Archive For The “Lehigh” Category

Troy Pelletier Hasn’t Stopped Outworking His Rivals On His Journey To Professional Football

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Troy Pelletier Hasn’t Stopped Outworking His Rivals On His Journey To Professional Football

Many Patriot League football fans remember the 153rd meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, one that ended happily for the Mountain Hawks.

They might remember the MVP performance of QB Brad Mayes, or perhaps the halftime speech by OL Zach Duffy that seemed to spur the Mountain Hawks to victory.

Or perhaps they might remember the spectacular single play of Mayes rolling right and finding WR Gatlin Casey in the end zone to give the Mountain Hawks a lead they didn’t relinquish.  It was an incredible play by Mayes, who returns this upcoming year for his senior season, and Casey, who, having exhausted his eligibility at Lehigh, will be playing one more year at Middle Tennessee State.

As great as those individual moments are, though, they are not my biggest takeaway of that game.

Too many Lehigh people forget that Lehigh was down 31-21 at half, and that victory was no sure thing.  And they sometimes forget that so much of that victory came from the grinding of WR Troy Pelletier, delivering huge 3rd down reception after huge 3rd down reception, and grabbing the critical touchdown that cut Lafayette’s lead to 31-28.  They forget the absolute receiving clinic he put on against Lafayette DB Phillip Parham – himself no slouch – not only by running perfect routes, which he always did exceptionally in a Lehigh uniform, but by using his body to get open and become a bigger target for Mayes.

It’s no easy task to make a 9 catch, 107 yard, 2 touchdown day against your bitterest Rival seem like another day at the office, but that’s exactly what Troy did, in his quiet, intense, hard working way.  And that’s my biggest takeaway from that Rivalry game.

Many may forget, but I do not.  And this week, in the run-up to the NFL Draft, we are going to find out which NFL teams have been paying attention as well.
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Five Closing Thoughts On The 2018 Spring Session

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Five Closing Thoughts On The 2018 Spring Session

(Photo Credits: Lehigh Athletics)Just like that, the 2018 Spring Session comes to a close this week, giving us a taste of what is to come in the late summer and fall.Here are my quick observations about what I saw at Murray Goodman on Saturday.Read mor…

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Improved Defense Shines In 23-21 Win Over Offense in Brown/White Game

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Improved Defense Shines In 23-21 Win Over Offense in Brown/White Game

The Lehigh coaching staff took a page from Ole Miss’ spring game in their annual Brown/White scrimmage at Murray Goodman stadium.

The scoring system Ole Miss used was to spot their defense a 23-0 lead, and the scrimmage’s goal was to  have the offense drive on the defense just like a regular football game.

It is the hope of every Lehigh football fan in every game in the upcoming 2018 season that the offense scores more than 23 points a game.  Last year, the Lehigh offense averaged for than 35 points per contest.

But the Brown defense this Saturday was up to the challenge of containing the White offense.

Twelve times, the offense lined up with a potential drive to score points, and nine of those times, the defense forced the offense to punt or stuffed a 4th down conversion.

It’s true that the offense scored three touchdowns, one from rising senior QB Brad Mayes, one from junior QB Tyler Monaco, and one from sophomore QB Addison Shoup.   It is also true that the offense had some really good moments.  But on Saturday the main story was the defense, who looked really good in holding the offense to only those three scores – almost getting two pick sixes, and getting a blocked field goal attempt in another drill to boot.
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2018 Lehigh Football Spring Preview: The Offense

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2018 Lehigh Football Spring Preview: The Offense

(Photo Credit: Brown and White)

Lehigh had one of the best offenses statistically in all of the FCS last year, excelling offensively in pretty much every facet.

Look at the statistics page for FCS last year.

Rising senior QB Brad Mayes, 4th in passing yardage.  Rising senior RB Dominick Bragalone, 1st in rushing yardage with 1,388.

Both Mayes and Brags return next year, and huge things will be expected of them for certain.

But the spring is about finding out who’s stepping up to the plate to keep the train rolling.

There’s little doubt that, barring injury, Mayes and Bragalone will be lining up in that first offensive possession vs. St. Francis (PA) at Murray Goodman this September.  But the 2017 offense is so much more than those two guys – the Mountain Hawks will need to replace the best receiving tandem ever to suit up at Lehigh, and will also need to replace the fiery leadership on the offensive line that, at times, seemed to will this team to their Patriot League Championship last year.

This Saturday, we get our first peek.
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2018 Lehigh Football Spring Preview: The Offense

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2018 Lehigh Football Spring Preview: The Offense

(Photo Credit: Brown and White)

Lehigh had one of the best offenses statistically in all of the FCS last year, excelling offensively in pretty much every facet.

Look at the statistics page for FCS last year.

Rising senior QB Brad Mayes, 4th in passing yardage.  Rising senior RB Dominick Bragalone, 1st in rushing yardage with 1,388.

Both Mayes and Brags return next year, and huge things will be expected of them for certain.

