Thursday, August 4, 2016

Lafayette's first summer-camp practice: 10:15 a.m. Saturday

The offensive line will get plenty of work on the blocking sled.
Well, here we are, ready to go. The Lafayette football players arrive on Friday – the freshmen in the morning, upperclassmen in the afternoon – and their first get-together is a full-team dinner tonight. A full-team meeting also will be held tonight.

The first practice – helmets only – is set for 4:15 p.m. Saturday in Fisher. After a day off on Sunday, it’s helmets again at 4:15 Monday, uppers (shoulder pads) on Tuesday and Wednesday and the first full-pads practice at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, the 11th of August.

A Saturday morning practice (10:15 a.m. Aug. 13) is expected to include a scrimmage with officials … the college’s Media Day, which will feature another scrimmage, is Thursday, Aug. 18, 10:15 a.m. so that seniors can meet with the media at lunch following the practice.

Orientati0n for the freshmen begins on Friday, Aug. 26, so a 7:05 a.m. practice is on the schedule.  The upperclassmen also will practice at 8 p.m. that day.  Classes begin Aug. 29, but by that time the Leopards will be well into preparations for the season opener against Central Connecticut State on Friday, Sept. 2 in New Britain, Conn.

I haven’t had a chance to really digest the media guide which was passed out at the Patriot League’s Media Day earlier this week. But I can tell you one thing: five freshman are listed on the two-deep chart in the book.

None of the five is on the first unit, but the second team offensive line includes rookies Jake Marotti (6-6, 295) and Dylan Murphy (6-5, 295). Penciled in on the defense are safety Tre Jordan (6-0, 195), a former Notre Dame-Green Pond High School quarterback, and strong safety Dmitry Smith (6-0, 190). Stewart Hackleman (6-3, 240) is listed as a backup long snapper.

That’s not to say that the incoming class doesn’t have other players who will certainly see playing time, but the o-line, which took a big hit and lost three members over the summer, and the defensive secondary, which also lost a key piece (Kaizer Butler) for 2016 for medical reasons, and two other players who who were among the top four tacklers on the team a year ago, may need attention sooner rather than later, even though that is not Coach Frank Tavani's favorite game plan.

Last year, freshmen who started games for the Leopards included WR Joey Chenoweth,  TE Angus Evans, and tackle Tanner Kern on offense, and Jerry Powe, Kaizer Butler and Clay Rush in the defensive secondary. 

The Leopards received the ultimate snub from their Patriot League buddies when they were shut out when the league announced its preseason all-league team. 

Brandon Bryant takes on a tackling ring during a spring drill.
I can’t believe the league coaches and sports information directors didn’t take notice of linebacker Brandon Bryant, who was a second team pick in 2015 and was among the country’s top five tacklers with 114. The last Leopard to have more tackles in one season was Maurice Bennett, who had 133 in 2005 – a championship season. Bryant is a beast, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t be even better this year than last.

I was asked this week about the television package for 2016, and , Gary Laubach who’s back for his 20th season as the play-by-play guy for the RCN crew that covers the games for the Lafayette Sports Network, told me that eight of the games will be televised by the LSN.  Unfortunately, for some odd reason, Central Connecticut State is not permitting a telecast of the opener. Other games not on the schedule are Army West Point, which has its own TV deal, and Fordham, which is being carried by Campus Insiders as part of the Patriot League Network package. Gary and Mike Joseph will be teaming up for another banner year in the booth, and John Leone is again expected to be on the sidelines.

OK, enough of the set-up stuff. Let’s get on with it.


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