Thursday, July 07, 2016

Know Your 2016 Opponents: Georgetown

It's finally time for the "Know Your 2016 Opponents" series!

In parallel with College Sports Journal, I am doing a full Patriot League preview (among others).  Today we cover No. 7: Georgetown, whom Lehigh plays on October 15th.

This preview will encompass what is written there, but also will have extra content that Lehigh fans in particular need to know about the matchup for the upcoming season.

Let's put it this way, in terms of Lehigh: Though Georgetown is picked to finish 7th, there is plenty to be scared of about this team that finished within a touchdown of Lehigh, Fordham, and Colgate last year, while knocking off Bucknell as well.


Georgetown Hoyas

Head Coach: Rob Sgarlata, 3rd season (7-15)

Biggest strength in 2016: It is probably very cloying to call a team “better than their 4-7 record”, but you could definitely make that case about the 2015 Hoyas. In the Patriot League, Sgarlata’s squad came within a touchdown of Colgate, Fordham and Lehigh, while for good measure knocking off Bucknell 17-9, knocking them out of title contention. In that sense Georgetown’s biggest strength is the ability to look back at the 2015 season and simply keep repeated themselves to “stay the course”, something they haven’t always been able to do. They truly went toe-to-toe with the league’s best.

Biggest Challenge In 2016: Though the Hoyas have improved, two team captains that were the heart and soul of the team graduated last year. Which players step into that role, and can they live up to the tremendous gains from last season? Also, the rest of the Patriot League have up to 60 conventionally scholarshipped athletes to choose from in those roles. Georgetown will not.

History With Lehigh: The Hoyas are 5-16 lifetime against the Mountain Hawks, but their last win against Lehigh came in 1925, during a season where a Lehigh player had literally just died suffering from what would be fatal football injuries, and the Engineers were in the middle of a ten game drought versus Lafayette.

In the modern, Patriot League era, Lehigh is 15-0 versus the Hoyas, but there are plenty of signs that Lehigh should be concerned with Georgetown.  Scores like 69-0 and 44-14 are clearly things of the past; in three of the past four meetings, the margin of Lehigh's victory has been a touchdown or less.

Biggest Departures: LB Matt Satchell finished third in the Patriot League in total tackes (100) and also led the Hoya defense with 10 1/2 tackles for loss. The loss of QB Kyle Nolan, who is trying to stick on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster this fall is certainly a big void as well, but the graduation of Satchell could be even bigger.

Players To Watch: Honored with the No. 35 Nate Eacobacci jersey this offseason, QB Tim Barnes seems to be the player that the Hoyas will be building around on offense. He seems to be a similar dual-threat athletic QB in the mold of Nolan, but only completed 45.5% of his passes last season in limited action.

TE Matthew Buckman
Biggest Game: Lehigh, 10/15/2016.  This isn't simply Lehigh homer talk: after an out-of-conference schedule that should feature three winnable games (Davidson, Marist, Columbia) and two stretch games (Harvard, Princeton), the Hoyas will definitely be circling October 15th. Georgetown hasn’t beaten Lehigh in the modern era, the only Patriot League they haven’t beaten at least once – and getting that monkey off of their backs would announce to the league that they can win the whole damn thing.

Stopping Georgetown: On offense, Georgetown last season ran a pro set, tight end and slot back.  It's unclear whether offensive coordinator Michael Neuberger will run the same set with Barnes running the show, but it seems logical.  Barnes and senior TE Matthew Buckman could carry the offense in the early going.

LB Leo Loughery
While the heart and soul of the defense graduates, the Hoyas still have good talent returning in the form of senior LB Leo Loughery (83 tackles, 7 tackles for loss) and junior FS David Akere (2 INTs).  Lehigh fans can expect them to be aggressive, and pesky, as ever.

Rose-Colored Glasses Say: "Coach Sgarlata has things pointed in the right direction – just look at last season.  If we beat Lehigh – and we certainly can – this 2016 team will give any Patriot League team a run for its money, including the defending league champs, Colgate. Why shouldn’t we expect a legitimate shot at the title and a chance at our first-ever FCS playoff appearance?"

Glass Half Empty Says:  "How can we expect championships with this much talent graduating? We lose our top QB, our top RB Jo’El Kimpela, our top WR Jake DeCicco, and the heart and soul of our defense. Worse, all the Patriot League teams we’re playing will have up to 60 scholarship athletes. We won’t have that."

Georgetown In Two Sentences: Rob Sgarlata can flat-out coach, and he can find talent for Georgetown that is competitive in the Patriot League. He’ll find the answers in 2016 to do well in the out-of-conference schedule and perhaps poach a couple teams in the conference, but there seem to be too many overall questions to expect a run at the title this season.

CSJ Projected Ranking: 7th, Patriot League

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