Sept. 4, 2014
WASHINGTON - Along the Georgetown University football team's (0-1, 0-0 Patriot League) offensive front are three senior starters, each of whom started 11 games in 2013. The group's wealth of experience includes 69 career starts following the Hoyas opener on Saturday, led by senior captain and left tackle Mike Roland (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables), a four-year starter and 2011 All-Patriot League Second Team honoree. Senior captain right guard Nick Quintans (Media, Pa./Penncrest) has played regularly since his sophomore season and senior left guard Mike Kasten (Freehold, N.J./Freehold) brings experience to a deep position unit.
Leadership will be important for the offensive line, as the Hoyas will need the group to continue to mesh, while opening up holes in a run game that struggled in the season-opener against Wagner, while also protecting junior quarterback Kyle Nolan (Branford, Conn./Choate Rosemary Hall).
"Having three returning senior starters certainly helps," third-year offensive line coach Brian Miller said. "We have three senior leaders in Mike Roland, Nick Quintans and Mike Kasten, especially with Roland and Kasten playing next to each other on the left side. They not only lead by being vocal, they lead by example."
Miller also knows that beyond his three returning seniors, junior right tackle Kevin Liddy (Garden City,N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial), who started the final two games of last season, and junior center Gerverus Flagg (Charleston, S.C./Mercersburg (Pa.)) whose strong off-season moved into a starting role, the group will be very young overall.
Behind the starting five, the front line features one junior, two sophomores and a strong group of seven freshmen who will all push to play. The quick development of the group will be important, as many of underclassmen are one play away from being pressed into action. So making sure everyone is "on the same page" will be critical moving beyond game one.
Georgetown's seniors have easily shifted into their leadership roles. Roland moved into the starting unit during his first training camp on the Hilltop and has not relinquished the spot throughout his career. The Hoyas coaching staff has been excited, as Roland not only entered camp in excellent shape, but has become a more vocal leader.
"He is a quiet kid by nature, but he's become more vocal with his teammates," Miller said. "He's a little more assertive as a player himself. When he was an underclassmen he would defer to the older guys, but he's definitely taken an ownership role with these guys."
Quintans, another captain, has shown versatility moving between center and guard throughout his career on the Hilltop. He started 11 games at center last season, but has moved to right guard this season to bring in Flagg.
"He played as a sophomore and started as a junior," Miller said. "He does a real nice job of leading the group. When they do stuff off the field, Nick is the guy in the center organizing watching film together or getting together to watch a movie. He's really solid in what he does. He's versatile. We played him at center all of last year, we played him at guard the year before, we'll play him at guard and maybe center this year."
Kasten battled back from an injury during his sophomore season to start all 11 games at left guard a season ago. He returned to the field this season and played well in the opener against Wagner. But Miller believes he brings more than experience to the line.
"Mike is a very strong, very tough minded guy, who just gets after it," Miller said. "He does a good job of leading by example. When he sees certain guys down he'll lift them up."
Liddy worked his way into the starting lineup late last season after an injury to current student assistant coach Michael Francis. In Liddy, Miller sees a player who is an example of the benefits of hard work and perseverance.
"When Kevin got here as a freshman he was a long gangly guy, but he's really developed himself and gotten himself stronger," Miller said. "By the end of last season he was a starter. He busts his tail to get better each day and he really loves football. He's done a great amount of work to get himself to this point."
Flagg's hard work has also put him in a position to help the Hoyas excel up front.
"He does a nice job. He handles the center job very well," Miller said. "He gets the ball to the quarterback and without doing that you can't do much else. So he'll continue to work and get better, too."
Junior Matt Hungate (Morton, Ill./Morton) and sophomores Chapman Wingo (Avon, Conn./Avon) and Joseph Bottari (Wakefield, Mass./Malden Catholic) have also continued to develop and will add depth to the GU front five.
"Matt had a good training camp," Miller said. "He's another quiet guy, but he'll get in there and mix it up and get after it pretty well. Chappy is going to push to see a bunch of playing time. I'd imagine you'd see him in there against Dayton in some capacity this weekend and Joe is working hard to get better and he's improved a lot since he got to campus last year."
The Hoyas will also have a deep group of freshman, who have already made contributions, as Nick James (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) made his collegiate debut in the Hoyas season-opener. Tackle Michael McFarlane (Frostproof, Fla./Frostproof) and guard Gordon DeGeorge (Yardville, N.J./The Hun School/Choate Rosemary Hall) and center Dominic Scarangella (Newtown, Conn./Newtown) will join James in making the trip to Dayton.
"It's a big class," Miller said. "There's seven of them and in terms of an incoming class in my three years, this is the best freshmen class. Not only in depth of the class in having seven of them, but we've got some talented kids. We have four good tackles with Nick James, Mike McFarlane, Aaron Miller and Milan Urukalo, those four guys are great at the tackles. Gordon DeGeorge and Daniel Oyola are at guard and Dominic Scarangella is a very good snapper at center. The future is bright with those guys, but even for now a few of those guys are going to make the road trip with us."
With talent and depth Georgetown will still have to continue to develop quickly with a difficult Dayton squad, selected to finish second in the Pioneer Football League preseason poll.
"We've had a couple of tough years of offense," Miller said. "We were real close. The score didn't show that on Saturday, but we were just a few inches away from being able to unleash that offense and really score some points."