Category Archives: Quentin Jones

LFN Midseason Report Card: All-Nighter Before Midterm Saves Passing Grade?

We've all been there, Lehigh fans.  I know I was as an undergrad.

You enter the mid-term needing something big to save a bad grade, so you work furiously, trying to catch up on months of the readings you should have been doing, going over homework you skipped for some good reason - that good reason escapes you now, of course - to try to ace the midterm that can pull your grade back up from the dead.

With copious amounts of coffee, you go over the readings, taking the notes you should have been taking all along.  You stay up all night to go over all the material, catching several catnaps during the morning.  You finally enter the classroom of the test - and you deliver the grade you needed.  You save your GPA, and you find yourself finally back on track - and then you collapse in a heap of bones on your bed.

OK, maybe the Colgate victory was not quite like that.

In a way, though, it feels like it - the win injects a huge measure of hope into a season that was pointed in the wrong direction, and allows Lehigh Nation to look at the midseason as a place to keep winning games and to possibly fight and claw their way to another Patriot League Championship.

LFN's midseason grades are below.
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In 41-38 Win Over Colgate, Lehigh Buries Memory Of Winless 1966 Season, And Gives Themselves Potential For More This Season

It was a very different time for Lehigh football, but in 1966, the Engineers started out the season 0-5, and had to travel up to Hamilton, New York to take on the Colgate Red Raiders.

"Lehigh faces its toughest opponent of the season tomorrow afternoon in the Red Raiders of Colgate, at Kerr Memorial Stadium in Hamilton, N.Y," the 1966 Brown and White preview read.

After their 21-15 loss to Colgate in 1966, the Engineers would fall to 0-6 and eventually finish 0-9 on the season, the last time Lehigh started a season 0-6 and the last time Lehigh would go winless in a season as well.

It was that sort of historic elephant that the 2017 Mountain Hawks had on their backs this Saturday, whether they realized it or not.

Had they lost to their Chenango Valley rival, they would have been the first Lehigh football team to go 0-6 in more than fifty years.  0-5 entering this game, ironically their sixth shot at a football victory would involve going to the same venue to play the same opponent they played fifty-one years ago trying to avoid a 0-6 start.

Turning around an 0-5 start could be one of the hardest jobs in football, especially against a hated conference rival, and especially in a place that has always been a difficult place for Lehigh to play.

And it wasn't easy.  The 2017 Mountain Hawks had help, both from some tough calls against Colgate and from some boneheaded penalties against the Raiders that were justified.

But this group of athletes achieved that goal that eluded the same goal of the Lehigh Engineers of 1966.  The football team playing this Saturday won a hard-fought 41-38 contest that maybe, just maybe, might have turned things around just in time.
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The Time Is Now: Lehigh Needs to Win A Football Game, Now

You could say that following Lehigh football through the first five weeks has been an exercise in frustration.

That's probably understating things quite a bit.

The season was not supposed to unfurl itself in this way.

The Mountain Hawks, rated in the Top 25 to start the season, remained that way after losing a tough game against Villanova, but then fell out of the national rankings when they followed that up with a loss to Monmouth.

And since, the team has just kept losing, each week more excruciating than the last.

Some Lehigh fans appear to think that the Mountain Hawks could turn things around and make a run at the Patriot League Championship in a world where the Patriot League is a combined 9-20 against out-of-conference foes.

I suppose it is still possible.

But to this fan, this goal can't be the focus of the coming week.

Speaking as a fan, I feel the focus of all the players and coaches needs to be on one singular goal: how to win one, singular, football game.

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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 Position Analysis: Defensive Backs

Spotlight On: S Sam McCloskey

Lehigh Sports issued a release Friday evening that announced Lehigh's team captains for the 2017 season.

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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Five Burning Questions For Lehigh Heading Into Preseason Camp

There's a pretty good chance that senior WR Troy Pelletier, who made the Patriot League's preseason all-Conference team and is on the Walter Payton Award watch list to start the year, will be the starter in the season opener vs. Villanova.

