Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Buzbee Leads GU Through Rocky Season

He’s lost close games – Georgetown fell 23-21 to Columbia on Sept. 23 – and he’s lost blowouts, notably a 57-7 drubbing at the hands of Cornell a year ago. In just over three years on the Hilltop, Buzbee has lost 29 times. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

“Each year you strive to get better,” Buzbee says, “and you think going into your senior year, after three years, this program would have gotten better and you’d make improvements. Obviously from the winning standpoint, we haven’t gotten there yet.”

Indeed, Georgetown’s futility on the gridiron over the last three and a half years has overshadowed a historic career that it is slowly coming to a close.

Buzbee burst onto the scene his freshman year (2003), appearing in 11 games, making 28 tackles, seven and a half of which were for a loss. He recorded five sacks and forced two fumbles, making a name for himself in the process.

“Buz has been a pretty big part of the whole Georgetown scheme since his freshman year,” senior offensive lineman Liam Grubb says. “He got significant playing time as a true freshman, he played with Michael Ononibaku [(MSB ’06)] and those two complimented each other perfectly.”

The team, however, finished 4-7 in 2003.

The two were a perfect compliment again the next year when each had 10.5 sacks to tie for the team and the league lead. No other Patriot League duo came within three sacks of Ononibaku and Buzbee.

Still, Georgetown, 3-8 for that season, continued to lose.

Last year, with the pair firmly established as one of the conference’s most physical and talented tandems, both had their numbers decline a bit – Ononibaku recorded 7.5 tackles while Buzbee added 6.5 – but as a unit, the Hoyas finished third in total defense (332.8 yards allowed per game). An anemic offense (Georgetown scored the fewest points per game in all of Division I-AA), however, kept Ononibaku and Buzbee from crossing the .500 marker, as the Hoyas finished 4-7, 2-4 Patriot in the league in 2005.

This season, with Ononibaku working not on the gridiron but on Wall Street, Buzbee has had to anchor the defense alone, and he has done a good job doing so. He is third on the team in tackles (35.5), first in sacks (3.5), and first in tackles for a loss (9.0). And all of Buzbee’s production has come with the kind of attention that Ononibaku used to garner.

“We don’t have Mike on the other side making a lot of plays that frees things up for me,” Buzbee says, “but I’m also getting a lot of attention from other teams. I’m happy with the way I’m playing, but I’d just like to win more.”

Winning, as Buzbee alludes to, is not something the Hoyas have done often this fall. Georgetown has won just once in six tries and has yet to win a league bout. The Hoyas nearly beat Columbia in New York, and performed admirably against Lehigh and Bucknell in league play, but both times they came up short.

“I think it’s very difficult,” first-year Head Coach Kevin Kelly says. “He knows it’s his last college opportunity and when you don’t win, I think everyone’s frustrated, not just him, but especially the seniors because you know that the end is in sight.”

“It’s not how I pictured my senior season, especially ’cause you work so hard,” Buzbee says. “I’ve worked my butt off for four years – all the other seniors have too – so it’s disappointing. But the main thing is you can’t get down.”

Perhaps more than the ease with which he tackles the opposing quarterback or breaks through the offensive line, it has been Buzbee’s ability to stay upbeat and keep the rest of the Georgetown squad motivated through a rough season that has been most valuable.

“He’s been a good leader on the field for us,” Kelly says. “He works hard in the weight room, he works hard on the field, in the classroom, and he keeps the guys working hard, regardless of what the record has been so far.”

Grubb, Buzbee’s co-captain, agrees. “He’s been doing a great job,” Grubb says. “He doesn’t let it get to him, he keeps his composure, and he sets a great example for the rest of the defense. Besides having him out there [as a player], the leader that he’s become is just priceless to the team.”

It has not been just the Hoyas that have noticed Buzbee’s outstanding play despite the down year. Lehigh Head Coach Andy Coen watched No. 35 spend his entire afternoon in the Mountain Hawks’ backfield, making seven tackles and recording a sack on Oct. 7.

“We didn’t block Alex Buzbee all day,” Coen said after his team’s 28-3 win. “He got a [one] sack and forced the quarterback out of the pocket a number of other times. He’s an outstanding player. I’m glad we don’t have to play him anymore.”

Buzbee’s outing against Lehigh was the first of two straight performances good enough to earn a spot on the Patriot League honor role.

Pro scouts, too, have been impressed by Buzbee’s play. Several teams, according to Kelly, have come to the Hilltop to check out Buzbee in action, and they’ve been coming back afterwards, liking what they see.

Still, the impressive statistics, accolades and attention do little to mask the fact that Georgetown (1-6, 0-4) is mired in perhaps its most difficult season since Buzbee arrived in 2003.

“You don’t have next year to get better,” Buzbee says of his senior season, “so it’s your last hurrah and you have to make everything count. It’s really not working out the way I planned.”

With four games remaining, the Hoyas cannot win the league title, will make the playoffs, and have no shot at finishing over .500. Still, winning out would give Buzbee a brief taste of the success he’s been searching for for so long.

“You gotta keep fighting through it,” Buzbee says, “and stay positive, no matter what, and hope if you keep working eventually something eventually is going to pay off and its going to get better. I’m just praying that we can get four wins in a row.”

As Georgetown football ushers in a new coach, a new system, and 34 freshmen, the newcomers are becoming more and more important. Kelly has been moving more freshmen onto the two-deep chart each week, looking more to a bright future than a bumpy past. But that doesn’t mean that Buzbee doesn’t have a place in the “new era” of Georgetown football.

“I wish we had them longer,” Kelly says of the seniors, “but the way I look at it, they’re part of the Georgetown football family and they’re going to be the foundation of this thing one day when we are an elite program in the Patriot League.”

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