My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Lehigh Scouting Report

It is hard to believe we're already at the Lehigh game. No matter what the year or circumstances, this game is always pivotal for both teams. This time around is no different. Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, I will be a bit sad because it means we're closing in on the end of the season with this one. Of course, a win will surely ease my pain just a little...

Here's what we've got on tap folks:

Offense

The pass happy, high octane Lehigh offense has been in full effect so far this year. This team puts up a lot of points and has multiple weapons to call upon. This week's addition though will feature sophomore quarterback #18 Sedale Threatt making his second start in place of senior Mark Borda who unfortunately ended his career early against Yale with a season ending injury. Hats off to Borda for a nice run at the helm of the Mountain Hawks.

Threatt brings with him some hype as the future of Lehigh football. He's taking the reigns earlier than anticipated, but there are many that feel he is up to the task now. Threatt already has one win as a starter under his belt in the form of Bucknell last week, and one overtime victory against Yale when Borda went down. Against Bucknell, he threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. He is an athlete that will deserve Colgate's full attention.

The other names to know start with tailback #2 Eric Rath. Rath ran for just over 1,000 yards last year, including 94 and a touchdown against the Raiders in Bethlehem. He is a key cog in the offensive machine for the Mountain Hawks and provides the balance needed to keep defenses honest. His stable mate, junior #22 Marques Thompson, is also no stranger to big games against the Raiders, as he tallied up 86 yards of his own and two touchdowns that day. Clearly, the running game deserves considerable respect.

In the air, Threatt will have a host of receivers to attempt completions with. The fastest and most dangerous of the group is #9 Gerran Walker. Walker is the first of three Lehigh receivers that are averaging just over 50 yards per game. #83 Lee Thomas and #5 Kevin Zebluim are just as frequent a target as Walker. #6 Adam Kovacs and #21 Winifred Porter are two additional targets the Mountain Hawks posses.

These skill positions all operate behind a fairly seasoned offensive line that leads the Patriot League in scoring, passing offense, passing efficiency and total offense. The Raider defense will have its hands full.

With that in mind, Colgate does match up fairly well in this one and if they can get to Threatt early, it is unlikely that he will have as good of a day as he did against Bucknell. It will be up to the defensive line to continue to get a nice pass rush and perhaps a few sacks, although Threatt is probably the most mobile quarterback we've seen so far this year. It will be a big test.

It will also be a big test for the Raider secondary. We've seen our share of good receivers; I'm just not sure we've seen this many on the field at the same time. I like our defensive backs against anyone, but it may come down to the play of our linebackers in coverage underneath to take away those short passes that make this Mountain Hawk team move downfield so well.

Finally, those very same linebackers will need to respect the run first and be sure to wrap up a shifty Rath who plays with a ton of heart. I do like the fact that this crew has already had to deal with Steve Silva of Holy Cross in preparation.

Defense

While getting less press than the Lehigh offense, the defense is cut from the same mold of many a previous Mountain Hawk/Engineer squad. They've got a couple of big names that will certainly be causing some problems for our offense. It starts on the line with #56 Royce Morgan at tackle. Morgan is a big foe to contend with and may require double teams and help from the full back at times. Behind Morgan looms #26 Anthony Graziani in the middle. "Graz" is the leading tackler for the Mountain Hawks and in many ways is the heart of the defensive. Taking it to the final level, #3 Kaloma Cardwell at the free safety position might just be the best in the league.

These three standouts are supported by a very able cast. #32 Owen Breininger and #92 Matt Mohler at the end positions are one of the leagues better tandems. The other linebackers are all doing very well and the other defensive backs, while a bit on the young side, are certainly not losing games for the Mountain Hawks.

Again, I am comforted by the fact that Colgate has already seen one of the best defenses in the land in UMass. That said, our offense did sputter for the most part that day and it was the defense that brought that victory home. What makes me happy again though is the fact that our starting quarterback and tailback combination that has led us to four straight victories did not play that day. They will get their big chance this weekend.

Lehigh does a great job of stopping the run, and will no doubt be preparing for the smash mouth Colgate offense that will often run until it hurts. We've seen some inspired play calling of late and our wide receivers have done a great job for us all season long. It is the matchup of our receivers versus the Lehigh secondary that I think will be one of the major decisive battles of this game. If we can exploit some of the corners with DeWayne Long, Erik Burke or a healthy Kenny Parker, it will go a long way to opening up many other options for the Raider offense. Ultimately though, it will come down the Colgate offensive line and their ability to do two things: give Jordan Scott that first hole up between the tackles so he can do the rest, and give Mike Saraceno time to throw the football. They do those two things, and the Raiders will be heading to Easton still on top of the Patriot League.

Special Teams

While this area of the game is always important, I think this week's focus will be a little different that previous weeks. Both teams certainly have the talent to come up with a big return, however they are also very well coached. I expect Lehigh to kick away from Geoff Bean most of the time and I think both teams will cover well.

The real interesting story here will be in the kicking game. Fortunately for Colgate, Lehigh has had some issues with their kicking. Most of us know about the loss to Delaware in overtime; however the problems have a longer history than that. With Jacob Stein being fairly untested at long range, in a tight game both sides have some questions about being able to kick themselves to victory.

The Skinny

Boy, am I excited about this one! Whether you're a Lehigh fan or a Colgate fan, these games are always exciting and always have some great football to be seen. I don't think this year is any different. So strap on your seatbelts fans, it should be a hell of a ride.

The Colgate defense will need to continue its dominance in order for a win. Rath is a good runner and Threatt provides another dimension that perhaps Borda did not; however, without Borda we might be able to get away with more honest coverage by our very able defensive backs. We've seen a great back in Silva and Steve Baylark from UMass, not to mention an up and comer from Cornell, Luke Siwala, so I'm not concerned about that fact as much as the fact that we haven't seen a team this balanced with running and passing.

The Colgate offense will need to play its type of game: ball control, few penalties, Jordan Scott for a lot of yards and big time plays from receivers. We will also need to come away with more than field goals when we get down in the red zone. I think we need to score 24 to win this one in regulation.

Ultimately, of course, I think the home field, the Parent's Weekend crowd, the momentum we've built and the gravity of this game will all prove to produce the best performance we've seen all year from our Raiders.

As always, Let's Go 'Gate!

1 Comments:

  • Great preview of the game.

    Thanks for all your work in providing us with the inside scoop on the "Threat" etc. Lehigh looks good and I watched the Lehigh-Delaware game. Rath is very fast and elusive. Let's hope that Colgate's defense can reign him in.

    The new Lehigh quarterback may present a problem difficult to handle, but Colgate's defense has proven they are up to the task in the past.

    By Anonymous Lennie, at 5:19 PM  

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