It's also not a headline that junior RB Dominick Bragalone, also on the Patriot League's preseason all-Conference team, is likely to -shocker! - be a starter on September 2nd.

But that doesn't mean that there still aren't plenty of questions as the Mountain Hawks enter into their fall training camp for fans to think about.
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LFN’s Look at the Spring Defense

Last season, a disappointed LB Colton Caslow talked about the Lehigh defense after a top 26-21 loss to nationally-ranked Villanova.

Caslow, LB Pierce Ripanti and LB Evan Harvey had combined for 27 tackles against the Wildcats, but it wasn't enough to spring the upset.

"None of those plays I made would have been possible if I didn't have the fantastic teammates I have around me out there," he said after the game.  "Everyone's just been flying around, we're getting all eleven players to the ball, everyone has a lot higher energy out there, and we're in a lot better shape than we were last year."

Caslow's disappointment would be the last time he'd experience that emotion after a regular-season football game, as Lehigh then proceeded to win their next nine games and the Patriot League championship.  Caslow, and the defense, never averted their focus and improvement from that point forward.

This weekend at the Brown/White spring scrimmage, we will see what the 2017 Lehigh defense will look like, but the emphasis on being in great shape and getting all eleven players to the ball will almost certainly remain.

The biggest question mark on the defensive side, though, remains which athletes will step up to replace Caslow, Ripanti, Harvey, ROV Laquan Lambert and CB Brandon Leaks - and which existing players will step into the leadership positions that these seniors had as well.
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Bucknell At Lehigh Narrative Street: All Is Quiet On The Bucknellian Front

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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Colgate At Lehigh Narrative Street: Despite Challenging Week, Mountain Hawks Should Be Sky-High for Saturday

There's no question that this weekend's Colgate and Lehigh game is an enormous game for both sides.  There's also a bit of a quarterback "controversy" on the Lehigh side as to who will come out for the first series, award-winning sophomore QB Brad Mayes or award-winning senior QB Nick Shafnisky.

One thing that has gone a bit unnoticed is the impact of Hurricane Matthew on the game this weekend.

Not so much the impact of the southerly weatherly system on the weather at Murray Goodman, which is still on target for a mostly cloudy, 65 degree day, with a small chance of showers in the late afternoon, but the impact on the Lehigh and Colgate players, many of whom call Florida their home.

Added to the already-challenging coaching twists centering around 4 O'Clock exams, something that head coach Andy Coen reminded me of last week, is the concern that the fourteen Lehigh football players from Florida, including Mayes, senior LB Colton Caslow, junior WR Gatlin Casey and a bunch of others, have for their families back at home.

Overall, seventeen Lehigh football players (14 from Florida, 3 from Georgia) and sixteen Colgate football players (15 from Florida, 1 from North Carolina) have family and possessions potentially impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

You can't blame some of those athletes being a bit distracted if they have a bit more on their minds than just football.


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Princeton At Lehigh Narrative Street: Remembering Last Year’s Disaster

I hinted at this #NarrativeStreet in yesterday's Game Preview, but the narrative that keeps jumping to the forefront in the run-up to the game this weekend is the "disaster" - head coach Andy Coen's words - of last year's game at Princeton.

There were other losses in the 2015 Lehigh football season.

There was James Madison, where the eventual playoff-bound Dukes impressively blew the Mountain Hawks out of the water, 55-17.  The 59-42 loss to Fordham where QB Nick Shafnisky was lost to injury right before halftime.  The Colgate game.  The Yale game.

But there was something about the loss at Princeton that really got under coach Coen's skin that was different than the other losses - an anger at the way it happened, the way that things seemed to come apart in the second half after matching the Tigers score-for-score in in the first half.

All the narratives seem to point to last year's "disaster", and hoping that the team has learned from it.
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