Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 2 Thoughts

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

1. Remembering. The program does its part to remember the legacy of Joe Eacobacci every day, not just today. Let's also remember those Georgetown alumni and staff lost that day. Here's a link to a 2001 article from The HOYA with the names and stories of those killed that day.

2. Nothing Wrong With 2-0, But...: Another early win is a plus for 2016, and entering a bye week over more so. Georgetown got solid efforts on all three phases of play (offense, defense special teams) and on the road that's essential.

The offense led time of possession across the board, the defense continued its bend but don't break approach in limiting red zone conversion, and the special teams came up big with two blocked punts that foretold the final outcome. But this game shouldn't have been this close, and from those silver linings there's a few clouds to pay attention to:

--Georgetown held Marist to a remarkable 0 for 13 on third downs--superb congratulations, but this was still a three point game.  What if Marist was 1 of 13? Two of 13? The Hoyas still needed two blocked field goals to earn the win, and won't get those kind of breaks the rest of the season.

--For its sake, Georgetown converted on just 5 of 20 third downs against one of the weaker defenses in the subdivision. Enough for the Pioneer League, perhaps, but certainly not enough for the opponents to come. And it was consistently weak throughout: 2 of nine before halftime, 3 of 11 after it.

--Rushing defense has been stout--12th nationally after two weeks. But Marist and Davidson were both among the bottom 20 in rushing in 2015 and while that's not a predictor of how they'll do in 2016, it's a matter of context.

So let's celebrate the win and promptly forget about it. Two weeks to prepare for Columbia, the start of a three game express run through the Ivy League which will tell us more about the 2016 season than Marist ever will.

3. Ancient Eight Preview: Coverage of Ivy football isn't what it sued to be but Jake Novak 's Columbia blog is as good they get it. Novak, whose distaste for the coaching regime of  Pete Mangurian was anything but reserved (and don't get him started on former Hoyas and Columbia OC Vinny Marino), is much more enthused over the arrival of Al Bagnoli to Morningside Heights and the opportunity for an elusive target for the Light Blue: a winning season.

Georgetown has posted one winning season since 2001. By contrast, Columbia has just two winning seasons since 1971 and its seniors are a combined 2-28. But this is a new era at Columbia and Novak knows it.

"Bagnoli delivered early on the hope to make Columbia a more relevant team right away," he writes. "The Lions were competitive in all but one game last season and they enjoyed a gargantuan leap statistically over their numbers in 2014 and 2013. And yet they still didn’t really overreach out of the gate as they were unusually unlucky not to have finished 2015 with at least two more wins. In that sense, perhaps 2016 will be more about matching 2015’s rightful total of four wins rather than making a quantum leap into title contention."

His 2016 Ivy picks:

1. Pennsylvania
2. Harvard
3. Princeton
4. Dartmouth
5. Columbia
6. Brown
7. Yale
8. Cornell

A fifth place finish wouldn't get Bagnoli a parade up Broadway but would be a seismic change for a team without an Ivy title since 1961. They'll see its first two games, St. Francis and Georgetown, as a dress rehearsal for that step upward.

4. Ram-page: Columbia usually opens its season with Fordham, but to the ire of the Bronx contingent, Columbia canceled its series. The Rams then took out its aggression on Elizabeth City State University, a Division II historically black college in rural North Carolina who made its first scheduled visit north of the Mason-Dixon line since 2002. Fordham led 38-0 after the first quarter and sent the Vikings home to a 83-21 loss for new coach Earnest Wilson III, himself a battle scarred veteran of the woeful Savannah State program that was 2-32 under his watch in 2014 and 2015.

What was to be gained by that game? A win, sure. Some extra reps between the Rams' games at Navy and Penn. With seven of its games in the city, and the league's best NFL prospect of this generation in RB Chase Edmonds, the Rams are primed to step on some people.

The win did have an effect on the league record books: it overwrote the previous scoring record set by Lehigh over Georgetown in 2002. The less said about that game, the better.

5. Around the League: Other scores from week 2, with Colgate on bye:

Villanova 26, Lehigh 21
Duquesne 30, Bucknell 19
Delaware 24, Lafayette 6
New Hampshire 39, Holy Cross 28

It's early, but the Patriots have taken their lumps in the non-conference slate: 6-7 overall, but just 3-7 in games not involving Pioneer League teams.

This week's schedule include the following, with Georgetown and Fordham on bye:

Colgate (0-1) at Yale (0-0)
Lehigh (0-2) at Pennsylvania (0-0)
Cornell (0-0) at Bucknell (1-1)
Lafayette (1-1) at Princeton (0-0)
Holy Cross (1-1) at Albany (2-0)