Courtesy Georgetown Sports Information
Courtesy Georgetown Sports Information

Last season, the buzz around Georgetown’s football team was about whether they would finish above .500.

After last year’s team went 8-3 and finished one game shy of the Patriot League title, the question is not whether theHoyas will notch a winning season, but whether they will finally earn the elusive conference championship.

While the Blue and Gray no longer have to battle low expectations, they will be without last year’s standout player, All-American defensive end Andrew Schaetzke(MSB ’12), who graduated in May.

But Head Coach Kevin Kelly is confident that a combination of stellar returning players and one of his best recruiting classes to date will help make up for the hole left by Schaetzke’s departure.

“I think we’re more talented but maybe not as experienced as we were last year. So I feel pretty good about defense as a whole,” Kelly said, citing preseason All-American senior cornerback Jeremy Moore as one of the anchors of a defense that returns most of last year’s starters.

And that’s just one piece of the defensive puzzle. The Hoyas can also count on senior linebacker Robert McCabe, who shattered Georgetown’s single-season record for tackles last season and was named preseason Patriot League defensive player of the year in July.

On offense, however, Georgetown will have something of a new look, in part because a more experienced offensive line should bolster the Blue and Gray’s running game.

“You have to have good running backs, but you have to block the guys that are trying to get after them,” Kelly said. “I think our offensive line has improved tremendously. I feel like we can be a dual football team now. We can run the football and that helps your pass game as well.”

One example of that newfound maturity is sophomore offensive lineman Mike Roland, who joined McCabe and senior quarterback Isaiah Kempf on the preseason all-Patriot League team.

“Mike is a very hard worker,” Kelly said. “He stayed here all summer to get in good shape, and he’s only going to be a sophomore this year, so we’re really excited about the improvement he’s made since he’s been here.”

While the offensive and defensive situations are set, special teams are up in the air. Georgetown is hosting an open tryout for placekickers on Aug. 30, only two days before the season begins with a trip to Davidson.

Junior punter Matt MacZura has considerable game experience, and junior kicker Devon Papandrew shadowed now-graduated kicker Brett Weiss for the last two seasons but has never seen action for the Hoyas.

“It’s just depth. We’re looking for some practice kickers, or if the guys are better than the ones we’ve got, then they’ll play,” Kelly said.

Georgetown faces a tough slate this fall that includes not only their Patriot League rivals but also three Ivy League schools: Yale, Brown and Princeton.

Before last season, just getting through that list of opponents might have seemed daunting. But with a revamped offense and dominant defense, these Hoyas have put the final piece — confidence — in place.

“The freshman coming in … they’ve seen what they did last year, and they believe we can do well,” Kempf said.

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