|« No action taken on FBS study at ASU||Flyers look to replace former star QB Valentino »|
Lengel looking forward at EKU, not back
Matt Lengel doesn’t spend much time looking back. And with good reason. After all, his first season at EKU was not all that memorable.
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound tight end had just four catches and didn’t play a significant role for an offense that had two or fewer touchdowns in six of 11 games and averaged just 321 yards of total offense a game, which ranked 86th out of 117 Football Championship Subdivision Teams.
That was the past. Lengel’s focus is on the future.
“I’m not disappointed. You can’t be disappointed,” Lengel said. “I was in there a lot and I contributed my part. I was happy just being out there. This year, it’s really exciting. In practice, (the tight ends) are catching two or three times the amount of passes we were catching last year.”
There is reason for optimism for the EKU tight ends.
The Colonels begin this season with a new offensive coordinator — Dane Damron — and a slightly altered offensive gameplan which should put more of a focus on the team’s tight ends. Lengel (a sophomore), along with junior Jonathan Sharp, sophomore Nathan Watts and junior Paul Henry will be all be expected to play bigger roles this season.
“We feel like that’s definitely a strength of our football team — and that’s why we are going to highlight them,” Damron said of EKU‘s tight ends. “We’ve got kids there who can play. If we didn’t have any tight ends, we wouldn’t play any tight ends. We are going to try to showcase what we’ve got.”
Tight ends have been major contributors for the Colonels in the past but not in recent years. After the success the team enjoyed with Patrick Bugg (First-Team All-OVC in 2004) and Stephen Sizemore (First-Team All-OVC in 2007), EKU tight ends had one catch in 2009 and just five total catches last season.
Lengel had four catches for 42 yards with a season-high 14-yard reception. Sharp had one catch for just five yards.
The Colonels finished last season with four receivers with double-figure catches, and the top three — Orlandus Harris (56), Tyrone Goard (20) and Justin Williams (15) — accounted for 91 of the team’s 135 catches.
“People kind of knew that when we lined up, it was either going to Orlandus or Tyrone,” Lengel said. “Now, we’ve got guys coming out of the backfield. We’ve got several tight ends. We’ve got great receivers. There will be a total different dynamic to our offense.”
Lengel, a native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., signed with Northeastern and after being red-shirted in 2009 transferred following the school’s decision to drop the football program. The tight end enrolled in EKU immediately and was able to go through spring practice with the Colonels in 2010.
In that year’s spring game, Lengel caught three passes while catching the eye of many EKU fans.
“I think people in the stands look out on the field and see this 6-foot-7 kid and think, ‘Why does this kid have just four catches?’” Damron said “But he was just a freshman. Should he have caught more balls? Well, maybe. But, some other people should have caught more balls, too. The greatest thing about Matt Lengel is that he’s just going to be a sophomore and he’s going to get a whole lot better.”
There’s little doubt Lengel has the physical talents to develop into a solid pass-catching tight end. He is also quickly becoming a much better blocker, which will be a benefit to a rushing attack that ranked seventh in the OVC last year.
And in the end, Lengel and the rest of the tight ends may be one of the big keys to the Colonels making a run at another conference title.
“People are going to know he is out there,” Damron said of Lengel.
By Nathan Hutchinson, Richmond Register