2014 Football Team Preview: Georgetown Hoyas

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Alec May leads a solid front seven for Georgetown.
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG
Alec May leads a solid front seven for Georgetown.
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG

Aug. 20, 2014

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - After leading a solid defense at Georgetown, Rob Sgarlata now takes over as head coach of a program that is trying to prove the prognosticators wrong.

Georgetown was picked seventh in the Patriot League preseason poll after last year's 2-9 campaign that included a 1-4 mark in League action. The Hoyas sputtered on both sides of the ball, but have key returnees back for reason to believe that they can rebound in 2014.

A preview of the 2014 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 video previews for the season.

For more on all of the teams, read the 2014 Patriot League Football Preview and watch all of the preseason video features on the Youtube Football Playlist

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HEAD COACH: Rob Sgarlata, 1st Season (0-0 Overall/Georgetown, 0-0 Patriot League)
2013 RECORD: 2-9 overall, 1-4 Patriot League (T5th place)
PATRIOT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL: 7th
PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE: Nick Alfieri (Sr., LB)
PLN VIDEOS: Hoya alum takes over as head coach in 2014 | Offense, Defense look to turn it around in 2014

OFFENSE: The Hoyas have longed for consistent play at quarterback over the years, but they might have found their man in Kyle Nolan, who threw for 1,081 yards and four touchdowns while completing over 60% of his passes last year. Nick Campanella is gone from the backfield after rushing for 565 yards and six touchdowns, but Jo'el Kimpela (222 rush yards, 3 TD) returns. The top player from last year is also gone at wide receiver (Zack Wilke) and tight end (Daniel Sprotte), but Jake DeCicco (38 rec., 445 yards) and Justin Hill (26 rec., 265 yards) both return at wideout. The offensive line should be a strength with seniors Michael Kasten, Mike Roland and Nick Quintans all returning with experience.

DEFENSE: Sgarlata has worked with the defense for more than a decade, and once again the unit appears to be the strength of the Hoyas. Georgetown should be formidable in the front seven with Alec May (68 TT, 7 sacks), Jordan Richardson (58 TT, 3 sacks) and Richard Shankle (50 TT, 3 sacks) on the line and Nick Alfieri (92 TT) and Patrick Boyle (98 TT) at linebacker, though All-Patriot Leaguer Dustin Wharton does depart at the position. The defensive backfield has Cameron Gamble (34 TT) and Garrett Powers (33 TT) back but loses Stephen Atwater (51 TT).

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Hoyas have a hole to fill in the kicking area with Matt MacZura gone after serving as the punter in all four of his years and the primary placekicker for the last two. There are four kickers or punters on the roster, but none with experience. The Hoyas also lose their primary kickoff returner, Brandon Durham, but Kimpela has experience there and DeCicco worked as the punt returner.

SCHEDULE: The Hoyas begin the season with four non-League games, opening at home against Wagner (Aug. 30) before visiting Dayton (Sept. 6) and Marist (Sept. 13) and welcoming Brown (Sept. 20). They play two early League games at Colgate (Sept. 27) and Lafayette (Oct. 11), with the non-League finale at home against Harvard (Oct. 4) sandwiched in-between. After playing in the first seven weeks of the year, the Hoyas have byes in two of the last six on Oct. 18 and Nov. 8. They have three of the final four League games at home, welcoming Bucknell (Oct. 25), Lehigh (Nov. 1) and Holy Cross (Nov. 22) with the only road trip to Fordham (Nov. 15).

Five Questions

1. Will consistency at the top aid the Hoyas?
Georgetown had a tough season in 2013, but the Hoyas were coming off their best three-year run in the Patriot League with a 7-8 League mark from 2010-12. The defense in particular has been solid during that span, so Georgetown opted to go for a steady course when it promoted Rob Sgarlata to head coach after the departure of Kevin Kelly. Sgarlata, a 1994 Georgetown graduate, has spent the past 18 years on the Hoya coaching staff with the last eight as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Sgarlata will hope to keep the defense as a solid unit and build the offense, and no one could give a better sell to recruits than a former star on the field and coach with nearly two decades at the school. Georgetown always faces a challenge in recruiting against other League schools, but Sgarlata knows the game better than anyone.

2. Can Nolan lead the offense to success?
Georgetown's offense has sputtered in recent seasons, and the Hoyas were last in the Patriot League with 20.6 points per game in 2013. The top player from last season is gone at running back (Nick Campanella), wide receiver (Zack Wilke) and tight end (Daniel Sprotte). That will make a turnaround challenging, but the Hoyas hope to have the right man under center in junior Kyle Nolan. Georgetown has lacked consistent play at quarterback over the years, but Nolan showed flashes last year when he completed over 60% of his passes. There are a handful of experienced players at the skill positions even with the departures, and Michael Kasten, Mike Roland and Nick Quintans man a veteran offensive line. But any success of an offense requires a good quarterback, and the Hoyas hope they have their man in Nolan.

3. Can the defense re-gain its form?
Georgetown's defense often picked up the slack for its offense from 2010-12, but it could not do so last season as the Hoyas were last in the Patriot League by allowing 33.5 points per game. The defense is probably still ahead of the offense going into the season, and will need get back to being one of the better units in the Patriot League for a turnaround season. The Hoyas have key pieces in place, particularly in the front seven with Alec May, Jordan Richardson and Richard Shankle on the line and Nick Alfieri and Patrick Boyle at linebacker. The secondary has more question marks, and the Hoyas will need players to step up there to hold down opposition again.

4. Will the Hoyas be ready for early road trips?
Georgetown will be busy early in the season, as the Hoyas play seven of their 11 games before mid-October with a schedule that has two byes in the final six weeks. The first four games are non-League affairs, and the Hoyas will need to get up to speed quickly because they have early Patriot League road tests at Colgate (Sept. 27) and Lafayette (Oct. 11). That does not leave much time to get the kinks worked out on offense and defense, and the Hoyas will likely need to win one of those two games to stay in the League race heading into their bye week.

5. Will Georgetown keep up without scholarships?
The Hoyas released their class of incoming recruits on May 8, a full three months after the other six Patriot League schools joined most other Division I programs in announcing their classes on national signing day. Georgetown has the benefit of the biggest incoming class in the Patriot League with 32 student-athletes, but the Hoyas face a challenge now that the rest of the League is in year two of awarding athletic aid to student-athletes. Sgarlata and his staff have a big task at hand in both recruiting and coaching their student-athletes to maintain the competitiveness that Georgetown has achieved within the Patriot League.