2013 Patriot League Football Preview: Georgetown Hoyas Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Dustin Wharton leads the way
Aug. 19, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - The last three seasons have shown that Georgetown has the ability to be competitive in the Patriot League, but the Hoyas need to overcome some big losses on defense to make another step forward in 2013.
Gone are Robert McCabe and Jeremy Moore, two of the top players at their positions in League history. Dustin Wharton returns as the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and the unit has talent across the board to make up for the loss of two stars. The offense has the potential for improvement with experience on the line and at running back, and the Hoyas have the chance for a balanced attack for contention in a wide-open Patriot League race.
A preview of the 2013 Georgetown Hoyas season is included below, with a look at the offense, defense, special teams and schedule, five burning questions and links to information and previews for the season.
For the latest releases, team information, previews, media articles and more, visit Patriot League Football Preseason Central
HEAD COACH: Kevin Kelly, 8th Season (22-54 Overall/Georgetown, 9-32 Patriot League) 2012 RECORD: 5-6 overall, 2-3 Patriot League (T3rd place) PATRIOT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL: 5th PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE: James Spaly (OL), Sean Campbell (DL), Dustin Wharton (LB - Preseason Defensive POY)
OFFENSE: The quarterback position has remained unsettled over the years at Georgetown, but there are a couple of players with experience. Isaiah Kempf returns after missing the 2012 season with an injury, while sophomore Kyle Nolan played in multiple games last year. Second-team All-Patriot League selection Nick Campanella (501 yards, 7 TD) also returns in the backfield at running back. Second-team All-Patriot League pick James Spaly and Mike Roland return on the line, though starters Donald Rhodes and Kevin Sullivan depart.
DEFENSE: Defense has been the calling card for the Hoyas in recent seasons, and the unit should be strong again in 2013 even with the departure of two of the top players in program history. Linebacker Robert McCabe finished fourth in the Walter Payton Award voting after leading the nation with 159 tackles. Also gone is defensive back Jeremy Moore, who earned first-team All-Patriot League honors after notching 71 tackles and five interceptions last year. The Hoyas also lose linebacker Jeremy Grasso (78 TT, 1 INT), but the rest of the defense returns largely intact. Dustin Wharton (104 TT, 3.5 sacks) steps in as the team's top linebacker after earning first-team All-Patriot League honors last year. Nick Alfieri (91 TT, 1 INT), Daniel Wright (54 TT, 1 INT) and Stephen Atwater (43 TT, 1 INT) had solid seasons in the defensive backfield, and the front seven features Sean Campbell (52 TT, 3 sacks), Alec May (43 TT, 5 sacks), Jordan Richardson (39 TT, 5 TFL) and Dezmond Richardson (30 TT, 2 sacks).
SPECIAL TEAMS: Matt MacZura returns after taking on both kicking and punting duties last season. He made 10-of-17 field goals on the season and averaged 36.2 yards per punt. The Hoyas lose top return men Kevin Macari and Jeremy Moore.
SCHEDULE: The Hoyas play an 11-game slate, which features six of eight contests at home after the opener at Wagner (Aug. 31). Georgetown has home dates with Davidson (Sept. 7) and Marist (Sept. 14) before a trip to Brown (Sept. 21), then concludes its non-League slate at home against Princeton (Sept. 28). After a bye, the Hoyas open Patriot League play with a home date against Fordham (Oct. 12). Georgetown next pays a visit to Lehigh (Oct. 19), then concludes its home slate by welcoming Colgate (Oct. 26) and Lafayette (Nov. 2) to Multi-Sport Field. After a second bye, the Hoyas finish up at Bucknell (Nov. 16) and Holy Cross (Nov. 23).
1. Can the Hoyas replace a Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year....again?
For the second straight season, Georgetown loses a student-athlete who finished in the top five of the Buck Buchanan Award voting and was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. And for the second straight year, Georgetown has someone ready to pick right up where his predecessor left off. Andrew Schaetzke finished his career as one of the top defensive linemen in Patriot League history in 2011, and Robert McCabe finished his career as one of the League's best all-time linebackers last year. The transition might actually be easier this time around, as Dustin Wharton can step right in at linebacker for McCabe. Wharton was a first-team All-Patriot League pick and 100-tackle accumulator in his own right last year, and should continue to add his name to the long line of standout linebackers in recent seasons for the Hoyas.
2. What about replacing the other defensive star?
As great as McCabe was, at least the Hoyas have an established star ready to take over. But while losing the League's Defensive Player of the Year is a major blow, it may be even harder to replace Jeremy Moore. One of the top cover corners in League history, Moore was even more well-known for his big-play ability. He set a Patriot League career record with 318 interception return yards, and was also one of the League's most dangerous kick returners. Moore had three defensive touchdowns last year to go along with five interceptions, four fumbles recovered and a pair of forced fumbles. He always had a knack of coming up big at the right time, particularly in last year's three-point loss against Lehigh. While there is still plenty of experience and talent in the defensive backfield, it will be hard to duplicate what Moore brought to the table for the Hoyas.
3. Can Kempf close the revolving door at quarterback?
You have to go back to 2007, when Matt Bassuener was the quarterback, to find the last time the Hoyas had a clear No. 1 signal-caller from the start of the season to the end. It appeared that Isaiah Kempf would have the top job throughout the 2012 season, but a season-ending injury early in the opening game left that door ajar again as three players ended up splitting time throughout the season. One of those three, Kyle Nolan, is back at quarterback (Aaron Aiken is now listed at wide receiver), but it appears Kempf will get another shot for the No. 1 job as he returns for a fifth season. The team captain has plenty of experience, starting seven games as a freshman in 2009 and eight as a junior in 2011. If Kempf can solidify the quarterback position, the offense has a chance to catch up to the defense and keep the Hoyas in the mix in 2013.
4. Will the running game be a strength again?
A key to any good offense also lies in a strong running game, and Georgetown's push up the Patriot League standings has coincided with increased production from its rushing offense. The Hoyas placed second in the Patriot League with 147.5 yards per game in 2011, and were third in 2012 with a nearly identical 146.1 yards per game output. There's no reason to think the Hoyas can't be just as good, or better, on the ground this season. Nick Campanella has earned second-team All-Patriot League status in each of the last two seasons while combining to rush for nearly 1,000 yards with 15 touchdowns. He's not alone, with fellow seniors Brandon Durham and Dalen Claytor and sophomore Jo'el Kimpela also proving capable of carrying the load on the ground. The offensive line should be sound again, too, led by James Spaly, Mike Roland and Michael Francis. Another quality year for the rushing attack would go a long way to take the pressure off of Kempf and a wide receiving group that does not return a player with more than 20 catches last season.
5. Will lack of "scholarships" hurt in 2013?
While the rest of the Patriot League transitioned to merit aid scholarships in 2013, Georgetown remained on a "need-based" model for its student-athletes. That may not play a role this season, as Fordham actually took steps back in its first two seasons after implementing athletic scholarships. But a Georgetown program that has been rising now needs to keep up with the rest of the League. For 2013, the Hoyas would do well to at least equal their counterparts in production from the freshman class.