Rob Sgarlata works with the Hoyas quarterbacks during training camp.
WASHINGTON - When quarterback Kyle Nolan (Branford, Conn./Choate Rosemary Hall) rushed 82-yards for a touchdown to seal the Georgetown University football team's season-ending victory at Holy Cross last season, it was a sign that the 6-5, 225 pound junior had the ability to take over a game and deliver a victory.
Since then, Nolan, who highlights a talented, deep group of quarterbacks, has continued to worked tirelessly, entering camp in the best shape of his career. Now he will be looking to put his name into the conversation with the rest of the Patriot League's top quarterbacks, including last season's PL Offensive Player of the Year, Michael Nebrich of Fordham.
"Kyle has all the physical tools, he's gotten stronger, especially in his core and he's done a great job of taking his strength training onto the field in terms of how he's throwing the ball, opposed to just relying on his arm," said Head Coach Rob Sgarlata, who will mentor the quarterbacks this season. "Last year he fought through a lot of minor injuries and he was really only totally healthy for the last three games and it showed against Bucknell and Holy Cross."
With Sgarlata moving to the offensive side of the ball after 10 seasons on defense, the quarterback group will be well-schooled in recognizing coverages and finding where to attack the weak spots of opposing defenses, a skill Sgarlata already believes Nolan possesses.
"Kyle has played a lot of football and he's extremely intelligent," Sgarlata said. "He understands coverage, he understands the matchups we're trying to get in the run and pass games and that's a luxury, because we can trust him to do some different things for us."
Nolan was pressed into action early as a freshman, as the Hoyas quarterbacks suffered through injuries. He completed 33-of-76 passes for 473 yards and four touchdowns in three games, after starting the season as the fourth quarterback on the depth chart. Nolan improved last season completing 118-of-195 passes for 1,081 yards and a 110.8 efficiency rating, while rushing for 242 yards and an additional four touchdowns, despite battling several nagging injuries. From his experiences, Sgarlata has seen him grow into a leader.
"Sometimes when you play early you're forced into that leadership role," Sgarlata commented. "But the number one thing about Kyle is he's comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is, he knows what his abilities are and he's been more vocal this fall camp. He has the credibility. Anytime you have someone with the physical attributes, who also takes the time to know the schemes and does the little things right it brings him immediate credibility with his teammates. The new kids know from day one know that he is a guy you want to model yourself after."
Tim Barnes Looking to Build on Freshman Season ---
The Hoyas consider themselves lucky to have sophomore Tim Barnes (Oradell, N.J./River Dell Regional). Barnes saw action early in his freshman season, earning a start against Princeton, and giving the Blue & Gray a dynamic pass and run option at quarterback.
No Georgetown quarterback has started all 11 games since Matt Bassuener accomplished the feat in 2007, so Sgarlata understands that depth at quarterback will be a major key to success on offense and knows that Barnes has the demeanor and ability to develop quickly.
"Not much bothers Tim," Sgarlata said. "He's a very consistent player, he plays hard all the time and he's an extremely hard worker, who is also extremely talented."
During his freshman season, Barnes completed 16-of-31 passes for 214 yards and one touchdown, while gaining 43 yards on the ground on 16 carries. Barnes' freshman numbers are just scratching the surface.
"Tim is very athletic, he throws the ball well and he's a different kind of runner than Kyle," Sgarlata said. "He ran the ball a ton in high school. He brings some things in the run game that are very attractive for us and he has a very live arm. He's had to play, he's seen the field and he's coming along as a leader as well. I think both Kyle and Tim would compete for a starting job anywhere in the league. Obviously Michael Nebrich (Fordham) is a very talented player. He's the preseason player of the year and he proved it last year, but any team in the league would want to have Tim or Kyle on their roster."
Patrick Finnegan's Cerebral Approach Stands Out ---
Sophomore Patrick Finnegan (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Loyola) did not see action during his freshman season, but has continued to impress the coaching staff with his work ethic and willingness to prepare every week like the team's starter.
During training camp he has also shown the ability to grasp the offensive concepts being thrown at him by Sgarlata and offensive coordinator Michael Neuberger.
"I talk about how intelligent the entire group is, but Patrick might be the smartest of the group, including me," Sgarlata joked. "He understands what we're trying to do and we're really fortunate to have three kids that can throw the ball the way they do. He's a do anything for you kind of kid. Whatever role you ask him to fill, he will. We've lost quarterbacks here before, so he understands that he's preparing like he's going to be the starter."
The competitiveness among the quarterbacks has been a bright spot during a strong camp. While Nolan has established himself against Patriot League competition, Barnes and Finnegan have continued to push for playing time, something that Sgarlata hopes will bring out the best in all three.
"They push each other in this group," Sgarlata said. "They compete with each other in everything, whether its drills in pre-practice to making target throws to the net. They just push each other."
Hoyas Happy to Uncover Peter Mahoney---
Freshman Peter Mahoney (Shaker Heights, Ohio/St. Ignatius) has not been able to practice during training camp and is a year removed from competition after losing his senior season at St. Ignatius to injury. But Mahoney is expected to be cleared soon to resume practice.
"Peter played for St. Ignatius, where Adam Rini who was a captain here in 2002 is the offensive line coach," Sgarlata said. "So we got great recommendations on Peter. He's a great student, he's a big, strong kid and from what I've seen, I think he fits in with our group, from that standpoint that they're all very hard working, intelligent and students of the game."
For Sgarlata, making the move from defense back to offense, where he played as a running back at Georgetown in the early 90's, has been a natural one. Part of the ease during the transition has been the work ethic shown and the talent on the field of the team's quarterbacks.
"They're a lot of fun to coach," Sgarlata said. "I'm having a blast coaching those guys and anyone who has watched me during practice can see that. I was lucky to be with Billy Ward, J.J. Mont, who were all-everything quarterbacks at the time and play with Aley Demarest in that system and was lucky enough to learn from some great coaches."
"Our quarterbacks all embrace the role of being a quarterback," Sgarlata added. "They know what it entails and they want to learn. They ask questions, that want to know why we're doing something and that's when you start improving."
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