Junior Quarterback Kyle Nolan

After a busy offseason for Georgetown football, the team (0-1) appears to have solidified its defensive-minded identity. Former defensive coordinator Rob Sgarlata (COL ’94) took over as head coach and the talented veteran defensive core he worked with before has largely remained intact. Offensively, however, he inherits a team adjusting to major departures and new faces.

Sgarlata anticipates having a cohesive defense that boasts experience and talent. Defensive end Alec May and defensive tackle Jordan Richardson are entering their senior seasons having already collected all-Patriot League honors. While leading the team in tackles, with 98 and 92, respectively, senior linebackers Patrick Boyle and Nick Alfieri are also returning to round out a veteran defense.

May expressed high expectations and excitement over this year’s defensive squad.

“I think defensively this is probably the deepest team I’ve been a part of here at Georgetown,” May said. “I think there’s good chemistry up front, everybody knows how to work together and play together.”

While Sgarlata has the benefit of  continuing the development of an experienced defensive squad, questions remain about to the offense, as the Hoyas lost key offensive contributors to graduation. Running back Nick Campanella, who led the team in rushing last year, and wide receiver Zack Wilke, who led the Hoyas in receptions last year, are two of the biggest forces the Hoyas will be tasked with replacing.

Sgarlata downplayed concerns about his ability to coach the depleted offensive unit.

“I was lucky earlier in my career; I was asked to coach a lot of different spots, to be honest. I’ve coached tight ends, quarterbacks and receivers for about eight years under some really good coaches,” Sgarlata said. “I feel really comfortable.”

Sgarlata’s first move as head coach was bringing in Michael Nueberger, a former wide receivers coach at Cornell, to serve as offensive coordinator. With the loss of key players, Sgarlata and Nueberger are working on designing an offense tailored to the skill sets of their returning players.

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Senior Linebacker Patrick Boyle
Senior Linebacker Patrick Boyle

Sgarlata said that just as he and former Head Coach Kevin Kelly arranged changes in the defensive scheme to fit their current playmakers, the same approach would be used on offense.

“We looked at it as if you had a 70-play game, who you want to touch the football and then we went backward and figured out what we wanted to run based on that instead of trying to fit the talent we had into the scheme we wanted to run,” Sgarlata said.

Despite the coaching changes, the offense struggled in the season opener against Wagner. The Hoyas managed only a field goal in their 21-3 loss. However, Sgarlata remains confident in his team.

“It’s a pretty deep group, skill-wise,” he said, citing junior running back Jo’el Kimpela and junior quarterback Kyle Nolan, two high-potential players assuming major roles this season.

Sgarlata has been working frequently with Nolan, who is entering his first full season as a starter, and the new starters. This hands-on approach has garnered praise from Nolan and his teammates.

“I feel like the energy has changed a little bit with the new head coach. [Sgarlata] came in, did a good job meeting everybody. You know, he’s a player’s coach; he does a good job with interacting with all of us and trying to figure out what works best,” Nolan said.

Sgarlata’s experience with the Hoyas’ tested and talented defensive squad shows that he is no stranger to team development and success. With his vote of confidence among the current team leaders, he will have an opportunity to replicate that success as he works to develop an offensive core.

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