Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Week 10 Thoughts


Some thoughts following Bucknell's 20-17 win over Georgetown Saturday.

1. Hey, What Happened To...Yeah, we missed a few weeks. Too many in fact. I'll take some time in the off-season to retrofit some comments on those games, but they follow a trend that this article will hope to tell. 2019 hasn't been disappointing or discouraging, but, ah, missed opportunities.

Missed opportunities were all over this one. One could not have drawn up a better defensive stand in the first half for Georgetown--or any team for that matter. First five drives:
  • 3 plays, 3 yards
  • 3 plays, 2 yards
  • 3 plays, -5 yards
  • 3 plays, 4 yards
  • 3 plays, no yards

 And despite that, Georgetown was no better than 10-6 at the half.

Turnovers and penalties abounded, some more foolish than others. Personal fouls, late hits, the kind of things that make teams lose games... and they did. And yet, the defense stopped four drives inside the red zone that would have put the game well out of reach.

As is the case, the offense was late to the party. Georgetown managed one scoring drive, a field goal, that started in its end of the field. An depleted line made it unlikely that Gunther Johnson had enough time to find receivers against a Bucknell pass defense averaging 266 yards allowed per game. Georgetown only gained 199 in comparison. By quarter: 
  • 1st: 95
  • 2nd: 29
  • 3rd:  47
  • 4th: 28


Georgetown held the ball just 4:45 in the fourth quarter. That just isn't enough.

2.  Player of the Week. I had to think about this one for a moment.

Brad Hurst is a fine young man with a great career and family ahead of him. Saturday was not his finest hour. An onsides kick is great, but a horizontal field goal and yet another blocked punt illustrated the chronic flaw in Hurst's kicking motion that the Georgetown staff has not corrected after four years. But Hurst as player of the week was almost as head-scratching as the face that Isaaac Schley was named an all-PL running back.

The staff likes Hurt, I understand it. But like Oliver Hill before him, Davis Walker didn't add anything to the kicking calculus this year, and Georgetown will be starting back at square one next fall trying to get its kicking game in order.

There comes a point every season--maybe once, maybe more, where a kicker is the outcome of a game. Losing by three following a blocked punt converted into a touchdown is one such instance. Last season's collapse versus Holy Cross came down to the same kicker. Hurst is more than overdue to win a game and I'd love to see it versus the Crusaders Saturday, but it's not likely.

3. Patriot League Tiebreakers. Yet another deflating season of PL football ends this weekend, with the sole consolation that a 4-8 win team will not represent the league in the playoffs. Here's the tiebreakers entering the final week of the regular season:

  • Holy Cross (6-5, 4-1 PL) is currently the only team above .500 this season. HC wins the playoff bid with a win over Georgetown OR a Lehigh win over Lafayette.
  • Lafayette (3-8, 3-2) wins the playoff bid with a win over Lehigh AND a Georgetown win over Holy Cross.
  • A Lehigh win over Lafayette AND a Georgetown win over Holy Cross AND a Bucknell win over Fordham creates a three way tie, to which Holy Cross wins the tiebreaker.

 If there was any year where the Hoyas could have snuck into the conversation, this was it. Three of its four losses were by a field goal each.  Such a returning opportunity is not likely anytime soon.

4. Since Last We Met:  The front page likes to recall the  most recent meeting between the teams, but I'd like to take a look back at Georgetown's last win at Holy Cross, six years ago to the day. With 439 yards total offense, including 212 on the ground, and no turnovers, Georgetown got the win.  Here's the recap--is past prologue?

Kyle Nolan's 82 yard quarterback run with 1:57 to play earned Georgetown its most important win of the season, rallying from an early deficit and dominating the second half in a 28-21 upset of Holy Cross at Fitton Field in Worcester, MA. The win ended an eight game losing streak for the Hoyas and earned Georgetown a season ending win for only the second time since the 2002 season.

