Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 6 Thoughts

Some post-game thoughts following Lehigh's 27-0 win Saturday:

1. The Chicken or the Egg? As the losses mount, fans will naturally fix their gaze at the coaching staff--in their minds, it's Kevin Kelly who's 5-32, not the kids. I try not to get into that kind of blame game, but it raises a question: is the ditch the program is stuck in the by-product of coaching or talent?

The Allentown  Morning Call's Keith Groller had this comment in last week's recap: "The Hoyas, nine years deep into their Patriot League football experience, continue to lag behind the rest of the league in terms of talent. I covered their first game in the league back on Labor Day weekend of 2001. Lehigh beat them 41-14 that day in Washington and Georgetown talked about how far away they were from competing in the Patriot League. Eight seasons later and they're still far away."

Yes, the arch-conservative playcalling can be maddening, but Saturday's stat sheet provides a glimpse why Georgetown is still running the Matt Bassuener line-of-scrimmage offense instead of a drop-back style--Isaiah Kempf has no time to do much else. Eight sacks sends a message that the offensive line just isn't able to stop a consistent rush. Absent a running game which has all but disappeared (Charlie Houghton: 0 carries, 0 yards), the "quick pass and hope for the best" style is the hand Kempf is left to play with. Is this a winning style?

The larger problem is, and you're seeing this in halftime adjustments from Howard, from Bucknell, and from Lehigh, opponents are adapting to Kempf and and Georgetown's play calling does not adjust. Kempf's overall numbers are down for four straight weeks and his 1 to 8 TD to INT ratio is poor by any definition. However bad Georgetown is looking in the first halves of games, the third quarters are becoming wastelands as a result.

So which is it, talent or coaching? Probably both. The consistent talent across both lines has not been there, but the style of play doesn't accentuate the talent that is there. The Hoyas started 0-7 in 2007, were one missed defensive assignment at Howard from repeating it in 2008, and may be a week away from another 0-fer after seven weeks. Talent or not, that's something coaches have clearly not corrected.

Schedule Inequity? Anyone notice that six Patriot League teams have played a total of one conference game, while one school will be all but done (literally and figuratively) by this weekend? Such is the uneven field of PL scheduling for the 2009 Hoyas. While Holy Cross, Colgate, Lehigh, Lafayette and Bucknell stand at 1-0 and  Fordham at 0-1, Georgetown is 0-4.  By Saturday, Georgetown will have just one league game remaining and were mathematically eliminated by the first week of October.

Future schedules should help, however. The tentative 2010 schedule has GU's first PL game on Sep. 25 and both 2010 and 2011 will feature five of its last seven games of the season in the league. At the very least, this gives the team something to play for in October and (hopefully) November even if the non-conference schedule is a battle. For 2009, anyway, October has already become playing for pride.

Bad Stat Of The Week #1: Saturday's game features the #1 rushing offense in the nation (Colgate, 267 yards a game) against the #117 rushing offense (Georgetown, 30.3 yards a game). If Colgate stays on the ground,  it will be a quick game.

Bad Stat Of The Week #2: Saturday's game features the #1 sack protection tam in the nation (Colgate, 3 sacks allowed in 6 games) against the #108 sack protection team (Georgetown, 21 sacks allowed in 6 games). Of course, a team which runs the ball as much as the Red Raiders do probably doesn't have a lot of sack worries, but Colgate holds opponents to just over 100 yards a game on the ground. That has to be a concern if Georgetown wants to get out of the passing quandary it faces.

Parents Weekend: This weekend marks Parents Weekend and it's a great chance for a full house at the game. But does 0-6 scare away the parents? The open question is whether students can maintain their fan support against the downbeat and keeping supporting the Hoyas at the game. The team needs you--get out there and show the Hoyas you're behind them, win or lose.

Leadership Off The Field: Despite a long week ahead in the standings, here's a story from the Salem (MA) News on senior Jon Cassidy. Cassidy missed all of 2008 and has been injured entering this season--with such a bad turn, he could have easily packed his football career in. Instead, he's been active within the team in a number of leadership activities, including Wreaths Across America, a reading program for DC public school kids and visiting children in hpsotals battling cancer.

"It's a real humbling experience and such a great feeling to see the kids happy — a little bit goes a long way with them," he said. "It's also so sad to know they can never get to play the sports we all take for granted."

As for his future plans, "I'll still have an extra year of eligibility, but I'm planning to graduate on time (with a double major in English and government) and hope to go into the Secret Service or US Marshals."

And in the end, that's really what shared leadership is all about.  Read more about Jon's story in this link.