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Breaking Down Georgetown, 11/12/2011

It's the Patriot League Championship game, it's being played in Bethlehem on a spotless November Day, and it's bound to be a great game.

Below the flip, see Georgetown broken down, as well as my "Keys to the Game" - and, of course, the "Fearless Prediction".

Offense
Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude brought a quick-set, no-huddle, fast-break type offense to the Hoyas last year, which has brought continuity to an offense that seemed to grasp for strategy week to week in other years.

It's similar to a multitude of teams Lehigh has faced this year, however - notably, Princeton - so it's nothing that the Mountain Hawks won't be familiar with. It's an spread-the-wealth, pass-happy, run-and-shoot approach that has made what was once a laughingstock of an offense to one that moves the ball much better the last two years.

As last year, the Hoyas split time at QB with senior QB Scott Darby and junior QB Isaiah Kempf. Both are tall signalcallers, with Kempf having good escapability and running skill - against Howard, he had near 100 yards rushing, for example.

 Neither QB has evolved into being "the guy" under center, so an unusual 50/50 split of playing time under center has been the Hoya way for the last two years, with one QB (Darby) more accurate and a short-range passer through the air, and another (Kempf) more of a threat to throw long and take off with the ball in the spread, but less accurate.

Both will spread the ball around on offense, rarely going to the same well very often. They're similar enough so that Kelly will go with whomever is the hot hand. If one breaks out against Lehigh, I don't think Kelly will have any hesitation to ride him as long as he can.

 Having said that, rotating QBs means that it's harder for one guy to get into a rhythm. It's going to be something to watch this Saturday.

 Last year, the offense was built around the talents of multi-purpose threat WR Keerome Lawrence, who graduated last year. The slotback that has emerged in his place is a good one: speedy 6'0 sophomore WR Max Waizenegger, who doesn't run the ball as much as Lawrence but has a flair for the big play, with 370 receiving yards and 5 TDs. It's fair to call him the Hoyas' biggest big-play threat.

 The Hoya rushing game into a more traditional running-back-by committee approach, and, like at QB, Kelly will likely ride a hot hand if one emerges. The two main guys are sophomore RB Nick Campanella (448 yards, 5 TDs) and senior RB Chancellor Logan (295 yards, 1 TD) taking most of the touches when Kempf or Darby don't choose to take off with the ball. Both are speedy, but the 6'0 Campanella gets more of the yards in between the tackles and the 5'8 Logan is a more of a versatile, waterbug-type back.

5'8 sophomore RB Dalen Claytor (229 yards rushing, 77 yards receiving) and 5'7 sophomore RB Brandon Durham (220 yards rushing) also see the ball - both speedsters.

A huge boost to the Hoya aerial attack this year, aside from the emergence of Waizenegger, was the presence of an FBS transfer. 6'2, 200 lb sophomore WR Jamal Davis, coming from Florida Atlantic, has given the Hoyas a critical receiving go-to option. With 368 yads and 2 TDs, he, along with 6'3 senior WR Patrick Ryan (186 yards, 1 TD) give Georgetown a pair of tall receiving threats.

That playing experience among the top two are important, as the top receivers past Davis and Ryan are backup slotback freshman WR Kevin Macari (14 catches, 181 yards, 3 TDs) and speedster sophomore WR Zach Wilke (14 catches, 121 yards).

 Once upon a time, Georgetown's offensive line was seen as very undersized. Now, however, they've beefed up and now are as large as any other team in the Patriot League - if not a little bigger. Junior OL Kevin Sullivan, at 6'4, 300 lbs, is the norm now rather than the exception.

They've also only given up 16 sacks all year - much better numbers than in years past.

Defense
The Hoyas' calling card has always been a good defense, and just like last year the 3-4 unit they have on the field features some exceptional players. One such player is on their defensive line, and is making a very big play for first team all-Patriot League this year and might even be the Defensive Player of the Year.

Senior DE Andrew Schaetzke, despite being an obvious focal point on Georgetown's defense, is still having a monster year - and, in my opinion, will get a serious look by NFL scouts to be a late-round draft pick. Fighting through double-teams most of the time, he's still managed to notch 65 tackles and an eye-popping 21 1/2 tackles for loss including 11 sacks. He's also forced three fumbles and nabbed an interception for good measure, too.