But the spring is about finding out who’s stepping up to the plate to keep the train rolling.

There’s little doubt that, barring injury, Mayes and Bragalone will be lining up in that first offensive possession vs. St. Francis (PA) at Murray Goodman this September.  But the 2017 offense is so much more than those two guys – the Mountain Hawks will need to replace the best receiving tandem ever to suit up at Lehigh, and will also need to replace the fiery leadership on the offensive line that, at times, seemed to will this team to their Patriot League Championship last year.

This Saturday, we get our first peek.
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2018 Lehigh Football Spring Preview: The Defense

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2018 Lehigh Football Spring Preview: The Defense

According to the FCS record books for 2017, there are 123 Division I schools listed in the team statistical Rankings. 

Out of 123 teams, Lehigh was ranked 119th in total team defense, allowing 477.7 yards per game.

And the defensive numbers don’t get much better the more you look.

Rushing defense, 117th.  Passing yards allowed, 89th.  Team sacks, 118th.  Red zone defense, 103rd. 

Total sacks in 12 games: 10, or 0.8 per game.  Total interceptions in 12 games: 4, or 0.25 per game.  Total takeaways: 13, or a little over 1 per game.

Though the final defensive numbers from 2017 are unable to be sugar-coated, nobody involved with Lehigh’s defense is running away from the facts this spring.  In fact, they feel they are better than this.

“When you hear so much about your defense not being good,” defensive coordinator Craig Sutyak said this week, “you start to believe it, and I think our kids started to believe it too the last couple of years.  But we’re not going to beat ourselves.  We’re going to have faith in ourselves, faith in the guys next to us, and we’re going to continue to grow as a unit.”

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Spotlight: Brad Mayes Using Spring Ball To Build For Chance To Threepeat

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Spotlight: Brad Mayes Using Spring Ball To Build For Chance To Threepeat

Lehigh’s spring session is in full swing, and there’s no question who the opening-day starter will be at quarterback, barring injury – that would be rising senior QB Brad Mayes.

Mayes had a great season last year, helping the Mountain Hawk offense to tremendous production again, picking up exactly where Montreal Alouette QB Nick Shafnisky left off after the 2016 season.

That doesn’t mean Mayes is sitting back sipping an iced tea while his teammates are busting their humps this spring, however.  He’s been busy.

“This off season was a lot of fun for me,”  he told me. “I got to take on more of a leadership role which allowed me to make great strides in the weight room. We had an outstanding leadership council as well make some great strides in equipment and gear, nutrition, and alumni partnership. Although those may seem like little things when it comes to the game of football, stuff like looking like a team and matching on Saturdays really go a long way.”

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Five Questions for Lehigh Entering Spring Football Practice

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Five Questions for Lehigh Entering Spring Football Practice

Lehigh’s spring football practice segment officially starts tomorrow, ending an agonizingly long period of football inactivity from the end of the 2017 football season.

Tomorrow, the beginnings of the 2018 football team will take shape – a team that waves goodbye to WR Troy Pelletier and WR Gatlin Casey, but welcomes back rising senior QB Brad Mayes and some changes on the defensive side of the ball.

What sort of questions will be answered by by the end of this spring segment?  Here are five of my questions.
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Agony and One Regret After Watching My Team Lose a Huge Game

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Agony and One Regret After Watching My Team Lose a Huge Game

I grew up in a family where the men didn’t easily show their emotions, a character trait that extended itself to sports.

It certainly didn’t help that one grandfather, a proud military man that stormed the beach in Normandy, had seen and experienced things that were a whole lot bigger than sports, though he enjoyed watching Major League Baseball’s “Game of the Week” as well as college football.  It also didn’t help that another grandfather, though a loyal corporate employee and Boston Red Sox fan, lived through a period of such baseball and pro football angst that there was little to truly celebrate except the Sox’s latest collapse or broken dreams.  (And the Pats were the definition of mediocre.)
My father, too, has always been a sports fan but also didn’t do things like swear under his breath at the TV, stand up watching the game because “sitting down ruins the luck”, or speak in tongues because his favorite team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  
As I watched New Orleans lose tonight on an utterly devastating play – whether it was THE most devastating play in NFL postseason history will have to be debated by historians – I sat down in my chair for the first time in over an hour.  My son, not always one to watch football games but was caught up in this one, was next to me, and I gave my son a warning.
“Never root for a team,” I told him, almost immediately regretting in afterwards.

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LFN’s Top Blog Reads of 2017

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LFN’s Top Blog Reads of 2017

We’re approaching the end of 2017, and it’s been an interesting year where Lehigh football fans have experienced a multitude of emotions: anger; sadness; redemption, and, finally, joy.

As you all know, the Mountain Hawks came back from the precipice of a disastrous season to come back and win back-to-back Patriot League championships and back-to-back FCS Playoff appearances.

In that vein, I thought I’d share the best and most-read LFN pieces from last season, from No. 10 to No. 1.

Going through all my stuff from the past year, these were the pieces that really stood out to me.
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