BETHLEHEM, Pa. – With preseason camp winding down and just ten days remaining before the season opener, the Lehigh football team held its second scrimmage of camp on a warm, sunny afternoon Wednesday on the John C. Whitehead Practice Fields. The two-hour workout was heavy on situational football as the Mountain Hawks worked on third down, red zone and two-minute drill situations in preparation for their September 1 season opener.
“I was really happy with today’s scrimmage,” said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen. “There were some things we needed to improve on and we did just that. The biggest positive was we really let our younger kids scrimmage. We have a really strong group of young players who received a lot of coaching and a lot of reps over the last week or so. It has been great to see them continue to develop depth there.”
Prior to last Friday’s first scrimmage, the story of camp was the number of minor injuries the Mountain Hawks had suffered, but by Wednesday’s scrimmage Lehigh had most of the injured players from the top of the depth chart back on the practice field. Coen still expects his team to be at full strength for the Monmouth game, although it may take some time for the men just getting back into the lineup to get back up to speed.
The practice began with positional work, before the team came together for extra point and field goal work. Senior Jake Peery and junior Tim Divers were both 3-for-3 on extra points. Peery connected on a pair of field goals from 37 yards out, and one each from 43 and 45. Divers was 3-for-3 from 37 and made his only attempt from 45.
From there the Mountain Hawks shifted to 7-on-7 pass skeleton on one side of the field, while the linemen engaged in pass rush drills.
The full squad portion of the scrimmage began with work on third down situations. The next segment featured the only full-squad live tackling action on the afternoon as the Mountain Hawks’ third units squared off for a pair of series. Sophomore Matt McHale led the offense for the first series. A strong third down run from freshman Dan Brown kept the drive alive for the offense which moved into the red zone. McHale capped the series with a ten-yard touchdown pass. Sophomore Gerard Poutier came in at quarterback for the second series. One of his first passes was picked off by sophomore Damien Brown. Poutier’s series ended with freshman Laquan Lambert breaking up a pass on fourth down.
The Mountain Hawks then worked on some red zone packages with the offense getting the ball at the 25 yard line. The first team offense started quickly, with Zach Barket scoring on a 20-yard run up the middle early in the drive. Lehigh’s second unit offense, under the direction of junior Brandon Bialkowski, moved the ball inside the ten yard line, but junior Tyler Ward stopped the drive with an end zone interception.
With the first unit back on the field Colvin helped lead the Mountain Hawks into the end zone, highlighted by a screen pass to tight end Jamel Haggins that went for a touchdown.
Following a break for some punt work, the Mountain Hawks closed out the scrimmage with some two-minute drill work. The first two rounds belonged to Lehigh’s defense as the Mountain Hawks’ first unit stopped the first offense on downs, and the second defense stymied the offense’s drive with a pair of would-be sacks on third and fourth down.
Colvin led the first offense back out against the second team “D” and moved the ball down the field. He capped the drive with a pretty pass to sophomore Josh Parris for a touchdown. The first defense then shut down the second unit offense to close out the workout.
“There was a lot of good competition out there,” Coen said. “There was a good give-and-take between the offense and the defense. The defense did a great job in the third down situation. The offense did better in the red zone. We also got to do a two-minute drill with officials, which is great because you can’t always simulate that the way you want to.
Coen also addressed the only “live period of Wednesday’s practice, “We let the young kids move the ball. We’ve have a lot of real physical practices and got to a point where we didn’t need to be practicing. The by product is that our defense has been getting in much better position. It’s helped the defense in terms of being in position and wrapping up which will make us a better tackling team moving forward.”
Following practice, Coen officially named Colvin the starter for Lehigh’s season opener, September 1 at Monmouth.
“Mike has played well throughout camp,” Coen said. “He played well in Friday’s scrimmage and did well again today. Over the last two years he’s had a role, but Chris (Lum) took most of the reps in practice. Mike made big strides in spring ball and has continued to do so here in camp. He’s a big, strong athlete with a great arm. He can make all the throws. I’m excited to see him play.”
Colvin has appeared in 29 games in his first three seasons, rushing for a total of 549 yards and seven touchdowns. He has thrown 75 career passes, completing 33 for 272 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions. Last season, Colvin rushed for three touchdowns, and completed 6-of-13 passes for 27 yards and an interception.
Earlier Wednesday the second major poll, the FCS Coaches Poll, was unveiled with the Mountain Hawks coming in at No. 11. Lehigh was ranked 16th in the Sports Network Preseason Top 25 announced last week. The Mountain Hawks ended last season ranked fifth in the Sports Network Poll and sixth in the Coaches Poll.
When the Mountain Hawks return to the practice field Thursday, they will begin preparations for Monmouth.
“Our younger kids will have to start balancing school and football with orientation starting up and classes beginning Monday,” Coen said. “It was all football before, now we have to have balance, which will be a challenge for our freshmen. We’re ready to start looking at another team and we will certainly be excited to play on the first.”
Kickoff is set for just after 12:30 p.m. from Goodman Stadium. Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh Ticket Office located in Stabler Arena, or by logging on to Lehighsports.com.
NOTES FROM CAMP… University orientation begins for freshmen on Thursday… Lehigh will hold single practices on Thursday and Friday and then a practice Saturday afternoon followed by a mock game at night… Sunday afternoon’s practice will be followed by the annual Alumni Steak Fry inside Goodman Stadium… players will be off Monday for the first day of classes for the fall semester.