Archive For The “Zach Duffy” Category
When Lehigh players, coaches and fans went to bed on Friday night, they probably had visions of the Mountain Hawks’ powerful offense attacking, and overwhelming, Bucknell to coast to a share of a Patriot League Championship and the conference’s FCS Playoff bid.
About ten minutes into the game, the 7,049 fans in attendance had probably figured out that if Lehigh was going to win a championship, it wasn’t going to be won like that.
It was going to have to be earned. It was going to have to be grabbed from Bucknell, smashing them in the mouth the same way they were smashing us.
It cannot be emphasized enough how Lehigh had to earn every single inch of this Patriot League victory, how not easy this win really was.
How the Mountain Hawks fell behind, clawed and scratched back to get the lead. How they had to stop the Bison stampede at key spots, get crucial turnovers, and fire up critical, difficult field goals by sophomore PK Ed Mish. Even extra points, normally considered automatic, took on new dramatic tension.
The offense got punished on every single play up until the final couple of victory formations. But in the end, it was not only a victory, but a victory of the most beautiful, rare sort – the type of win that officially buries the past.
“Sometimes the hardest ones are the ones you enjoy the most,” Coen said. “When you’re winning a championship, it should be hard. Bucknell made it hard on us today, but we’re the ones with the trophy and I can’t be more proud of a group of guys than I am of these guys.”
Anyone at all worried that it’s just a wee bit too quiet from Lewisburg? I am.
The narratives coming out of Bethlehem this week – emphatically, me included – are ones of possible Patriot League championships and how the offense is “clicking” and has been very, very good.
That’s not usually a very good recipe for a big game for the home side, especially since word out of the Bucknell camp is very, very quiet, even though the Bison still are very much alive in the conversation of winning the Patriot League title and making Lehigh sit at home Thanksgiving weekend.
Last week, Bucknell traveled to the No. 9 team in the country, Charleston Southern, and proceeded to put up a very good fight in a game that didn’t affect Bucknell’s title chances one way or another. Though the final tally was 49-28, Bucs, the Bison didn’t go away quietly against Charleston Southern’s triple-option attack, staying within a touchdown most of the way until the home team pulled away late.
“Our guys played their tails off today and I am proud of them,” Bucknell head coach Joe Susan said afterwards. “We were able to take advantage of turnovers, but it was frustrating as the score got away from us. Charleston Southern is a very good football team.”
Want to get more worried? Look at the comments from acting Charleston Southern head coach Chad Staggs, who was in that position after head coach Jamey Chadwell served a one-game suspension.
“I don’t know that we played our best today but you have to give some credit to (Bucknell),” Staggs said. “They came out in the first drive and sort of punched us in the mouth a little. We certainly have to play better, but we won the game. I thought we matched them physically overall. We will look at the film and see how we played. We have to be more disciplined than we were today. We had way too many penalties today and that’s something we have to correct.”
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We break down Monnmoth after the flip.
Going into the first game of the season there are oodles of storylines on both teams.
One important storyline from Monmouth coming from Hawks coach Kevin Callahan is that Monmouth has a brutal eight road games in the 2016 season, thanks to construction being done on their home field, Monmouth Stadium.
With all the focus on defense in the run-up to this game, senior OL Zach Duffy also talked a bit about that the offense is raring to go as well.
“It’s the most productive camp I’ve been in the past four years I’ve been here,, he told Keith Groller of The Morning Call. “We were put in a position to get a lot of good [strength and conditioning] work in. We have a lot of experience with a lot of guys returning and that’s especially important up front where we have three guys returning including myself. And then we have junior WR Troy Pelletier, Shaf [senior QB Nick Shafnisky] and sophomore RB Dom Bragalone. I think we’re in a really good spot entering Week 1. A lot of that has to do with the work we put in during the offseason. We didn’t want to be happy with how last year ended and we didn’t want to get complacent. We put in a lot of hard work and stayed motivated and I think that says a lot about the leadership we have on this team.”
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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The Patriot League officially kicked off the 2016 football season with football media day at the Green Pond Country Club, and Lehigh was picked in a tie for 3rd. Colgate was picked 1, Fordham was picked 2, and tied with the Mountain Hawks was Holy Cross at 3.
Senior OL Zach Duffy and senior LB Laquan Lambert, were asked what they thought of the preseason pick.
In other years, you might have gotten a bit of a chest-thumping response, but this year’s group was notable in the calm way they answered the questions.
“I think that’s fair,” Zach said. “It’s where we finished last year, and we haven’t proved much yet. We haven’t achieved our goals yet. I wouldn’t have wanted to be picked any higher since we haven’t earned it.”
“We have high expectations on ourselves,” Laquan added. “This fuels the fire for us. We’re just going to have to take it day by day if we want to win a championship.”
No cries of disrespect – just a quiet sense of needing to return to work, which seems to summarize fairly well the attitude I sensed from the Lehigh table at Media Day. “Workmanlike.”
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.
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.
|Senior OL Matt Ford
We live in a world where we can judge the work of an offensive line by the overall output of the offense.
Gone are the days when you can look at a starters’ height and weight and judge whether they will be a great Patriot League player, or not. And at Lehigh, especially, the bar is particularly high for offensive linemen, with OL Will Rackley making the NFL, and players like OL Ned Daryoush, OL Keith Schauder and countless other all-Patriot League offensive linemen to provide the protection and push to keep drives alive and allow the skill players to make things happen.
Yet last year’s statistics, overall show again that, as a unit, this team too needs to improve.
Chip Kelly‘s Oregon teams averaged 82 offensive plays per game, which allowed the Ducks to become a perennial Pac-12 powerhouse while he was there. By this admittedly high standard, Lehigh’s 70 offensive plays a game falls short.
Some statistics that show signs that Lehigh’s offensive line did a good job in 2014 – like 4th down conversions (24th in the nation) and rushing offense (58th). But one thing’s for certain – this unit, with four returning starters, will need to make one more leap to the next level if Lehigh is to compete for Patriot League championships once again.
(Photo Credit: Reading Eagle)
As of 12:30 PM today, the counter passed over to 72 days until Lehigh’s home opener versus Central Connecticut State.
As such, we continue our day countdown towards the football season.
Today, we highlight No. 72, incoming freshman OL Zach Duffy.
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