 The Hoyas stumbled at the start, with a fumble by senior RB Nick Campanella on the second play of the game. HC took over in Georgetown territory, driving 42 yards in six plays for the 7-0 lead three minutes into the game. The Hoyas punted the ball back but a Holy Cross returned fumbled the wind-adjusted punt, setting up the Hoyas at the Crusader 26. The offense stalled over the next three downs, but with nothing to lose, Georgetown opted to go on 4th and six at the 22, with sophomore QB Kyle Nolan finding senior TE Dan Sprotte for the first down. Three plays later, sophomore RB Joel Kimpela went six yards for the score, 7-7.

Holy Cross reasserted itself over its next series: a nine play, 71 yard touchdown drive late in the first quarter, aided by a late hit by junior LB Patrick Boyle into the Georgetown bench that extended the Crusaders' drive. GU ended the first quarter on a three and out, and following a defensive interception to stall a Holy Cross drive at the Georgetown 35, the G-men turned in a second three and out. On its next series, however, Nolan took advantage of the wind, with passes to Zack Wilke and Brandon Durham to advance inside the HC 20. A Following a penalty, Nolan found WR Justin Hill with a 29 yard pass to the one yard line, and took it over on the following play, 14-14, with 5:20 to halftime.

The Hoyas held Holy Cross in check over the next three Crusader series, forcing three straight punts. The Hoyas looked to be taking advantage of the wind at its back in its final series of the half, with Nolan completing passes to Wilke and Elliott Owusu to close inside the HC 25, but three offensive penalties pushed the Hoyas back and forced an unwieldy 52 yard attempt from PK Matt MacZura which fell short at the end of the first half.

Georgetown maintained the wind direction entering the third quarter and took early advantage, with Nolan found Wilke in stride with a 49 yard pass to the HC 25. The Hoyas advanced to the Crusader 10, and cashed in for a 29 yard MacZura field goal, 17-14, its first lead in a third quarter since mid-September.

Holy Cross simply could not move against the Hoyas and against the wind, failing to post a first down in its fifth straight series since the second quarter. Georgetown marched 10 plays to the HC 23, and on the 39 yard field goal attempt appeared to be faked and Georgetown lost three yards in the process.

The third quarter Crusaders continued to be generous to the Hoyas, but the touchdowns did not materialize. On the third play of the next drive, QB Peter Pujals threw a pass that was picked off by DB Cameron Gamble at the HC 44. Seven plays later, the drive stalled at the HC 22, with a 39-yard MacZura field goal extending the count to 20-14.

Holy Cross got the wind into the fourth, and on its first play of the quarter picked up its original first down of the second half. The Crusaders picked up three more first downs before WR Kyle Tolouse fumbled a likely touchdown, recovered by DB Garrett Powers at the two. A big drive followed for Georgetown at the 11:15 mark of the 4th, where Nolan led the Hoyas on converting three consecutive third down possessions to keep the clock moving. Another third down followed at the 6:24 mark, where a 15 yard pass from Nolan to Sprotte was invalidated for an illegal receiver downfield. Georgetown punted it back at the 5:59 mark, with HC taking over at its 15. Five plays took the Crusaders across midfield, but a holding call on the Crusaders set the drive back to its 44 with 3:20 to play. With 2:56 to play, HC faced a 3rd and 20, whereupon DT Richard Shankle sacked Pujals at the 36 and forced a punt with 2:15 to play.
  
Georgetown took over at its 15. A first down run to Kimpela netted four, and when everyone expected Kimpela to get the carry on second down, Nolan took off untouched down the field for 82 yards, fooling the Patriot League Network cameras and sending the ever-stalwart Hoya fans across Fitton Field to its feet. A two point conversion passed muster, and GU took over, 28-14.

