Quarterback choice to come at game time
Gilmore to decide between Monaco, Shoup for contest vs. Colgate on Saturday
Lehigh football coach Tom Gilmore said he’s not trying to fool anybody when he said his starting quarterback Saturday at Colgate’s Andy Kerr Stadium will be a game-time decision.
“Who starts the game will depend on who finishes the week ahead and right now it’s not as cut-and-dried as many people may think,” Gilmore said.
Senior Tyler Monaco is listed as the starter on the depth chart and has started the first four games of the season.
Junior Addison Shoup got a lot of time in last week’s 10-3 win over Merrimack.
“Both Tyler and Addison bring a different dimension,” Gilmore said. “The nice thing about both of them is that they both can run the whole offense, but they have slightly different strengths. Having the ability to put them both in the game is very attractive and that has been the game plan the past two weeks and it will be the plan this week.”
Against Merrimack, Monaco completed 5 of 13 passes for 34 yards and was intercepted twice and sacked once.
Shoup was 6-for-11 for 173 yards and was intercepted twice and sacked twice. He also carried the ball seven times for a net-13 yards and scored the game’s lone touchdown.
Monaco has completed 64 of 142 passes (45.1 percent) for 728 yards with four interceptions and two TDs this season.
Shoup is 14-for-20 (70 percent) for 220 yards with two interceptions and one TD pass. He also has 41 yards rushing.
“Both did some good things and both came up short in some ways against Merrimack,” Gilmore said. “They’re both getting a lot of reps and we’re alternating who’s getting what on each day to make it more competitive. It brings the best out of both of them.”
Regardless of who plays quarterback Lehigh needs better production from its ground game.
The Mountain Hawks average just 2.1 yards per rush. Freshman Zaythan Hill gave Lehigh a boost against Merrimack with 60 yards on four carries, but Lehigh still had just 73 yards overall.
The inability to create favorable down-and-distance situations contributed to a 2-for-14 effort on third and fourth down conversion attempts.
Gilmore believes that having the same starting offensive line for the second week in a row will be beneficial.
“This will be the second game for them to have that chemistry and familiarity with each other and there’s no unit in football that has to work together like the offensive line,” he said. “The game experience and the chemistry of them being together in the same spots has to help us.”
That’s why Gilmore thinks the quarterback situation gets too much of the blame in assessing an offense that has scored just 46 points in four games — the lowest total Lehigh has had in its first four games since scoring 28 in the first four games of 1970, a stretch that included 7-0 wins over C.W. Post and Rutgers.
5 things to know about Lehigh-Colgate
1. Preseason Patriot League favorite and defending champ Colgate is 0-5, but has played two nationally-ranked FCS teams (No. 5 Villanova and No. 22 Maine), FBS member Air Force and Ivy League favorite Dartmouth.
2. Colgate’s junior quarterback Grant Breneman, the preseason all-league choice, has been injured and played in just three games. He is listed third on the depth chart this week, but Gilmore said the team is preparing as though he will play.
3. Gilmore was 4-9 against Colgate when he was the head coach at Holy Cross.
4. Lehigh and Colgate have combined for 22 league titles, including the four years with the Raiders winning outright crowns in 2015 and 2018 and Lehigh in 2016. The two shared the league championship in 2017, but Lehigh gained the automatic FCS playoff berth by virtue of a win over Colgate in Hamilton, New York.
5. Lehigh freshman TyGee Leach was named the Patriot League’s special teams player of the week after blocking a punt in the third quarter against Merrimack. It was the team’s first blocked punt since Tyler Cavenas got one against Holy Cross in 2017. The block gave Lehigh the ball at the Merrimack 16 and led to a field goal.
Lehigh junior quarterback Addison Shoup, left, fires a pass during last week’s 10-3 victory over Merrimack last week.