Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Despite Threat, GU Ready

In the Google age, the search engine serves as societies’ measuring stick of time passed. Just type in a memorable month, day and year, read the results, and awe the power of Father Time. Enter in “November 4, 2006” – the day on which Georgetown last won a football game before a 20-17 win last Saturday – and see how drastically the landscape of the sports world has changed. There is no mention of “Michael Vick” and “dogfighting.” No headlines containing “Colorado Rockies” and “playoff wins.”

“It’s been a while,” senior linebacker Stephen Smith said. “We definitely have been hurting. It hurts when you don’t win a game in a year. But we kept doing our best to get a win.”

One would need a flux capacitor to find the school’s last Patriot League win. Planet earth made two full revolutions around the sun between the Hoyas last two conference triumphs. When Georgetown defeated Fordham 24-21 on Oct. 22, 2005, Head Coach Kevin Kelly – who earned his first league win last Saturday – was coaching at Navy. Freshman running back Alex Carroll – who scored on a six-yard run in the first quarter – was a junior at Highland Park High School in Dallas. Senior quarterback Matt Bassuener – who threw for 240 yards and scored a rushing touchdown in the second period – was a bench-warming safety.

While preparing this week for their Saturday afternoon throw down with Lehigh, Bassuener and his teammates have felt a hop in their step, a confidence long ago buried and forgotten under a heap of heart wrenching losses.

“Patriot league wins are always big,” said senior linebacker Mike Greene, who has suffered through winless league records twice during his tenure on the Hilltop. “Whether it’s your first win or your fourth, it’s always big.”

Lehigh Head Coach Andy Coen knows the feeling all to well. Conference wins have been hard to come by for his 2007 Mountain Hawks, who enter Saturday’s contest with a disappointing 3-4 record overall and 0-2 in Patriot League play for the first time in program history. Only a month ago, the Mountain Hawks were the trendy pick to steal the conference crown from arch-rival Lafayette. Bit hard by the injury bug, Coen’s club has been plagued by inconsistency all year long.

After strong wins over Harvard and Princeton, the Mountain Hawks have taken a nose dive in recent weeks, having been outscored 110-35 over their past three games. A look at the league standings reveals the painful truth for Coen: Lehigh is tied for last in the league.

“As of late, neither the coaches or the players are happy,” said Coen, whose team was picked second in the preseason conference standings. “Last Saturday’s [59-10 loss to Holy Cross] was a bitter pill. We have to regroup, we have to get better.”

The team’s three-game skid is due partly to the falling star of senior quarterback Sedale Threatt Jr. In August, Threatt was hailed as the preseason Patriot League player of the year, but the 2006 all-conference signal caller has only half way lived up to his poor-man’s-Vince-Young hype. His pedestrian 1491 passing yards rank him third behind Holy Cross’ Dominic Randolph and Fordham’s John Skelton among Patriot League quarterbacks, and his trademark elusiveness has yielded only a pair of rushing touchdowns.

“He’s not living up to his preseason billing statistically, but there has been a lot more pressure on him this year and it’s not fair for one guy to have to shoulder all that,” Coen said of Threatt, whose father, Sedale Threatt Sr., played point guard for the Los Angeles

Lakers in the early 90’s. “We’re not giving him the support he needs.”

Despite his quarterback’s inconsistency, Coen claims he has never coached a more electrifying athlete.

“He’s got all the tools,” Coen said over the phone Thursday. “Each week, the opposing defense tries some new scheme to stop him.”

After watching Holy Cross force Threatt into throwing two picks last week, Kelly has decided to put faster Hoya tacklers on the Goodman Stadium field by using more dime packages this weekend. That will give sophomore defensive back Chris Rau – the squad’s leading tackler – more of a chance to make an impact on Threatt and his pair of junior receivers – the strong, speedy Mike Fitzgerald and 6-foot-3 beanpole Sekou Yansane have combined for 745 yards and three scores.

“I think Rau is taking on a huge leadership role as a sophomore,” Greene said of the Avon Lake, Ohio, native. “He’s just been playing really, really well.”

Caged for only 69 points in its first five games, the Georgetown offense has been let loose the past two weeks thanks to a reinvigorated passing attack. Over half of Bassuener’s 1,482 passing yards have come against Fordham and Bucknell. Senior receivers Kyle Van Fleet and Brent Craft are snagging every ball thrown their way, and Carroll has established himself as a consistent threat out of the backfield following an elbow injury to sophomore runner Charlie Houghton.

“Alex has done a great job of running the football,” Kelly said. “We had to adapt because of our personnel, and he has pushed himself.”

The good news for the Mountain Hawk defense is that junior linebacker Tim Diamond has recorded 76 tackles through seven games. The bad news? No other Lehigh defender has more than 45 stops to his name.

“We just look flat out there,” Coen said of his defense, which gave up 544 yards to Holy Cross last Saturday. “We haven’t had a bye week, and we have played a lot of snaps against some really good teams, so I think we are a little banged up. We have to look at what we’re doing on defense. We’re not where we need to be.”

Over the past weeks, the Hoyas have been enjoying a renaissance on special teams. Senior place kicker Eric Bjonerud was named Patriot League special teams player of the week on Monday for his game-winning field goal Saturday, and junior return man Kenny itchell has shown shades of the player who led the league in all-purpose yardage last season.

“We just keep plugging away, and just like the offense and the defense, we talk about the execution part of it,” Kelly said of the special teams play. “We have just kept working at it.”

Here in the last weekend of October, August’s preseason prognosticators have been proven wrong. No one could have predicted that lowly Georgetown would be one game up on powerful Lehigh in Patriot League play. That, as they say, is why they play the game.

“The league has really been shaken up this year,” Greene said shortly after wrapping up a chilly Thursday morning practice. “Three years ago, when I was a freshman, Holy Cross and Fordham were the last teams in the league. That just shows what we can do and the opportunities that are down the road.”

Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Bethlehem, Pa.

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