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Lehigh At Georgetown Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Lehigh Hoping Hoya Madness Confined To Basketball

We break down the Georgetown game - and we give our fearless prediction below the flip.

Georgetown is a football school, of course.  But you may have heard that they also play basketball at Georgetown, and this Friday is a huge deal on campus: Hoya Madness.

"The Georgetown University men’s and women’s basketball programs will hold their annual Hoya Madness celebration, the official on-campus kickoff party of the 2016-17 basketball season, on Friday, October 14 at 8 p.m. in McDonough Arena," the release states.  "This is a free event open to all Georgetown students. Doors are scheduled to open at 7:30 p.m., with the show kicking off at 8 p.m. and running until 9:30 p.m.  The first 1,000 students in attendance will receive a custom ‘Hoya Madness’ Jordan Brand t-shirt."

As fun as this sounds, would be even better if the football team were somehow more wrapped up in this event as the basketball team.  One place Georgetown might look is Villanova, where the football team doesn't have as high a profile as the basketball team, but they have been doing more specials for the football team in recent years.

Breaking Down Georgetown

The base part of Georgetown's offense is similar to the same setups we've seen in years past with the Hoyas, with a pro set, running back, fullback, tight end and slot back/wide receiver.

For the Hoyas, though, their preseason captain, senior QB Tim Barnes, is out with an injury sustained in the Harvard game.  His absence has caused the Hoya offense to really struggle in is absence.  Part of the reason for this is due to the fact that many of the skill players from last season's experienced team have graduated.

6'5 sophomore QB Clay Norris stepped in since then and hasn't been able to score a touchdown through the air yet, which is something the Hoyas will certainly be looking to do first thing when Lehigh comes to Cooper Field.  So far he's been asked to be more of a game manager instead of a gunner - his longest pass for the season is 19 yards and he only has 151 total yards passing all season.

Junior RB Alex Valles (299 net rushing yards, 1 TD) is the Hoyas' main running back, with sophomore FB Christian Bermudez (56 yards, 2 TDs) as the physical, vulture back at the goal line.  Both are bigger, physical backs.  When sophomore RB Issac Elsworth comes in to spell Valles, he's more of the speedy change-of-pace guy who has 177 net yards this season.

Hoya WR Justin Hill
Norris' primary target is senior WR Justin Hill (96 yards, 2 TDs), who missed a couple games due to injury but is listed atop the depth chart this week.  In the past when Hill has played well, it has generally translated into Hoya victories, and the 6'2, 205 lb receiver is a good athlete if he's running at 100%.  Next to him in the slot, junior WR Justin Harrell (201 yards, 2 TDs) has also proved himself to be a good receiver as well when the ball is thrown his way.

Senior TE Matthew Buckman (101 yards) and sophomore WR Brandon Williams (206 yards, 2 TDs) round out the main receiving options for Norris.

Part of the Hoyas' issues with offense this season come from their offensive line, which give up on average more than six tackles for loss a game, even though sacks allowed isn't all that out of line.  6'6 280 lb junior OL Nick James anchors the line.


Georgetown plays a base 3-4 defense that is the strength of their team, in particular their front seven.  The defensive front is a troubling amount of talent and experience that would perplex any Patriot League offensive line coach.

Hoya DE Hunter Kiselick
The trio of senior DE/LB Phil Novacki, senior DT Bryan Jefferson, and senior DE Hunter Kiselick all competed against Lehigh last year on the defensive line.  Kiselick and Novacki get great penetration and find themselves getting a lot of tackles for loss - they've combined for 9 1/2 over the course of the season.  The 6'2, 280 lb Jefferson acts as a great run stuffer at the nose guard position.

Rounding out the starting front seven are senior LB Leo Loughery (42 tackles, 1 1/2 TFL 3 QB Hurries), junior LB Matthew Apuzzi (28 tackles, 1 TFL), junior LB David Yankovich (16 tackles), and sophomore DE Brennen Sawicki (21 tackles 1 TFL).  These guys blitz a lot and are a really strong group overall, a nice combination of senior leadership and young talent.  They will bring a lot of pressure and, if left unchecked, can really disrupt an offense.

Hoya CB Jelani Williamson
Junior CB Jelani Williamson has emerged as a solid defensive player for the Hoyas as well, with 26 solo tackles and 2 interceptions, both which came against Harvard and Princeton, respectively.
Junior FS David Akere, a three-years starter last year as well, also returns in the defensive backfield, along with sophomore SS Jethro Francois, who started at the end of last season, and speedy sophomore CB Ramon Lyons, who played on special teams last season.

Worryingly for Lehigh, Georgetown's defense tends to get better as the game goes along.  In their three Patriot League games this season they've let up a grand total of 0 points, as in zero.

Part of the key for Georgetown opponents is to build up a lead early.  In the second and third quarter of games, they have outscored their opposition 65-48.

Special Teams

Senior PK Henry Darmstadter is quite simply the best kicker in the Patriot League hands down. I believe he hasn't missed an extra point this season or last ( he's 13/13 this season) and has shown and NFL-caliber leg, going 6 of 8 on FG attempts with a 43 yarder and a 47 yarder to his credit.  Senior P Harry McCollum is also an exceptional punter, averaging more than 42 yards per punt and booting 8 (!) punts beyond 50 yards.

Special teams have been a major weapon all season for the Hoyas.  Georgetown has four blocked kicks this year, including three by senior DE Hunter Kiselick alone, and one last week returned for a touchdown.

Junior KR Issac Ellsworth has been Georgetown's main kickoff returner and junior RB Alex Valles is the main punt returner.  Both have fairly good return averages, but haven't returned one to the house yet.

LFN's Keys to the Game

1. Screaming Screens.  One way to avoid a fearsome pass rush is to punish overaggressive defenses through out passes, and whether the quarterback will be senior QB Nick Shafnisky or sophomore QB Brad Mayes, I'd hope that a nice diet of screen passes to sophomore RB Dominick Bragalone will be a part of the gameplan.  Shaf found Bragalone on a screen for a late touchdown against Colgate last week - this week, a steady diet of that might work even better.

2. Special Teams Focus.  In multiple weeks, Hoya special teams have been major contributors to their remaining in games.  Keeping the focus on putting a lid on those special teams plays should be a big Mountain Hawk point of emphasis, and might go a very long way towards a Lehigh victory.  Another kickoff return for touchdown by junior WR Gatlin Casey might be too much to ask, but having one not go the other way isn't.

3. Aggressive Defense.  With a less experienced QB, keeping pressure on him and not letting him get comfortable is critical.  Bringing the heat with junior DE Tyler Cavenas, senior ROV Laquan Lambert and others will go a long way towards keeping them uncomfortable.

Fearless Prediction

It's a game that scares head coach Andy Coen, and frankly, it scares me too.  Why?  Because it is screaming "letdown".  Four big motivation games in a row, a huge win at home, 4 o'clock exams are finally over, it's Pacing Break - all of this plays into the potential letdown.

The Monmouth game on Thursday showed so much of the same possible game narrative that could possibly happen this weekend - a relatively slow start on offense, letting a good defensive team hang around, a big play - and whammo, a surprise setback of a loss.

But letdowns tend to happen, I think, with younger teams, teams without the same level of senior leadership and hungriness that this Lehigh team appears to have.  We're at the halfway point of the season, and something special does seem to be brewing here for the rest of the season.  What I'll be looking for is whether this team can keep up the same high level of play we've seen the last for weeks.  If they can do that - and that's a bigger if than many may think - it will be five in a row.

Lehigh 27, Georgetown 17


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