"Schaetzke is the guy we're going to rally around," Kelly said before the season. "In my opinion he is the best defensive player in the Patriot League, teams have to scheme for him from week-to-week."

The Hoyas also a monster in the middle of their linebacking unit, too: junior LB Robert McCabe (120 tackles), who leads the Patriot League in tackles. He'll drop back in coverage often - he has 4 interceptions and 3 pass break-ups - and anchors an awesome front seven overall which includes sophomore LB Dustin Wharton (90 tackles, 4 pass break-ups), junior LB Jeremy Grasso (68 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks) and 300 lb freshman NG Jordan Richardson (24 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks).

 Like Holy Cross, they have a tendency to sit back and not get burned by big plays rather than play extra aggressive, but with Schaetzke's ability to disrupt, and their exceptional secondary, they don't need to send a lot of people forward.

Along with the five interceptions from the front seven, they and the Hoya secondary have combined for an eye-popping 17 interceptions - and those turnovers have been a major reason why the Hoyas are 8-2 going into this weekend.

Senior CB Jayah Kaisambah could be their best corner - though he has no interceptions and 35 tackles, QBs rarely have thrown his way due to his talent. Instead, they've headed more towards junior CB Jeremy Moore (56 tackes) - who has responded by notching 5 pass break-ups and 4 interceptions.

Together, this duo makes tough to crack the outside. Additionally, Moore, who returned a couple weeks ago from injury, has been critical in the Hoyas' last three wins.

Also, worryingly, the center of the secondary returns two hard-hitting seniors in senior SS Wayne Hemuli (53 tackles, 3 interceptions) and senior FS David Quintero (38 tackles, 3 interceptions) form an extremely solid secondary.

Special Teams 
Making matters worse for Lehigh is the fact that junior CB Jeremy Moore also doubles as a kickoff returner - one of the Patriot League's best. Last week, he returned a kickoff 73 yards against Fordham.

Freshman WR Kevin Macari is also an above-average punt return man, with 11 returns for 183 yards. Their return units can be trouble, so they should be a point of emphasis.

Junior PK Brett Weiss has been solid this season, converting 31 of 33 extra points and 14 of 19 FG attempts, including a 49 yarder - excellent numbers for the Patriot League, and it may be enough for him to make the first team all-Patriot League team this year.

On the flipside, sophomore P Matt MacZura has averaged about 35 yards per punt, which is below average in the Patriot League this year.

LFN's Keys to the Game
1. Take the "G" Off the Helmets.  It's hard to shake the fact that Georgetown has never been this close to a Patriot League championship, ever - or this good.  The Mountain Hawks need to look at those silver helmets with a "G" on them, and imagine they're not there.  This Georgetown team is a very good team, and the earlier you realize that they're a true Patriot League championship-quality team, the better.

Get a helmet, and put tape over the "G".  They're like any other playoff-caliber team Lehigh would potentially play in the FCS playoffs.  And the Mountain Hawks will need to treat them as such in order to win this game.

2. Run Right At Them.  One fantastic way to stay away from their great secondary is to use the running game to bash the defense and eat up the clock.  A steady diet of junior RB Zach "Braket Buster" Barket and senior RB Matt Fitz will keep turnovers down - and increase Lehigh's chances of winning.

3. Avoid Big Plays on Defense and Special Teams.  The Hoya offense has thrived, for the most part, on the big play this year.  It will be critical that senior LB Mike Groome and the defense to keep the flow of play in front of them and prevent long plays that will keep them alive in this game.

Fearless Prediction
If you saw Georgetown at any time during their 0-11 season, put it out of your mind.  That Georgetown team no longer exists.  Instead, the guys with the "G" on their helmets are a team that are one game from the FCS playoffs, and will play like it.

The similarities between Holy Cross last weekend and Georgetown this weekend cannot be ignored - a stifling defense, an offense that scores just enough points to win.

The million-dollar question: will Lehigh be able to handle two of these contests one right after the other?

I think they will.

Lehigh 27, Georgetown 13

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