Monday, November 16, 2009

Week 10 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Richmond's 49-10 win Saturday:

Zero Hour: One can say it's "for" the seniors, and that's true, but Georgetown is playing "against" the idea of being the first team in Georgetown's long and often storied history not to win a game in a season. Outside of two bad teams in Howard and Marist, they haven't even been close.

The margin of defeat in those two games combined? Four points. And since these were only the two teams Georgetown actually beat in 2008, how close was that team to a zero win season in 2008? One pass play and two missed PAT's. When you think of it that way, this isn't a one year phenomenon, is it?

A winless season happened once before, sort of. The 1984 team was beaten soundly in all seven games that season, but claimed a forfeit win following a 56-6 stomping by Catholic University over charges CUA had an ineligible player; hence, Georgetown history records a 1-6 season. (Like any good rivalry, Catholic still lists it as a win.)

But barring any such technicalities, a loss to Fordham is a mark which cannot soon be erased from this staff nor this team's image among students and alumni. It's also likely to raise heat from a Georgetown alumni community that will grudgingly tolerate a two or three win season, but not 0-11. Never mind selling that to recruits, but try selling that to alumni.

Poor Preparation: A fumble on the first play of the game. An itnterception after three passes. Three series, three turnovers soncerted to touchdowns. What a dismal way to start a game, not only against a nationally respected team, but at home. Even worse--this is week 10, not week one, and when your senior RB coughts up the ball on the first carry, that does not speak well for this team's mental toughness and preparation.

As for Coach Kelly being called on a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty? Wow. You can watch a lot of football over the years and not see such a call, but a head coach needs to know better not to even get into that kind of situation. It didn't cost Georgetown the game, but it was the wrong place to make that argument.

Seeing Red: The Richmond Times-Dispatch raised an interesting angle not heretofore discussed in dissecting the Hoyas' 0-10 season--redshirts.

"The Hoyas (0-10), of the Patriot League, do not offer athletic scholarships, nor do they redshirt..." wrote the T-D's John O'Connor. "Richmond works with 63 football scholarships, the maximum in the Football Championship Subdivision, and this season usually starts 15 seniors who redshirted as true freshmen." OK, so the 63 scholarships doesn't hurt, but 15 fifth-year players is a big, big deal.

The Patriot League only allows medical redshirts--it was reported over the weekend that Georgeown could receive a fifth year for both Charlie Houghton and Robert Lane should they choose to stay. But should Georgetown be more proactive with de facto redshirting; that is, not playing freshman players at all? A coach wants the best players out there, but the freshman issue is a crutch of sorts--yes, some recruits get the chance to play, but at the expense of developing upperclassmen. A lineup dominant with freshmen players never gains traction when they are replaced by more underclassmen the following year.

Left unsaid is the financial angle. Richmond can afford to float a kid's education for four or five years, Georgetown can't afford a fraction of that.

Rushing Title: Depending on the severity of an injury suffered against Richmond, senior Charlie Houghton enters week 11 with 61 carries for 276 yards this season. If he ends the season there, it will mark the fewest attempts for a leading rusher since 1983, when Georgetown played only eight games that season, but would still mark Houghton's third rushing title in four years, last matched by Steve Iorio (1994,96,97). Sophomore Philip Oladeji trails Houghton by 49 yards entering Saturday's game.

The Mendoza Line: 14 points is the "Mendoza Line" for Georgetown's offense over the last two seasons, having passed it just twice in the last 21 games. The Hoyas need 14 points in this game to match its points average from last season, 9.6, which was the lowest average for a GU team since 1984. A shutout would leave Georgetown at a lowly 8.7 per game, lowest since 1935.

Running On Empty: With its first and only touchdown Saturday, Georgetown scored its second, repeat, second touchdown on the ground in ten games.

It's inexcusable. It's dead last in Division I--only three schools have fewer than five and one of them is downgrading back to Division II. the subdivision average (average, mind you) is 14. Among 2009 opponents, Colgate has 28, Old Dominion has 24, Richmond 20. This offense has many faults, but look no further than this one: Georgetown has a 30% conversion rate in the red zone for touchdowns, with six in 20 attempts. Opponents have a 63% conversion, 27 for 43.

In the interests of full disclosure, Howard has three touchdowns, one of which came against Georgetown. What is it about local schools and poor football?

Maryland (I-A): 2-8
Virginia (I-A): 2-8
Howard (I-AA): 2-8
Georgetown (I-AA):0-10
Catholic (III): 1-9
George Mason (club):  1-7, one game cancelled for lack of healthy players

So it's on to face Fordham and barring a momentous upset, the die will be cast on Georgetown's worst season ever, 1984 notwithstanding. Georgetown's last home win to end a season was November 20, 1999, a 52-7 runaway against LaSalle. Could anyone have fast-forwarded ten years to see this?

The fact that 0-11 is even a possibility (much less a probability) at Georgetown says a lot about how far this this program has gone off track over the last ten years and the work which lies ahead.