Backdoor Cuts: Just win, baby

September 2, 2010

Last Thursday, at the end of the second practice of a two-a-day, Georgetown football Head Coach Kevin Kelly was not happy.

From the periphery of Multi-Sport Field, bystanders could hear Kelly tell his players in no uncertain terms (and with a few obscenities) that what he just saw in practice was unacceptable.

“In the past this might have been one we called a good practice,” senior co-captain Nick Parrish said afterwards. “But we’re kind of setting the bar a lot higher this year.”

It’s probably not necessary for Parrish to say the bar is higher; after last season’s winless campaign, there was no direction to go but up.

Obviously the team was trying to win last season, but as they prepare for their first game against Davidson on Saturday, Georgetown’s leaders admit that this year, there’s a new attitude.

In fact, the Hoyas’ determination is so palpable, it convinced me they’ll win a game. Or maybe two.

While writing this week’s feature on the state of the football team, I came to understand many of the numerous obstacles blocking Georgetown’s path to success. Things need to change on an institutional level before Georgetown can ever become a serious, consistent contender.

I haven’t been converted into a true believer yet. Parrish said the team’s goal is to win the Patriot League; I can’t see that happening. But I would love to be proven wrong.

Parrish and fellow captain Dan Semler have the right enthusiasm and optimism about the upcoming season. They’re not foolish—they know they’re underdogs—but they’re confident in a way that belies last season’s outcome.

It’s easy to root for the underdog Hoya squad, but my belief that Georgetown will actually get to celebrate a football victory, or two this year is based more on reason than hope.

For one, the competition is easier this time around. Georgetown trades the likes of Richmond and Old Dominion (combined 2009 records: 20-4) for Davidson and Sacred Heart (combined 2009 records: 5-15). Sure the Patriot League is the same as ever, but when you’re working up from zero wins, every small improvement counts.

Not only are the competitors getting worse, the Hoyas seem to be getting better. There are 13 starters back from last year’s squad, and while some may question the value of 13 players from a winless team, this past season’s basketball team showed how a year’s experience can improve a team (and if the football team craps out in its first playoff game, the season will have been a resounding success).

The coaching staff is set up to take advantage of the experience too. Kelly brought in Dave Patenaude to run his offense and implement a system that will take better advantage of the players on Georgetown’s roster.

“This year we’re just schemed up right,” Semler said. “We’re going to change each week to week. You’re going to see us doing something different on offense. Depending on how they’re going to defend us we’re going to attack them differently. It’s going to be a higher level of offense that you’re seeing.”

Collectively, the whole team is on the same page. They have been since last December, by getting together earlier than ever before to start planning for this season.

“You can either fall apart or come together, and we came together,” Semler said. “I can’t wait for everybody to see the record at the end of this year.”

Sure, maybe it’ll only be 3-8. But after last year, I’d have to call that a success.


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