Both the Villanova Wildcats and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks head into the weekend at 0-1 to start the season. The difference is that only the Wildcats were expected to be in that position. While Villanova is coming off a decent performance against FBS Pittsburgh, Lehigh dropped its home opener to Monmouth in disappointing fashion. Both teams will be looking to bounce back in a big way this weekend on the Main Line. Here's three things that Nova fans should know about the competition.
Which Hawks Offense Will Show Up?
In the pre-season, Lehigh's offense was not only touted as high powered, but was generally considered the biggest strength of the team. Last week they seemed to be sleep walking early on against the Monmouth. In the first half, the offense was held to just 49 yards and no points. Despite a decent showing by their defense, the Hawks went into halftime down 7-0.
However, in the second half, senior QB Nick Shafnisky lead the team to 190 yards and 3 TD's. It turned out to be too little too late, but they could easily ride that momentum into week 2. Lehigh is a pass first team with lots of options at receiver and some talented tight ends, so Nova's secondary will need to be on top of their game Saturday. They're no Pitt, but if the Mountain Hawks offense is clicking, Villanova's defense will have another tough test on their hands.
Colton Caslow Should Make His Season Debut
Senior linebacker and team captain Colton Caslow missed last week's game and much of the pre-season with a broken hand suffered at the start of camp this summer. Caslow was Lehigh's leading tackler last season with 95, even though he missed two games. He's expected to return to the field for the first time this year on Saturday.
As the lynch pin of the defense his return not only strengthens the linebacking core, but also gives them added motivation heading into their first road game. Basically, he's their version of Don Cherry from last year's Nova squad. The Wildcats will try to run all over Lehigh, but Caslow could prove to be a big old monkey wrench in that plan.
Lehigh's Youth Movement
Seven Mountain Hawks made their first career starts in last week's season opener, including two members of the offensive line. Clearly there were some nerves that needed to be worked out. Over 60% of Lehigh's roster are underclassmen, and despite having senior leaders in key skill positions, they'll be relying heavily on some of their younger players.
All told, 9 freshmen and sophomores are slated to start for the Hawks, including lead running back Dominick Bragalone. Bragalone was held to just 37 yards rushing and a touchdown on Saturday. Look for these youngsters to get past the first game jitters and be more effective in Week 2.