FOOTBALL | Hoyas Expect Fight at Fordham
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 23:10
The Georgetown football team (3-2) has already faced injuries to two quarterbacks, a last-minute defeat and the pressure of playing on national TV this season. It face a new challenge this weekend — overcoming a confidence-rattling loss — when it opens Patriot League play at Fordham (3-2, 0-1) this Saturday.
After a rough outing in his collegiate debut against Brown, sophomore quarterback Stephen Skon will try to rebound against the Rams. Skon, who started the season third on the depth chart behind injured senior Isaiah Kempf and junior Aaron Aiken, threw three interceptions and was sacked five times against the Bears.
Head Coach Kevin Kelly has the tough task of adjusting the offense to his third-stringer’s strengths, but he says Skon’s improvement is making that assignment easier.
“[Stephen] keeps getting better in practice,” Kelly said. “We know what his strengths and weaknesses are, and we’re going to use those this week. We’re going to manage the weaknesses and exploit the strengths.
Skon’s inexperience is not the only issue the Hoyas must address, however. The offense failed to get anything going in the 37-10 loss, gaining only 18 yards and not recording a single first down in the second half. The offensive line, in particular, struggled to keep the Bears out of the backfield, leaving Skon under constant pressure.
Kelly, though, blamed much of Georgetown’s woes on Brown’s game plan, which the Hoyas had trouble handling.
“A lot of it was scheme,” Kelly said. “[Brown] had more numbers in the box than we could block. There are a lot of reasons why you can’t run the ball — it’s not always the offensive line.”
Because of their young quarterback, the Blue and Gray can expect similar defensive tactics this weekend when they take on the Rams. Fordham finished 1-10 last season and suffered a crushing 30-13 defeat against Georgetown.
The first Patriot League football team to award merit-based scholarships to players, the Rams now seems to be reaping the dividends of that decision with improved talent on both sides of the ball.
So far this year Fordham has taken down Ivy League teams Cornell and Columbia and lost o No. 11 Lehigh on a last-second field goal.
“Fordham right now has 45 scholarship football players,” Kelly said. “Every
week, they get better and better. You know that they’re for real, and it’s not a surprise by any stretch.”
To counter the Rams, the Hoyas will have to rely on their run defense. Led by senior linebacker Robert McCabe, who was added to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List for outstanding defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, the Blue and Gray have done well slowing their opponents’ run.
Last week was a different story, however, as the unit did not play up to par and surrendered 173 yards on the ground to the Bears.
If it is to get back on the right track, Georgetown will have to rediscover its physical defensive style, as Fordham senior tailback Carlton Koonce spearheads a potent Rams rushing attack.
“It’s about execution and making sure we are in the right gaps,” Kelly said. “[For] some of the mistakes we made [against Brown,] we had 10 guys doing the right thing and one guy doing the wrong thing. Hopefully, we’ve corrected that.”
First, though, Kelly hopes that the Blue and Gray will get off to an early lead. Slow starts have been a consistent problem for Georgetown this year, making it difficult to clinch victories late in games.
“That’s an issue that we have to correct,” Kelly said. “We’ve changed our practices this week to get the team jump-started, and we will see what happens on Saturday.”
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. in the Bronx, N.Y.