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Game Preview: Georgetown at Lehigh

(Photo courtesy Georgetown Athletics)

''If you look at the big picture, all of our goals are still intact. We haven't even started league play yet. If you look at the league, there hasn't really been a standout team so far. We've just got to take it a week at a time. Hopefully, we'll win the Patriot League and contend for a national championship in the playoffs.''

Who said this after a loss to Harvard as a lead-in to a game versus Georgetown - perhaps senior LB Matt Cohen, or senior LB Al Pierce? Nope: it was WR Frankie "Playmaker" Trovato after an excruciating 35-33 loss to Harvard in 2006. In that game, a missed 2-point conversion would end up being the difference.

That year - like this year - Lehigh started out in rough shape at 1-3. While the win was against Villanova (note: a Wildcat team that was nowhere near the quality of this year's Villanova squad), losses to Albany, Princeton and Harvard had Lehigh fans singing some serious blues going into league play.

Looking over some my Georgetown previews from the last three years, it's striking how similar they sound. First of all, every time Lehigh has played Georgetown in the past three years it has come after a loss - twice to Holy Cross, once to Harvard. And this year, after last week's loss to Harvard, the pattern still holds.

Some of my comments can easily be recycled, too. 2006: "There is no more margin for error if we want to win the Patriot League title, and all league games count more than usual. But even so, a complete win here is really needed." 2007: "Getting off this losing streak would be huge for the psyche of everybody in the Lehigh family - players, coaches, and fans. Winning resoundingly, with the offense finally getting off a four-week schneid, would be even better." 2008: "For Lehigh, even with a sub-.500 record, it's a win they expect, and need, to have. It's one game at a time. Win each week, see what happens."

Every time, Georgetown came at a great time for Lehigh: the Mountain Hawks were desperate for a win in every instance, and each time Lehigh delivered.

Two of the games were blowouts, but last year the Hoyas jumped out to their first lead during this time: 13-7 at the end of the first quarter before the Mountain Hawks settled down and scored the next 26 points in a 33-13 victory.

In 2006, 1-3 Lehigh not only beat Georgetown (in less-than-impressive fashion, too, with a 28-3 win), they would win the rest of their league games that year going into the final weekend. While Lehigh would officially win a Patriot League co-championship that year, it didn't feel like one with a loss to Lafayette and the Leopards heading to a first-round playoff game at UMass instead of the Mountain Hawks. Mr. Trovato was not too far off: had Lehigh beaten "that school in Easton", they would have had their chance to compete for a national championship.

It's some variation on this 2006 theme that must motivate the Lehigh players - and their fans - the rest of the way. In 2006, Lafayette started at 2-2, ultimately falling to 2-5 before winning their last four games to win the Patriot League title. Lehigh started at 1-3 before winning the rest of their league games heading into the "Rivalry" game that ended up being a playoff game.

If the dream of a Patriot League championship run for Lehigh is to come true this year, it starts this Saturday.

Game Notes
The game notes show zero change from last week to this week - technically. While senior LB Heath Brickner and senior DT Phil Winett were finally determined this week to be out for the year, senior LB Troy Taylor is also listed as "questionable" for this week's game - if he's out, look for sophomore LB Mike Groome to get a lot of playing time in his place.

Not that there was any doubt, but sophomore QB Chris Lum gets the start again this weekend over junior QB J.B. Clark. Sophomore RB Matt Fitz is still listed on the depth chart behind junior RB Jay Campbell at running back, but he was rung up in the Harvard game last weekend so you wonder if freshman RB Zach Barket will see his carries increase this weekend. Zach has already appeared in two games this year, but hasn't seen significant action.

Georgetown didn't release game notes for last week's game versus Bucknell, but DFW Hoya in the past has always offered a great game preview on his website.

Weather Report
It's starting to really feel like fall. While tomorrow calls for "considerable cloudiness and rain showers, they are supposed to clear out by Saturday morning and make way for a mostly sunny day with a high in the low 60s. Stay tuned. Oddly enough, all of Lehigh's games have been played in near-perfect weather this year - highly unusual.

A Word on Georgetown
Georgetown actually has a great history of football tradition, including being one of the early powers of "Eastern Football" in the first half of the 20th century. They also were a major school in the very early days of football, too. The Hoyas had a huge rivalry with the "Columbia Athletic Club" which was a semi-pro team based in the District. Every year until 1894 Columbia A.C. and Gerogetown would play for the "district championship", until it was stopped in 1894 after the death of a Hoya player. Shortly thereafter, college clubs would be banned from playing semi-professional clubs.

