FOOTBALL | When Experience Fails
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 02:10
This season was supposed to be different for the Georgetown football team. In last year’s campaign, the quarterback corps was ravaged by injuries, causing five different signal callers to see action. In 2013, redshirt senior Isaiah Kempf was supposed to bring the stability to the most important position on the field that the team believed would translate to success.
“It’s a lot easier on the whole offense this time around, especially the receivers, knowing we’re going to have Isaiah as our starter,” senior wide receiver Zack Wilke said to The Hoya in an interview before the season started. “Going into every game — every play even — it feels good to know he’s going be out there every snap, the whole team gains confidence.”
After a five-game losing streak in which Georgetown has averaged just over 17 points per game, however, the team finds themselves entangled in a quarterback controversy in the middle of a lost season.
Kempf, a second-year captain, had been the leader of the football team since he took over the starting quarterback job during his freshman season. He was a major part of Georgetown’s transformation from 2009 to 2011. He took over the starting job in 2009 when the team stumbled to a 0-11 record. He returned his sophomore year and led an improved team to a 4-7 finish. And finally, he was under center for the improbable 2011 season when the team went 8-3 and made an appearance in the Patriot League championship game. It was not farfetched to expect him to revitalize the Hoyas in his final season.
Quite simply, Georgetown and Kempf have not lived up to expectations, with only one win so far: the Blue and Gray’s home opener against Davidson on Sept. 7. During their losing streak, the Hoyas have struggled on offense, and they currently rank toward the bottom in the Patriot League in almost all offensive statistics.
Kempf has been at the center of these struggles. In six games, he has thrown only six touchdowns while also throwing six interceptions. Furthermore, Kempf, a mobile quarterback, has been inefficient in the running game. On 49 carries, he has a net gain of only nine yards. Despite these lackluster numbers, Kempf is throwing for an average of 184.5 yards a game, a career best.
But Kempf should not shoulder all the blame for the offensive woes. The Blue and Gray’s running game thus far has been far from stellar. Georgetown ranks sixth out of seven teams in the Patriot League in net rushing yards. The Hoyas have amassed only 919 rushing yards, and almost half of them came in just two games — against Lehigh and Davidson.
The Hoyas’ gridiron woes are not confined to Kempf and the offensive side of the ball. In 2011’s 8-3 season, Georgetown’s defense gave up an average of just 19 points per contest; in their six losses so far this season, the Hoyas have been ripped open for more than 40 points per game.
Additionally, the Hoyas have allowed 19 sacks this season, which is tied for the second most in the Patriot League. This large number of sacks signifies that Kempf has not had enough time to pass and his receivers are not getting open. Against Marist on Sept. 14, Kempf was sacked seven times in the 43-23 loss.
“You know, obviously I need to be protected, but it starts with me,” Kempf said following that defeat.
Despite the far-from-perfect pass protection, Kempf’s playing time has been negatively affected because of his performance. Against Fordham, Kempf was taken out in the first quarter and replaced with freshman quarterback Tim Barnes. This past weekend, sophomore Kyle Nolan started and played the entirety of the game at quarterback for Georgetown. Sophomore Cameron MacPherson has also seen playing time this season as quarterback. Although no one would have predicted a quarterback controversy entering this season, the Georgetown football team currently finds themselves immersed in one.
Nolan is Kempf’s biggest competitor and likely successor. Last season, Nolan, then a freshman, was one of the four quarterbacks to play after Kempf suffered his season-ending injury. Nolan appeared and started in three games before he, too, suffered an injury in the third series of his third start. In his first two collegiate games, Nolan averaged 226.5 yards per game while throwing four touchdowns and four
This season, Nolan has appeared in five games and has thrown for 195 yards on 27-of-42 passing. Most recently, Nolan started against No. 16 Lehigh last Saturday in Bethlehem, Pa. The Hoyas fell to the Mountain Hawks 45-24. This was the fourth time this season that the Blue and Gray defense allowed more than 40 points.