#42 Lehigh 2018 FCS Football Preview

Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Overall Rank: #42
#2 Patriot
 Lehigh Logo
Lehigh finished with a losing record last season, but did manage to go 5-1 in Patriot League play and reach the playoffs for the second straight season. The Mountain Hawks were not able to beat anybody else on their schedule, but this team looked good in conference play and the story may be similar in 2018.
2017 Record: 5-7, 5-1
2017 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Andy Coen (82-56 at Lehigh, 82-56 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Brisson
Defensive Coordinator: Craig Sutyak
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dominick Bragalone, RB, 1,388 yards
Passing: Brad Mayes, QB, 3.886 yards
Receiving: Jorje Portorreal, WR, 729 yards
Tackles: Keith Woetzel, LB, 89
Sacks: Julian Lynn, DL, 2.0
Interceptions: Mark Walker, LB, 1; Jon Seighman, LB, 1
Other Key Returnees: DB Riley O’Neil, DB Kareem Montgomery, K/P Ed Mish
Key Losses: RB Micco Brisker, WR Troy Pelletier, WR Gatlin Casey, OL Zach Duffy, OL Tom O’Hara, OL Brandon Short, DL Tyler Cavenas, DB Quentin Jones
With Dominick Bragalone and Brad Mayes leading the way, Lehigh should once again have a very potent and explosive offense. Bragalone rushed for 1,388 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior and has now rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons with the Mountain Hawks. His senior season should be his best yet. Mayes stepped into a full time starting role under center last season where he threw for 3,886 yards and 31 touchdowns. The potential problem in the passing game will be replacing Troy Pelletier and Gatlin Casey. Those two combined to catch 165 passes for 2,146 yards and 22 touchdowns. That is a lot of production. Sophomore Jorge Portorreal had a superb freshman campaign, catching 56 passes for 729 yards. He will be the new top receiver, but others must step up.
The defense struggled last season, ranking last in the Patriot League in most major categories. The problem stemmed from a lack of a pass rush. They averaged less than one sack per game and something needs to change if the unit is going to be much better in 2018. Julian Lynn, who tallied 2.0 of the team’s 10.0 sacks, figures to lead the way. Linebacker Keith Woetzel easily led the team in tackles with 89. Mark Walker is also an experienced linebacker who should be in for a big senior season. The secondary failed to make many big plays, intercepting just four passes. Riley O’Neil and Kareem Montgomery are good players, but they will need help from the pass rush in order to create turnovers.
The Bottom Line:
It seems unlikely that Lehigh will again give up 41 points per game. And even if they do, the offense is good enough to make up for it against any team in the Patriot League. The non-conference schedule is tough, but there are winnable games against Saint Francis, Penn and Princeton. There were winnable games last year too though and Lehigh found a way to lose them all. More importantly for their playoff hopes though is the fact that Lehigh gets to play Fordham, the team that beat them last year, and Colgate, another favorite in the conference, at home.
Projected Postseason: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 148.8 (61st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 325.9 (7, 1)
Total Offense: 474.8 (6, 1)
Scoring Offense: 35.8 (8, 1)
Rushing Defense: 242.3 (117, 7)
Pass Defense: 235.3 (89, 6)
Total Defense: 177.7 (119, 7)
Scoring Defense: 41.0 (120, 7)
Turnover Margin: -0.92 (109, 7)
Sacks: 0.83 (118, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.58 (91, 5)
HERO Sports 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#230 RaShawn Allen