Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 5 Thoughts

Some post-game thoughts following Bucknell's 14-6 win Saturday:

1. Adjustments. For the second straight weekend, I sat in the rain at a football game--last week at Georgetown, this week in Ft. Worth, TX for the Texas Christian-Southern Methodist game. More about the gameday experience later in the week, but one couldn't help but notice how really good a coach TCU coach Gary Patterson has become by his ability to make halftime adjsutments.

To say that #10-ranked TCU came out flat in Saturday's game might be an understatement. The Horned Frogs had cosnecutive fumbles in the red zone, allowed an underdog like SMU an early score, and failed to connect on two PAT's in a middling 12-7 halftime score. Any hopes of an SMU upset were quickly put out of reach when TCU roared out in the second half, outscored the Mustangs 27-0, and held SMU to -16 rushing yards. One of the things that has allowed TCU to beat Virginia, Clemson, and now SMU is the mid-game adjustments, something that Bucknell was very effective at Saturday.

Of course, they aren't the only opponents to do so--when you've only scored 11 points in five games after the half, teams are locking the door on the Hoyas, particularly with run defense. I can't speak to Georgetown's halftime adjustments in Saturday's game, having only heard the game, but the offense has yet to take over a third quarter all season. Opponents have keyed on this, and the record reflects it.

2. #117. Georgetown's 7.4 points per game ranks it #117 in the nation out of 118 schools at week five, leading only Indiana State, who also has 37 points, but in six games. To even be in the same sentence as the Sycamores is testament as to how poor the Georgetown scoring offense has become.

If you think times are lean in Washington, look instead to Terre Haute. The Sycamores have lost 32 straight, its last win coming on Oct. 18, 2006 with a 28-22 win over Missouri State (a disputed win because of issues regarding an ineligible player). Take that game out of the picture, and ISU's next previous win was October 2, 2004. In the last six years, Indiana State is 5-64.

The two schools don't share much, but the root of Indiana State's problem is instructive: recruiting. The ISU recruiting budget was cut back a number of years ago and even though ISU offers the full complement of scholarships (unlike previous loss-leaders like Prairie View and Columbia), 0-fer seasons grind recruiting into the ground. This is the danger for Georgetown: the appearance of a program in the ditch limits the reach to recruit of a transformational class that can turn it around. Who wants to play for Dartmouth, for instance, when you can win at Harvard? Does the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner really want to play at Indiana State? Or Georgetown?

It's not that it can't be done (ask Prairie View, 20-4 over the last 2+ seasons and aiming for three straight winning seasons for the first time since 1967), but it's a huge hill to climb, and it gets bigger every year.

3. Unsung Heroes. A couple of new names have been rising up the stat sheets in recent weeks. Here are two Hoyas to watch: sophomore wide receiver Dishon Hughes and defensive back David Quintero.

Hughes (12 receptions, 219 yards, one TD) has become a legitimate passing target as a receiver, not from the backfield. If Georgetown is to get its offense moving forward, Hughes figures to be a long-range option. Defensively, Quintero leads the team in tackles with 32 tackles and at 6-2, provides the size in the secondary that Georgetown needs. Granted,a  DB shouldn't necessarily be a team's leading tackler, but his efforts have been strong and deserve some credit.

4. Coen's Big Week. Outside of some grumbling on the message board, things figure to be relatively quiety for Coach Kelly and his staff. Not so up in Bethlehem, PA, where Lehigh coach Andy Coen figures to be hearing it all week from fans. The Engineers are 0-4 for the first time since 1982, Coen's record is only 16-21 in three seasons since replacing Pete Lembo (C'92) in 2005, and Lehigh needs to win six of its next seven to avoid a third straight losing season for the first time in 23 years. Remember, this is Lehigh we're talking about, not Bucknell or Fordham.

A Lehigh football team has not gone 0-5 since 1966. A fifth loss in 2009 would be bad enough, but a loss to Georgetown, no less, would be cause for panic in the streets. (Just kidding.) But Lehigh is struggling this year: 16 points a game, 83 yards a game on the ground,  and 104th in the nation in rushing defense. In the most lopsided rivalry in the PL this decade, this might be the most competitive Georgetown has been in quite a while against the Engineers, despite having been outscored 160-14 in three games in Goodman Stadium.

Not much Nothing has gone right for Coach Kelly this season. Could they somehow pull it off? OK, here's to a round of the Georgetown fight song after Saturday's game.