For Georgetown football, a remarkable reversal

By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 25, 2010; 1:09 AM

At halftime of the second game of the season, Georgetown quarterback Scott Darby realized this Hoyas team wasn't like those he had been on the past two years. Georgetown trailed Lafayette - a team that had beaten the Hoyas six times in a row - by 10 points.

"In years past, we might have just given in, said 'same old thing, there's no way,' " Darby said. "We come out, score and get right back in the game. I'd have to say that was the defining moment. . . . I think we have a lot more fight in us."

Georgetown (2-1, 1-0 Patriot League) defeated the Leopards and already has won as many games this season as it has the past two seasons combined. The Hoyas, who sit atop the Patriot League standings, also have as many conference victories as they have the previous four seasons combined. Georgetown will try to win back-to-back Patriot League games for the first time when it plays Holy Cross on Saturday at Multi-Sport Field.

The players' resiliency has been a major part of the turnaround. Last Saturday, after trailing Yale by 13 points at the half, Georgetown scored 21 points in the third quarter and had a chance to win before the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on the final play of the game to win, 40-35.

"They've been through a lot here," Hoyas offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. "They're willing to go to battle. They're not going to lay down. I think we're growing in our mind-set, in our mental toughness."

Patenaude was hired by Coach Kevin Kelly in April to revamp an offense that averaged less than 10 points a game last season. He installed a fast-paced, no-huddle, spread offense that creates space for wide receivers and opens running lanes for running backs. The key to the offense is its quick tempo.

"The thing that we try to do is get the play in as fast as we can to keep the defense from getting settled in," Patenaude said. "We try to create some momentum and get those guys on their heels a little bit. We talk to our guys about playing with an offensive mind-set, not waiting to see what the defense is going to do and reacting to what the defense is going to do, but actually trying to pressure the defense and make them chase you."

When it works well, the offense can lead to big plays. But it can also backfire and put your defense back on the field too quickly.

The offense also requires a quarterback who is equally adept at running and throwing ball and is a quick decision-maker. Georgetown has that in Darby.

"He doesn't get flustered a whole lot," Patenaude said. "He manages the game very well. Because we do a lot of checking and audibling, he handles all that very well. . . . He gets us in and out of the right plays so he makes me look a lot smarter than I actually am."

The change in Georgetown's productivity on offense from last season to this one has been dramatic. Last season, the Hoyas' offense scored 10 touchdowns. This season, they already have scored 11. Last season, they averaged 9.6 points per game. This season, they are averaging 27.7 points per game. Last season, they averaged 247 yards of total offense. This season, they are averaging 334.7 yards. Last season, Darby, who started the final four games, threw for 672 yards and four touchdowns. This season, he has thrown for 642 yards and five touchdowns in three games.

"I think it's just attention to detail," Darby said. "One step on a route, one extra hitch on a three-step drop, something like that can throw off everything. I think it's just consistency and executing the little things."

Though senior wide receiver Keerome Lawrence, the Patriot League offensive player of the week, has been the primary recipient of Darby's passes, the quarterback has done a nice job spreading around the ball. Twelve players have caught passes for Georgetown this season.

"We've got a lot of guys out there who can makes plays," Darby said. "We're going to get it to as many guys as possible."

Georgetown faces a tough task in its home opener. The Hoyas haven't beaten Holy Cross since 1999. Last season, they led 7-6 going into the fourth quarter before giving up two touchdowns and losing, 20-7.

Patenaude, who spent three seasons with the Crusaders as an assistant coach, believes beating Holy Cross would go a long way toward making Georgetown a force to be reckoned with in the Patriot League.

"This school can be an elite level school in the Patriot League," Patenaude said. "My goal is . . . to be able to go out and compete and establish ourselves as a legitimate offense in this league."

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