Archive For The “Preview” Category
Spotlight On: QB Brad Mayes
Rightfully, much of the focus of Lehigh’s football coverage this offseason has been on the offense. That makes sense; after all, Lehigh ranked near the top of every receiving and rushing category in 2016.
Yet most of that coverage has been on guys that have been on preseason FCS all-American teams (senior WR Troy Pelletier, junior RB Dominick Bragalone) or probably should have been on more of them (senior WR Gatlin Casey).
Oddly, the focus on those all-League caliber players have shifted the focus from what could be the most important transition from the 2016 offense to the 2017 offense – the transition to a new starting quarterback.
Certainly, junior QB Brad Mayes was no ordinary understudy for the Lehigh Mountain Hawks last season.
Though technically he did back up QB Nick Shafnisky, he showcased his obvious talent multiple times last year, most notably breaking a Yale Bowl record with 524 passing yards and scoring 6 passing touchdowns in a 63-35 win over Yale.
Much press has rightfully gone to the receivers and running backs, but the direction of the 2017 football season might come down to the play of the quarterback whose number switched from No. 14 to No. 4 this season.
“I think Troy and Dom are outstanding players and they deserve all the recognition they’ve been getting,” Brad told me. “And I’m excited to play alongside those guys, because that makes my job that much easier.”
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Spotlight On: S Sam McCloskey
Some of the names, senior OL Zach Duffy and senior OL Brandon Short, were hardly surprises – after all, they were team captains last year.
Another, senior DL Jimmy Mitchell, is a steadying leadership force on the defensive line – again, not much of a surprise.
But the presence of junior S Sam McCloskey as the fourth team captain raised some eyebrows. It’s unusual to be a junior team captain, though QB Nick Shafnisky and LB Colton Caslow had been team captains as juniors.
As head coach Andy Coen explained, “What’s really impressive is that in our ballots contain only seniors with the ability to write-in people. A lot of our guys obviously had to write in Sam, so that was really interesting to see. Our coaching staff feels he’s ready right now to be a strong captain and his peers obviously feel the same way.”
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Spotlight On: DE Tyler Cavenas and NG Jimmy Mitchell
This past year, the NCAA mandated that two-a-day practices would no longer be allowed, which naturally has changed the way Lehigh has been camping this August. “A single day may include a single, three-hour, on-field practice session and a walk-through. During walk-throughs, protective equipment such as helmets and pads can’t be worn, and contact is prohibited,” the NCAA said.
“The guys like the new procedure, the new process we have in place here,” head coach Andy Coen said. “The guys are more fresh not having the two-a-days. [Sunday] was the first day we went full pads and had live tackling and the kids were fired up about that. We didn’t do a lot, just enough to get our feet wet.”
With no contact during the two-hour walkthrough session, pads and contact are a more rare occurrence. To senior DE Tyler Cavenas, though, what did that mean?
“I [still] feel like we can push ourselves,” he told LehighSports.com. “It’s weird, we have these walkthroughs now, but I think when we do go out, we’ll be more intense out here and we’ll be getting after it more. We’re only going to be out here one practice a day, so we’ll have to give it all we have.”
Knowing Tyler, he does.
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In the past, the opening comments from the Patriot League Executive director took a good ten to fifteen minutes.
But since it was Jennifer Heppel‘s second day on the job, her opening comments were short and sweet.
“I turned on the computer, retrieved a voicemail, and despite the fact that I was convinced I would lose the battle, I considered it a day well lived,” she said.
Before addressing the assembled media at the Green Pond Country Club, she had met with all seven Patriot League football coaches and discussed the different rules changes.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be here honored to be the next leader of the Patriot League,” she continued in her brief comments.
A few minutes later, Lehigh was picked to finish fifth in the preseason Patriot League football poll. Sophomore WR Troy Pelletier, junior LB Colton Caslow and senior P Austin Devine were named to the preseason all-League team, and just like that, the media were unleashed to meet with the coaches, administrators, and athletes.
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You hate to put it this way, but this weekend’s tilt between Lehigh and Cornell could be the anemic force versus the extremely movable object.
Lehigh’s defense would be the movable object, ranking dead last in FCS in total defense, but the Not So Big Red’s offense, ranked 121 out of 123 FCS teams, hasn’t exactly impressed either.
It sets up two teams extremely hungry for victory this Saturday, eager to get something positive going before the rest of the regular-season schedule gets back underway.
In May, this might have seemed like a speed-bump up in Ithaca. Now, it seems like a game that must somehow be a victory to get the bus out of the ditch.
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Once upon a time, Lehigh’s football team was many preseason pundits’ consensus No. 1 in the Patriot League. It wasn’t even a question.
Sure, some of that was due to the fact that Fordham, now for the first time in years an full, card-carrying member of the Patriot League, was ineligible.
But in 2010 and 2011, Lehigh was the undisputed king, with wins over their Rivals, undisputed Patriot League championships, and even playoff victories against Northern Iowa and Towson.
This season, it’s a new team with a dynamic offense and a team loaded with talent that is the undisputed champion going into the 2014 season. With one of the best FCS quaterbacks in the nation, QB Michael Nebrich, and a talented defense backing them up, the Rams now have the targets on their backs.
And if Lehigh hopes to stand a chance to challenge the new kings of the hill, they will have to improve immensely on the defensive side of the ball.
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(Photo Credit: The Express-Times)
If there’s one word we’ve heard a lot in the media, and from both schools this week, it’s “marbles”.
“We’re playing for all the marbles,” head coach Andy Coen said in the Lehigh Football Report this week, echoing what seems to be anyone following the game in the Lehigh Valley.
It is true that the winner of the game this weekend will be Patriot League champions, with a 4-1 conference record.
It is also true that the winner will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, head to the FCS playoffs this weekend. (While Lehigh could sneak in the field with a loss, it seems real unlikely.)
But more than that, the winner of this yearly Rivalry battle will indeed win something more than just a Patriot League Championship trophy to keep in Bethlehem or Easton another year.
It really does feel like an old-fashioned game of marbles, where the winner really does take everything they were looking to achieve that season, and the loser comes away with none of the goals they set out to achieve and instead the have to wait until next season.
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(Photo Credit: WFUV)
We break down the Fordham game – and we give our fearless prediction below the flip.
Though this game doesn’t officially count towards the Patriot League standings, make no mistake about how big this game is for both programs.
Look no further than the ticket sales for this game.
Fordham’s Jack Coffey field is sold out, all 7,000 seats, and even on StubHub.com this game is a hot ticket, with no tickets available as of right now. (Check back if you still need tickets!)
A sold-out, 7,000 seat venue for a meaningful football game is what FCS football is all about, and whatever happens it’s going to be a fantastic ambassador for Patriot League football broadcast across the country on CBS Sports Network.
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We break down the Lafayette game – and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.
Checking Twitter and Facebook is not exactly an exact science when it comes to trying to gauge how fired up a team, or a fan base, is.
After a slow start to the trash talk for the 148th meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, though, there’s evidence that the Hate is making a late-week rally as the sheer inevitability of the Rivalry game tomorrow has built the tension.
Still, the biggest question for both Lehigh and Lafayette is: Which team will show up for four quarters?
If there’s one consistent theme from both sides, it’s that people have been waiting for both teams to play four quarters of well-executed football. Will either be able to do so?