The Georgetown football team (2-4, 0-1 Patriot League) travels to Easton, Pa., to take on the reigning 2013 Patriot League champion Lafayette College Leopards (2-3, 0-1 Patriot League) on Saturday, resuming league play.
After losing to Harvard 34-3 last Saturday at MultiSport Field, the Hoyas enter right back into the Patriot League portion of their schedule, looking to take down an opponent who averages an impressive 27.2 points per game this season and is led by senior running back Ross Scheuerman. Under the leadership of Frank Tavani, in his 15th season at the helm of the Lafayette football team, the Leopards are an experienced and dangerous team.
Coach Rob Sgarlata is moving on past the Harvard game and looking ahead with confidence toward Saturday’s showdown with Lafayette.
“It’ll be a great atmosphere this weekend. Our kids have played well up there. We’ve had great defensive performances,” Sgarlata said.
The Hoya defense is charged with stopping Scheuerman, the focal point of the Lafayette offense, their leading rusher and one of their top pass-catching targets. Scheuerman is a three-time all-Patriot League second team honoree and was selected as a 2014 preseason all-Patriot League pick. Last year, in his junior campaign, Scheuerman rushed for 1,113 yards and had four touchdown catches to go along with his 14 rushing scores.
After Harvard running back Andrew Casten ran rampant over the Georgetown defense last week, the Hoyas will have to execute better on defense in order to keep Scheuerman under control. Georgetown let Casten run for 139 yards on 19 carries.
Senior defensive lineman Alec May made particular note of stopping Scheuerman.
“The biggest key is stopping the running back,” May said. “I think he gets touches on 40 to 50 percent of their plays, so it’s going to mean stopping him in the running game and the passing game and getting pressure on the quarterback.”
The Lafayette defense is now under the direction of new defensive coordinator Art Link, who employs a 4-2-5 defensive scheme. Lafayette lost three starters from last year to graduation, but return an experienced secondary featuring junior cornerback Matt Smalley and senior strong safety Jared Roberts. Both players were selected as all-Patriot League honorees, and Smalley is a 2014 preseason all-Patriot League selection.
This season, however, Roberts has been moved from safety to cornerback. The Lafayette defense has allowed the lowest number of first downs in the Patriot League this year, which figures to present a challenge to a Georgetown offense that struggled to convert third downs at home against Harvard.
Junior wide receiver Jake DeCicco and the rest of the Georgetown receiving corps have their work cut out for them against such an experienced secondary.
DeCicco said that making improvements on third down and in the red zone will be the most important aspect of the game.
“We’ve definitely shown signs that we can be really good at times. We have to do better in the red zone. Overall it’s been a building process. We have to focus on the little things, like finishing drives and really picking up third downs,” DeCicco said.
Sgarlata agreed with DeCicco’s assessment, and emphasized creating consistency as a major goal.
“For us on offense, it’s all about consistency; we’ve been moving the ball really well between the 20 [yard lines]. We worked a lot on our red zone stuff. It’s about being able to string long drives together and finish,” Sgarlata said.
Sgarlata has not lost confidence in his offense despite the unit not scoring a touchdown over the last two games, both double-digit losses.
“[I am] very confident we have talented players. We have a talented group. [I am] very confident in [junior starting quarterback] Kyle Nolan and our receiving crew. I think we have a lot of weapons,” Sgarlata said.
Among those weapons is senior running back Danny Wright, who will return from injury Saturday.
For the Hoyas to emerge triumphant over Lafayette on the road, they will need to execute better on offense and be able to consistently keep their defense off of the field with key third-down conversions.
Kickoff in Pennsylvania is at 3:30 p.m.