Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Week 6 Thoughts


Some brief thoughts following Georgetown's 23-11 win over Fordham Saturday:

What Changed?  Some coaches are fond of saying that three or four plays can alter the outcome of a competitive game. Now, this presumes a competitive game, because four plays' aren't beating Alabama or any such opponent, but Georgetown did its part by not making the mistakes that all too inevitably lead to its demise . So here are four plays worth mentioning, and worth learning from:

1. With under two minutes in the first quarter, Georgetown gets a 27 yard pass from Gunther Johnson to Jay Tolliver to advance to the Fordham 18. While Georgetown could have pursued a running approach inside the 20, they went right back to the air and found Cameron Crayton in the end zone. It set a tone for the game that Georgetown was in to won.

2 With eight minutes to halftime, Georgetown held an 8-6 lead when a bad snap deep in its own territory put the Hoyas in trouble. Punter Brad Hurst quickly got the ball out of the end zone and took a safety when a punt attempt would have been risky and a simply falling on the ball gives the Rams an opportunity to take the lead before halftime, which almost always spells trouble for Georgetown in the second half. Instead, the Georgetown defense reasserted itself at midfield and the Hoyas were no worse than tied at intermission.

3. With 4:17  in the third quarter, Fordham was in the midst of an 18 play drive that could have zapped the will of the GU defense. A key stop by Wes Bowers at the Fordham forced a third and nine which fell short. As a result, Georgetown held Fordham to a field goal and took the lead for good on the next series.

4. With 2:16 in the fourth quarter, a stop at the goal line may have been enough to rally Fordham if they could get yards early in the two minute drill. Instead, with the defense on its toes and taking advantage of a change in quarterbacks, the efforts in the film room on Luke Medlock paid off. Jethro Francois was right where he need to be and Georgetown shut down the Rams for good.

These were four of any number of plays that contributed to Georgetown's biggest win in five seasons.  And while Fordham isn't North Dakota State or even Central Connecticut State, it was a win for a team and a program that badly needed one.

It needs another one, too.




Monday, October 1, 2018

Week 5 Thoughts

A few different thoughts following Brown's 35-7 win over Georgetown:

It would be easy, understandable, perhaps, to take what was said two weeks ago in the Dartmouth and repurpose it for this week's review.  A tired offense, sloppy line play, too many turnovers, a defense that always seem to arrive two series into the game. These all seem obvious at the halfway point of the 2018 season, which we'll talk about later this week.

A different question, then: is this all OK?

No alarm bells over at GUHoyas.com, which only noted that Georgetown "faltered" at Brown.  To falter, according to the dictionary, is to "start to lose strength or momentum."  I'm not sure what momentum was lost there is a with a team that started down 14-0 in the first quarter, but nonetheless, an official release is not the place for  that concern.

You certainly won't hear alarm from the Washington Post, which has given up any coverage of the team. The HOYA doesn't post a story until the following Friday, well into the past tense. While the Georgetown Voice usually has a story up by Monday, it's straightforward and without little outward criticism.

This team has dropped four straight, six straight to Ivy League schools, 12 of its last 14 and 20 of its last 22. It doesn't mean people aren't trying hard, but numbers are numbers. This isn't a very good program right now.

And sometimes, the best view of the program comes from within.

And that's what makes James Franklin's press conference at Penn State, following a loss at home to #4 Ohio State Saturday night. Following a few minutes of coach speak on a game where PSU lost a two touchdown lead before a record crowd of 110,989, Franklin changed the tone and minced no words on what ails his team.

"The reality is that we’ve gone from an average football team to a good football team to a great football team and we’ve worked really hard to do those things. But we’re not an elite football team yet." he said. "As hard as we have worked to go from average to good, from good to great, the work that it’s going to take to get to an elite program is going to be just as hard as the ground and the distance that we’ve already traveled. It’s going to be just as hard to get there. Scratch and claw and fight. "

"Right now we’re comfortable being great. I’m going to make sure that everybody in my program, including myself, is very uncomfortable. Because you only grow in life when you’re uncomfortable."

The comment got trashed by SEC guru Paul Finebaum, who opined that " James Franklin is a very good football coach. He’s not a great football coach, nor is Penn State a great program, it’s very good and trying to get to that level." Apparently, only Ohio State and the top three or four  SEC schools are worthy of the title.

Franklin continued: "You make that up by the little things. By going to class consistently so the coaches don’t have to baby sit you and we can spend our time developing you as men and as people and as players and not be babysitting everything. And don’t get me wrong, our guys do a great job going to class but there’s two or three guys, it’s all the little things. It’s all the little things that are going to matter and we are going to find a way to get from being a great program – which we are – just so everybody is crystal clear, we are a great program. We lost to an elite program, and we’re that close."

"We’ve gotten comfortable being great. We will no longer be comfortable being great."

So, the question as we head into October: is Georgetown comfortable where they are?

Let's be honest among ourselves--are we as a constituency comfortable being a ineffective program, one that is routinely beaten by opponents not named Marist College, one which gives best effort but still loses nearly every week over the last three seasons?

Those losses aren't coming to Syracuse or Boston College, Army or Navy,, nor are they coming to North Dakota State and James Madison. They are coming amidst a cohort of lower tier I-AA schools that put many of the same constraints on their programs but still show their regular expertise over Georgetown. Saturday's opponent was picked for last in the Ivy league, had dropped nine consecutive games...and still was up by 21 at the half.

""We’re going to learn from this, we’re going to grow from this and we’re going to find a way to take that next step as a program because we’ve been knocking at the door long enough," Franklin continued. "It’s my job as a head coach. I’m ultimately responsible for all of it. And I will find a way, we will find a way, with all the support of everybody in this community and everybody on this campus and the lettermen and everybody else, we are going to get this done. I give you my word. We are going to find a way to take the next step."

Much like Franklin's quote above, Georgetown does the little things right. No one questions the institutional commitment off the field in academics, in leadership training, in the process to grow as men for others, and to do well in life by doing good. That's not the immediate challenge right now.  No one will accuse Georgetown of being the kind of program Penn State is, and that fine, because it isn't. But we do need a commitment across the board to take Franklin's challenge to heart in Washington. Let's revisit this paragraph:

We’re going to learn from this, we’re going to grow from this and we’re going to find a way to take that next step as a program because we’ve been knocking at the door long enough. It’s my job as a head coach. I’m ultimately responsible for all of it. And I will find a way, we will find a way, with all the support of everybody in this community and everybody on this campus and the lettermen and everybody else, we are going to get this done. I give you my word. We are going to find a way to take the next step."