Holy Cross wasted no time to come back, with an eight play drive that advanced to the Georgetown 12 entering the final minute. Pujals threw a touchdown to freshman Jake Wieczorek with :47 left, 28-21, but Georgetown alertly recovered the onsides kick at midfield and ran out the clock.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Week 7 Thoughts


Some thoughts following Georgetown's 14-10 win over Lafayette Saturday:

1. What Might Have Been: Just a week ago, we were asking how five plays might have turned around the finish versus Fordham. This week, Lafayette fans can relate.

This was a very winnable game for the Leopards, in part because they were able to get distance in the secondary and largely contained Georgetown's offense (more on that later). But good teams find ways to win and Lafayette isn't a good team right now. The Leopards gave up an interception in the red zone early in the forth and advanced to the Georgetown eight and failed to score.  Down four, in a game where the teams had combined for two red zone possessions entering this drive, it's very hard to se where three points buys you momentum. Yes, in a different scenario, you get the field goal, hold Georgetown three and out, and march back to win 16-14, it's plausible, but a touchdown might have put the game out of reach. And there's the other scenario where Keegan Shoemaker actually gets out of bounds on that last play setting up a game winning field goal. All in all, however, to many what-ifs and that's why Lafayette heads home 0-7 to play Bucknell.

2. Peak Offense? Well, we knew this wasn't the offense that steamrolled Marist and Catholic by a combined 103-3, but in recent weeks the offense has begin to slow and opponents are about to take advantage.

Georgetown's run game is bearing the brunt of injuries and attrition along the offensive line, and an injury to Herman Moultrie won't help the situation heading into Lehigh. While Georgetown remains third in rushing after two PL games, it has to maintain a priority on running to open up opportunities for Gunther Johnson in the secondary. It is a little frustrating as fans to see how little production the Hoyas' talented receiver corps is getting in the current offense, but that's a reflection of the defensive commitment teams are putting on stopping Georgetown's wide-outs. They won't relent if it the run game is not getting traction.

The run game figures to be a point of emphasis for Lehigh this week. Net of a 94 yard run for a score, Lehigh managed only 40 yards on the ground and
surrendered 330 yards to Fordham last week and that's not going to win you many games going forward. The Engineers managed only four first downs on the ground last week.

3. PL Attendance: It's mid-October but home attendance is bearing the brunt of poor non-conference performances. Throwing out Georgetown's number, average PL attendance in 2019 versus 2009:

Bucknell: 3,339 per game in 2019  vs. 3,018 in 2009
Colgate: 4,087 per game in 2019 vs. 4,642 in 2009
Fordham: 3,777 per game in 2019 vs. 3,886 in 2019
Holy Cross: 9,376 per game in 2019 vs. 7,552 in 2009
Lafayette: 5,015 per game in 2019 vs. 7,623 in 2009
Lehigh: 4,336 per game in 2019 vs. 8,130 in 2009

4. Thanks For The Memories? Unless the west stands of Cooper Field are a clever mirage (and after 15 years, nothing is out of the question), the Nov. 2 game with Colgate will be the final game at the half-finished Cooper Field configuration, with the promise of a new era in 2020.

While the construction plans do not show seats on the east side, the camera angles have been outstanding on the PL network, and if maintained, would allow the video to show the home stands instead of a view into the Harbin parking lot. I fully understand that working in the east press box is hazard pay compared to facilities everywhere else, but having a visitors side makes good sense even if it does not fit the architectural plan originally proffered, and adds capacity to what will still be a very, very small facility.

External communications on the construction have been all but nonexistent--I've said so publicly and privately. During the bye week, we'll discuss the considerable opportunity that a new Cooper Field could do to elevate the program.

