Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 7 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Lehigh’s 45-24 win over Georgetown:

A Program, Not  A Team:  Lehigh won again. No surprise, right? After all, it’s become an annual occurrence. But Isaiah Kempf or Kyle Nolan weren’t around when it was Sean Peterson or Morgan Booth or Ben Hostetler or Matt Bassuener. The names may change but the results remain the same. What gives?

In college football, moreso than may collegiate or even pro sports, successful schools follow the acronym WBAP: We Build A Program. Whether it‘s Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan or, yes, even Lehigh, sustained excellence is no accident. It is a commitment at all levels of the enterprise, from the school’s leadership to its coaches, its players, and the recruits which are drawn to attend.  Lehigh isn’t the biggest program in the Patriot League, nor spends the most, not even has the best and brightest stadium. What it does have, and has nurtured for many years now, is a broad-based commitment to provide the best atmosphere for coaches and players not only to succeed, but to excel. Success is transitory, excellence endures.

This is an issue many alumni and parents ask: what is Georgetown’s commitment to football? Realistically, that can be asked of any GU sport other than men’s basketball. Yes, a commitment is there, but the tools to excel are not always in place: the facility, the coach, the recruiting, the player development, or the schedule could all be hurdles a team may not overcome. But programs do.

And programs win championships.

Stat of The Week: Or maybe the season. Georgetown has 5 sacks in seven games. Five. But it has allowed 20, for a gap of -15. In 2012, it earned 23 sacks and allowed 34 (-11) , in 2011, earned 23 and allowed just 20 (+3).

First Half Blues: In the last two games, Georgetown has been outscored 66-3 in the first half of its last two games and 175-76 all season. That’s no accident. The Hoyas have been, and continue to be susceptible to opponents with a strong offensive line that can dictate the flow of the game, whether with the pass (Fordham) or on the ground (Lehigh). If Georgetown can’t force the game defensively, teams can chip away with a broad level of success, which is what Princeton and brown were able to do but Fordham and Lehigh even more so.

This is less the case over Georgetown’s final four games, featuring teams with a combined record of 8-19. Obviously,a  1-6 team can take nothing for granted, but its prospects figure to be better than against teams like Lehigh and Fordham, a combined 14-1 this season.

Patriot League Network: Saturday’s game marked the first of three games broadcast over the Patriot League Network, which provides free live broadcast of PL games among five of the seven schools—Lafayette maintains its own network and Georgetown, well, maintains its pay service at GUHoyas.com.

Saturday’s game featured the broadcast team from Service Electric’s channel 2 in the Lehigh Valley—professional, informative and very courteous to its Georgetown guests. Nary a word questioning the Hoyas, or casting ill will to its 1-5 record, much less noting the scholarship imbalance. Like its brethren down the road, residents of the Lehigh Valley enjoy solid college football programming which can only help but build bridges with its local community, and the crowd of 9,866 (or which 9,800 were probably supporting Lehigh) can relate.

But as noted before, charging $9.95 for a Georgetown game, even one with upgraded coverage, is a tall order for a DC and/or alumni community with limited awareness in the program to begin with. And while it’s fine for out of town parents and alumni that can be coerced away from the TV set to watch these games, it doesn’t do much for local coverage.

Reaching Records: Nick Campanella continues his climb up the career record charts, with three TD’s against Lehigh. His days are numbered, of course, as he is a graduating senior.

But at what point do the seniors begin to sit in favor of the underclassmen? 1-6 isn’t the end of the road but at some point that has to be a consideration, if not an outright issue, among the coaches. With so many seniors departing, this stands a chance of being an even weaker team in 2014, particularly in skill positions. There is no substitute for game time experience, but not at the expense of being non-competitive.

Georgetown needs a competitive showing down the road—you can’t sell a 1-10 season under the line of rebuilding, because the real rebuilding is a year away. The Hoyas played 45 in last week's game and there were plenty of underclassmen in that group. It wasn't enough, of course, but remember, the heights of 2011 were built on some of the beatdowns suffered two years earlier. This is the balancing act facing the coaches over the next four weeks, and especially at home.

Either way, win the day, but play to win.