It may be hard to believe, but there are only 32 days left before the Lehigh Mountain Hawks take the field in their home opener versus St. Francis (PA).
And when they do, for the first time since 2005, the team will be coached by someone other than Andy Coen, who retired last season.
Head coach Tom Gilmore took the reins from Coen this offseason and has been hard at work bringing his energy and attitude to the football program. I recently caught up with him before the start of preseason practice and asked him a few questions to get Lehigh Nation excited about the 2019 football season.
LFN: How has recruiting gone this summer? Informally I’ve seen a whole lot of Lehigh activity on the Twitter recruiting trail this summer that I wasn’t used to seeing before.
Tom Gilmore: There is an energy level on this staff that is evident in everything we do, and this is clearly seen in our recruiting efforts. We have really stepped up our efforts in every part of the process and the feedback has been amazing. We have a great university and football tradition behind us; it is just a matter of working hard and being enthusiastic throughout the process and this is natural for this staff.
LFN: What is your impression of the players in regards to their summer workouts? Were a lot of student-athletes there for the summer?
TG: From what I’m told, this is the largest number of players we have ever had on campus in the summer. They have made a huge commitment to the program and the summer workouts have been very productive. I believe the numbers will reveal that a lot of work was out into preparing for this season and it will enhance our chances to succeed.
LFN: For most Lehigh fans, a Tom Gilmore defense is a brand new concept. At a high level, what philosophy does a Tom Gilmore coached team have on defense and what are your expectations for the defense?
TG: We will be a physical and aggressive defense, with all eleven players swarming to the football on every play. Our players will know how to defend and attack the opponent, but our trademark will be relentless effort on every play. We will always be fundamentally sound but we also like to keep the opponent guessing by changing things up.
LFN: On offense, is there an overarching philosophy? What are your expectations there?
TG: We will be multiple and balanced. We will use our strengths in personnel to find mismatches against the defense. We want to challenge our opponent schematically but we will use fundamentals and physical play to control the game.
LFN: Finally, can we expect formation/scheme changes on offense and/or defense?
TG: We are always evolving but I believe this year will see some of most significant changes at Lehigh in all three phases of the game in some time. It is important to be innovative, but not at the expense of fundamentals. We improved in spring ball in that regard, but we should see even more improvement in the preseason. We will only employ what our players can execute. There is a good base there, and I’m excited to see how far we can push our limits this fall.