Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sean O'Malley: A late addition, but a fast learner

Freshman Sean O'Malley will be Lafayette's starter on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Lafayette College.
Is Connor Wedington the new Christian McCaffrey at Stanford? The freshman receiver is wearing McCaffrey’s #5, and he caught six passes for 82 yards in a 62-7 win over Rice in the first game of his college football career last week.

Why should we care, you wonder. Or, why should we care about Hunter Bryant, a tight end at the University of Washington, or David Cormier, a running back at Air Force, or Parker Cardwell, a wide receiver at the University of California.

I mention them only because, in May of 2016, they had four of the top five scores in an Elite 11 Seattle camp featuring mostly high school juniors. The camp had more than 40 quarterbacks among the group and one of them was a kid named Sean O’Malley of Beverly Hills, Calif. 

It was a truly elite group, and O'Malley fit right in.

Maybe O’Malley didn’t have the reputation of those other four guys at the time, but he was ranked second best among the quarterbacks. That should have been enough to get him some strong looks from premier football schools, but when National Signing Day 2017 came and went, he wasn’t among the signed players. 

He was not forgotten, however, and about six weeks after NSD, he was announced as committing to Lafayette College.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Leopards-Monmouth: A home game for Garrett? Not!

George Webber, the lead character in Thomas Wolfe’s classic, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” didn’t like what he saw when he returned to his home town.

John Garrett, Lafayette’s first-year head football coach, isn’t expecting to have the same kind of feelings on Saturday when he and his Leopards open the season against Monmouth University in the Haswks’ brand new $16-million stadium.

Speaking about it on Tuessday at the weekly football media luncheon, here’s what Garrett had to say.

“I’m really just excited, getting to play back in my home town. My parents live 15 minutes from Monmouth University in Monmouth Beach. It’s going to be fun; it’s going to bring back great memories. We moved to New Jersey in 1970 when I was 5 years old and my dad was coaching for the Giants.

"They had training camp at then Monmouth College, so I would go see practices at Monmouth College when I was 5, 6, 7 years old. To have your first game there is pretty ironic and pretty cool stuff, so I’m excited about that personally, but also excited for our team. They’ve really work hard and improved immensely. They’re excited for what they’re about to do and I’m happy for them that they get this chance."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Leopards football preview: TV, Internet and roster news

Coach John Garrett addresses the Leopards at the end of the final training-camp practice.

This is the day! At noon, we’ll get together with Coach John Garrett and a couple of is players to talk about the season opener at Monmouth.

My preseason stories appeared in today’s Morning Call, but when I checked The Call’s website, I didn’t see the schedule and the possible starting lineups that ran in agate in the paper.

The schedule includes the television and computer online coverage of the Leopards’ games. Pretty impressive stuff by Scott Morse and the crew at Lafayette, with the LAFAYETTE Sports Network Carrying most of the load – on RCN cable Channel 4 and on WBPH Channel 60.

But the Monmouth game will be on ESPN3 only. And LSN will not be covering the Harvard or Georgetown games, although I don’t understand for the life of me would not want as much coverages As possible. Harvard’s game will be on North East Sports Network and the Ivy League Network; and Georgetown will be available only online through the Patriot League Network. The PLN online will carry all except the Monmouth game, so there is plenty of chance to see the Leopards without leaving home.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lafayette football: The QB search continues

John Garrett knew it was coming. The new Lafayette College was facing the media at the annual Media Day luncheon last week, and it was inevitable that he would have to face questions about his quarterback battle at some point.

It came at the very beginning of the question-and-answer period, and I’m happy to say I was not the first to bring it up. I might be accused of being a broken record on the subject, so I waited patiently and let Express-Times writer Brad Wilson throw it out.

Garrett delivered some of the familiar phrases like “great group of guys”, “we don’t make the depth chart,” “a really competitive situation”, “when it is clearly determined by the players by their performances on the field”, “a meritorious situation.”

He said the process of evaluating all these quarterbacks hadn’t slowed the progress of installing the offense the Leopards will use when they open the season at Monmouth on Sept. 2. So, finally I asked how long he could continue to evaluate before deciding which QB would prepare for the opener as the designated No. 1.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Leopards' Garrett tips his hand on a lineup -- but no guarantees

Well, on the opening day of summer training camp, Lafayette football Coach John Garrett issued his first official two-deep chart. It’s been a long time in the making, and it was still being tweaked as of Wednesday. I’m almost afraid to say much about it because it could be different again before the week is out.

It surely is interesting, though.

Where do we start? Why, at QUARTERBACK, of course, because that is still be biggest plum on the tree. It should come as no surprise that senior Josh Davis is listed at No. 1 because he had the best spring of the four guys in the running at the time. Sophomore Austin McCrum, who has had some individual training with Tony Racioppi last month, and who was probably the heir apparent to the job before Frank Tavani and his staff departed early in the year, is listed at No. 2. Seven QBs were throwing on Thursday, with Mike Lewis standing around with his arm in a sling.  Davis may be hard-pressed to hang on to that job, but watching things develop will be intriguing. We still don’t have a complete picture of what the John Garrett offense is going to look like.

But I can give you a hint. I looked at the 2016 statistics for the Richmond Spyders, who had Garrett as their OC. I put them up against the same numbers for the anemic Lafayette offense of last season.
                                                RU                  LC
Rushing attempts                502                 334
Yards per rush                      3.9                   2.3
TDs rushing                          18                    9
First downs rushing            95                    44
Passing attempts                  436                 430
TDs passing                           27                    17
Yards per pass                       8.7                   6.8
3rd-down conversions         83/197           53/160
Sacks allowed                       31                    33
TDs scored                            47                    27
Red-zone TDs                       31-58              20-36
Points scored                        401                  216
% running plays                   53.6                 43.7   

RUNNING BACK – Easily the most experienced of the lot is DeSean Brown, and he is listed on the first team. But past experience – unless it’s off the charts – probably doesn’t count a lot with Garrett and his staff, who have this open-door policy all along the line. Sophomore Mike Dunn showed good drive in the spring, and oft-injured senior Rajhan Meriwether looked the fastest of the crop and his due for a full year. They are the No. 2 spot at the position. Tyler West transferred out and took himself out of the mix. C.J. Amill is somewhere out there, and the Leopards have depth at the position. It’s a matter of who fits into the Garrett scheme. Get to the hole quickly and with authority. Meriwether is wearing Ross Scheuerman’s old number. If only …

FULLBACK – This is really a hybrid spot held by a guy who can double as a fullback or, in the right formation, a second – or even third – tight end. Junior Will Eisler has played in only one game in his first two years but must ha e made a good impression in the spring because he’s at No. l, with sophomore Ryan Monteyne behind him. Monteyne also saw no game action as a freshman.