Lehigh At Wagner Media Pack (w/ Video): Mountain Hawks Aren’t Panicking Over Winless Start

The media in the run-up to the Wagner game has been more upbeat than one might think considering the Mountain Hawks' 0-4 start.

That's not to say that head coach Andy Coen is at all happy with how things have started, but his answers to this week's media questions were not what some fans may have expected.

“I’m disappointed, I’m not going to lie,” he told Keith Groller of The Morning Call. “But again, this is a funny game. It’s never easy. It’s hard to win a game. It really is. At times last year we made it look really, really easy. Right now, we’re making it look really hard.”

On Lehigh Sports Central this week, he said he felt like Lehigh was more competitive against Penn than they were against Yale.

"We just continue to make mistakes," Coen said.  "We got the ball first, and turned the ball away.. we've got to get away from all of that stuff, and start playing better football."
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Lehigh at Wagner Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Who Breaks Their Losing Streak?

We break down the Wagmer game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Like the Mountain Hawks, the Seahawks are aiming to reverse a multi-game losing streak, but Wagner's current problems are pretty much the opposite of Lehigh's.

Since the season-ending shoulder injury to QB Alex Thomson, the Seahawks have had pretty good defensive play at times, but it's the offense that has let them down.  Against Columbia, for example, the offense went 1 for 9 on 3rd down conversions and only was able to put up 14 points.

Worrying for Lehigh, though, is that the offense that they have been able to generate has come mostly from a bruising running game.  Of their 307 yards of offense against Columbia, 187 of it came on the ground.
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Lehigh at Wagner Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction:

We break down the Wagmer game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Like the Mountain Hawks, the Seahawks are aiming to reverse a multi-game losing streak, but Wagner's current problems are pretty much the opposite of Lehigh's.

Since the season-ending shoulder injury to QB Alex Thomson, the Seahawks have had pretty good defensive play at times, but it's the offense that has let them down.  Against Columbia, for example, the offense went 1 for 9 on 3rd down conversions and only was able to put up 14 points.

Worrying for Lehigh, though, is that the offense that they have been able to generate has come mostly from a bruising running game.  Of their 307 yards of offense against Columbia, 187 of it came on the ground.
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Lehigh At Wagner Game Preview: Two Teams Battling Their Own Curses

Lehigh has never played Wagner in football, despite the fact that the schools are separated only by an hour and a half drive and that the institutions both sponsor FCS football in an area of the country where nearby opponents are sometimes hard to come by.

Long-time Patriot League fans might remember Wagner as legendary Lafayette head coach Bill Russo's coaching stint before he came to Easton to coach the Leopards for an 18 year stretch from 1981 to 1999. 

Back in those days, Wagner was a Division III school, playing local schools like Iona, Pace, Seton Hall and Fordham, during a time when it was OK to field a Division III football program and a Division I athletics program (this is something that is no longer allowed today).

Since then, though, many Lehigh fans may not know that much about Wagner College, the Seahawk football program, and their ascent to becoming, eventually, and FCS playoff team.


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LFN’s FCS Top 25, 9/26/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25And, well, was I completely wrong about Villanova and Richmond, who were two of my Top 10 teams that got upset this week?

CAA fans will say that conference games in their conference are hard, but... Albany and Elon aren't known as being the giant-killers in the conference, let's just say.  It's great to see Albany do well, who were awful close to an FCS playoff team last season, and Elon as well, former home of former Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo as well as  the new home of former Lehigh offensive coordinator Drew Folmar.  But are they Top 25 teams?

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The Opportunity To Heal Without Permanent Scars

A lot of football teams in the middle of a football season have what is called a 24 hour rule in regards to the outcome of their games.  The rule is the win, or loss is to be celebrated/agonized over for 24 hours, and then it's back to work.

Like the No Cheering in the Press Box rule in the past, I violated that one this weekend.

After the Penn loss, I was mad in a way I hadn't been mad before.  Irrationally mad.  Talking back at the dog mad.  Losses affect me, some more than others.  And this one, for some reason, really hit me hard.

It was 5:00 PM on Sunday, the Eagles had just won on a 61 yard miracle field goal, and the Saints had just humiliated the Panthers on the road for their first victory of the season.  A Saints victory on the road, against a conference rival, something that, as a Saints fan, happens at about the same frequency as Super Bowl visits - and I was still mad about the game yesterday.

That was the point when I realized something was wrong.

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QUICK RECAP: Lehigh Hits Rock Bottom In Dismal 65-47 Loss to Penn

Villanova, 38.

Monmouth, 46.

Yale, 56.

Now Penn, 65.

Lehigh's defense has given up 203 points in 4 games, and has given up more than 200 yards rushing to four straight teams.

This week's Ivy League player of the week will undoubtedly be Penn RB Karekin Brooks, who ran for 268 net yards, and scored 3 touchdowns, two on the ground, and one through, of all things, a pass.  It will be the second straight week that an offensive opponent will become a first-time Ivy League Offensive player of the week, the honor last week going to Yale QB Kurt Rawlings.

The Mountain Hawks' opponents have scored in all 16 quarters this year, and they've allowed at least 13 points in every quarter.

The defense hasn't forced a turnover all season, while the offense turned over the ball four different times today, and after each turnover, the defense would yield a score each time, including a brutal one to start the game when Lehigh desperately needed to jump out to a quick start.

For the second straight week, missed extra points have made it just a tiny bit harder to come back, something Lehigh has found itself doing almost the entire season.

And anyone who witnessed this debacle would have also been treated to all sorts of things, like a Penn running back executing a jump pass for a touchdown; a certain interception bouncing out of the hands of the defender and into the hands of a Penn receiver and a Lehigh 2-point conversion resulting in an interception return by Penn going the other direction.

Someone happier than me right now might bring up junior QB Brad Mayes' 400 yards passing, senior WR Gatlin Casey's 3 touchdowns, and junior RB Dominick Bragalone's strong offensive days today, and indeed, the numbers were impressive.  But Lehigh fans reading this should not be fooled by the pretty numbers - Lehigh never was ahead in this game, and in a tiring refrain, killed themselves multiple times with untimely turnovers and couldn't reverse momentum when the offense turned the ball over.

And it could have easily been worse.  Yes, Virginia, in a game where Lehigh gave up 65 points, it could have indeed been worse, with a Penn TD overturned by a penalty near the end of this game, making the officials the only thing stopping Penn from putting up 70 on Lehigh this afternoon.

If you're looking for a positive for this 0-4 game, here it is: Lehigh may have hit rock bottom.  I mean, how could it get worse than this?

Tune in later for more thoughts, at least the ones I can deliver and still keep this blog PG.

Penn At Lehigh Video And Media Pack: Back To The Drawing Board?

Dominating the narratives in the run-up to the Penn game was a particularly insightful preview article from The Morning Call's Keith Groller, on how the need for changes is urgent amongst everyone in the program.

It's a theme throughout all the preview pieces, but Keith's key excerpt appears below.

"Head coach Andy Coen said that Sunday wasn’t a pleasant day for anyone around the football offices or practice complex as the team tried to regroup from one of its worst losses in recent seasons.

“This was the first game where we couldn’t draw any positives from it,” Coen said. “It was just a bad performance … soup to nuts.

“No surprise, we jumped on them [the players] pretty good. But the kids understand it. They’re not crying about it. They understand why.”

“On Sunday, I got the staff together and just told the guys that we have to make changes whether it’s personnel, whether it’s scheme … we just can’t keep doing what we’re doing,” Coen said.

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