Until then, it's on to Lehigh.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Week 6 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Fordham's 30-27 win over Georgetown Saturday:

1. Georgetown In Five Plays. A winnable game, for sure. Georgetown ran 65 plays and these were five plays that may have settled the game.
  • Two point conversion, 14:21 1st. Georgetown had run an early two point conversion three times this season, why would Fordham sleep on a fourth? The Rams sniffed out that play before it started, costing Georgetown early momentum and forcing GU back to the well for two more conversions to make up the difference. They missed them all, a net loss of three points. The margin of defeat in this game? Three points.
  • Blocked punt, 5:28 2nd. In four years, no one has taught Brad Hurst to stop line-driving his punts. It caught him again Saturday, setting up the Rams for an 18 yard drive to the end zone.
  • Fumble, 3:36 3rd. Driving for the go-ahead score late in the third, Joshua Tomas coughs up the ball at the Fordham 3. Not only do the Hoyas miss the opportunity, but the Rams run off the next 6:05 into the fourth quarter, time that Georgetown needed down the stretch.
  • Interception, 2:57 4th. Georgetown's late incerception of FiordhM QB Tim DeMorat should have been the story of the game, much like last year where a late pick sealed the victory against Bucknell. Instead, Georgetown watches the clock more than the down marker, and gives up the ball 96 seconds later.
  • 4th and 10, 0:17 left. Fordham had to go to the end zone and Georgetown's defense got caught at the line, opening up a seam in the back of the end zone.
A change in fortune in any of these five probably changes the outcome of the game, but that's college football.  Cornell probably had five plays they'd like back against Georgetown and Columbia could say the same. Going forward, however, Georgetown can't give up five game-changing plays in a single game, period.

2. Midterm Grades. At the ahlfway point of the season, how would you rate the 2019 Hoyas? Obviously, it's been a great start, even if the schedule was more remedial than preparatory. The offense has been better than expected and the defense is as good as it has been on the Hilltop in two decades. Georgetown ranks #4 nationally in defense.

The grades would be as follows:

Offensive Line: B+. Giving quarterbacks time a plus, but backs are still not getting enough velocity out of the backfield. Given Georgetown's difficulty in recruiting O-linesman from the nonscholarship ranks, this a good place to be.

Quarterback: B+. Good things this season from Johnson and Brunell, avoiding mistakes and taking advantage of opportunities when they can. Georgetown ranks #15 in passing efficiency even though it is 77th nationally in passing offense. More downfield opportunities will be rewarded.

Running Backs: B. This has been a long term problem for the Hoyas but the backs have responded this year, albeit in games where the opponents did not have a strong rush defense. There are some warning signs, however, given that the remaining opponents are going to really challenge Georgetown on the ground. A 41 percent conversion on third down is a good number in any year.

Wide Receivers: B. Frankly, Georgetown has too much talent in the receiver corps not to use them more often. The Hoyas rank only 77th in passing offense this season.

Defensive Line: A. Simply put, they're good. A healthy Kristian Tate and Wes Bowers would help as well.

Linebackers:  A-. The Fordham game exposed some holes in the 3-3-5 but on the whole the linebackers have risen to the challenge.

Secondary: A. This is as strong a secondary  as Georgetown may have ever fielded in the modern era.

Special Teams: B. Despite the considerable talents of Joshua Tomas, the Hoyas have not dominated kick returns and the punting and kicking game is a continuing struggle. 

3. End of an Era? Saturday's Homecoming should be the last such game played in the current disconfiguration of Cooper Field. I said "should", because after nearly two decades, anything can happen, but a 2020 Homecoming opens a new door to the program and to the students who have, by accident or increasingly by sheer supply, avoided the game because there were no seats.

The final two games in the 1800 seat configuration are sold out. 









Monday, October 7, 2019

Week 4-5 Thoughts

Yep, missed these weeks. Will repost soon.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Week 3 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Georgetown's 69-0 win over Catholic Saturday.

1. Stating The Obvious: Well, this is why Division I teams do not schedule Division III teams. The disparity in size and speed will eventually take its toll and such was the case in this game. From the first crack of the line in the blocked punt through nine straight possessions where the Catholic defense was a size too small and a step too slow, you see outcomes like this.

