FOOTBALL | GU to Tackle Yale in Early Test
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 01:09
In each of the past five years, Yale (0-0) has lined up opposite Georgetown (2-0) and has left the gridiron with the same result, a win for the Bulldogs. But with renewal on the Hilltop and upheaval in New Haven, this may be the year for the Hoyas to snag a win in the series.
“We’re hungry,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “We want to beat Yale. Badly.”
For the second straight game, junior quarterback Aaron Aiken will start in place of senior Isaiah Kempf, who is convalescing from a concussion he sustained during Georgetown’s season opener against Davidson.
“I think every week, [Aiken is] going to get more and more comfortable with what we’re calling, what we’re playing,” Kelly said. “He’s going to get better and better every week. He had a good week of practice this week.”
One problem for Georgetown in its 13-10 win over Wagner last Saturday was converting on third downs and in the red zone. The Hoyas were 7-for-18 on third downs and missed a critical chance in the red zone.
While Kelly knows that play needs to be sharpened, he is confident that the Blue and Gray are strong on fundamentals.
“We had some plays that we didn’t execute,” Kelly said. “We had 85 plays, and the one bad snap we had happened to be on the 1-yard line. That’s football.”
While Georgetown’s fundamentals have been sound, Yale’s program has been wracked by turmoil since the teams last met.
Former Head Coach Tom Williams resigned following a scandal over his academic credentials. Quarterback Patrick Witt and running back Alex Thomas have graduated.
Making scouting even harder, the Bulldogs’ Tony Reno is a first-time head coach, having most recently served as an assistant at Harvard.
“It’s tough because he came from Harvard, he has a couple of offensive coaches who came from Harvard, the ex-head coach at UMass is on the staff as offensive coordinator and the receivers coach is from Maine,” Kelly said. “We’ve been watching film on all those teams, trying to figure out what might fit.”
Reno has some experience as an offensive coach but has spent most of his career spearheading defenses. Georgetown’s 13-10 win over Wagner last Saturday was a defensive battle, and something similar might be expected for this week.
Kelly, however, is not sure what to expect from the Bulldogs. With a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start, Kelly’s staff has resorted to watching tapes of high school games.
“The advantage we’ve got is that we’ve played two games and they’ve played none,” Kelly said. “The advantage they have is that they’ve got our film and we have none. It’s kind of a wash.”
Because of the dramatic differences between this year’s Bulldogs and last’s, the fact that the Hoyas have lost five straight to Yale — including a 37-27 defeat last year — is less relevant. But a win would still be a sign that Georgetown has arrived.
“People know of Yale. It’s a storied program. It’s got a lot of tradition and history,” Kelly said. “It would definitely be a signature win for us.”
In an intriguing subplot to Saturday’s game, Kelly was interviewed for the top job at Yale after Williams resigned. In the end, he withdrew from consideration to stay at Georgetown and focus on winning the Patriot League title.
For his part, Kelly says that back story doesn’t make this game any different.
“It’s like every game. I want to win every game,” Kelly said.
In his January statement announcing that he wanted to remain with the Blue and Gray, the coach emphasized that he wants to achieve even more success at Georgetown.
“We really want to finish what we’ve started here at Georgetown,” Kelly said.
One way to make a lasting mark on a program is with a signature win. The Hoyas have a shot at one Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at MultiSport Facility.