The pinnacle for Hoya football came in 1949 with a 5-4 record and an appearance in the Sun Bowl (which they lost, 33-20, to UTEP). But the escalating costs of college football were taking their toll on many colleges after that year, and at the conclusion of the 1950 season the Hoyas would fold their football program - along with twenty-two other programs, including Duquesne, CCNY, Catholic, and others. It would take thirteen years for Georgetown to dip their toes in the water with club football, Division III football in 1973, and non-scholarship I-AA football in 1993.

Since joining the Patriot League in 2001, Georgetown has struggled to say the least. It never promised to be easy to transition from full need-based scholarships to the Patriot League flavor of scholarships, but nobody would have predicted that the Hoyas would not have a winning record in their eight year in the league either, let alone be uncompetitive for a Patriot League championship. Coach Kevin Kelly, who replaced Bob Benson four years ago, has exactly five wins during his time at the helm - with two wins coming against non-scholarship Marist, one coming against MEAC bottom-dweller Howard, and the another coming against Bucknell.

File this under the category of, "So you think YOU have problems..."

Last Time Out
Georgetown had to see their game at Lewisburg as a winnable game - but after jumping out to a 6-0 lead, Bucknell would ride two second-half touchdowns to beat the Hoyas 14-6. Up 3-0, the Hoyas would be handed a gift in the first quarter on the Bucknell 10 yard line to start a drive - but instead had to settle for a field goal instead of going up early by two scores. In the second half, the Georgetown offense would cross midfield only once.

LFN's Drink of the Week
Lehigh fans don't need anything fancy - we need a win. As a result, Lehigh fans also don't wish for their "Drink of the Week" to be anything fancy either - they want some nice Yuengling Black & Tans in a nice pared-down tailgate. If the football team is going back to basics to win football games, perhaps it's time for us as well, as fans, to do the same.

Breaking Down Georgetown
Offense
For yet another year, Georgetown's mantra on offense is "we're rebuilding". What many may not have bargained for is the fact that a true freshman quarterback who started out fourth on the depth chart would be the starter for the last two games. With a supposed triple-option-style attack with slot backs and the like, the Hoyas are featuring more of a pocket passer at the moment.

Calling freshman QB Isaiah Kempf's three starts a 'baptism of fire' would be fairly accurate. In an incredibly tough situation for Isaiah, he's shown some promise in the passing game, with 781 yards passing in 3 starts - but only has one touchdown, and seven interceptions, to show for it. More of a pocket passer first, Kempf does have some mobility but has had a tough time from the lack of pass protection - Georgetown has given up, on average, nearly three sacks a game.

The running game has struggled, too. Senior RB Charlie Houghton leads the Hoyas in rushing - but only has 123 yards in five games. Backing him up is junior RB Phillip Oladeji with 88 yards. At the slot, senior RB Robert Lane and and junior RB Keerome Lawrence have struggled as well, combining for 67 yards rushing on the year. The engine that is supposed to make the triple-option go has been stuck on the blocks so far this year.

The passing game, however, is where Lawrence (140 yards, 1 TD) and Lane (296 yards) have made their mark so far this year. That and the emergence of sophomore WR Dishon Hughes (219 yards, 1 TD) and freshman WR Brandon Floyd (104 yards) have been where the life of the Hoya offense has been this year. Locking up the short passing game will be critical.

The line - small by Patriot League standards - is led be senior OL Dan Metheny. At 285 lbs, he's the biggest Hoya on the line. Senior TE George Mosle hasn't caught a pass yet this year and at 272 lbs he's also a fixture on this line as well (when healthy).

Defense
As much as the Hoyas have struggled on offense, year in and year out Georgetown's defense has been something to really hang their hat on. On defense, they have had some players make it to NFL training camps. The Hoyas always bring a fierce pass rush and have some heavy hitters on their 4-2-5 defense.

This year, once again, the "D" line looks like the strength of the team with sophomore DE Andrew Schaetzke (34 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks) and senior DE Chudi Obianwu (16 tackles, 2 sacks) leading the way. Schaetzke has benefitted from the fact that Obianwu is frequently double-teamed, and he has taken advantage. They're not easy to run against, either: they've only allowed 143 yards per game on the ground.

At linebacker, senior LB Nick Parrish (53 tackles, 1 sack) is the unquestioned leader on the defense, and is on track to have a monster season. You have to be very careful with him in pass protection, too: against Holy Cross last year, he returned two interceptions for touchdowns.

At safety, senior SS Travis Mack is a punishing safety (29 tackles, 1 forced fumble), though the Georgetown defense sorely misses the services of another big hitter, senior FS Chris Rau, in the secondary. Senior CB Dennis Jackson is another athlete in this secondary - folks rarely pass at him.

