FOOTBALL | GU Opens Season Amid Lofty Expectations
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012 00:08
After a nine-month hiatus, the Georgetown football team wants nothing more than to hit players in different-colored jerseys. The squad will get its first chance Saturday afternoon, when it travels to North Carolina to take on Davidson in its 2012 season opener.
Coming off a breakout 8-3 season in which they fell one game short of the Patriot League title, the Hoyas are primed to secure their third victory over Davidson in three years and kick off what is expected to be another successful campaign. They won’t, however, allow confidence to translate into cockiness.
“It’s hard to play on the road, no matter who the team is,” redshirt senior running back Wilburn Logan said. “This year’s a new year.”
Despite graduating superstar defensive lineman Andrew Schaetzke, the Blue and Gray return several key pieces from one of the league’s top defenses, including senior linebacker, Patriot League preseason defensive player of the year and all-around tackling machine Robert McCabe. The loaded defense has a clear mandate entering the season opener: Stop the pass.
Davidson junior quarterback Jonathan Carkhuff threw for 3,326 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, leading a passing attack ranked eighth in the country. The Georgetown defense anticipates he’ll attempt at least 50 passes on Saturday.
“They like to throw the ball a lot,” McCabe said. “There’ll be more of a passing emphasis for us, but obviously we still have to stop the run.”
The Hoyas’ own passing attack should be formidable as well. Senior quarterback Isaiah Kempf entered last season as the starter, but midseason injuries led to his splitting time under center with then-senior Scott Darby (MSB ’12). This year, the Georgetown field general is primed and ready to live up to his preseason all-Patriot League honors.
“[Offensive Coordinator Vinny] Marino has allowed me to be more vocal and have more input in the offense this year, which I’m grateful for,” Kempf said. “We have enough senior leadership on the offensive side that [we’re] going to [know to] do the right thing[s].”
Kempf’s job will be made easier by the return of his top two receivers from last season, senior Max Waizenegger and redshirt junior Jamal Davis. But the biggest advantage the Blue and Gray hold over the hosts on Saturday will come in the trenches.
According to Kempf, the Wildcats’ linemen can’t match the size of their Hoya counterparts, and Georgetown will try to exploit that advantage as much as possible by pounding the ball up the middle.
“We have three or four running backs who can do some damage in open space,” Kempf said. “Our line’s big — a lot bigger than their defensive front — so that’s something we should be able to use to our advantage.”
The Hoyas appeared energetic and confident after an intense practice Thursday morning, but one question remains: Who are the kickers?
As The Hoya reported earlier this week, the Blue and Gray announced an open tryout for kickers to be held late yesterday afternoon. Whether any walk-on will get field time is up in the air — the coaching staff insisted that the tryout was simply to add depth — but Kelly was quick to point out that walk-on kickers are not out of the ordinary.
“You never know out there,” Kelly said. “We had Jose-Pablo Buerba (SFS ’10), who walked into my office one day, said ‘Coach, I want to kick,’ and ended up being our kicker.”
Once the placekicker situation is settled — which could be as soon as today — Georgetown will be ready to begin its season in the Tar Heel State. And, by the sound of it, the day couldn’t come any sooner.
“This is our 28th practice [of the preseason] today. We’re sick and tired of practicing,” Kelly said. “It’s like Christmas: We’re going to see what we’ve got.”