Monday, September 5, 2011

Week 1 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Saturday’s 40-16 win over Davidson:

1. It Was What It Was: A home opener is designed for three things, and Georgetown got each of them Saturday: 1) a win, 2) a successful opening for the offense, and 3) a win. And while fans left the unfinished MSF with some good feelings about the 2011 Hoyas, it’s always fair to keep it in perspective—Davidson isn’t Delaware, and Georgetown isn’t  Eastern Washington, either.

The Wildcats entered the game picked ninth in the ten team Pioneer League, and its lack of running game really hurt  its ability to mix up the offensive sequences. Still, Davidson was able to get four red zone possessions off its passing game, but misfired on two that could have really made the game interesting, none more so than  midway through the third, trailing by seven. Davidson stood second and goal at the eight, then proceeded to give up a sack, an illegal forward pass, and a blocked field goal. One minute and 42 seconds later, the Hoyas were up 21-7 and never looked back.

The offense was proficient and the defense held its own, so you can’t argue with the results. The -7 yards rushing is the fewest allowed in 15 years, but Georgetown ought to be careful to put the win into context. Seven years ago, a similar verdict was reached over an outmanned St. Francis team, 36-7, whereupon the Hoyas defense remained strong but the offense scored a total of just one touchdown in the next three games. The longer-term takeaway from Davidson is not the win, but how it prepared the Hoyas for what lies ahead.

2. Welcome, Mr. Campanella.  After years of struggles from the backfield, the arrival of RB Nick Campanella added a much needed boost to the Georgetown running game. Campanella rushed 13 times for a game-high 82 yards, with six of those rushes resulting in first down yardage and three for touchdowns. If there were accuracy statistics for that kind of running, he’d be off the charts.

To be fair, it’s not like Davidson had any game film of Campanella in the backfield, unless they tracked Campanella via his YouTube clips at Montini Catholic HS. The element of the unknown rendered Davidson fairly unaware of what to do with the big back, but Lafayette defensive coordinator John Loose will be doing his homework on defensive sets to limit Campanella off the line of scrimmage. For its part, RB’s Wilburn Logan and Dalen Claytor had much less impact against a defense they should have been able to make some against Davidson, and the task at hand is going to be tougher Saturday. Logan rushed for only 14 yards in last season’s game, while Claytor did not play. And excepting a 30 yard touchdown run by Philip Oladeji, the Hoyas managed just 63 yards on the ground last season versus Lafayette. A better rushing game by everyone will need to be in order Saturday.

3. Hold (Together) That Line. Both teams’ offensive lines came under scrutiny Saturday, for different reasons. The Hoyas seemed to hold its own but a couple of players were dinged up in the process. The ability of the offensive line to stay together is among the most pressing issues facing the 2011 Hoyas, and they’ll need a strong effort Saturday versus. Lafayette.

Across the sidelines, the Leopards didn’t do much with its line, with four seniors and three three-year starters, against a tougher North Dakota State team. Lafayette managed no running game of note, were 2-12 on third down conversions, and gave up four sacks. Not that Georgetown’s numbers wouldn’t have looked different had Georgetown took up the offer to travel to Fargo last year (NDSU had offered, and Georgetown declined, just such an offer) but Lafayette knows its needs a better line effort to allow QB Ryan O’Neil to go to work on the Georgetown secondary as he did so effectively last season.

If you’re looking for a storyline to Saturday’s game, start in the trenches.

4. A Successful Deployment. I’m a skeptic on the QB platoon process, having felt neither QB in the rotation has enough skills on both sides of the ball to dominate on both sides of the stat sheet. For this week, however, it paid off. Isaiah Kempf  took advantage of Davidson’s gaps at linebacker and picked up some much needed yardage; how 16-24 passing was proficient and did not harm, particularly in the red zone. Lafayette presents some different quarterback challenges and it would not surprise me to see Darby back in the game next week—it’s going to be like this for much of the season.

5. Opportunities Lost. I can’t say enough about how the defense forced Davidson into mistakes on key possessions in the red zone. A blocked FG in the second, settling for a FG in the third, an incompletion on 4th and 2 at the 19. You’re talking about as many as 21 points coming off the table, and with two teams as closely matched as they were, you just can’t win like that.

Rewind, then, to the second game of last season. Here were the outcomes of four Lafayette second half possessions against the Hoyas:

  • 66 yards, interception at the Georgetown 6
  • 39 yards, missed a 33 yard field goal
  • 61 yards, fumble at the Georgetown 17
  • 60 yards, interception at Georgetown 23
The Leopards know first-hand that they can’t leave points like that on the table. But it’s up to Georgetown to do its part, too. Again.