Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 4 Thoughts

Some brief thoughts following Georgetown’s 45-7 loss to Brown on Saturday:

1. Perspective. A lot of grumbling in Georgetown circles following Saturday’s loss –grumbling about the head coach, or what people see as the University's ongoing non-commitment to winning football. But while people want to win, was anyone surprised by this outcome?

Brown has won each of the prior three games over the Hoyas by an average of 23 points. In fact, last year’s last minute win over Princeton was the only win Georgetown has collected over any Ivy League school in the Kelly era—we tend to forget the more egregious losses, like the two week period in 2007 where Cornell and Penn outscored the Hoyas 77-20, or the six straight losses to Yale.

Why is this? Many factors, among them recruiting, the Ivies’ generous financial aid packages, or just plain old tradition (Franklin Field > MSF), but in many cases it comes down to talent on the field. Any team with 11 seniors on the starting offense is going to be formidable. Kevin Kelly knew that, and those that followed the game knew that. Brown was experienced and prepared. Georgetown, minus Wharton and Alfieri, were not. Yes, it would have been great if Brandon Durham’s kick return would have been a touchdown to close to 10-7, but the Georgetown offense was still not prepared for the relentless defensive surge by Brown’s senior-laden defense.

And don’t discount Brown, either. Phil Estes has built a program in Providence, right alongside that of Murphy and Bagnoli. Its assistants reflect a program of longevity and consistency:

  • Abbott Burrell, 18th season 
  • Frank Sheehan, 16th season 
  • Paul Frisone, 13th season 
  • Michael Kelleher, 12th season 
  • Neil McGrath, 11th season 
  • Joe Leslie, 8th season 
  • Chris Nappi, 5th season 
  • Liam Coen, 2nd season 

Maybe the question isn’t why Brown beat Georgetown badly, but what Georgetown can learn from Brown and its program going forward, a Brown program which spends less on football than any Ivy school but has been in the top half of the league in 14 of the last 16 seasons.

2. Ivy League Network: Thumbs up to the presentation of Saturday’s game on the Ivy League network, the digital subscription that made its football debut Saturday with the Georgetown-Brown game. A few technical issues delayed the start, and the graphics package didn’t arrive until the second half, but the presentation was first rate and has the opportunity to be a fine addition to Ivy games going forward.

 By contrast, the Patriot League’s Network is a free service, even though no Georgetown home games are offered. Fans wishing to see the Princeton game will have to pay for the privilege through 

3. Stat Of The Game: Zero, as in zero sacks for the second consecutive games. No pressure on a quarterback, no pressure for a quarterback. With Princeton’s up-tempo, no huddle approach, the lack of significant pressure on the line is tailor-made to a high scoring game, at least where the Tigers are concerned.

4. Stat Of the Game, Part Two: 1.5, as in Georgetown’s rushing yards per carry versus Brown. The Hoyas rushed for 3.6 yards per carry last season at Princeton, six more than the homestanding Tigers. Anything less than three yards a carry Saturday is a red flag in game like this.

5. Princeton’s Other Streak: The Tiger varsity lost in the late moments to Lehigh, 29-28. Its other varsity football team was not as fortunate.

The Princeton sprint football team had to forfeit its game with Navy last week because of “a limited number of active players available.” This was the 87th consecutive loss for the Tigers dating to the 1999 season, a dizzying number. (A 2005 win over a club team from VMI has been discounted as not being a valid varsity game.) Over that same period, the Hoyas have won 48 times.

Sprint football, formerly known as lightweight football, restricts players to 172 pounds or less in order to compete (a change when it was once 150 pounds or less.). Founded in 1934, membership declined to a point where just five schools sponsored the sport--Princeton, Penn, Cornell, Army, and Navy, before a trio of small colleges that do not sponsor NCAA-level football recently added the sport: Mansfield (PA), Post (CT) and Franklin Pierce. Nothing has helped the Tigers, however.

 “Most recently, the Tigers were forced to forfeit their Sept. 20 game against Navy due to a lack of available active players on the roster, one that at the time of publication included only five freshmen — some who had never played football before,” wrote the Daily Princetonian. “We had some guys this year who we had to teach how to get into a three-point stance. We had to teach them the positions, so you lose a lot of time with that,” said coach Stephen Everett said. “Even teaching them the rules — guys may play ‘Madden,’ or even watch football, but they might not actually know the rules. We need to do a lot of educating in just the basics of football. We call it ‘Football 100.’ ”

So why does Princeton keep playing sprint football? Said Everett: “Because of our small numbers, athletes realize that, ‘Hey, I’m going to have an opportunity to play right away, I’m not going to be sitting on the bench; I’m going to get a chance to play right away. If I’m playing, then I have an opportunity to be on that team that makes history.’”

While the heavyweight Tigers travel to Washington, the lightweights travel to Waterbury, CT, home of Post University (not to be confused with C.W. Post of New York), whom the Tigers fell short 32-28 in overtime last season, as close as Princeton’s come to anyone in recent years. Post is 1-1 in 2013, having defeated Cornell and lost to Army.

 A win over Georgetown would be one thing. A win over Post would be history.