Lehigh football coach Andy Coen described last year’s loss against Princeton University as a disaster, but after last weekend’s win against UPenn, he feels the team is prepared for Saturday’s game against Princeton.
“We made a bunch of mistakes our first two games, and I think the guys really zoned in better at practice going into the game last weekend against Penn, and I think that made a big difference,” Coen said about the team’s first win of the season.
Coen attributes most of the team’s success on the field during a game to how it practices the week prior.
“As you go through the week before a game, you have three main days of practice: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,” Coen said. “From a coach’s perspective, you want to see each practice getting better and better which we saw last week and hope to see again this week.”
Princeton’s first game of the season was a tight one against Lafayette last weekend, beating the Leopards 35-31. The Tigers defeated the Mountain Hawks last fall by a score of 52-26. In defeat, Lehigh junior wide receiver Troy Pelletier tallied a school single-game record 15 receptions to go along with 158 receiving yards.
Senior quarterback Nick Shafnisky, who had a career-high six touchdowns against Penn last weekend, said it’s going to be difficult to get a handle of what to expect from its opponent. Princeton has only played one game, but he said the team tends to run a “pretty unique” offense each game that the defense is planning to prepare for this week.
“The team is known to be very versatile having two quarterbacks in the game, and that was hard for us to stop last season, seeing that they’d have one at wide receiver and have a lot of trick plays that we weren’t expecting going into the game,” sophomore cornerback Donavon Harris said.
Senior linebacker Colton Caslow returned from a broken hand for the game against Villanova, and the team has benefited from his presence on the field. He said there isn’t anything drastic the team has to do to prepare this weekend.
“We just have to come out and execute what we plan to do this week in practice and prepare for their weird offense by expecting them to do things like putting two quarterbacks in the game,” he said.
Shafnisky said the team hopes to practice like it plays. He said focusing on each practice like it’s a game and keeping the intensity high will be key to succeeding Saturday.
Both Coen and Shafnisky expect this weekend’s game to be nothing like the team’s last game against Princeton, where the Hawks threw the game away in the second half. Lehigh held possession for more than 11 minutes in the second quarter, but when Princeton scored right before the half, the team lost momentum.
“It was a disaster last year,” Coen said. “The game started and we were pretty neck and neck, and then we turned the ball over and they scored right at the end of the half, which is where things fell apart for us. In the second half, we had six possessions and turned the ball over on five of them, which you can’t beat anybody when you play like that.”
Shafnisky said the team is excited to have Princeton come to Goodman Stadium, as he thinks the team is ready to prepare this week and win Saturday.
“If we limit turnovers this week, score touchdowns in the red zone and don’t settle for field goals, I think with how our defense has been playing we should be able to come out with a win, no question,” Shafnisky said.
After Saturday’s matchup, the Hawks will begin preparation for their third straight Ivy League opponent as they’ll take on Yale next Saturday. The game will be Lehigh’s final non-conference tuneup before Patriot League play begins.