Lehigh football gets accustomed to new coaching during spring training

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Incoming Lehigh football head coach Tom Gilmore speaks to reporters during a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, on Goodman Campus. The football team started their spring training on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

The Lehigh football team started its spring training on March 20 in anticipation for the fall 2019 season.

The team’s provisional spring practice schedule has the team practicing three times a week over the first two weeks and will continue with four practices a week over the next two weeks.

Spring training also serves as a continuing assimilation period for new head coach, Tom Gilmore.

“The first year is always an adjustment for the coaches and players because some of the schemes and methods are different at every school,” Gilmore said. “It’s a matter of getting accustomed to the new system and so far, it has been going pretty well.”

With a new head coach and some other new faces on the coaching staff, Gilmore said there comes a new “scheme” with it.

Junior defensive back Riley O’Neil said this training period will serve as a key time for the team to focus on the more technical aspects of the game while adjusting to the new coaching staff.

“We have been really focusing on things like running to the ball and being more disciplined,” O’Neil said. “It’s important to focus on our effort especially as a defense because we are learning a new system.”

Further adjustments for the upcoming season include filling the gaps made by some of this year’s graduating seniors. Notable departures include key players like Dominick Bragalone, the program’s all-time leading rusher, and two-year starting quarterback Brad Mayes.

Junior wide receiver Devon Bibbens said the team has confidence in some of the newer faces on the field.

“On offense, we’ll get to see the young quarterbacks get to showcase their talent and what they bring to the table with some new guys and returning starters that’ll have the opportunity to showcase their improvements over the offseason,” Bibbens said.

While he said it is too early to tell where the teams’ strengths are, Gilmore also expressed some confidence on the offensive side of the field.

“We have done a great job so far with the (offensive line) opening holes with our running back making the right reads and hitting the seams,” Gilmore said. “So, that’s what’s really jumped out at me so far.”

With plenty of football to be played until the start of the season on Aug. 31, Gilmore said there are more strengths to be found and weaknesses to be improved upon. Bibbens and O’Neil agreed that it’s a matter of getting better as a team, step by step.

Bibbens said the team is focused on building a routine and gaining momentum for the fall season.

“Our main focus this spring is competing in all facets and taking care of things on and off the field,” Bibbens said.  “Whether it be in the weight room, during practice, in study hall throughout the week, or just what you’re eating and putting in your body we’re trying to focus on consistently doing the right things, so it becomes a habit.”

O’Neil said the team has to keep up by taking it one day at a time and attack everything on its schedule for that day.

The team’s training and practices will culminate to the annual Brown and White Spring Game at Goodman Stadium on Saturday, April 13.

O’Neil said the spring game is always a fun occasion that gets the team excited.

“It’s always a good time when you get the opportunity to play against your teammates,” he said. “There will be a lot of big plays on both sides of the field that should make for a pretty good game.”

Gilmore added that the game, and the spring in general, is a great time for team bonding.

“We are looking to improve as much as possible in the spring,” Gilmore said. “Not only from a fundamental standpoint but to also boost team chemistry amongst the players and with the coaches.”

Bibbens agreed.

“Overall, we’ll be able to show a high level of competition and try to couple that with execution to put our best foot forward heading into the fall,” Bibbens said.

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