BETHLEHEM, Pa. – On one of the warmest days of preseason camp thus far the Lehigh football team held its first scrimmage Friday inside Goodman Stadium. The Mountain Hawks have just under two weeks until their season opener against Monmouth as head coach Andy Coen put his team through a workout that clocked in just over two hours on a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the upper 80s.
“I liked what I saw,” Coen said. “I saw a lot of competition. I saw a lot of good things out there today and certainly some things that weren’t so good that we will be great to learn from and get better from.”
The scrimmage began with some extra point and field goal work, before the team broke up for positional drills, followed by a segment of 7-on-7 passing drills and a pass rush/protection drill between the offense and defensive lines.
When the full squad came together senior quarterback Mike Colvin hit junior Lee Kurfis on a deep pass for a big gain for the first team offense, but the first series of plays ended for the first unit on a “sack” of Colvin by senior Tom Bianchi on fourth down. Mountain Hawk quarterbacks were not live for contact during the scrimmage.
“Offensively the passing game looked pretty crisp today,” Coen said. “Mike Colvin had a really good day. I’ve known for a long time he throws a great deep ball and he showed that today. That’s real important to us. We want to have that explosive capability and Mike continued to do that.”
With sophomore Matt McHale under center, the second team offense moved the ball well in its opening series, highlighted by three completions to freshman wideout Derek Knott, the last of which moved the ball inside the five yard line. Sophomore tailback Rich Sodeke then scored the first touchdown of the scrimmage on a three-yard run up the middle.
The first unit returned to the field and Colvin connected with sophomore Josh Parris, who made a leaping grab over the outstretched arms of senior Gabe Johnson for a big gain which put the offense inside the ten yard line. The Mountain Hawk defense tightened however, keeping the offense out of the end zone on four straight plays.
“On the defensive side it was not a great day in the secondary but the guys up front played well,” Coen explained. “For the secondary it was the first time they were tested in game-type situations, but I’m confident that things will improve once we get some guys back. I liked what I saw from the front seven guys. The first group especially did a nice job. Up until today we had run the ball efficiently, and those guys did a nice job stopping the run.”
Following a series by the second units that ended on downs, Lehigh paused to work on its punting game.
When the offense and defense returned to the field, Colvin opened the next segment with a 64-yard bomb to Kurfis that went for a touchdown.
The second unit on offense also put together a nice drive which resulted in a touchdown. McHale set Lehigh up in scoring position with a pass over the middle to sophomore tight end Tyler Coyle. Junior Cody Haupt then ran through a tackle and plunged in for a two yard touchdown.
Lehigh then called upon its third team offense, consisting mostly of freshmen. After a three-and-out series, the Mountain Hawks moved the ball behind a pair of strong runs from freshman D.J. Kee. Sophomore quarterback Gerard Poutier, who split time with the twos and threes on Friday, ran the ball into the end zone from 11 yards out.
The second offense came back in but saw a drive end on downs inside the ten yard line, before the first unit returned to the field. The Mountain Hawks offense put the ball in the end zone again as Colvin found Parris down the right sideline from 32 yards out.
After another special teams break to work on kickoff coverage, the scrimmage concluded with some red zone work, where the offense continued to produce against a shorthanded defense. On the first drive, Colvin hit Coyle down the middle of the field for a 15-yard touchdown. McHale then followed with a pretty touchdown pass to Knott on a corner route. On the last play of the scrimmage, Colvin hit Kurfis for a touchdown on a beautiful stop-and-go move against junior Courtney Jarvis.
“Both Jamel (Haggins) and Max (Anderson) have two-to-three day type injuries but Tyler Coyle stepped in and played really well today,” Coen said. He’s come back as a sophomore and has really improved which is good to see.”
One of the unfortunate themes associated with camp has been a rash of injuries. Almost a dozen starters and key contributors were held out or limited due to injury on Friday, but the good news for the Mountain Hawks, is that a number of young players have stepped up and shown what they can contribute when called upon.
“Our guys have had a great attitude throughout camp,” Coen said. “We’ve seen a lot from our freshmen class. There’s a lot of speed there. Watch a guy like Derek Knott run around like he did today. That’s been good. Our young wide receivers can all run. Matt Ford and Tony Manganiello got a ton of reps with the second group today as freshmen on the offensive line. That will pay big dividends. Defensively, Matt Laub from Parkland played a ton today. He can help us.
Coen continued, “I don’t have any doubt we’ll get where we need to be, we just have a lot of work to do. By the time we play Monmouth, we will have all hands on deck again. We still have a couple things to work on, but where right on schedule with where we need to be. This week will be really important.”
The Mountain Hawks will begin the 2012 season on Saturday, September 1 when host the Monmouth Hawks at Goodman Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased by calling 610-7LU-GAME or by logging on to Lehighsports.com.
NOTES FROM CAMP… Lehigh will practice twice on Saturday and once on Sunday to kick-off the final week of preseason camp… On Monday Lehigh will hold another double session, which will be followed by an off day on Tuesday… Lehigh’s second scrimmage is scheduled for Wednesday which will also mark the team’s final day of double sessions… the Mountain Hawks’ freshmen will be sent through University orientation next Thursday and Friday … classes for the 2012 fall semester begin on Monday, August 27 … the annual Alumni Steak Fry is set for Sunday, August 26 – the same day Lehigh’s preseason camp comes to a close.