Say this for Georgetown football coach Bradley Adams: Guy is willing to adapt.
This time last year, the Bulldogs were prepared to help make quarterback Caleb Hughes the school’s all-time passing leader. He went out and threw for 1,600 yards – enough to push him into Georgetown’s record books again. He had a pair of big receivers to throw to, and he had options to pass out of the backfield.
This year couldn’t look much different.
Hughes and several of his favorite mates in the passing game are gone, and Adams has scrapped a large portion of his playbook to fit his new personnel.
“We’re not going to throw the football a lot,” Adams said. “We’ve got some horses in the backfield with Michael Billings and Jordan Ward. They’re the best two tailbacks I’ve coached at this level, and the best two I’ve had at Georgetown.”
Billings, a junior, ran for just under 500 yards a year ago while serving as Julian Lunsford’s backup. Ward, a senior, rushed for 74 in a role limited by his production on the defensive side of the ball.
If everything goes to play, expect both of their numbers to skyrocket this season. Combined with sophomore quarterback Jarvis Brown, a run-first signal-caller, Adams is going to a ground-and-pound approach.
It was something the coach saw coming during the offseason, and he and his strength team went to work. Billings has bulked up some to the 185-pound range to deal with the added number of carries he should receive.
“It puts a lot of pressure on us, I know that much,” Billing said of the new scheme. “We have to condition a lot. Coach told us four meals a day, five meals. At least a P, B and J before we go to bed. Lots of protein.”
The style, though, goes hand-in-hand with what should develop into the team’s most potent weapon – it’s defense.
The Bulldogs are bringing back seven of their starters on that side of the ball, including all of the linebackers and defensive backs. Ward is the centerpiece at middle linebacker. As a junior, he led the team in tackles (137). Teammates Gerald German (61 tackles, three fumble recoveries) and Cody Floyd – who missed seven games due to injury – are also back. The defense will have to replace its entire staring defensive line, including North-South All-Star selection Anthony Blair.
But Adams doesn’t believe that will derail his plans.
“The way we’re doing things, it’s not about size,” he said. “It’s about finding that guy who can run and use his speed and quickness. That’s what we’re geared more toward now.”
The newfound scheme could be one to help Georgetown’s upward climb in the region standings. The team finished fifth in 2010, Adams’ first season, before a fourth-place finish and a spot in the playoffs the following year. Last year, his team moved up one more rung to third, again earning a trip to the Class AAA postseason.
The Bulldogs know few outside their program believe they can continue that progress.
“We’re just so young. We have to start over,” Billings said. “We have to teach people the plays and the techniques. We’re coming in under the radar, people not expecting much from us this year. People doubt us.”