Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Week 3 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Yale’s 37-27 win over Georgetown on Saturday.

1. Um, While We Were Away… Yes, the weekly blog post was held up with all the firestorm over Big East realignment. If a bullet has been dodged, it’s neither the first nor the last, and while it’s not the driver to the discussion, the issue of football at Georgetown plays a role in the outlook for basketball—namely, if Georgetown doesn’t want to commit to a more competitive football program (at least in the eyes of other schools, conferences, or TV networks), where does that leave the basketball one?

No one that I know is calling for a lease at FedEx Field and getting Urban Meyer on speed dial anytime soon, certainly not Jack DeGioia. But one of the byproducts of this latest mess is the growing idea that teams move or stay in tandem—Pitt and Syracuse, Texas and Texas Tech, Rutgers and UConn, etc. Who is (or would be) Georgetown’s wing man in future discussion? Are the Hoyas a coupled entry with Villanova, who may or may not see a second opportunity to jump start its PPL Park I-A bid? Does Vilanova, a team that has studiously avoided scheduling games with Georgetown in football to resist any temptation of comparisons, want to steer clear of being associated with Georgetown for its athletics future? If Villanova got an better offer elsewhere, would they weven try to bring Georgetown along?

If not, who? Does Georgetown want to take its chances in the world of college athletics as St. John’s traveling buddy? Are we just another Seton Hall? Another DePaul? Is Georgetown even less valuable as a major program if its athletic program is seeking as lacking in commitment, with or without major college football?

Late last week, over at the basketball page, I wrote the following:

‘If Georgetown has enjoyed unprecedented success in the last 32 years despite spartan and grossly inferior facilities, know that men's basketball is the engine. Georgetown has an impressive 29 sport program for over 700 men and women...because of men's basketball. It has build a worldwide brand for the University, its admissions, and the pride of the Georgetown community...because of men's basketball. If Lee Reed gets the long-delayed athletic training facility off the drawing board he will do so...because of men's basketball. But if Georgetown watches these assets disappear, so will its resources and ultimately its institutional support. If that happens, the basketball training facility will join a list of projects which Athletics could not secure funding for...and never got back.

“So if "change" means adding travel packages to unfamiliar locales like Ames and Waco and Lawrence, let's do it. If "change" means calling up Temple and UMass and rebuilding the old Northeast Corridor footprint, let's get it done. Georgetown doesn't need to settle for a national "CYO League" of faded Catholic programs that can only hope for one NCAA bid a year while the super conferences will clamor for eight and ten bids a year. And if "change" means setting a new course in an unfamiliar conference setting, much as Georgetown did in 1979, that should be vetted as well.”

When this scenario comes around again, and it eventually will, what kind of peer institution does Georgetown want to be associated with, and by whom? Answering that demands a positioning for football in the equation, whether as a university that aspires, that acquiesces, or simply accepts whatever fate is dealt it.

And if the Ivy League needs a ninth team for scheduling, well, that’s another topic entirely.

2. Special Teams: Special teams didn’t lose the Yale game but it was a major factor. Each of Yale’s first scores were the result of kickoff returns of 60 yards or more which set up short fields for the scores. Georgetown owned the kickoff return against Lafayette and had, on average a +4 yard gain in average field position to start a drive. Against Yale, that average number was a -6 yards.

3. Did The Hoyas Get Tired? During the radio broadcasts, the Yale announcers noted how Yale was wearing down Georgetown in the third quarter, and a few of the player quotes from Yale backed this up as well. While this was the first afternoon game for the Hoyas, the game time temperature (61 degrees) wasn’t the issue. The issue? For whatever reason (physical, mental, or teams adjusting at halftime) Georgetown is losing the third quarters in its 2011 games.

  • Against Davidson, the Wildcats held a 2:42 advantage in time of possession: 2- 4 on third down conversion versus Georgetown’s 1-4.
  • Against Lafayette, the Leopards held a 5:32 advantage in time of possession: 1- 4 on third down conversion versus Georgetown’s 0-3.
  • Against Yale, the Bulldogs held a 5:08 advantage in time of possession: they converted where Davidson and Lafayette didn’t (4-5 on third down conversion) versus Georgetown’s 0-3.

 In 2011, winning the day means Georgetown must win the third quarter.

4. Freeze Frame: This was the point in the 2010 season where Georgetown’s offensive strategies began to wilt under film analysis by opposing coaches. Even though the Hoyas were nonetheless able to pick up a win in week four of the 2010 season, the seeds of its October decline were coming into play. It’s worth watching (figuratively, of course, to those not able to be in Poughkeepsie this week) to see if Marist is more proactive and keying on Georgetown’s offensive sets than its first three opponents were.

Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude made few visible changes to the offense last season and the result reflected this. Will we see new wrinkles heading into October, or more that opponents can prepare for?

5. A Statement Win? The words “Marist” and “statement win” seem incongruous, but if Georgetown is to start making a move up the steep ladder of I-AA football, it needs to get to a point where games with Marist College are expected wins, not just competitive ones.

As Georgetown stalled and stumbled over the first decade of the patriot league, the gap between its skills and that of non-scholarship Marist has not been much. Since joining the PL, Georgetown is only 4-3 against Marist, and none of its wins have been by more than seven points. It has not defeated Marist in Poughkeepsie in three tries .

We’re not talking Lehigh or new Hampshire or even Dayton here, but Marist, a second-division team in the weakest conference in Division I-AA. This series shouldn’t be this close and this game shouldn’t be either, but the Hoyas have a habit of playing down to its competition in games like this. Much like it has begun to separate itself from Davidson in recent games (and Davidson’s not a powerhouse either), it must do the same with Marist, which will allow it to reach higher in the schedules and maybe, just maybe, be a little more competitive against the next tier upward, that being the Ivy League.

Georgetown’s records against Ivy schools since 2003? 0-11.

Yes, there is still work to be done. Lots of it. Getting a third win Saturday is the next step on a long climb.