Thursday, November 5, 2015

Week 9 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Lehigh's 33-28 win over Georgetown Saturday:

1. A Slow Start. Fifteen years of watching Georgetown in the Patriot League has pounded one truism pounded into my head: Georgetown is not a team that does well with a slow start. Granted, there was a nice comeback given Lehigh's suspect pass defense, but the fact remains that this is not a team where it can give up 17 points to anyone without consequence.

The Hoyas opened the game slow on offense, giving up three sacks in the first two possessions while Lehigh goobled up yardage at an average of nine yards a down. Give the Hoyas credit for adjustments which narrowed the gap, but this was still an offense that gave it problems.

Georgetown has been outscored 68-37 this season in the first quarter, and is up 147-145 for the remaining three quarters this season. A good start in its remaining games would be essential for Georgetown to be competitive after halftime.

2. Lessons For Fordham: So, can Georgetown learn from this game in the bye week en route to its game with Fordham? Yes, but there's still no good way the Hoyas will win that game.

The Rams play at a high competitive level than the Hoyas and that's a function of talent. Chase Edmonds will be playing in the NFL in a few years, and at least a couple more of his teammates will be in a training camp. While Georgetown fans are hopeful about Cooper Field, Fordham has a game scheduled in Yankee Stadium next year against Holy Cross. Never mind the likelihood that this isn't going to be a sold out event, the mere fact that recruits can be sold on a game like that speaks to a collective vision for football in the Bronx you do not find in Washington,.

Then again, the Rams have been to one NCAA basketball tournament in the last 44 years, so the vision thing goes both ways.

But back to football: Colgate's upset win over Fordham last week was about run defense, where the rams were held to 54 yards on the ground. Colgate got that proverbial hot start with touchdowns on each of its first three possessions (something Georgetown hasn't done since the MAAC days) and hung on at the end for the win. The Red raiders kept penalties to a minimum (three), gave up only one turnover, and caught a little luck, as Fordham missed two field goals, either of which ahve provided the margin of victory.

Run defense, few penalties, limit turnovers, hope for a little luck. These may not be enough to withstand the talent gap,. but it would make a great Senior Day for the homestanding Hoyas.

3. Hope For the Future: Georgetown is going to lose a lot of talent on both sides of the line at graduation this spring, but especially on offense, Kyle Nolan, Jo'el Kimpela and Jake DeCicco have been mainstays in their respective positions over the past two seasons.

We haven't seen much as to the next generation of QB and probably won't for a while. Tim Barnes will be a senior, Jowan Watson and Clay Norris will be sophomores, and at least one or two freshmen will be in the mix. As the I-A ranks embrace the pinball approach to offensive formations typified by Baylor (where touchdown drives routinely take place in under 90 seconds of game time), the skill set of the Patriot League in general and Georgetown in particular still favors a more traditional approach. Which of these men can pick up from where Nolan brought the program is down the road, but there is talent there, and that's good.

At running back, Georgetown has some work ahead of it. The Hoyas lose seniors Jo'el Kimpela and vastly underutilized Troye Bullock, leaving sophomores Alex Valles and Isaac Ellsworth, along with freshmen Christian Bermudez and Carl Thomas,  At 5-6, 160, Ellsworth may be too small for a pounding 30-carry effort, but Valles had a nice game against Lehigh and could be groomed into the role of a back similar to Nick Campenella a few seasons back. A good recruiting effort in this area woudl be helpful, but let's be frank: Georgetown is fighting at a major disadvantage when it comes to recruiting players in skill positions because of scholarships.The Hoyas haven't had a true impact runner in a generation and schoalrships won't make that easier.

But some better news on the receiver front, where we're seeing the growth of some key assets in the Georgetown lineup. Justin Hill will be a senior next year and should do well, but the development  of Luke Morris and Branden Williams should provide some foundation to what the Hoyas can do next season with a new quarterback.

4. Picture-Perfect. One couldn't ask for better weather or better hospitality than that afforded to Georgetown fans at Lehigh last week. The weather was outstanding, with a bit of fall in the air but not enough to dissuade a healthy crowd of almost 8,000 at the game, replete with tailgates, cornhole games, and plenty of footballs afloat in the parking lots.

And unlike Georgetown, you see the families that makes these trips each week from the local area. If GU could take one positive step forward with its new facility, it would be to make Cooper Field and environs family-friendly, not just student-friendly.

If you've never seen a game in the Lehigh Valley, you should. The Lehigh side of the crowd was well represented:

And the fall foliage was just beyond the perimeter of the stadium:

Goodman Stadium has plenty of fan amenities, including a wide variety of foods, but one thing it could add is some history. Granted, it's not Taylor Stadium, the former home of the Engineers from 1914 to 1987 and which was literally in the middle of the Lehigh campus:

(Now that's a design for Cooper Field!)

But there's a lot of history in the Lehigh program that you'd miss by looking around the 25 year old facility that currently serves as its home. In fact, the Engineers' 1977 Division II national title is on a small banner below the scoreboard and otherwise relegated to a list of playoff appearances.

Lehigh fans might want to follow the approach by other schools when it comes to saluting past accomplishments and give its title some prominence:

Finally, I had the opportunity to meet two of the regular PL posters on the AGS message board and thank them for stopping by to say hello. Never met them before, but sharing a few football stories and some pre-game talk is what a good tailgate is all about.