Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Scouting Lehigh

The Master: Andy Coen


For a team that was expected to be a top 10 FCS contender this year, Lehigh sure plays all of its games very close. Most of the 5-0 Mountain Hawks' games have been characterized by Lehigh getting a comfortable lead, then seeing most of that lead evaporate before they hold on to win. That scenario ended last week when Fordham and the Mountain Hawks played and truly back and forth affair before Lehigh won the game on a last second field goal. 

But don't take all the close contests the wrong way. Teams that win close games week after week are usually very good, not flukes. And Lehigh is no fluke.


The obvious first place to look is the passing game. WR Ryan Spadola is an NFL prospect and new QB Michael Colvin is doing fine as he works to replace superstar Chris Lum who graduated after last season. Colvin is also the team's leading rusher, averaging about 10 carries and 50 yards per game with 5 TD's.

But the skill players aren't the big story here. That honor goes to Lehigh's stunning offensive line. I say "stunning" because the Mountain Hawks have allowed just one, ONE, sack all year! That's one sack in five games and 161 passing attempts by Colvin. By contrast, Columbia has allowed 11 sacks in just three games and the best team in the Ivies in the "sacks against" category is Brown and the Bears have given up four sacks in just three games. 

The Lehigh run blocking ain't bad either. Despite doing the running mostly by committee, the Mountain Hawks average a healthy 4.1 yards per carry. 

On defense, Lehigh's best strength is against the pass. They give up fewer than 200 yards per game through the air and just barely six yards per attempt. They register about three sacks per game, which is strong too.

The Mountain Hawk linebackers are fearsome. Senior Sam Loughrey missed one game, but he is still the team's second leading tackler and has 5 TFL's. Nigel Muhammad has six sacks and the other LB, Billy Boyko, leads the team in tackles.  

Finally, I can't finish a "strengths" section on Lehigh without writing about Head Coach Andy Coen. He's been running the show in Bethlehem since 2006 after guiding the offense at Penn for six seasons prior to that. Penn has had some strong years since Coen left, but the offense has never reached the levels it did in 2002 and 2003 when Coen had the Quakers hitting on all cylinders. 

At Lehigh, Coen has done the near-impossible: take a program known for more than a decade as a defensive power and get its offense jump-started without sacrificing much on the defensive side. 

This guy is as good as it gets.


No matter how hard you look, you just don't find one. Sure, the way the Mountain Hawks almost blew their early games was a bit troubling but why quibble? The team is 5-0 and wins are wins. 

If you HAVE to nitpick, you can look at the 157 rushing yards Lehigh allows each game, but then you have to point out that they also only allow 3.6 yards per carry. That's not exactly a gaping hole in the wall. 
Lehigh's own rushing attack is not that much to write home about, but it gets the job done especially in the red zone as the Mountain Hawks have 13 rushing TD's. 

Lehigh hasn't been the best second half team; they've been outscored in the 3rd and 4th quarter by 60-44.

On special teams, kicker Jake Peery hasn't shown much leg power beyond the 30 but he's been clutch from short distances. 

Junior punter Tim Divers has put eight of his 28 punts inside the 20, and averages 41 yard per punt.

What you see above is the story of a team that may not beat the Hell out of you, they just beat you. 



oldlion said...

What we must do on Saturday: eliminate special teams mistakes, tighten up the coverage by the DBs, eliminate the drops by the receivers (I counted nine last Saturday), move Brackett around, spread the field, and put pressure on the Lehigh QB.

Mitch said...

Lehigh coach is outstanding, somewhat similar in his pedigree to the guy at Holy Cross. At the very least, this game will be a valuable learning experience. And a win would be a real breakthrough.

Anonymous said...

A win would be great, but more realistically it would be nice to see our players do what is in their power to do: make routine catches, finish tackles, cover kickoffs, etc. And it would be great if the coaches had a gameplan that did not involve giving up: no punts from the 31; no squib kicks; letting Brackett move around. Lehigh is good and we will face adversity on Saturday. Hopefully we'll respond better than we did last week.