Georgetown's situation was not unique. Morehead State walloped Kentucky Christian 73-34, Delaware State beat Lincoln 58-12, UA-Pine Bluff overwhelmed Langston 53-15 and Florida A&M defeated Fort Valley State 57-20.

Unless you're Mount Union or Mary Hardin-Baylor, it is difficult if not prohibitive for Division III schools to recruit to the talent and the depth of even lower tier I-AA teams like a Georgetown or a Morehead State, not strictly on scholarship status (since neither GU nor MSU offers scholarships) but on training, conditioning and strength of schedule. A Division III club can have a great player or two each year, much as Georgetown did during the Scotty Glacken years, but depth will always be an issue.

What each school gained out of this game isn't altogether clear. Catholic will use it as an opportunity to play above its usual schedule (the NEWMAC is one of the weakest D-III leagues overall) and save some money on travel costs. Georgetown gets a win heading into the first bye week but not much else. The cynic will suggest that if Georgetown finishes 9-2 or 8-3, a win over a Division III opponent may cost them an NCAA at-large playoff bid; the realist would suggest the Patriot League has no business proferring an at-large candidate this year. If the Hoyas play .500 football the rest of the season, they've got their second winning season since 1999, which is as tepid a reason as any to play a game like this.

Meanwhile, the original opponent for this week, Howard, lost to Hampton, 41-20, before a smaller than expected crowd of 19,425 at the Chicago Football Classic at Soldier Field. The 0-3 Bison aren't looking back asking "what if" with the Hoyas, having signed a new four year deal with Hampton, which for now is the "real" HU as far as that rivalry goes. Georgetown doesn't share future schedules but it's not likely we'll see Howard soon.

And then there's the question--is the Steven Dean trophy series back on? Named for the late Georgetown alumnus (1972) who served as sports information director at Catholic in the 1970's, it's not cited in any Georgetown wrap-up but mentioned in pre-game and post-game releases from the CUA sports relations team. Either way, the trophy still sits near Rob Sgarlata's office, where it has held residence at McDonough Gym for the last 26 years.

2. Grading The Hoyas: What can you say? Excepting a couple of missed kicks, everyone did largely as expected, which is to say, executed on what they should.

The offense was strong but not running it up, taking advantage of speed on the receivers and a lack of defensive sets that locked down pass plays. Gunther Johnson was solid if not overwhelming at quarterback, while Joe Brunell (8 for 9) continues to get better every week. By November, these names could well be reversed in the depth chart. Offensive line? Not challenged as they will be the rest of the season, but they held Catholic without a sack and allowed the Hoyas on offense to do as they saw fit.

The defense played to its expectations. The Hoyas had advantages across the line in every position, which it should. It held Catholic to a net 72 yards on 2 of 15 on third down conversions. The Cardinals had one first down after halftime.

Maybe to some, the 69 points was  a surprise. To the defense, the 0 was not.

3. Goals For The Bye Week: First, watch the game film, then put it away for good. Catholic has no relevance to any other opponent for the rest of the year. Players, coaches, and fans would do well not to use it in any relevant comparison to Columbia, Cornell, or the PL schedule.

Three goals: rest, recharge, and refocus. Columbia (Sep. 28 at Baker Field/Wien Stadium) returns 16 starters and as Hero Sports' pre-season review put it, "The Ivy League is going to be insanely competitive this year. There's no reason the Lions shouldn't be looked at as one of those teams battling at the top. Hitting eight wins again should be the goal for this team, with the ultimate goal of winning even more."

4. Time Flies? There were some comments on the Internet suggesting that with a 2:25 time of play, the third and fourth quarters may have been shortened.  It didn't happen.

NCAA rules allow a shortened game upon the consent of both head coaches, but the box score clearly shows a full 15 minutes in the two quarters of the second half. NCAA rules do not allow a running clock, and no such clock appeared to be in use.

