Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 8 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Georgetown’s 40-17 victory over Colgate on Saturday:

All Three Phases: I’ve followed Georgetown football closely for 18 years and have seen games for a dozen more, and I will pay a compliment when it was due—Saturday’s effort against Colgate was among the top two or three games I’ve seen for the Blue and Gray. Yes, there were some well played games out there: Duquesne, 1997, Holy Cross, 1998, Cornell, 2003, but what was remarkable about Saturday’s effort was something coaches like to talk about: the "three phases" of the game: offense, defense, and special teams.

Every phase came up big Saturday.

Offensively, start with the line. For a decade, Georgetown has suffered with offensive lines that were too small, too slow or just injury-plagued, allowing defenses to flood the box and provide Georgetown’s running backs with little protection. Saturday, the line continued its growth this season and owned the line of scrimmage, allowing the running backs opportunities to get yardage, while protecting the quarterback and giving him time to find receivers. In Saturday’s game the offensive line, which have up five sacks in the 2010 loss to the Red Raiders, allowed one coverage sack this year, for no net yards lost.

The running backs also excelled. Wilburn Logan averaged 6.6 yards a carry, Brandon Durham seven. With line support, backs can get it done, and when the backs are getting yards, it opens up opportunities for receivers. Jamal Davis’ opening TD paved the way for Georgetown to dictate tempo and  maintain offensive consistency after Colgate had dominated time of possession in the first quarter.

Defensively, the game was a gem. Anytime a team holds the #7-ranked rushing game in the nation to 84 yards entering the final series of the game, it’s worth saluting. Nate Eachus was stopped in a way no one before (or maybe since) will do, and you saw inspired tackling and defensive focus from the line and the linebackers. Georgetown’s secondary continues to make big plays and its reads on Colgate QB’s Gavin McCarney and Ryan Smith shut down three second half drives that could have got Colgate back in contention. Robert McCabe’s 15 tackles was one of many outstanding individual efforts defensively.

Special teams, the third "phase", was efficient throughout. Matt MacZura’s punting has struggled this year but he got it done without incident Saturday, Brett Weiss was 4-4 on the field goals and the kick return game (Jeremy Moore and Kevin Macari at he forefront) gave Georgetown vital field position all day. One stat tells it all: between return yardage and turnovers, the average starting field position for the Hoyas was midfield, and that’s a great place to start for any team.

Well done to the team, well done to the coaches who really studied the film on Colgate despite the uncertainty on Eachus’ recent absence, and well done to all the preparation in spring and in August that has now completed what was once a lofty goal for the program: a winning season. Now, an even more impressive goal awaits, and it starts at Holy Cross Saturday. A win over the Crusaders would put Georgetown in line for a shot at the PL title in three weeks versus Lehigh, something once unthinkable in PL circles.

Time to put away the plaudits from Colgate, and now focus on the task (and the opportunity) at hand.

How Many More? Saturday’s attendance was 3,215, and so many people tried to get in the game that Georgetown students migrated over to the visitors seats to get a better view, and others were left watching the game from the Hariri (business school) steps. For the amount of people on campus that afternoon (well over 5,000, by some estimates), the MSF should have been accommodating to as many of these guests as possible.

Which raises at least three questions.

1. What is the plan to provide Homecoming seating for home fans? At some point, Georgetown needs to assign seating so it knows when it is oversold.

2. Why can’t Georgetown employ temporary seats in the end zones or along the thick brush along the 40 yards in the northwest corner not occupied by stands? If people knew there were seats to be had, maybe they’ll be more likely to attend.

3. Can there be some effort to provide suitable pre-game and halftime activity at the field and not just at the tent?

And, while we’re at it, THAT question:

Is Georgetown any closer to keeping the promise it made a decade ago about actually finishing the MSF, and not letting what purports to be a field degrade even further?

Myopia, Or HoyaVision? For out of towners such as myself, the video feed from is an essential means of following the team...when it works. Saturday’s game had no audio for the entire first half.
Audio and video overage is vital in the Internet age but still seems to be a point of confusion at the Hilltop.

Football needs more than a one camera setup on top of the press box, and hope that someone is picking up the transmission. By contrast, Verizon FiOS broadcasts home games with a full production setup, yet 99.99% of fans will never see it. There has to be a way whereby Chuck Timanus could have more resources to broadcast the game with the ability to reach more fans in a way that people will want to watch, and that any agreement to show the games on cable TV gets the opportunity for wider clearance (even if tape delayed) than the FiOS public access channel.

Yes, we know the campus can see the games. Let's take a longer view.

A Tree Falling In The Forest: Which is more surprising: a) no local reporter sent a reporter to cover the Georgetown game, b) that the Howard Homecoming game was equally shut out, c) Georgetown was oversold and no one covered it, or d) that Howard had 3,000 empty seats at its game?

If the papers don’t or won’t commit to regular coverage of local teams, it’s time to revisit an old practice in the print medium—the stringer. A stringer is a free lance writer paid per story to cover what the staff cannot. Certainly there are writers at The HOYA, the Voice or Howard’s Hilltop who would be thrilled to see their name in print in a major newspaper with a recap of the game and would do so for little or no remuneration (though, we hope, it is the former).

With coverage comes awareness. With awareness comes interest. With interest comes support. With support comes growth. It’s got to start somewhere.