Rob SgarlataThis past weekend on the Hilltop was a weekend of firsts.  Some of these firsts were desired, and some unfortunately were not.  For the first time, we hosted Harvard University.  For the first time, we hosted our Faculty Fellows at the game.  For the first time this season, we sold out the stadium.  For the first time this Friday, we had a “4 for 40” Friday.  With the exception of the ever important result of the contest, this weekend was a great example of what a fall Saturday on the Hilltop should be.  A football game, against another excellent academic institution in front of an enthusiastic and energized crowd, should be the definition of the football experience at Georgetown.

Late last week, I asked each of the players to recommend two faculty or staff members to be invited to our game.  I sent out an email inviting this group to participate in our Faculty Fellows Program.  The response from the faculty and staff was awesome.  We had over seventy requests for tickets for the game.  It is important for our players to interact with the faculty and staff outside of the classroom.  The goal of this program is to build a solid relationship between our program and the academic side of campus based on mutual understanding and appreciation.  We are blessed on the Hilltop to have an academic community that is dedicated to the Jesuit ideal of “cura personalis,” the care of the entire person.  I hope this will be the first of many programs for our players to interact with their deans and professors.

On Friday, we had the first of our “4 for 40” Fridays.  The first part of Friday included a lunch.  At this event, we had six alums return to the Hilltop to share their experiences and career advice with our players.  I would like to thank, Mike Flaherty, who is currently a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at Capital Region Orthopedics, Keenan Flynn, who runs his family’s business, Tool Steel, Inc., Nnamdi Obiako, who is a project manager at Service Source Inc., John Hallmark, who is the Director of Public Policy for Ernst & Young, and Brandon Small, who is a sales executive with Cintas.  In addition to our football alums, fellow classmate and lacrosse alum, Joe Callahan, spoke to our players about real estate.  I appreciate everyone taking the time to visit with our players.  This is an event we will host every Friday afternoon prior to our home games.

The second part focused on internship advice.  We also had our seniors who worked in New York City this summer share their experiences with our younger players.  Alec May, Mitchell Black, Mike Cimilluca and Jordan Richardson spoke about working with Wall Street firms and Javan Robinson shared his experience from his time with Viacom.  They imparted practical advice about navigating the internship process and networking.

The dedication and support of the Gridiron Club has become a constant for our program under the direction of Bruce Simmons and Robbin Robinson.  Home or away, rain or shine, the Gridiron Club is always there in full force.  Saturday was no exception.  I would like to thank a true Hoya, Dave Goracy C’71, for sponsoring this weekend’s event.  Over my 24 years with the program, Dave has always supported the program, and for that I am eternally grateful.  It was great for me to be able to invite the Faculty Fellows to meet our alumni, parents and supporters on Saturday morning at the tailgate.  Finally, I would like to thank the Hoya Hoop Club and their President, Mark Guerrera, for organizing their community to come out and support us on Saturday.  I believe this is a first and hope it will become a tradition.

Saturday we played against a tough, physical football team in the Harvard Crimson.  With their victory on Saturday, Harvard improves to 3-0 on the season.  When you play a physically talented team, which Harvard is, you must play with great technique and attention to detail.  If you do not, you will be exposed.  On Saturday, we did not do enough of the little things well to win the contest.

On the offensive side, we showed glimpses of what we would like to be.  We had three drives of nine plus plays on the day.  Although we were able to move the ball effectively, we were unable to put points on the scoreboard.  Yards do not win games, points do.  We opened the game with a nine play fifty-six yard drive to the Harvard 19 yard line.  Kyle Nolan completed passes to Matt Buckman, Mike Cimilluca, Justin Hill and Jake DeCicco on the drive. On 3rd and 10, Kyle completed a pass to Justin Hill for 9 yards and we could not move the chains.  Henry Darmstadter came in and kicked a 36 yard field goal to make the game 7-3.  Similarly, with the game 20-3 we drove the field with a 15 play, 69 yard drive to open the second half.  A combination of strong running by Jo’el Kimpela and efficient passing by Kyle Nolan got us to the Harvard three yard line.  I felt we needed to score and put seven points on the board with the current 17 point deficit.  We were unable to convert on a 3rd and 4th and goal from the three yard line and turned the ball over on downs.  The answer to why we did not finish these drives can be found in the details.  We need to be better with our alignments and techniques in these critical situations.  The consistency we are looking for must be found during the practice week.  We must do a better job on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for us to be successful on Saturday.  On the positive side we had two offensive linemen make their first career starts.  Both sophomore Chappy Wingo and freshman Mike McFarlane played well against a good Harvard front.  In addition, freshman running backs, Alex Valles and Isaac Ellsworth also saw their first playing time and did well.  Their play was definitely a positive that we can build on this week.

On the defensive side of the ball, we knew we would be physically challenged by Harvard’s offense.  On the day, Harvard presented a balanced attack and gained over 500 yards.  While Harvard is a talented offense, we made some mental mistakes that proved costly.  In spite of these mistakes, our players battled the entire day.  Our defense did not quit.  In the first half, we had a great stop on 4th and 1 by Garrett Powers and Matt Satchell.  On the first defensive drive of the second half, the Harvard quarterback completed a pass to their tight end.  Garrett Powers tracked him down and executed a textbook strip causing a fumble that Matt Satchell recovered and returned.  Garrett’s strip and Matt’s great pursuit are a great example of the defense’s outstanding effort.  Nick Alfieri and Alec May led the defense with over ten tackles apiece.  Jordan Richardson battled the entire day in the trenches and John Egan led the secondary with eight total tackles.  As on offense, a few freshmen made their first significant contributions.  Both Dan Yankovich and Larenz Griggs played well in the secondary.

Our special teams play was much improved from the Colgate game.  Our punt protection was solid, and allowed Harry McCollum to have another great day.  Harry averaged over 45 yards a punt and placed two inside of the 20 yard line.  Henry Darmstadter hit a 36 yard field goal to stay perfect on the season.  Ben Priddy also did a great job with our kickoffs and placed the ball well.

I stressed to the team on Sunday that every team we play is well coached and has good players.  We need to learn from Saturday and ensure we do not repeat the same mistakes.  We need to take care of the little things, alignments and assignments, and let the big things take care of themselves.  We have already started preparing for our game Saturdayagainst a good Lafayette team.  We play in Easton at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.  It is a great place to play and we are looking forward to the challenge.  I hope to see you there!

Rob Sgarlata

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