Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Week 11 Thoughts

Some (otherwise delayed) thoughts on Holy Cross' 24-0 win over Georgetown:

1. Not With a Bang, But A...For a team which had won two straight, playing a 1-9 team that had lost five straight, and to turn in that kind of effort on offense was the equivalent of throwing a bucket of cold water on the 2012 season.

Coach Kelly was not afraid to call out the defense in mid-season, and they responded. Not so for calling out the offense, whose play calls from Vinny Marino were as predictable as they were ineffective.

Injuries? Yes, they play a role, and one can argue that the offensive game plan went out the window the moment Isaiah Kempf went off the field at Davidson. Yes, the running backs were increasingly out of service, with Durham and Claytor hurt late in the year. But the overall effort on offense was disarmingly lacking, and the over-reliance on rushing when the Hoyas were especially weak in that area (and against a HC defense that was just as suspect in the secondary as the front line) proved futile.

You don't win games when your quarterback leads in rushing yards. You don't win games when you don't complete a pass for more than 19 yards, and throw nine others for a combined 44 yards. You don't win games when your number of completed passes (11) equals the number of punts (11).

The play calling showed neither urgency nor motivation. Neither team was going to the playoffs, but relying on a running game when there was none left was especially frustrating. Think of this: three running plays totaled 45 yards. The remaining 29 totaled 46 yards against the worst rushing defense in the league...but when you know your opponent is simply running the same plays, any rushing defense can look good.

Georgetown came off the field in the 2011 finale with Lehigh bloodied but unbowed. 2012 was a different story.

2. Five For '13? Depending on whether Isaiah Kempf comes back for a redshirt senior season, Georgetown could have has many as five quarterbacks with prior experience competing for a starting job next season. Some quick thoughts on each:
  • Isaiah Kempf: Efficient and effective. Kempf's a safe choice in '13, but it puts off grooming a successor for another year. 
  • Aaron Aiken: More suited to a running than a passing game. As Aiken is a rising senior, I'd like to see him as a Keerome Lawrence-slot back than as a full time signal caller.
  • Stephen Skon: Had his moments, but still too many interceptions (8) than touchdowns (4). 181 yards lost to sack yardage didn't help his final rushing totals, but Georgetown QB's don't have to run to be sucessful. As Skon is a rising junior, he's be an excellent platoon choice with...
  • Kyle Nolan: There aren't a lot of fourth string QB's anywhere with a passing rating of 157.7--and in I-AA football, only four at any class have a higher efficiency ranking, including Colgate's Gavin McCarney (159.05). We saw what McCarney could do with a stronger offensive line and some impact receivers, and if Nolan had a little more of both there's no telling what he could do. Maybe the best in-season debut by a Georgetown freshman at QB since Aley Demarest in 1990.
  • Cameron MacPherson--We didn't get to see much of MacPherson in the Holy Cross game (and at this point in the season, why not?), but MacPherson likely had little practice time this season and the expectations he would see any game time were nonexistent until about week 10. A work in progress for 2013 and he 's got some time on his side.
3. Attendance. 1,789? Really?

4. Offensive Moments Of the Year: In chronological order:
  1. Wagner (Sep. 8): Aaron Aiken's 12 yard pass to Kevin Macari with under 2:00 left sets the Hoyas in position to win the game over the 2012 NEC champions with a field goal.
  2. Princeton (Sep. 20): Fourth and 3 at midfield, 2:55 left. Going for it, a six yard run by Dalen Claytor gets the Hoyas into Tiger territory. If they punt, Matt MacZura may never have seen the chance to win the game.
  3. Princeton (Sep. 20): Yes, he missed some field goals this season, but as moments go, MacZura's game winning field goal on ESPNU may be the most memorable play for Hoya fans since Georgetown returned to  intercollegiate football in 1964.
  4. Colgate (Oct. 20): Down 37-14 at the half, Kyle Nolan throws his third TD pass of the game, 62 yards, to Kevin Macari. Georgetown would not go down without a fight, closing to 37-29 before the Red Raiders pulled away.
  5. Lafayette (Oct. 27): Down four, late 4th quarter, fourth and two at midfield. No safe run here, as Nolan goes downfield for 25 yards to Jamal Davis. The Hoyas go on to convert their best comeback of the season 20-17.
5. Defensive Moments Of the Year: In chronological order:
  1. Wagner (Sep. 8); Down 13-10 in the final minite, the Hoyas hold Wagner to a five yard pass on 4th and 15 to secure the win.
  2. Princeton (Sep. 20): Late in the second quarter, Rohan Williamson loses a punt at the Georgetown 17, which could have been a knockout punch for the Hoyas in this one. Instead, the defense forces losses on consecutive plays, taking the Tigers out of the red zone. A 42 yard field goal to end the half goes wide, the result of which keeps Georgetown within distance of a game that it would win on that side of the field with a kick of its own.
  3. Lehigh (Oct. 13): Three interceptions for Jeremy Moore and seven forced by the defense overall. Unfortunately, the Georgetown offense could convert only two of the seven into touchdowns and GU lost by three.
  4. Lafayette (Oct. 27): Cameron Gamble's interception late in the game seals a record third straight win over the Leopards, all settled by defensive performances late in the game.
  5. Bucknell (Nov. 10): A team effort, holding the Bison without a single third down conversion.
Stop by the blog (and the web site) during the off-season, with new columns every 2-3 weeks. Thanks for supporting the Hoyas this season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Week 10 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Georgetown's 10-3 win over Bucknell Saturday:

