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Lafayette Excited About Prospects for Return to Top
Considering how banged up the Lafayette College Leopards are at the moment, being idle until Sept. 12 might be the best thing that could happen to them.
Actually, the schedule sets up nicely for them in their quest to get back to the top of the Patriot League, which they were in command of last season until a brutal final month dropped the Leopards out of contention.
Opening at Georgetown, traditionally the weakest football link in an otherwise extremely balanced conference, helps ease Lafayette in. Difficult non-league home games with Liberty and Penn follow, but the bottom line is that the Leopards don’t have to go on the road for a league game again until Nov. 14, when they visit Holy Cross.
At the team’s media day on Wednesday, head coach Frank Tavani issued the standard, mandatory precaution about how Georgetown will be a huge challenge and all that kind of stuff made for opposing coaches to read without getting ruffled.
The reality is that he has every reason to be excited about his team’s chances to contend, given the strength of both his lines, quality depth at running back and the return of starting quarterback Rob Curley, who suffered a concussion against defending champions Colgate last season and was never the same the rest of the way.
“I thought I could come back the next week and I just wasn’t able to think through some situations on the field,” Curley said.
Not anymore. Now Curley is thinking about more than just situations. He’s thinking about how well his squad is set up to come through them the right way.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m excited about the stable of tailbacks we have back there and some young receivers. We have a … veteran O-line. I think we can definitely do some damage in the league.”
Senior Maurice White is one of those tailbacks. He’s hungrier than ever, too, thanks to a turf toe injury that kept him out for most of last season and an ankle injury that sidelined him for most of 2007.
Last year, his first consultation with the doctor who examined his toe produced some potentially devastating news.
“They pretty much told me (in October) that that type of injury takes a year to 500 days to heal,” White said. “So I’ve been pretty much ahead of schedule, really. The way they tape me up now before practice, I don’t really feel as much pain as I would if I hadn’t taped it.
“I’ve been through a lot and I just have to stay positive and I had a great attitude for rehab. The strength and conditioning coach (Brad Potts) had a plan for me to come back in May. So I’m feeling pretty good, getting back in shape, losing a little bit of weight. I’m ready to get back out there and play.”
How many snaps he’ll get with the development of DeAndre Morrow, Tyrell Coon and Jerome Rudolph as proven quality backs is unknown, not that he cares.
“That’s a good thing,” White insisted. “That’s not a bad problem. I told all the running backs that, right now, it’s not about who’s playing, it’s about who’s winning. When it’s our time to go in the game and our chance to get in there comes, we just have to make the most of our opportunities and make this team win, because it’s not about who gets the most playing time or who gets the most carries. It’s about winning.
“I didn’t come back to take a million snaps, I came back because I love the game and I love to win.”
Don’t be alarmed, at least not yet.
That’s the message Lafayette College football coach Frank Tavani was sending to the public at Lafayette Football Media Day today on College Hill.
The team just conducted its first full-fledged scrimmage of summer camp last night with many players sitting out with various bumps and bruises.
But considering the Leopards, who have been picked in the Patriot League preseason poll to finish in a third-place tie with Lehigh, don’t open their season until Sept. 12 (at Georgetown, 6 p.m), there’s plenty of time to get better.
Plus, it’s “no different than any other camp across the country,” Tavani said. “… I think if we had to play this coming weekend, the majority of those guys would certainly be ready to go. Fortunately we have two weeks. The guys seem to recover, their legs bounce back, they bounce back mentally, there’s one practice a day (now) and certainly not with the intensity of the two-a-days.”
The head coach also has many new assistants this season, due to various coaches being able to move up to better positions at other schools.
But defensive coordinator John Loose, who has had his unit at or near the top of the FCS rankings for much of the last two seasons, remains.
Tavani also talked about the team’s demanding schedule and his satisfaction with not being picked to win the league.
“I think if you look around the Patriot League the last seven years,” he said, “the team picked first has not ended up winning the championship.”
Lafayette College football team excited about its prospects for return to top of Patriot League
by Nick Fierro, The Easton Express-Times
Cautious Lafayette Leopards want to be ready to pounce in football opener
by Nick Fierro, The Easton Express-Times