Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 9 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Georgetown's 20-17 win over Lafayette Saturday:

1. One on One: There were lots of positive news from Saturday's game, from forcing seven turnovers to a pair of second half drives which proved the difference in the game. But in the individual matchups, Georgetown held its own in a big way.

  • WR Mark Ross entered the game with 100 or more yards receiving for the Leopards in each of the previous four games. Saturday, he was held to 30 yards.
  • RB Ross Schuerman entered the game averaging 4.5 yards per carry. The 2011 PL Rookie of the Year averaged just 3.8 yards in 13 carries.
  • QB Andrew Shoop entered the game averaging 242 yards per game. His 186 yards passing was the fewest in any PL game this season for the Leopards.

Clearly, Georgetown had its share of struggles as well--seven turnovers produced just ten points, and the offense continues to struggle with a three-and-out approach early in games. But football is a game played on the margins, where one foot short can end a drive and one missed tackle can end a game. Holding Lafayette's three best offensive weapons below their peak may have provided the margin--ever so slight--for  Georgetown to stay close, to take the lead, and to prevail.

2. Freshmen Of Influence: At this point of the season, playing a lot of freshmen is often seen as 1) a sign of injuries, b) a lack of faith in the upperclassmen, or c) a little of both. In fact, it can be seen as the elevation of players who are poised to take a step up to become the kind of four year players that a competitive team needs.

As the season enters the home stretch, the Class of 2016 has been a productive group on the field. It wasn't planned that Kyle Nolan or Dezmond Richardson would be starting so soon, but their efforts are reflective of a number of classmates making their mark in their debut season, among them Spencer Ball, Cameron Gamble, Jo'el Kimpela, Ettian Scott, Jake DiCicco, Matthew Satchell, Ty Parsons and Hunter Kiselick.  With three PL Rookie of the Week awards in nine weeks to date, the Georgetown class has exceeded the usual chatter that falsely assumes "under-funded Georgetown" isn't getting the recruits. Most of the freshmen have seen at least some action this season with the exception of the offensive linemen, who usually needs a season to get up to college speed (and size).

And it bears noting that the seniors are stepping up, too. Nearly every healthy senior has seen time in the games each week, even though only five are starting regularly.

3. Second Act: Freshman QB Kyle Nolan turned in another strong effort Saturday in only his second college start. The two fourth down conversions Nolan executed were as big as any plays Georgetown has seen all year, and his while his accuracy wasn't remarkable (15 for 32), he allowed just one interception to a Lafayette team having made 17 picks in the previous seven games. And, as noted above, a second interception at any point of the second half might have been the deal-breaker in this game.

4. Rumor Has It...More than a few fans took note at the opening paragraph of Brad Wilson's game recap in the Easton Express Times, which read: "After tonight, Lafayette College must now wish the rumors of Georgetown University dropping football a few years ago had came true."

What's that again?

This wasn't an issue even in Kevin Kelly's leanest years, and the subject of whether to maintain varsity football hasn't been in the campus zeitgeist since Georgetown had to decide whether to upgrade from Division III in 1992. But on the outside, people see an 0-11 season and assume the worst, that a school not willing to invest in a big stadium or scholarships isn't in it for the long term. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Fans and alumni familiar with athletics at Georgetown understand that the dynamics of sport sponsorship at Georgetown are more than wins and losses--winning is important, but not at the expense of providing students with competitive opportunities that fit with the traditions and history of Georgetown--which is why a Division I football team works at Georgetown where a wrestling or water polo team would not.

At six Patriot League schools, football is #1 and basketball gets in line. That there is a different model at Georgetown doesn't make one right and one wrong, but that at a handful of schools, football has a place in the fall calendar but doesn't drive the entire discussion.

5. The Home Stretch: The bye week is great for recharging the batteries for the team and coaches, but the turning of the seasons tends to take the wind out of football when it comes to fan support, especially with basketball season arriving.  The number of thread reads by game on the HoyaTalk board is one very unscientific measure of how interest has begun to shift away:

Princeton: 2,880
Brown:  1,756
Fordham: 1,678
Lehigh: 1,654
Colgate: 1,321
Lafayette: 722

Georgetown isn't winning the Patriot League title, but the next two games remain important for a winning 2012, for momentum into 2013, and for the continued growth of the program-- consecutive home games offer an opportunity to pick up wins against the bottom two teams in the PL to date. Finishing the season with three straight wins would be a great statement heading into next season, and would also be a great statement to the seniors as well.