1. Command Performance. In the words of Kevin Kelly, "Our defense turned in as good a performance as I have seen in my 28 years coaching." That's not an insigificant comment when you look back at the numerous bowl teams Kelly has been a part of, not to mention the I-AA national title teams at Marshall.And while this wasn't one of those -30 yard rushing efforts that skew the the stats, either. Consider these numbers for Bucknell:

Bucknell vs. 45-scholarship Fordham a week earlier: 7-15 third down conversion
Bucknell vs. Georgetown: 0-11 third down conversion

Bucknell vs. Fordham: 42 rushes, 217 total yards
Bucknell vs. Georgetown: 33 rushes, 73 total yards

Bucknell vs. Fordham: Average gain per rush: 5.2 yards
Bucknell vs. Georgetown: Average gain per rush: 2.2 yards

Bucknell vs. Fordham: 64 plays, 317 total yards
Bucknell vs. Georgetown: 47 plays, 168 total yards

The defense has had its share of ups and downs this season but came through big in this one--not with a title on the line, but for pride and dedication. They were challenged to step it up, and delivered. Well done!

2. Injuries. The season is coming to a clsoe at probably the right time for the Hoyas, given the number of injuries suffered this season, and not just at quarterback, where freshman Kyle Nolan became the fourth Georgetown QB sidelined this fall. Running backs, offensive and defensive linemen, receivers, and secondary performers have all been impacted this season.

The Hoyas lost two senior stalwarts (Fino Caliguire, Jeff Burke) before the beginning of the season, though burke has returned to brief action late in the season. Isaiah Kempf's injury was well disucssed, but a number of other players have fought through this as well. Depth--a word not nomally associated with Georgetown football teams of recent memory--helped the Hoyas get to a point this upcoming week when they can play for a winning record.

3. MSF Jinx? Matt MacZura's two missed field goals in the Bucknell game rasied this question--do the Hoyas kick better at home or on the road?

2009: Home 4-7, road 3-5
2010: Home 4-6, road 3-4
2011: Home 7-9, road 9-14
2012: Home  4-11, road 6-6
Total: Home 19-33 (.575), road 21-29 (.724)

None of those numbers suggest an inherent bias, unless you suggest that the wind patterns at one side or another on MSF are ill-suited to kicking for either team, and I don't have the numbers on which kicks came at which end of the place. But in the last four years at the MSF, the field goal numbers are as follows:

2009: Georgetown 4-7, oppponents 1-9
2010: Georgetown 4-6, opponents 7-10
2011: Georgetown 7-9, opponents 6-9
2012: Georgetown 4-11, opponents 6-8
Total: Georgetown 19-33 (.575), opponents 20-36 (.555)

Maybe it's all in the head of the kicker, or maybe the building configurations, crosswind, or shadows make the MSF a bit more challenging to kick out of. Either way, a home field goal is no sure thing and those buildings aren't going anywhere for a few decades, if ever.

4. All-Access. It's the end of the season, so I do not expect anything substantive to be done this late, but a comment about the quality of video coverage provided through it needs improvement. Chuck Timanus does an outstanding job with what little he has to work with, but the single camera video coverage is wholly inadequate and isn't always worth the $9.95 charged to see the games. Last week's broadcast was stuck in a data cache where the feed was, at times, 20 minutes behind the game broadcast, and basic amenities the sports fan has grown to expect (time and score, for instance) cannot be shown because, well, it's only one camera. Instant replay? Forget it.

Yes, Georgetown doesn't have a radio/TV major, so physical resources are limited, and Verizon FiOS did not renew its prior agreement to host games (though it was never part of the All-Access broadcasts and according to some PL fans, never showed some games at all). Still, the best way to support a team to be able to see them, and there should be some effort sought to provide a more professional level of video coverage worth the investment that fans make.

5. Senior Day. I'll talk more about it on the web site this week, but some thanks are owed to this senior class, the ones which stuck through the winless 0-11 season and will leave the MSF Saturday with at least a winning record over their next three seasons (17-15) and (hopefully) a winning record in 2012.

It's likely the final competitive football game for 12 or 13 of these men, which for those that have been playing football every fall since they were old enough to grab a helmet and play pee-wee football, Saturday's game is a turning point in their young lives, and for those parents who have traveled to grade school, junior high, and high school games, and college games from Worcester to Norfolk over the last four years for their sons and for the team--and not all live within driving distance, either.

To the students and their families, thank you for a job well done.