Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Week 8 Thoughts

Week 8 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Lafayette's 17-3 win over Georgetown:

1. The More Things Change...Yes, the column missed a couple of weeks, but frankly, there wasn't much to say that wasn't said before: the defense was superb, the special teams  promising, too many penalties, and the offense is just not there. Repeating that every week doesn't solve very much.

Yet, Saturday's loss was troubling not in its sameness but in its contrast. This was not Georgetown fighting uphill versus Harvard or Princeton, nor to a Lehigh team headed to the I-AA playoffs or even a Fordham team that will host a game at Yankee Stadium next week. This was a loss, and a convincing one at that, to a Lafayette team that had lost 17 of its past 19 games, was giving up 54 points a game over its last three weeks, and hadn't won a home game against a Patriot League opponent in two years. This was the Lafayette team that the Hoyas beat 38-7 last fall for its largest margin of victory in its 15 year PL history.

And this year? One yard rushing at halftime. One possession inside the opponent 20, made possible from special teams. A run of four consecutive second half possessions that garnered a total of six yards....all this against the worst defense, statistically speaking, in the conference.

So what gives? It is strictly the lack of scholarships?  It plays a factor, but non-scholarship football hasn't stopped Georgetown from a defense that earns respect among its opponents. And I can't lay this at the feet of three quarterbacks with little or no prior college experience. Injuries don't help, either.

yes, Georgetown was dealt a short hand on offense in 2016, but we've been saying this for far too long. Excepting the two years of Dave Patenaude as offensive coordinator (and to some future historian in the PL, the 2011 season must not have actually happened, with Georgetown at 8-3 and Fordham at 1-10), the offense at Georgetown has been a bellwether of the program.  Elliot Uzelac didn't change that momentum. Neither did Jim Miceli. Vinny Marino certainly didn't turn the ship around, and now Mike Neuberger faces a stat sheet that, at any other school, would be cause for shopping resumes:

  • Passing Yardage: 107th of 122 schools
  • Passing Efficiency: 115th of 122
  • Rushing Yardage: 115th of 122
  • Total Offense: 120th of 122
  • First Downs: 120th of 122
  • Third Down Conversions: 120th of 122
  • Yards Per Completion: 122nd of 122

Unless Georgetown is playing the two teams consistently below them on those lists, which they do not  (Robert Morris, Savannah State) they're in a position of real trouble on offense. The team has scored 20 points combined in three weeks, and hasn't scored more than 20 points in any game to teams not named Davidson. 

Do the math.

At some point Georgetown has to invest in an OC. That doesn't mean Coach Neuberger can't or shouldn't do the job, but defense and special teams can't win games on its own. Lacking scholarships, the road to a winning season is as narrow for Georgetown as for any team in Division I-AA. 

"This place should have a good football program,” Coach Sgarlata told the Georgetown Voice in 2015. "We’re excellent at everything that we do. This whole place is built on being the best you can be at what you’re doing. There’s no reason why this football program shouldn’t be the same thing.”

The offense is essential to getting there, and 120th place isn't a winning number.

2. Meet the Crusaders: Up at Holy Cross, the web site is all about promoting Holy Cross' game at Fordham in two weeks--it's a big deal playing at Yankee Stadium, sure, but it's also a reflection that there's nothing big about Georgetown that you can sell to the home towners .

The Crusaders lost its starting quarterback midway through the season and have struggled through the toughest part of the schedule, a 46-14 loss to Lehigh and a 26-8 loss last week at Lehigh. Much like Lafayette, HC fans are not happy with the performance of head coach Tom Gilmore, whose record through 13 seasons stands at 69-75. The Crusaders at 3-6, Gilmore's fourth losing season in his last five years at Mt. St. James. A loss to Georgetown (a team they beat 45-7 last season) would not go well entering the Fordham game, which is expected to be the largest turnout of HC fans outside Worcester since its I-A football days.

Despite an offensive line that averages over 300 pounds, HC has not been able to get a consistent run game, relying instead on a passing game ranked third in the PL at just under 240 yards a game. Its defense ranks only 6th but Georgetown's offense of late can do wonders for a team's statistics.

"Like us, Georgetown has had injuries at some key spots, but they have shown the ability move the ball well and play great defense,” said Holy Cross head coach Tom Gilmore at its midweek release. “We need to get back on track in practice and execute much better this week in order to earn a victory.”

Neither team can afford to finish 3-8 this season. Georgetown is trending in that direction, while a loss Saturday could lead HC in the same direction. It might be as simple as the first team to 21 points wins, which doesn't give Georgetown fans a rally cry.

3. Whatever Happened To... While reviewing Mike Neuberger's bio on GUHoyas.com, I came across this note:  "In 2012 with the Hoyas, Neuberger’s wide receivers averaged 12.11 yards per catch and accounted for seven touchdowns, while helping develop Kevin Macari into a Second Team All-Patriot League selection."

Remember Kevin Macari? A promising  recruit from New Canaan, Connecticut that didn't get a scholarship offer, he turned down a preferred walk-on at Miami to play at Georgetown.

 "I just felt comfortable [at GU]," Macari told the Connecticut Post in 2012. "It is some place I want to be for the next four years." Instead, he transferred to Delaware.

Macari's football dreams ended abruptly at Delaware. His junior year was lost to injury. As a senior, he played in two games, and did not catch a pass in either. A major in Community Leadership at UD, Macari returned home to New Canaan for a job as an assistant football coach in 2015, but did not return to the staff following a June 2016 stop for drug possession.

A college football career is fleeting, but life after football can't be ignored.