Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week 6 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Lehigh's 35-3 win over Georgetown Saturday:

1. Unexpected? No fan, no coach, no player wants to lose, that's a given. But no one wants to lose each and every year to the same opponent. For the last 10 years, that's Harvard over Yale. For the last 14, it's been navy over Army. And for the 16th straight game, it's Lehigh over Georgetown. Can we be surprised? No.

Lehigh plays a game especially unsuited to a team like Georgetown--depth wins out every time.  The Engineers have been solid over the years on the lines, something where recruiting and injuries have taken its toll on Georgetown for two decades.  A solid o-line opens up holes for running backs, gives quarterbacks time to find receivers, and extends the ability to adapt to defensive sets. When a QB is running for his life, that doesn't apply. Line play has been strong for Lehigh for years and when they play a team like Georgetown which can't control the line of scrimmage, they can wear opponents out. When you go from 14-3 at halftime and drop touchdowns on the first three possessions of the second half, that's a function of talent and depth.

How does this change? There's no one secret formula, as Yale and Army can attest.  Harvard and Navy are beating up on a lot of people, not just one or two. If Georgetown can get better (and that's an open question given the constraints imposed by PL recruiting) it has to come in the lines. The defense has earned its reputation in league circles as a strong-willed bunch. The offense needs that same approach.

Georgetown's run versus Lehigh is not the longest in current terms. Pennsylvania's 35-10 win over Columbia was the 20th consecutive win in that series; in fact, Penn has won 28 of the last 32. But you can tell that's going to change. Columbia gets better every week under Al Bagnoli (this was only a 7-0 game at the half) and Penn has seven seniors to replace on offense next season. Watch out for this rematch at Baker Field next season.

And Georgetown's rematch at Lehigh next year?  Probably more of the same.

2. Quarterback #3.  The introduction of Brock Johnson into the lineup at the end of the Lehigh wasn't just to give Clay Norris a breather. There's a chance for some competition  at QB, and Johnson has all the tools to make a go at it. It's likely this was an issue the coaches would have preferred to deal with in spring practice next year after Tim Barnes had graduated, but the future is now and both figure to get some time the remainder of this season.

I'm reminded of a pair of  (now) older Hoyas who competed at QB in the mid-90's: Bill Ring and Bill Ward. Clay Norris is the Bill Ring type--tall, consistent, methodical. Johnson has a little of Ward in him-- someone not afraid to air the ball out to move the dial. Georgetown has some of its best receivers in a decade right now but they aren't getting the ball downfield under either Barnes or Norris. Johnson has the skills to be a really, really good quarterback.

Fordham will make it difficult for either QB this week. I'd stay with Norris against the Rams, then use the final four games to set the course for 2017.

3. Fan-Friendly.  It's no secret that visiting PL writers do not like Cooper (nee multi-Sport) Field. There's a nice spread for the writers at places like Fisher, at Goodman, or even at Jack Coffey. When free lance writer Keith Groller writes this about the place, it's not a compliment:

And yet, Georgetown seem unwilling to improve the fan experience until this still-mysterious Cooper Field redo takes place. There's some chatter that the visitors seating may go away entirely (which won't be well received around the league) but the current experience is lacking.  Has been for years, and it isn't likely to change.

Do our fans vote with their wallets? Check the average attendance figures from around the league:

Holy Cross: 9,501 (2 home games)
Colgate: 8,010 (1)
Lafayette: 7,134 (2)
Lehigh: 6,525 (2)
Fordham: 4,994 (4)
Bucknell: 4,800 (2)
Georgetown: 2,237 (4)

So what would Georgetown do if 9,500 people suddenly showed up to watch a game?  That would be a fun one.

4. From The Wayback Machine:   So when was the last time Georgetown won at Fordham? A long time ago. Here's the story from the Fordham Ram, November 6, 1974:

"Led by halfback John Burke's three touchdown runs and a stubborn defense, the Georgetown Hoyas trounced the Ram grid squad 35-7 last Saturday, disappointing a partisan Homecoming crowd of approximately 4,500 at Jack Coffey Field.

"Burke, who scored on runs of 71, 11 and 24 yards, gained 190 yards for the game on 18 carries, and earned the Madow Trophy, awarded to the. game's most valuable player. Previously, the trophy had been awarded in the Battles of the Bronx

"After the game the question on many minds was: Is Georgetown that good or is Fordham that bad? The answer you receive depends on who you talk to, of course. Nevertheless, the 4-1 Hoyas made believers out of Ram head coach Dean Loucks and his quarterback, Don Hommel.

"Make no mistake about it", said a dejected Loucks, "Georgetown is a very good football team and they deserve all the credit." As for his own team's deficiencies, the coach commented, "Sure, we can play better than that, but Georgetown is a better team than we are."

Read more about it at this link.