The trouble is that this isn't the first time the Hoyas have felt this way. Georgetown, under head coach Kevin Kelly, is rebuilding. Again. For the fifth year in a row.
But it's not just change happening with the Georgetown football program; it's radical change, and change, it seems, that the Hoya players believe in. It's quite conceivable that when Lehigh faces off against the Hoyas in the next-to-last game of the year, they will see a team they do not recognize at all from years past. From Georgetown's perspective - who went 0-11 last year, and has struggled mightily in Patriot League play since forever - that can only be a good thing. (more)
Last year, Georgetown went 0-11 - and senior LB Nick Parrish and senior OL Dan Semler were none too happy about it, according to the Washington Post:
Soon after Georgetown's 0-11 season, Parrish and fellow captain Dan Semler called a team meeting to discuss what needed to happen to ensure the upcoming season wouldn't be a repeat of the last. Parrish, Semler and the other 12 players who would be seniors then met with Coach Kevin Kelly.
"We knew some things had to be changed," Parrish said. "We wanted some questions answered as far as what we were going to be able to expect from the coaching staff. We also wanted him to tell us, as the new leaders of the team, what he wanted from us."
Kelly was pleased and impressed with the offseason role the players took. He listened to their concerns as they met several times before the start of spring practice.
"The biggest question I think that came out of the thing was, 'Coach, what are you going to do to regain our confidence?' I thought that was a great question because obviously what we had been doing in their minds was not working," Kelly said.
Georgetown has a history of creating some great graduates and future leaders, which this piece goes a long way towards demonstrating. But what the Post seems to describe is a near-mutiny on the team. As it stood, many players chose to leave the team, and RB Charlie Houghton, hoped by some to return to the team for his final year of eligibility, chose to leave rather than stay.
Clearly, Kelly needed to do something drastic - and he managed to make it happen.
While schools like Fordham and Lafayette were grabbing players from Hofstra as the Pride shockingly pulled the plug on their football program, Georgetown was going after bigger fish: David Patenaude, Hofstra's offensive coordinator and one-time coach at Holy Cross assistant coach.
There's no denying that Patenaude's presence has given a boost to a moribund unit that was ranked 117th out of 120 FCS programs last year. Add in programs transitioning to FCS, and the numbers are even worse. But Patenaude has infused some energy into their offense, and it's clear from all indications.
"The great thing that I told these guys when we first got here is that there is going to be at least three of you guys on the field, maybe four, and we're going to throw it 40 times a game," Patenaude told Georgetown Athletics. "Those guys did the math and realized there are a lot of opportunities for everyone. They have all stepped up, they all have a great understanding of what they're doing and will be in a position to make plays."
“We started from ground zero when we first got here,” Patenaude told the student newspaper, The Hoya. “We instituted a new system in the spring — brand new terminology, philosophy. The guys have done a really good job of what we’re trying to do, buying into the system, and now we’re starting to see the fruit of their labor.”
"The early word from practices suggests that Patenaude's experience with CAA offensive sets (a conference which, after all, has produced four national champions in the last seven years) will open up the Georgetown play book and make it a little harder for the Lafayettes and Lehighs of the world to drop eight in the box and kick sand in the Hoyas' offensive sets," DFW Hoya writes on the Hoya Saxa blog.
Yet rebuilding is rebuilding, and at this point Georgetown still has a lot more questions than answers. Start at quarterback, where it seems like junior QB Scott Darby will be the primary signalcaller, with sophomore QB Isaiah Kempf also getting action. Both are mobile and can take off with the football when they get a chance.
"It's a quarterback's dream," Darby told his local paper about the new offense. "Our new system means there will be a lot of option passes and (QB) keepers. I'm hoping to see a lot of playing time this season. Right now I'm just working as hard as I can and trying to learn to make our offense run better."
His big targets will definitely be senior WR Keerome Lawrence (344 yards receiving, 1 TD), the Hoya's one-time QB and best overall athlete on offense, but he'll have company back there as well. Sophomore WR Jamal Davis - a transfer from Florida Atlantic of FBS - and junior WR Pat Ryan, a transfer from Miami (OH), will be joining him. Georgetown needed receiving weapons - and they seem to genuinely have them this season.
Senior RB Phillip Oladeji (308 yards rushing, 1 TD) returns, but the backfield will be asking for help from junior RB Wilburn Logan and freshman RB Daren Claytor. That's not a lot of experience to draw upon, especially if Oladeji gets hurt.
The other big issue with the Hoyas involves the "O" line, where it seems destined that Kelly and Patenaude will have a roster loaded with underclassmen. It looks likely that some of the bigger underclassman "hogs", like freshman OL Ryan McGreer and sophomore OL Kevin Sullivan will join Semler up front. Will this line up front come together enough by the end of the season to at least give Georgetown some wins?
On defense, Georgetown will be changing again: to a base 4-3 after having a multiple set last year. Senior LB Nick Parrish will be the unquestioned linchpin of this defense: with 110 tackles and 2 sacks last year, he was the heart and soul of the defense and could be even better again this year. Senior LB Patrick O'Donnell (69 tackles, 2 sacks) will join him in what will be the strength of the Hoya defense.
But it's who's there - and not there - that has to be a cause for concern with Hoya fans.
DE Chudi Obianwu and FS Travis Mack are gone, two big parts of the overworked Hoya defense last year. Who jumps in their place? Junior DE Andrew Schaetzke, who led the Hoyas last year with 5 1/2 sacks, will return on the Hoya "D" line, but it's not clear who will emerge on the other side. Junior SS David Quintero returns, who was third in tackles with 79 last year - returns, but who will play the safety on the other side?
If Georgetown needs to dip into their youth on defense this year as well as offense, it will certainly be another rebuilding year in Georgetown. Their long-suffering fans just have to hope their rebuilding effort this year doesn't result in another rebuilding effort next year. If that happens, the Hoyas need to see that as a success.