Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 2 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Lafayette's 28-3 win over Georgetown Saturday:

The Giant Sleeps Tonight: There were no boos at Saturday's game, no invectives at the staff or the players, none of that. Georgetown took its 18th Patriot League loss since 2006 as it had the other 17, quietly. Sunday would be a new week, a new challenge, another chance to turn it around. Yet, I couldn't help but pause at the comment from a longtime Georgetown fan upon exiting the game. "If this was any other school..." he said.

Like the field it plays on, Georgetown appears to be a perpetual work in progress. Saturday's game had any number of symptoms (unimaginative play calling, mental mistakes, lack of execution, penalties, defensive lapses) but the prognosis was the same: when they fall behind, the Hoyas are not a comeback team. There are teams who see an opposing touchdown and it inspires them to battle back, but there are too many games where you can literally hear the groans from the bench when the Hoyas fall behind by more than a touchdown.

Losing is no sin--half of college football does it every week. But the expectation level on all sides of Multi-Sport Field has to step up soon if Georgetown is going to escape this ditch it's found itself in. Everyone knows GU can do better, and that includes opposing coaches. As long as the PL's "sleeping giant" stays that way, the losses will follow.

Will The Students Come Back?  A post on the HoyaTalk football board raises this uncomfortable question--have the Hoyas scared off another generation of fans?

From the post: "So Hoya Blue sends out the emails and the Facebook invites and such, and a sizeable (for Georgetown) group of students (mostly freshmen) respond. There's a tailgate--and if you saw it up on Harbin patio before the game, it was well attended. They even got one of the tricky things right they didn't always in years past--ending it early so people can get to the field in time for the game... Again, these are mostly freshmen--you can usually tell anyway, but if you've been around HB or football long enough, you know only freshmen are gullible enough.But they try their darndest. Never seen a whole section of students standing throughout at a football game--so that was new. They're into it at the beginning...cheering and chanting, the like."

"And then they watch some of the game. By the third offensive series of the season, Georgetown has 12 yards of offense (15 via a that means -3 yards gained) and 1 first down (again, via the penalty). GU is down 7-0.The students who were into the game are still standing, but if you look at them, easily 50% aren't paying attention to the game any more. They're talking about whatever party they're going to later. There is one more last hurrah of cheering--Georgetown holds Lafayette on downs just past midfield on the next possession. Aaaaaaaaaaaand then turns the ball over on the next play. Many of the students sit down."

By halftime, easily half the student crowd is already gone. When the second half kicks off, a crowd of several hundred students is a few dozen. And for yet another year, Georgetown football loses any chance of any meaningful student support in less than a half of football."

The Drive For 100: It's surprising that in his three years at Georgetown, senior RB Charlie Houghton has topped 100 yards just once. Two years ago, he had 98 against Yale at the MSF, and stands a chance to top that against a Bulldog team that has its share of new faces on defense. Only one other Georgetown back has rushed for 100 yards or more in the Kelly era--RB Philip Oladeji--and both could be in the lineup Saturday.

Change We Can Believe In? Those fans who stayed into the fourth quarter (and most did) saw a spark of life from the Hoyas with the debut of freshman QB Isaiah Kempf into the lineup, leapfrogging past sophonores Scott Darby and Tucker Stafford into the lineup. He may be a valuable asset down the road but fans should not anoint him as the Next Big Thing after just two minutes against Lafayette's second team defense. Another encouraging sign was seeing the playbook open past the line of scrimmage--Floyd and Furlough have height and speed and these are two receivers worth watching.

No Fan In Allentown: Lafayette correspondent Paul Reinhard has no love lost for the unnamed Multi-Sport Field. "The place can be depressing, " he wrote on Friday in the Allentown Morning Call. "Ask the coaches or players about the visiting locker room -- and the home team doesn't have anything like Lafayette's Bourger Varsity Football House, either. [Editor's note: the home team doesn't even have a locker room during games.]

"Lots of high school facilities have better amenities," he said. "Even around the "stadium," the atmosphere of college football is missing." 

MSF 5.0: The letter last week from interim athletic director Dan Portfield has rekindled hopes that the on-again, off-again facility project may be on again, even with a different look and feel.

"It is crucial that we complete the Multi-Sport Field...The original design, which includes precast cement stands and a rebuilt foundation, has been an expensive proposition," writes Porterfield.  "I have asked colleagues in Athletics and the University to see if we can develop a cost-effective approach to completing the field. Our goals will stay the same: to improve our teams' game-day experience, to make the venue more fan-friendly, and to construct an aesthetically pleasing facility."

The night game was a good success from turnout's sake, but building a fancier 2,500 or 3,500 seat stadium won't cut it. One could only imagine if seats truly ringed the field (and not just 35 yards of it) and the excitement of a full house to rally the Hoyas team to victory--it would be a transformative step for campus spirit. And even if there were empty seats at games, a 6,000 seat facility provides seats for all students, not a place where students can't attend when the home stands are overrun. Reinhard's quote bears repeating: "The atmosphere of college football is missing."

Saturday's game was a glimpse into what it could be, not what it is. And here's a vote for more night games in the future. Because if this was any other school, you know...