5. Around The League: Another rough week for the PL, which is now 4-16 out of conference (2-15 excepting Georgetown.

No easy answers why, since the PL teams have not only lost to teams they expected to (Navy, Temple), but a fair number of losses to teams they should beat (Monmouth, Central Connecticut, and twice to Sacred Heart). Some point to three fewer scholarships, others to the PL's redshirt policy, or that the league isn't competing in recruiting. I'll go with an easier answer: of the 20 games to date, 12 have been on the road, where PL teams are 1-11.

Next week, three of the four PL games are on the road. Your guess is as good as mine.



Friday, September 13, 2019

They Can't Be Serious?

If you didn't read the post below, this prophetic quote:

"But as Northeast schools continue to realign their early season schedules to major opponents, it reduces the pool of available games to which Georgetown is a candidate for...Or they could get stuck with Division III games, which is a net negative on the reputation of the University to recruits and other opponents?"

Avert your eyes at this quote from the Catholic University game notes of September 13:

"The germination of Saturday's game began when Catholic Athletic Director Sean Sullivan first communicated with Georgetown officials in August of 2016.

"They reached out to us," Sullivan said, "and I jumped on it."

The Hoyas and Cardinals will play again in 2022 at Cardinal Stadium and at Georgetown in 2023."




Wednesday, September 11, 2019

CUA: WTH?

Two years ago, the weekend of September 14 seemed to be a golden opportunity for Georgetown football. Howard University, led by former Virginia coach Mike London, had scheduled games with Maryland and Georgetown to help open the 2019 season. Though the previous games between the schools had been somewhat lackluster (the 2008 game was moved to a Sunday over weather, while the Bison band did not travel to the 2009 game at Georgetown), the premise of another local game would be otherwise favorable for the schedule, at either school's location.

Instead, Georgetown will play a Division III team for the first time in a quarter century. Before we ask why, we must know how this took place.

Scheduling Georgetown has never been popular in Howard football circles. Excepting "guarantee games", Howard prefers its non-conference games are held against other historically black colleges and universities (HBCU's) for the purposes of raising money for its football team and ostensibly the rest of its sports programs. A "classic" game between Howard and another HBCU could draw as many as 25,000 people, with copious amounts of corporate sponsorship to bring the band and dance teams to a community outside the Northeast. Though its schedule is not exclusively HBCU (Howard traveled to Youngstown State last week and to Harvard next month), a game with Georgetown in football is like Georgetown playing GW in basketball--not a lot to gain, but a lot to lose.

When London left for William & Mary after the 2018 season, new coach Mike Prince saw an opportunity to schedule Hampton (having left the MEAC for the Big South) and pick up a corporate payday.  Goodbye "Mayor's Cup IV", hello, "Chicago Football Classic".

Truth be told, Howard-Hampton will draw a lot more interest than Howard-Georgetown. The web site for the game promotes such ancillary civic activities as  a  pep rally in downtown Chicago, an HBCU college admissions fair, a "Battle of the Bands", and a step dance show to raise interest in the school's in the nation's second largest African American media market, one without an HBCU football program of its own.

Howard was out. But there now was a hole in a Georgetown schedule, a schedule which wasn't strong to begin with. Instead of casting a net for I-AA schools with an open week on September 14 or September 21 (Georgetown's bye week), it stayed small time. Very small. While Georgetown could have potentially worked a deal with Western Carolina, Cal Poly, Youngstown State, or 12 other schools looking for games in week 3 earlier this spring, that would have come with a cost--none of these schools would accept a game on the Cooper construction lot, and the travel costs to places like Cullowhee, NC or San Luis Obispo, CA would cost Georgetown money and weren't going to be met by a corporate sponsor. Instead, the fan-unfriendly confines of Cooper Field will welcome Division III Catholic University Saturday for the first time since, well, since Rob Sgarlata was a starter in the  Georgetown backfield and Cooper Field was part of the New South parking lot.

