Sept. 10, 2010
WASHINGTON - Senior right tackle Rob Bates (Malvern, Pa./Malvern Prep) leveled a Davidson linebacker, freeing freshman slot Brandon Durham to run into the end zone untouched for touchdown on his first collegiate carry against Davidson last Saturday. It was perhaps the most noticeable play in a very strong overall performance for a Hoyas' offensive line that features three returning senior starters, including Bates, captain and left tackle Dan Semler (Annandale, Va./W.T. Woodson) and center Erik Antico (Rye, N.Y./Rye).
Georgetown gained 166 yards on the ground, the most, probably not coincidentally, since November 8, 2008 when the team defeated Marist for its last victory before Davidson. That day Phillip Oladeji (Plano, Texas/Plano East)led the way with 105 yards. Against Davidson he led a well-balanced attack with 69 yards and has had plenty of praise for the lineman leading the way.
"I feel as if they offensive line is a lot stronger," Oladeji said during training camp. "They know their assignments and they are working really hard to make holes for us, which will make it easier for us to make some plays and score points."
While the Hoyas lost two starters to graduation, they return of both tackles, including Semler who has now started 21 games at left tackle during his career on the Hilltop. Bates returns at right tackle after starting 11 games at that spot a year ago.
"Our two offensive tackles are very good for this league," Offensive Coordinator David Patenaude said. "Danny Semler started a lot of games here and so has Rob Bates, so I think those are solid Patriot League guys."
Adding to the experience and leadership of the unit is Antico, who also started all 11 games during the 2009 season, mostly at right guard, but saw time at center, where he started during the Hoyas opener at Davidson.
"What's nice about those three guys is they have a lot of game experience," offensive line coach Brad Dunlay said. "So they know the calls, they know the assignments, they know what adjustments are made during game time and they know how beneficial these calls and schemes are to play games."
Beyond the three seniors the Hoyas have a young group of players looking to cement themselves into the Blue & Gray rotation. Sophomore Donald Rhodes (North Huntingdon, Pa./Norwin Senior) started the first game at left guard and sophomore Kevin Sullivan started at right guard. Another sophomore Fino Caliguire (Pittsburgh, Pa./Montour), who saw action in four games last season will back up Antico at center, while freshman Thomas Gallagher (Sequim, Wash./Sequim), the largest player on the team at 6-5, 365 lbs., backs up Rhodes.
"There is a mix of four or five other guys inside for those guard and center spots," Patenaude said. "Erik Antico has played a lot of games here and he's a senior, but everyone else is a freshman or sophomore. That's the mix right now, so who picks the system up the most and who's playing the best at that point. The good thing is inside we have a lot of depth so we'll probably play five guys for those three spots."
"This freshmen class overall is really good," Patenaude said. "I think the line is deep and they're big guys. To expect freshmen to come in and contribute I think is asking a lot, I think the best programs in this league and any other league are junior and senior dominated programs. A couple of guys that have stood out are Fred Eggert at left tackle. He'll be a back up immediately, he's a really good left tackle and he'll be a four-year guy on the offensive line. Tommy Gallagher is physically very good, he's going to be a very good offensive lineman."
Beyond the coaching and new schemes implemented for the 2010 season, part of the reason for the accelerated development of the Hoyas' lineman has been the leadership provided by the seniors, Antico, Bates and Semler. A quality those three players have been groomed to exert since arriving on the Hilltop.
"We're fortunate because Erik, Rob and Dan had leadership in the three classes when they were younger that was awesome," Dunlay said. "Looking back everyone from Dan Matheny to Tom Amaro and Dan Osterhout and the class before them, there is always some great leadership, so those guys are just passing the torch along. They're being leaders the way they've been taught."