The blood is pumping through his veins, the sweat dripping off his skin and his lungs so desperate for air that his chest ferociously heaves up and down. But, this is not game day for Chudi Obianwu – it’s just a normal day of practice.

“You have to practice at game speed,” the senior defensive lineman and co-captain says. “You can’t just start up once a week.”

It is that mentality that has made him such a valuable anchor for the Georgetown defensive line, and his numbers are proof. Obianwu has recorded 16.5 total tackles, including five tackles for a loss and two sacks, and has forced a fumble in his first four games. He is on pace to more than double his numbers in those categories from last year.

“I know I’m going to miss [football],” Obianwu says. “I definitely feel a lot of pressure to perform each Saturday, especially since this could potentially be my last football season ever.”

That pressure continues to grow as the losses continue to mount up for Georgetown. Despite a 0-4 record, the Hoya defensive unit led by Obianwu has played very well at times; yet the defense has averaged more than 36 minutes on the field through the first four games, while the Blue and Gray offense has played just 23 minutes per game.

“The defense plays a big majority of the game,” Obianwu says. “By the fourth quarter, guys are cramping up and exhaustion plays a big role.”

That is where Obianwu’s philosophy becomes so important, especially for the younger players. Consider further that Obianwu is the only starting senior defensive lineman and one of only two senior defensive anchors on the team.

“As a senior, it’s my responsibility to pick everyone up,” he says. “Everyone looks up to you because you’ve been through it more. My role on the defensive line has mostly been as a role model. People follow my example that you have to play like you practice. And on Saturday, it shows.”

This year, opponents have been forced by Obianwu and his line to use the passing game, as they are averaging just 3.7 yards per rushing attempt, down from over four yards per rush last season. What’s more, opponents have scored only four rushing touchdowns against the Hoyas this year after scoring 20 on the ground last year.

“We have a very talented defense,” Obianwu says. “The starters expect to play the entire game.”

Unfortunately for the Hoyas, the starters have been forced into doing just that – and the fatigue has been made more frustrating by two close games against Holy Cross and Howard, battles in which the Hoyas were just one score away from either tying the game or taking the lead in the fourth quarter.

“It’s been really frustrating, being so close,” the 6-foot-3 New Jersey native says. “We always think we could’ve won the game, but we can’t dwell on it. We just have to pick ourselves up. This year, I’ve been more vocal, walking around the sidelines, trying to encourage guys who are hanging their heads. We just have to have the mindset that we can win.”

That mindset will be put to the test once again when Georgetown travels to Bucknell for its first away game in almost a month. Still, the co-captain’s outlook remains optimistic.

“We should definitely beat Bucknell,” Obianwu says, noting that the Bison have tweaked their offense to the standard shotgun. “[They were] more of a triple option team. They’ve switched this year. They don’t have anything specialized [on offense].”

The defense’s solution is to be aggressive.

“We’ll give them our basic stuff: our sense of urgency,” he says. “We’ve done pretty well getting to the quarterback and we’ve done a good job preparing, so, we’ll see.”

The fact of the matter is that Saturday’s game will be more about a Georgetown offense that continues its quest to find some semblance of a rhythm. Obianwu understands the weakness, but feels better about the offense each week.

“The offense has been improving a lot each week and will continue to progress,” he says. “I’m expecting big things from them this week.”

While Hoya fans may be more skeptical than Obianwu, they can expect that the senior co-captain, who never took a day off in high school during his days playing at Bishop Eustace in Pennsuaken, N.J., will prepare and continue that work ethic each week.

“Play like you practice,” Obianwu says. “I never really believed it until I came [to Georgetown], but it really is true. If you go 110 percent during the week, it’s easier to perform on Saturday.”

**Hoya Notes**

– Georgetown’s main weakness has been scoring touchdowns in the red zone. The Hoyas have scored just one touchdown in 11 possessions in the red zone, a success rate of 9 percent and a statistic that directly corresponds to the Hoyas’ 0-4 record.

– Last season, Georgetown lost to Bucknell in a close game, 27-24. The Hoyas led 17-7 at halftime, but two turnovers in the second half helped Bucknell come back. Georgetown mounted a comeback of its own, but it was one completed pass short of taking the lead, and most likely, the win.

– In last year’s game, senior defensive back and co-captain Chris Rau, who has been sidelined with a knee injury, had 14 tackles, while junior slot receiver Keerome Lawrence had a big 37-yard touchdown run to give the Hoyas a 10-point lead going into the half. “

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