BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh football team has just passed the midway point of its spring practice segment as the two-time defending Patriot League Champion Mountain Hawks prepare for the 2012 campaign. Tuesday marked the ninth of Lehigh’s scheduled 15 workouts and seventh-year head coach Andy Coen likes what he’s seen from the Mountain Hawks in terms of attitude and approach.
“I’m still very comfortable with our attitude and the culture of our team,” said Coen. “We did a great job in the weight room and in conditioning during the offseason. The guys have come out this spring and have worked hard. We may not be as talented as we were a year ago, based on the players we’ll graduate but we’ll get there because we have guys who work really hard. They want to be successful and have been approaching spring practice the right way.”
One of the biggest question marks at the start of spring practice was the quarterback position, but Coen says the performance of rising senior Mike Colvin has been one of the biggest positives of spring ball thus far.
“Mike feels really comfortable as the No. 1 guy,” Coen said. “I’ve been impressed by his decision making, plus he’s been pretty accurate throwing the football. We’ve had a couple windy days but he’s done well. He’s a very accurate deep thrower which should complement Ryan (Spadola) very well.”
The Mountain Hawks entered the spring somewhat shorthanded on the offensive line, with veterans Mike Vuono, Matt Lippincott and A.J. Hood all missing spring practice, but Coen has been pleasantly surprised with how the rising sophomores on the offensive line have improved thanks to the extra reps. Coen said that freshman linemen are always going to make mistakes, but Ned Daryoush, Kyle Moore, Matt Douglas and Cornell Harriott have showed improvement, which serves as a positive going forward.
Coen also likes what he’s seen from the tight end group, led by rising senior Jamel Haggins and junior Max Anderson. The three healthy running backs, Keith Sherman, Cody Haupt and Rich Sodeke have also done some nice things as well. Coen is looking for a little more consistency from the wide receiver position, but mentioned that rising sophomores Josh Parris and Alex Buford have done some nice things, while junior Lee Kurfis has also done well and could emerge as the No. 2 receiver behind Spadola, the returning All-American who caught 96 passes for 1,614 yards a year ago.
On defense, Coen says the coaching staff changes and transition to the co-defensive coordinators has worked out just fine. The challenge right now is to build depth, especially among the front seven.
“A year ago we were two-deep in the front seven,” Coen said. “If a guy got banged up the next guy would step in and we wouldn’t have to change anything. Now, we’re looking to build depth all over again. I like our first group on defense, but as we create depth with our younger guys, we still have some work to do.”
Coen likes what he’s seen from Lehigh’s secondary in terms of both performance and depth. Seniors Billy O’Brien and Gabe Johnson and junior Courtney Jarvis have all stood out as players enjoying good spring segments in the secondary. Among the new contributors in the front seven, Coen has been pleased with what he’s seen from senior inside linebackers Jerard Gordon and Sam Loughery.
“Because of some other guys we’ve had in the program Jerard and Sam haven’t played as much football but not they’re doing very well,” Coen said. “If they were at any other school they would have probably been starting by now and maybe playing at an all-league level, but I’m happy with what I’ve seen there.”
With less than two weeks remaining in Lehigh’s spring segment, Coen commented one some of the areas Lehigh will focus on its final workouts.
“We’re still working on turnovers,” he said. “Limiting them on offense and getting them on defense. We’ve spent more time on special teams this year and we’ll continue to do so. Hopefully that will pay dividends for us in the kick coverage and return games. We also want to start working on some red zone things offensively and defensively and we’ll start on that on Thursday.”
Lehigh’s tenth spring workout is set for Thursday afternoon. The Mountain Hawks’ annual spring segment will conclude with the annual Brown and White game on Saturday April 21 at 10 a.m.