Monday, September 28, 2009

Week 4 Thoughts

Some post-game thoughts following Howard's 14-11 win Saturday:

Jim & Kevin. "Hey man, perception is reality,” the player said as he left the locker room. “We’re playing a team that didn’t stop anybody the first two weeks and we can’t get it going. It’s frustrating. a good man, but players don’t care about that if you ain’t winning.”

No, that's not talking about the Hoyas. It's a quote in the Associated Press about coach Jim Zorn and the wobbly Washington Redskins, which aroused the ire of Dan Snyder by losing to a Detroit Lions team that had dropped 19 straight (as an aside: congratulations Jim Schwartz.)  Snyder's legendary impatience is somewhat of a given in situations like this, and the loss firmly places Zorn,a  first time head coach, in the oft-cited hot seat.

Across town, there is rising discontent among fans with the Hoyas' losing ways, but there is no hot seat. Four straight, 11 of 12, 31 of 36, no matter. Let's face it, there is only one sport at Georgetown with a hot seat, and it's not football. Remember, the baseball program was put on three years NCAA probation for major violations and Pete Wilk is still its coach.

That's not to say people don't care, however. In 2003, Georgetown president Jack DeGioia spelled out his three expectations for men's basketball, a year before he pulled the plug on Craig Esherick, but the same issues apply to football. He said:

"For the coaches, you accept the commitments we ask of you. And here too, there are three:

(1) That each student we offer the opportunity in which to participate in this program - that each will accept the responsibilities entailed - and the first of those is to embrace the education provided here. The first commitment - that our students will receive our education and they will graduate; When I say our education, it means more than that they will graduate. It also means that they are prepared to live lives in which they will be leaders in their communities and businesses, lives in which they will be husbands and fathers, friends, and citizens. You accept this set of responsibilities that is grounded in our 214-year tradition of Catholic and Jesuit education here on the Hilltop.
(2) Secondly, that we do it honestly­, that we be above reproach - that we must set the standard for integrity in intercollegiate athletics. And we do;
(3) And finally, that we win. We keep score for a reason. Everyone has a better experience when we are winning."

#1? Check. 

#2? Check. 
#3? No.

While it's not to say that the future of the staff is a sure thing, Georgetown is not going to make this an issue in mid-season. Fans don't see the day to day of a team and instead see a team with a dual personality: a defense which comes to play and eventually wears out, and an offense that is without any visible direction, leading to the mess that the goal-line stand exhibited.

The offensive numbers are just awful, bearing a eerie parallel to the end of the Bob Benson years when the nature of the struggle between Benson and OC Elliott Uzelac was a concern. That was then. In 2009, the staff will do what they are paid to do, regroup and prepare for Bucknell, and worry about the big questions where they belong: after the season. Fans would be well advised to do the same.

The larger question is how the team holds together. How the coaches address this is a bigger concern than losing to Howard.

Who They Missed: Keerome Lawrence did not play in the game, standing along the bench with what looked like a soft cast on his wrist. Lawrence's loss was significant for an offense which needs all the help it can get.

Bad Offensive Stat #156: After halftime, Georgetown has scored 11 points all season.

Double-Take: Fans seem to be raising a stink about the sequence before each play where the offensive line sets, then everyone looks to the bench for a moment, and then resets itself. It reads as it's a check-off move, but fans think this is some kind of "So what are we doing now?" look by the players. It all comes across as a little unorganized, but in most cases I don't think the plays change that much.

Where Was Howard? The biggest surprise of the game was not running those quarterback sneaks (that was almost predictable, in a sad sort of way), but that Howard brought only a "friends and family" crowd, probably the smallest road crowd at MSF since Marist. Yes, the Bison came into the game losing eight straight, but the Bison fan base is big enough to fill the 800 seats at its disposal. It was generous to say that 300 were there.

GU Band: Thumbs Up. Yes, I would have liked to seen the Howard band Saturday, but Georgetown's band did its part. Contrary to reports, the Georgetown band did not leave early during the game. They were there right through the rain, and the band and cheerleaders deserve credit for keeping up the spirit when it was seriously lagging. With a lower turnout in sight for the Oct. 17 Colgate game (just 12 hours after Midnight Madness reasserts basketball in the student mindset), every bit of support helps.

A Hopeful Sign: Hard to find one at 0-4, but how about this: Georgetown has won its last two games at Bucknell, and three of its five PL wins all-time have been agaisnt the Bison. The flip side, of course, is that Georgetown's record against the other five current PL teams is 2-38, but that's for another column. Again, a quote from the Redskins game and its odd parallel to the 2009 Hoyas. Wrote columnist Thomas Boswell: "This loss, and the embarrassment that attended it, were not the culmination of any short-term trend or strategy mistake. For to come to pass, many tumblers had to click into place over many years. This dignity-robbing defeat, one that [they] will remember and hopefully reflect upon, took only three hours. But it was years in the making."

Which is where this column started, I guess.