Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 8 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Colgate's 57-36 win over Georgetown:

1. And Then There Were Four: Accentuating the positive, Kyle Nolan's debut in college football was as good as what could be expected--efficient, mobile, and (until the last three series when he was clearly rushing the pass), largely error-free. There were no reasonable expectations in August that a freshman would ever be in the lineup at quarterback, much less starting, so Nolan's preparation and execution served Georgetown quite well versus an opponent who is on quite a roll over the last three games, averaging 51 points a game.

To be sure, Colgate had no game film on Nolan and he wasn't even discussed as the pre-game starter until Friday, so the Colgate defense was flying blind, so to speak, on Nolan's technique and preparation. Not so for Lafayette, who will dutifully tear apart the game film to figure out what makes Nolan tick, and jsut as imnportantly, what Nolan did that  Kempf, Aiken, or Skon did not. That's going to be a challenge to the offensive play calls in this game, which in recent years appeared to have caught Lafayette off guard. Merely playing the Colgate playbook runs the risk of getting shut down by lafayette, getting too imaginative invites turnovers that Georgetown cannot afford. The Leopards have a resounding +11 on turnover ratio this season, most of it on interceptions.

Like many statistics, the historical numbers do not favor young Georgetown quarterbacks. A few weeks ago, we noted that Georgetown was 1-11 in the Patriot era in games with first time quarterbacks, and now that's 1-12. Its record in the second game for these quarterbacks is 1-11 as we speak.

2. Three For The D: Lafayette's defense arrives Saturday third in the PL in rushing passing, and total defense. Georgetown's numbers have slipped to fifth of seven...but that includes all games, not just league games.

The numbers for PL only games?

Lafayette is #1 in scoring defense, Georgetown last (of seven).
Lafayette is #1 in rush defense, Georgetown 6th.
Lafayette is #2 in passing defense, Georgetown last.
Lafayette is #1 in pass efficiency defense, Georgetown last.

Those numbers don't turn around overnight, but with Lehigh and Colgate in those numbers for Georgetown, it overstates the case a little bit. Still, there are three things it can do Saturday to set the tone:

1. In each of the last four games, an opponent RB has rushed for 99 or more yards.
2. In each of the last four games, Georgetown has averaged one sack per game.
3. Opponents continue to enjoy a near-automatic red zone efficiency (92.3%)

Those should be the three areas of interest--and concern--heading into Lafayette.

3. One Big Play? Each of the last two games in the series has stayed remarkably close--a combined seven points between the two games. It's come down to fourth quarter turnovers in each of the last tow years, but it needs to remain close for turnovers to make a diference.

A close game is on the mind of Lafayette coach Frank Tavani, in no small part because how the Lehigh Valley press views Georgetown, which is akin how the Big East press views, well, DePaul. A loss to Georgetown is unexplainable in their view, which is why is stings Lafayette that they've done what Lehigh has never done--lose to Georgetown not just once, but twice...and in a row. Tavani's goal? Get up in front and pull away.

4. Father & Son: No mention on the broadcast, but Colgate's 47 yard touchdown run by running back Nat Bellamy had a Georgetown connection.

Bellamy is the son of former Georgetown basketball great Gene Smith (C'84). Nat changed his last name when his mother remarried following the divorce and moved to Los Angeles. Gene was an outstanding student and athlete and it's clear his son shares many of those same qualities. Ironically, the 47 yard run was only the second carry of the season, and the only carry of the game with the Hoyas. If that run is any indication, the next two years will be memorable for Bellamy, his parents, and ultimately his team.

5. Grandfather & Grandson: The Time-Warner cable broadcast of the Colgate game had an unexpected guest--and apparel--in the third quarter.

TWC's sideline reporter caught up with the MacPherson family of Syracuse, whose son Cameron is the 5th string (well, 5th string at the beginning of the season, anyway...) quarterback for the Hoyas. Sitting with Cameron's family is a well known figure in Syracuse sports, Cameron's grandfather, Dick MacPherson, 81, who coached the Orangemen in football from 1981 to 1990, with a 4-1-1 record in bowls and three top 25 finishes en route to the College Football Hall of Fame. Other than Ben Schwartzwalder, there is no more revered coach in Syracuse football annals. MacPherson's Georgetown cap, however, was a surprise to many of the home town viewers.

When asked why he was wearing a Georgetown cap, MacPherson simply said, "I was told to wear it...and so I'm wearing it".

Coach Mac had few comments on Georgetown and basketball, saying he remembered the 1980 Manley Field House game but didn't pay attention to all the other games along the way--which by the way, is not unusual for college coaches. Did John Thompson worry about what Scotty Glacken was up to?

The elder MacPherson also said that Georgetown was "a wonderful opportunity" for his grandson. (Another grandson, by the way, is a tackle at Syracuse.)

A final MacPherson-Georgetown connection? In 1988, MacPherson hired a alumnus from his alma mater, Springfield College, and helped him get a foothold in Division I coaching as a graduate assistant at Syracuse. Twenty four years later, that graduate assistant was on the field at Andy Kerr Stadium, coaching MacPherson's grandson as the head coach of the Georgetown Hoyas: Kevin Kelly.