Thursday, September 21, 2017

Week 2 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Marist's 14-12 win over Georgetown Saturday:

1. A Bad Loss. No sugarcoating necessary, this was a bad loss to one of few winnable opponents on the 2017 schedule. Where Georgetown was able to compensate for a weak offensive showing by Campbell with a strong defensive showing and a pair of critical turnovers, the Hoyas could do neither with Marist.

Giving credit where due: Marist is a good defensive team, but this is the Pioneer League and Georgetown should have better offensive weaponry than it does. But it does not.  Despite a senior-heavy lineup, Georgetown is a slow, reactive offense whose play calling in recent years is predictable and often under performing. It's why teams like Harvard and Fordham seemed to key off the Hoyas in early game series last year.

Georgetown has scored just three points in the first half over two games this season, which is a big red flag given the caliber of competition. It was 12 points at the half in 2015 and just over 10 in 2016--that's putting the defense in a position of weakness all day.  Granted, this is not new.

From 2001 to 2016, the Hoyas have placed just two selections to the first team all-Patriot league team, but Luke McArdle was a MAAC era recruit and Jeremy Moore was a return specialist.  Put another way, not a single back, lineman, or receiver recruited since 2000 has made a list that Colgate, Fordham, and Lehigh have a combined 141 selections during that same period.

Either Georgetown has to recruit better or play better to avoid the kind of slide it faced last season (dropping its last eight) or what may befall them beginning Saturday against Columbia. The Lions collapsed in the second half of a game last year at Cooper Field that they should have won, but it was the last win for the Hoyas. This is a markedly better Lion team this year and year three of the Al Bagnoli era at Morningside Heights  is set to produce results.

Even if we concede Georgetown  is not going to win seven or eight games this season, and we do, the offense has to put the team in position to contend. It wasn't there against Campbell and it sure wasn't there against Marist, even with last minute hopes. Georgetown needs a much better game plan, and much better execution in the next three weeks to keep the 2017 season from sliding off the page altogether. History doesn't suggest this (GU is 6-30-1 all time vs. Ivy schools) but that's why they play the game.

Bottom line: this is not the same Columbia team of the past two seasons. Is this the same Georgetown offense?

2. The Little Things. Coaches dread film sessions like this, because one or two plays may have made the difference. OK, I'll discuss three:

--Brad Hurst's blocked PAT. Never underestimate the power of special teams. The Georgetown game plan changed from 14-7 to 14-6, and whereas the Hoyas might have been able to tie the score and drive for the game winning points at the end of the game, they were playing from behind all afternoon thereafter.
--Third and 1 at the Marist 49:  With 2:53 to play, a stop here leaves the Hoyas one time out and roughly two minutes to drive down the field. Failing on this stop eats up the remaining timeout and nearly two minutes of the clock.  The net difference was a mere two yards for the remainder of the series, but the loss of time proved fatal.
--The final drive: With 15 seconds to go, no timeouts, and the clock stopped, Georgetown needed a big play to make a difference. Instead, a three yard dump-off set up the Hoyas to clock the next down and have one chance for the end zone.

3. The Only Game In Town. Unlikely as it may sound, ESPN College Gameday is broadcasting this week from New York

That's received a lot of grief from the chattering class, given that such events seem best suited to places like Tuscaloosa or State College or Chapel Hill. ESPN hasn't exactly said why this is the case (it may be a cost cutting move even with the costs of Times Square)  but in any event, they won't be in front of a stadium this week. In fact, there is only one football game in the city that day.

Georgetown at Columbia.

So, no, ESPN is not going to bring out headgear for Lee Corso to pick the winner of the game, although Jack the Bulldog would look great on him as opposed to, say, Roar-ee the Lion. But it would offer an opportunity, however brief, for the sports information folks at both schools to get in a reference (or two) that these two schools are playing this week amidst all the other talk of a three hour show.

In short, give them something to talk about. And about that headgear....