FOOTBALL | Nolan Prepared for Second Start
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 22:10
Mired in its first four-game losing streak since 2010, the Georgetown football team (3-5, 0-2 Patriot League) must find a way to quickly turn things around and pick up a victory at Lafayette (5-2, 2-0 Patriot League) tomorrow night.
Georgetown struggled to slow Colgate’s rushing attack and big-play potential last weekend, allowing a whopping 707 total yards on offense — 330 rushing, 377 passing — in a 57-36 loss.
“We did a poor job of coaching last week, we did a poor job of executing the defense and we did a poor job of tackling,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “That equals a lot of yards and a lot of points.”
Offensively, the Hoyas did have a lone bright spot: freshman quarterback Kyle Nolan, who was making his first collegiate start. He entered the picture after sophomore Stephen Skon was added to Georgetown’s already extensive injury list at quarterback, which still includes senior Isaiah Kempf and junior Aaron Aiken.
The freshman responded in a big way, throwing for 260 yards and three touchdowns and leading the offense to 36 points. Nolan’s performance even surprised Kelly — and has earned him a start again this week.
“We didn’t know what we had until last week,” Kelly said. “The thing [Nolan] brings is that he is a really intelligent football player. He knows the offense. He can throw the ball downfield, which is another threat that the defense has to defend that will help your run game.”
Given those added dimensions, the Hoyas hope that they will again be able to narrowly escape the Leopards. Last season, Georgetown notched a 14-13 win that went right down to the wire and was secured by a late forced fumble.
“Lafayette’s a very good football program, and they had a lot of injuries last year,” Kelly said. “That was a very close game, and the game could have gone the other way.”
Winning again will be a tough task, especially because much-improved Lafayette has already exceeded its win total from all of last season and is playing in front of its home crowd.
“They have got a red circle around Georgetown because we beat them the last two years in close games,” Kelly said. “We expect a battle Saturday night.”
One area the Blue and Gray is keen to improve heading into Saturday’s contest is its rushing attack. At the beginning of the season, the tandem of junior running backs Nick Campanella and Dalen Claytor was instrumental in the team’s starting 3-1.
But Georgetown’s ground game has been held in check for four straight losses. Claytor will miss his second straight game due to a shoulder injury, and Kelly expects opponents’ defenses to continue to crowd the line of scrimmage with a young quarterback at the helm.
“There are a lot of numbers in the box,” Kelly said. “There are a lot of reasons you don’t run the ball well, and that’s probably one of the reasons.”
Yet the focus this week in practice has not been on offense but rather on the generally reliable defense. Against the Raiders, the Hoya defense, led by senior linebacker Robert McCabe — Georgetown’s all-time leading tackler — put in its worst effort of the season.
Lafayette runs a spread offense, which forces one-on-one matchups on the outside. Georgetown has struggled against the formation this season and will have to brace for pressure on the Blue and Gray’s defensive backs.
Making Georgetown’s task even tougher is Lafayette’s senior quarterback Andrew Shoop, who has looked very sharp so far this season — tossing nine touchdowns compared to only two interceptions — and boasts a 140.1 quarterback rating.
“[Shoop] is playing very well, and they have got a great scheme,” Kelly said. “We have another challenge as far as the secondary is concerned this week.”
Even with the uncertainty on both offense and defense this week, however, Kelly believes the game will come down to a single concept.
“It’s really the same story every week,” Kelly said. “It’s all about execution and taking care of the football.”
The Hoyas look to snap their four-game slide as they travel to Easton, Pa., tomorrow. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.