Aug. 19, 2010
Editors' Note: This is the first part of a series detailing the 2010 Georgetown football team, position-by-position. Sitting down with new offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude earlier in the week, we discussed his responsibilities since arriving on the Hilltop this past winter, including the installation of a new scheme and confidence in the Hoyas offense. Those will be themes throughout this series, which begins today with the quarterbacks:
New offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude has talked about "being an offensive football team" and "taking the fight to the defense," planning to spread the ball around to the team's young, but strong corps of skill players. But to be able to make that a reality for the 2010 Hoyas, Patenaude will have to find the right quarterback among a solid group of returners.
"The great thing about playing quarterback in this system is they have a lot of autonomy, so if they don't like the look or if it's not right, it's on them to fix it," Patenaude said. "The quarterback has to have a great understanding of not only our offense, but what all of the other offensive players are doing and how an opponent is defending us. There are a lot of checks and things required both in running and passing the ball."
The additional responsibility put upon the Hoyas group of signal-callers has been welcomed.
"The adjustment has been pretty big," sophomore quarterback Isaiah Kempf said. "We're a lot more of a high tempo offense trying to get in as many plays as possible. We have some good freshmen coming in that can play right away at slot and at running back, so the speed of the game has picked up. All around we know what we're trying to get to and we have had a big push in the right direction this year."
Through the first week and a half of training camp junior Scott Darby (Tewksbury, Mass./St. John's Prep) and Kempf (Glendale, Calif./Bridgton Academy) have split time taking snaps with the first team offense. Each has shined at times during brief careers on the Hilltop, as Kempf earned Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors in his first career start against Yale last September, completing 32 passes for 332 yards. Against Marist in November, Darby completed 31 passes for 287 yards and led the Hoyas on a fourth quarter comeback that fell two points shy. The completion totals were third and fourth highest in program history, respectively.
Junior Tucker Stafford (Riverside, Conn./Greenwich), also a Georgetown lacrosse player, missed spring practice, but has impressed Patenaude with his strong throwing arm and ability as a dropback passer. Talented freshman Aaron Aiken (Morristown, N.J./The Lawrenceville School) has also earned repetitions at quarterback through the first week and a half of training camp impressing coaches.
But Darby and Kempf, who both played well during the spring and have carried over strong performances to training camp, continue to make solid cases to start the season opener at Davidson on Saturday, Sept. 4. The offense will ultimately be run by the signal-caller, who not only has a strong accurate throwing arm, but is an able runner. Patenaude also noted that the starter will be the person who progresses the most and learns the system the best.
"Scott Darby has done a really good job in the run game," Patenaude said. "He was an option quarterback in high school, so I think he's very confident in that area of the offense and he's become a much better thrower than he was last year or even at the beginning of training camp."
"Isaiah Kempf was very comfortable as a dropback thrower," Patenaude added. "He put on 15 pounds over the summer, he's done a great job of changing his body to get a lot stronger and now he's more confident running with the ball and making the reads that he needs to make."
Both quarterbacks have been comfortable in learning all of the intricacies of the new system, agreeing that understanding more than their own role will not only help themselves of football players, but help the team's success.
"Knowing what everyone has to do has helped (the quarterbacks) focus on what we need to do to put everything together and be a better unit," Darby said. "Also, individually, we watch ourselves on tape every night and mechanically fine tuning everything from head to toe. Overall the general understanding of football has gotten better, from the little things and terminologies to line protections and what blitzes are being called. It all helps us in being decision-makers."
"We pretty much had our base offense in during the spring, so Scott and I could definitely take it all in," Kempf said. "Now we're hitting our stride a little bit and seeing where we want to go and how we're going to do it."
Though the early signs have been promising from Georgetown's group of quarterbacks, it is realized that only halfway through training camp, more work needs to be done.
"We're not there yet," Patenaude said. "But we're further along that I thought we would be in our understanding of the offense. I may have underestimated how much retention skills these guys have, which should be expected at one of the best schools in the country. The great thing about it is when we go into a meeting, we'll talk about something and we can go on the field 20 minutes later and those guys will absorb it and put it into play."