Special Teams
The Hoyas reportedly are down to their fourth-string punter and kicker - reserve sophomore QB Tucker Stafford - since their first and second string punters quit the team in preseason, and thrid-string kicker senior TE Brian Josephs - who had been kicking so far this year - got hurt. Tough news for the Hoyas.

Senior RB Charlie Houghton has returned kickoffs this year, and he's done a pretty good job of it - to the tune of 194 yards on 8 returns to go with senior RB Keerome Lawrence on the other side. Senior RB Robert Lane returns punts and also has done a good job with 9 returns for 47 yards.

Keys To The Game
1.Cleanup time. If the Mountain Hawks hope to do anything this year, they really need to clean up their game - which means clean up penalties and clean up turnovers. Keeping the penalties to, say a maximum of three - and coming up positive in the turnover battle - will do wonders not only against Georgetown, but in the games to come.
2.Big plays. Lehigh needs to get off some big offensive plays against this aggressive defense. If Lehigh gets a couple touchdowns of over 35 yards, I'll know that Lehigh is getting into an offensive rhythm and making some of the big plays that have eluded them in the first four games.
3.Pressure. Kempf has some ability to pass the ball - if he's given time. I'd hope senior LB Al Pierce and senior LB Matt Cohen will be in Kempf's face all day - and make the freshman miserable.

Fearless Prediction
In the past three years, Georgetown has come at a great time for the Mountain Hawks to get into a rhythm and get some positive momentum. This year is no exception; Lehigh has a golden opportunity to build the foundation of a successful season this weekend.

As Lehigh fans, we tend to forget that we played some pretty good football teams in the first few weeks. Central Connecticut State is 3-1; Villanova might win a national championship; and Harvard looks to be a contender yet again for the Ivy League championship. Even Princeton, who looked like the weakest of the four, always plays a clean game and never seems to be an easy out.

Can Lehigh's offense get back on track this weekend? I think they will.

Lehigh 31, Georgetown 9

Comments

ngineer said…
Winnett and Brickner being out for the year really hurts. Winnett missed all of last year with a shoulder, now a knee....Is he eligible for TWO more years beyond next?? He had such a nice freshman year, great expectations. I hope we get to see him out on the field again.
Anonymous said…
Can we get Michael Colvin involved alot more? I mean alot more. What a talent!
Anonymous said…
Your right Frankie the playmaker, there hasn't really been a standout team in the patriot league yet. Holy Cross, Colgate, Lafayette..nah not really standing out. Keep drinking the koolade
Doug-H said…
Colgate needed OT to beat Princeton last night on ESPNU (when was the last time a Patriot League team appeared on a national cable network other than Fox College Sports other than playoff games ???) so maybe a better performance by Lehigh might make a difference when they play the Raiders... I do remember a couple of years ago when they started poorly and came on but lost to the Pards who got the automatic bid
rich said…
Hoya's have pretty decent D which wear out later in game. D needs to show up again.Lum has to rein himself in just a bit. OC has to let rbs keep running,take pressure off Lum. Like to see D get some takeaways. I have a very long wish list BUT lets get a win
Anonymous said…
LC HC Colgate combined 12-1
Anonymous said…
I don't think Lehigh will beat Georgetown. This is shaping up to be a 2 - 9 season at best. What a shame to see such a great program hit bottom. How many times is Coen going to say " I believe we're a better team ".
Anonymous said…
Georgetown has its best chance ever to beat Lehigh this year. It's gonna be closer than the Kool-Aide Krowd wanna believe:

Lehigh 21
Georgetown 17
Anonymous said…
We win by 3 TD's and the "not it alls" feel beter about themselves for a week.

I think everyone up on South mountain has their blinders on and dont have the chestnuts to send Coen on his way.

Everyone has been making excuses for this guy since we were co-champions of the League with Lembo's recruits.

Thank god they didnt forget what that coaching staff taught them!

This guy is an embaraement and the AD isn't willing to say he made a mistake.

A few years ago the Alum would have hung this guy by now. What happened to the passion at LU?
Anonymous said…
How exactly do you suggest us alumni get rid of Coen? I was hoping that a University that is driven by money as LU is would be motivated to fire Coen because of the poor attendance. Perhaps this is why they went to this season ticket policy to get Lafayette tickets. It locks up money for the year even if we all get disgusted enough to not show up.
Anonymous said…
What I fear is that Andy will do exactly what he did in each of the last three years...weather the storm by winning against the beatable opponents and fooling everyone into believing the team is "close" and maybe finishing 5-6 again.

It's about coaching folks...and this guy doesn't have it.

VOR

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