Game Preview: Monmouth at Lehigh, 9/1/2012

(Photo Credit: Monmouth Athletics)

We meet again.

Returning last year's trip to Kessler Field in West Long Branch, New Jersey, the Monmouth Hawks swoop into Bethlehem to try to get their first-ever win against Lehigh.

In 2005, when I wrote my preview of that game,  I had to really struggle to find the words to talk about a team I hardly knew.  But Monmouth is no longer "Monmouth Hawks: International Team of Mystery" to Lehigh fans.  They have NFL-caliber athletes on the squad; they can put points on the board; and they won't be a walk in the park.


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Your 2012 Mountain Hawks: The Defense

During Lehigh's media day, the starting defensive line was eager to show off their offseason weight work - to show how different they were, even from last year.

That is a goal that senior NG Sajjad Chagani, told me at Patriot League media day this year.

"My goal this year is to be different," he said.  "When you're on the field, you want to be different than everybody else.  I can't really explain it."

I quickly told him that he perhaps shouldn't want to be too different - after all, the Mountain Hawks were ranked 19th in total defense in 2011, and sitting just behind Bucknell in total defense in the Patriot League.

In 2012, the Mountain Hawks will be reliant on their defense to keep the center together while senior QB Michael Colvin gets his sea legs as Lehigh's opening-day starter.

Keeping that defense together starts with the "different" guys up front.
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Hawk Squawk: Matt Lippincott

(Photo Credit: Lehigh Valley Live)

Junior OL Matt Lippincott took some time out from his busy schedule this week to share with me his thoughts on the end of camp and the 2012 season.

His simple statement of "Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, I was getting my classes set up," somehow, speaks volumes about FCS football at this level, and where the priorites lie, as they should.
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Your 2012 Mountain Hawks: The Offense

He's still No. 15, but he won't be just running the Wildcat anymore.

Senior QB Michael Colvin, the Morristown, New Jersey native that has waited patiently for his opportunity, finally earned the right to be the full-time starter for the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in 2012.

He always had the athleticism.  He always had the arm.  Now, as starter and the triggerman of offensive coordinator Dave Cecchini's offense, he now has an impressive arsenal, too, to lead Lehigh in the 2012 season.  It's a potential combination that has Lehigh fans excited.
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Sunday’s Word: Giddy

There is only one word to describe the thoughts of many Lehigh fans as the 2012 football season season starts.

"Giddy".

So many offseasons, I have had to come up with words that sum up the thoughts going into a brand-new campaign.  And so many times, they have been words of caution

What's the right way to feel this year?  Cautious, as I probably should feel every single year?  Or "giddy"?
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Know Your 2012 Opponents: Columbia

(Photo Credit: College Football Performance)

When Lehigh lines up against Columbia on October 6th, they will be facing their third first-year head coach in the third consecuttive week.

Had you asked Columbia fans back in December whom they wanted that coach to be, the overwhelming fan favorite - according to the folks at Roar Lions, the Columbia fan community - was Holy Cross' Tom Gilmore, a face that Lehigh fans know very, very well.

Columbia athletic director Diane Murphy, however, had other ideas, ultimately deciding on Pete Mangurian, a former head coach at Cornell as well as an assistant coach with Bill Belichick and Raheem Morris.

It will be interesting to see what Mangurian does when he takes his Lions, who finished 1-9 last year, to Lehigh.
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Hawk Squawk: Tom Bianchi

(Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun)

It still seems weird that, with all of Lehigh's offensive prowess from last season, their thrilling FCS playoff victory would some down to that rarest of scoring plays, a safety.

Yet there he was, senior DE Tom Bianchi, in position to give Lehigh a lead they wouldn't relinquish in their 40-38 shutout win - and he executed.

In my "Hawk Squawk" series, I talk with Tom about the safety, and the upcoming season.
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Colvin Named Opening-Day Starter

(Photo Credit: The Expess-Times)

If there is one word that must sum up senior QB Michael Colvin, it must be "patience."

"My goal this year is to be the starting quarterback,"he said to Michael LoRe of the Express-Times two Augusts ago. "If I don’t and we decide to do Wildcat stuff, I’ll do my best to help the team. But my goal is to be the starter and it has been and will be this year, next year and the year after that."

After a terrible leg injury midway through his freshman season, and two years playing part-time Wildcat formation specialist behind Payton Award finalist QB Chris Lum, Mike finally reached his goal.

To be "the man" at QB for the Mountain Hawks.
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