Georgetown is close to meeting outsiders’ low expectations for 2008.
In fact, even ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons let the world know what he thinks of the Hoyas in his latest column about the New England Patriots’ chances without the injured Tom Brady.
“Brady or no Brady, the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the league – the NFL did everything but schedule Georgetown and Columbia in December for them,” Simmons writes.
Don’t think for a second that the Hoyas care about any of it.
Coming off of a come-from-behind, season-opening 12-7 victory over Howard on Sunday, Georgetown will look to surpass its win total from a year ago and continue its quest to silence all the doubters when they travel to Easton, Pa., tomorrow to open up Patriot League play against the favored Lafayette Leopards (1-0, 0-0 Patriot League).
“We know we are projected to finish last in the league again, just like last season,” senior defensive end Travis Zorrilla said. “It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks about us. A win, getting to 2-0, would be huge for this team and for this program. This is definitely a statement game.”
The pressure applied by Zorrilla and the rest of the Georgetown front seven was a major factor in Sunday’s win, and it will have to be influential once again if the Hoyas are to get out of the gate at a surprising 2-0. And though they were able to apply constant pressure and amass four sacks, while limiting Howard running backs to 2.4 yards per carry, the Blue and Gray will be facing a decidedly tougher challenge come 6 p.m. tomorrow evening.
“We’ve got a big test [tomorrow],” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “You make your biggest improvement between games one and two, and we’ll certainly have to do that if we want to beat an excellent football team like Lafayette.”
In its season opener against Marist, the Lafayette offense, paced by senior tailback Maurice White (29 carries, 212 yards, 2 touchdowns), ran the ball an astounding 63 times for 318 yards. Complemented by the efficient play of junior quarterback Robert Curley and a suffocating defense that yielded only 95 yards of total offense, the Leopards will attempt to control the clock and wear down the Hoyas up front on both sides of the ball.
“Lafayette is a lot bigger and better on the offensive line than Howard was,” Zorrilla said. “We were able to just run them and tire them out. This week we’ll have to stick to our gap assignments and not over-pursue or get caught out of position.”
As for the Georgetown offense, the two-quarterback attack of sophomore Keerome Lawrence and freshman James Brady adds an interesting aspect to this year’s version of the Hoyas. In the win over Howard, Lawrence started and was the team’s leading rusher, but it was the efficient Brady who hooked up with senior wide receiver Kenny Mitchell for two big plays in the fourth quarter, including a 31-yard touchdown that gave the Hoyas the lead they would never relinquish. Versatility at the position should cause problems for the Lafayette defense. Kelly indicated that he will continue to alternate between his young signal-callers.
“Keerome is a good runner and is very good with our play-action stuff,” Kelly said. “James is more of a thrower and an excellent game manager, so we will keep shuttling them in and out.”
The difference in last year’s meeting between these two teams – Georgetown’s home opener – was on the ground, as the Leopards outgained the Hoyas 188 to 74. White scampered for 87 yards on 13 carries that day – he nearly tripled that output last week. This time, in Lafayette’s home opener, the running game should once again figure decisively into the outcome. Limiting White’s explosiveness and improving its own rushing attack will undoubtedly be keys for Georgetown if it is to defy the experts.
Despite the expectations, Kelly and his squad believe that they can accomplish some big things in 2008 – and that is all that really matters.
“We try to take things one at a time,” Kelly said. “First, we talk about winning the day. Then, about winning the game. And finally, about winning the Patriot League.”
The trek to that final goal starts tomorrow.