Byproducts of the club football era, the schools played 26 times between 1966 and 1993, with Georgetown winning 17 of them and eight of the last 10. With the Hoyas' move out of Division III and into the MAAC after the 1992 season, the teams played one final time on October 30, 1993, an unremarkable 10-0 Georgetown win that retired the Steve Dean Memorial Trophy.

The Catholic team that arrives on the bus Saturday bears scant resemblance to that 1993 team. The Cardinals now compete in a league known as the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, with most opponents in Massachusetts, Maine, or  Vermont. The Cardinals were 1-9 last season in the NEWMAC and lost its opener last week to Kenyon (OH), 32-31. Last year's CUA team traveled to Utica, NY for its week 2 game, so a visit to Georgetown isn't unwelcome given its own travel budget.

Short of the final score, it's a no-lose situation for a program that hasn't posted a winning season since 2013. But what does it mean for Georgetown? Is this the best the Hoyas can do?

Many fans ignore the low-wattage schedules the Hoyas build as an opportunity to get a winning season. Better to beat Marist than get slaughtered by Maryland, a false choice notwithstanding. But the Hoyas' arcane scheduling patterns are increasingly contrary to that employed by the Patriot League and increasingly the Northeast Conference, a group of schools like Duquesne, St. Francis, Wagner, etc. that are no less competitive than GU but which has suddenly attracted major college opponents.

Let's start with the PL, whose out of conference record to date is 2-12 but which has seen its teams face the likes of Air Force, Navy, Temple, and Villanova. What these teams lose in outcomes they are gaining on recruiting, fan interest, and the game experience against better competition.

Six PL teams now up-schedule with I-A opponents, and one does not. I'm sure that playing Syracuse at the Carrier Dome does not fit the "ethos and culture of Georgetown" but the other six schools provide its opponents something Georgetown does not--a win for bowl eligibility.

And so do Northeast schools, despite a scholarship limit 20 below the PL. Former Division III opponents like Duquesne (with future games against Coastal Carolina, Charlotte, Hawaii and West Virginia through 2024), Robert Morris (Buffalo), St. Francis (Eastern Michigan, Akron) and Wagner (UConn, Miami) are all jumping into the pool. Even LIU, a Division II school joining the NEC,  has already lined up a game at West Virginia in 2021.

I'm not arguing Georgetown needs to play West Virginia to be relevant. Howard's foray into Byrd Stadium meted a 79-0 outcome, the second largest margin for an opening game in I-A since 2000. But as Northeast schools continue to realign their early season schedules to major opponents, it reduces the pool of available games to which Georgetown is a candidate for.

What about Ivy League schools? Ivy schools don't schedule any opponents in the first three weeks of the season and are themselves increasingly looking beyond the Patriot League for who they do play, though not at the same competitive levels as the PL and NEC.  But as PL and NEC schools fill their schedules, Georgetown either has to go further away from the Northeast to find opponents, something they have not shown they are willing to do, or load up on fan-agnostic opponents that are regularly among the 10 or 15 worst teams in the nation by statistical rankings.

Or they could get stuck with Division III games, which is a net negative on the reputation of the University to recruits and other opponents? What does it say when a Holy Cross coach can discuss their games at Boston College and UConn to a recruit  and Georgetown is left with filling a schedule with such lightly regarded opponents?

Georgetown has chosen not to competitively schedule outside the non-scholarship ranks for a decade, so we should not be altogether surprised with a 2019 lineup of Davidson, Marist, and Catholic that is lamentable compared to its fellow PL schools. Even lowly Bucknell will feature the likes of Temple, Villanova, and Princeton on its 2019 slate.

A new(er) Cooper Field might help. A winning record might help. But in the end, there are less fish in the sea from which to land opponents in the years to come, none moreso than for a program with a record of conservative scheduling that has offered little in return.

It's not 1993 anymore. Georgetown can and must aim higher for its scheduling in the years to come, to give the fans something it has lacked for years--something to look forward to.

"You are what your schedule says you are," says the football proverb. Scheduling is identity. What is Georgetown's identity?