it is available to watch or listen in a variety of ways.

The local radio broadcast, which starts an hour before kickoff and sets the table for the game, can be caught on your AM dial on Fox Sports Radio AM 1230 or 1320. Matt Kerr, Matt Markus, and Steve Lomangino are on the call this Saturday.

Through internet radio, the pregame, game, and postgame can be streamed through TuneIn or just simply going to the LVFoxSports.com webpage.

This Saturday, the Lehigh/Villanova live video game stream is available through FLO Sports. If you’re already a Lehigh wrestling fan, you’re in luck, most likely – FLO Sports is the service that streams many Lehigh wrestling away matches.

If you’re not, a “monthly subscription” fee of $19.99 is required to watch it.

This weekend’s Lehigh game is the only game all season that will require any sort of fee to watch. All Lehigh home games and Patriot League games are on Patriot League Network (free), and the only other game on the schedule, UC Davis, will be available on Pluto.TV, another free streaming service.
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