Still in search of its first win of 2013, the football team (0-3, 0-1 Ivy) will take on No. 14 Lehigh (4-1) at home on Saturday for the team's final nonconference matchup of the season. Still waiting for a quarterback to grab the reigns of the offense, Light Blue head coach Pete Mangurian said sophomore Trevor McDonagh would probably get the first reps under center on Saturday. This comes despite first-year Kelly Hilinski being slated as the No. 1 QB on this week's depth chart.
“I'm not big on listing them side by side—I think that's kind of a cop-out,” Mangurian said in a phone interview with Spectator on Thursday. “We've had tremendous competition all week in practice, and that's been good. But I think Trevor's earned the right to be the first guy to walk out on the field, the guy to have the first chance to run the football team. And we'll go from there.”
Mangurian added that the quarterback situation is “fluid,” saying that even if Hilinski does come in at quarterback, McDonagh could be reinserted into the game.
Another challenge for the offense has been the absence of offensive line coach Ed Argast, who is dealing with a personal matter. Mangurian—who was an offensive line coach for much of his coaching career—has been much more involved in working with that unit this week as a result.
“We've pushed them awfully hard, and they've responded,” Mangurian said. “The bottom line is that we're going to put the five best players out there.”
The Lions have played two games this season in which they've given up 50-plus points, and they'll have to contain another powerful offense this weekend. The Mountain Hawks rank second in the Patriot League in scoring, averaging 35.2 points per game.
“They don't get sacked. Last year, we played them, and we were the first team to get them on the ground, and it was week four,” Mangurian said. “They get rid of the football. They don't have a bunch of negative plays.”
Lehigh quarterback Brandon Bialkowski is leading the Patriot League in passing with 1,854 yards, or 370.8 yards per game. Wide receiver Lee Kurfis leads his conference in receiving yards with 804—nearly 225 yards more than the No. 2 receiver. And running back Keith Sherman is third in the league in rushing with 345 yards, rounding out the Mountain Hawks' balanced attack.
Mangurian said he hasn't been disappointed in how his defense has played, but the unit has been out on the field too long. Last week, Princeton got off 92 offensive plays, whereas the Lions ran only 49. Still, the head coach said that players are stepping up—including senior linebacker and co-captain Zach Olinger.
“Olinger was very clear in a defensive meeting the other day that, look, it's not up for the offense to get us off the field, it's up to us to get us off the field,” Mangurian said. “That being said, we have to help them. I felt we missed assignments and didn't tackle very well, and that's a problem.”
As for Lehigh's defense, Mangurian said that much of the defensive personnel resembles the squad the Light Blue faced last year.
“A lot of the same guys are there,” Mangurian said. “Some of them are playing different positions. They're simple. They're aggressive. They've got a tremendous identity, and they've had it for years, and years, and years, and you can see it in the way that they play.”
It's that winning character that can make the Mountain Hawks so difficult to play. Since the start of the 2010 season, they've gone 48-7.
According to Mangurian, what the Lions have to do in order to compete is limit “unforced errors.” Players can't jump offsides, miss tackles, or run routes incorrectly. Those are the fundamental aspects of the game that coaches can't make adjustments for.
“We have to play better. It's that simple,” Mangurian said. “If I make it any more complicated than that, it's just turning it into something other than what it is. We have to play better.”
Kickoff is slated for noon on Saturday at the Robert K. Kraft Field. The game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.
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