Saturday, April 30, 2016

Leopards will face a talented bunch of QBs in 2016

Offensive coordinator Mickey Fein (left) keeps a close eye on Drew Reed (7) and Blake Searfoss.
When “Franks Tanks”, one of the regular posters on the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum whose name sounds like he should be a supporter of football coach Frank Tavani , predicted a 3-8 season, only two league wins and “our 7th losing season in a row” recently, he elicited the following reply from “Andy”, who seems to be more of a glass-half-full guy most of the time.

“I think we can do better, I hope the kids do,” he wrote.  “Over .500 in the league at a minimum.  Considering the budget, talent, a (senior) QB at the helm, if the result is 3-8, well …”

That comment about the senior quarterback got me thinking. Sure, Lafayette supporters everywhere are hopeful that Drew Reed can return to his form of 2013, that magical freshman season that ended with the promise of a Patriot League championship ring.

And, if it’s not Reed in command, the hope is that another rising senior, Blake Searfoss, who has had some success as a backup and a starter, can make his final year a big one.

My point, though, is that even if Reed or Searfoss has a banner year, it’s going to take improvement in a number of other areas as well if the Leopards are to turn things around.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The coordinators like the Leopards' spring progress

Art Link doesn’t need a lot to motivate him.

“We were eighth in the country two years ago on third down [defense] and last last year,” Lafayette’s defensive coordinator said Saturday following the 13th of 15 spring football practices in Fisher Stadium.

“When you get to third down and can’t find the right identity, that’s tough. All of a sudden, you have to get back and re-establish an identity to get excited about getting off the field. That’s huge. I think we’ve done some of that and we’re still working on it.”

For the record, opposing teams converted 90 of 159 third-down plays (57 percent) to first downs – and sometimes touchdowns – in 2016, and that weakness contributed a lot to Lafayette’s 1-10 final record. The previous year, in which the Leopards were 5-6, opponents converted 48 of 162 third-down attempts (30 percent).

Friday, April 15, 2016

A day at Fisher: position change, a chat with Coach T

Josh Davis is hands-on at his new position: wide receiver.

It was Practice No. 9, and it was a day of surprise at Fisher Stadium.

Lafayette football coach Frank Tavani couldn't keep the secret on Thursday. We talked before practice, and in the course of the conversation, he casually dropped the line: "You'll notice today that Josh Davis will be playing some wide receiver."

That was a shock to me for a minute because Coach T had talked before the start of spring camp how this was going to be an important year for the rising junior quarterback from California. While admitting Davis may have the strongest arm of all the QBs in camp and may be the best athlete, Coach T said the youngster just was not getting the grasp of things. This was going to be the year for him to show himself capable of handling the duty if his turn came around.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring in the Patriot League: Holy Cross

I'm having some good vibes about the 2016 Lafayette football team, knowing that so many variables will contribute to how things finally play out. 

I'll be going to Fisher Stadium today to have my first look at the Leopards since their March 29 spring-camp opening day.  I'm interested in talking to Coach Tavani and some players to see how they feel about the new spring format, which calls for no full-pads workouts.

In the meantime, I thought  I'd begin to look around the league and see what's happening in other camps. Lafayette, after losing 10 games a year ago, has a lot of ground to make up.

You can bet that the competition has not been standing still and will also be looking to get better in 2016, which will make the Leopards' task even more difficult.

It looks like the first Patriot League team to wind up spring camp might be the Holy Cross Crusaders. Their spring game is scheduled for Saturday, not on Fitton Field but on the Holy Cross Field turf.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Leopards put on the shells in fourth spring practice Tuesday

Okay, spring football practices for the Lafayette football team will ramp up a notch on Tuesday afternoon when, after three days in jerseys and shorts, the Leopards add their shells to the "uniform."

For kicks, I thought I'd include the photo Coach Tavani took of me wearing a shell over my sweatshirt and sleeveless vest. All that extra bulk failed to make me look like the latest rendition of Luke Chiarolanzio, right?

We thought maybe The Morning Call would be amused enough by it to run the photo with my spring football preview. Well, maybe Frank thought that, but I was almost certain it wouldn't make the paper.

In hindsight, I should have taken a photo of FRANK wearing the shell. Now, that's something they might have gone for in the office.

I haven't been in practice since opening day, so I called Coach Tavani today (Monday) for an update.