Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Princeton Must Do to Defeat Cornell

1) Show up mad.  Big Red has used four different quarterbacks, including two freshmen, in scoring 11.5 points per game, but after last week’s Princeton debacle, Tigers dare not assume they will outclass anybody. Winless Cornell was scoreless with Harvard at the half and only one score away against co-Patriot League leader Bucknell in the fourth quarter.  
Jack Woodall '15

2) Run. Forty-mile an-hour winds once in the forecast have been downgraded into the teens, so it won’t be a bad day to throw. But it’s never a good one when you are consistently lined up in third-and-eight situations, as Princeton has been for the last six quarters. The Senior laden interior of the Princeton offensive line – center Joe Tull, and guards Taylor Pearson and Jack Woodall – must impose their will.

3) Beat the blitz. Jared Backus, the former Princeton defensive co-coordinator, dials up a lot of confusion to mask personnel shortcomings in personnel that has given up 429 yards per game. Tigers must make the reads.

4) Force turnovers. For 0-6, the nine turnovers Cornell has suffered for the season really aren’t many. But to finish strong, the Tigers have to bust an almost season-long drought and this week would be a fine place to start. Field position could put them in trouble. Punter Chris Fraser, second in the Ivy League in average yards per punt to Princeton's Tyler Roth, has eight of more than 50 yards and has put 15 balls inside the 20.

5) Start over. Humbling can be good. Devastated, obviously, is not. Tigers still have a lot of season – and many good players – remaining.

Jay Greenberg

jaygreenbergsports@gmail.com



It Starts Up Front if the Tigers Aren't Going to Fall Behind

BY JAY GREENBERG

To produce a different Tiger team this Saturday, it wasn't a different coaching staff the players saw this week.

Joe Tull '15 (photo by Nick Conrad)
“If you win and see guys jovial, that’s when it becomes an angry week,” said Bob Surace. “After losing like that there is frustration, obviously, but it doesn’t change how we prepare and go about our process.

“When you aren’t exact and defined [as we were], you make sure they understand the importance of those things.”

On Friday, the Tigers will get on the bus to Ithaca without having thrown anybody under it. Their belief – that last Saturday they had an exceptionally bad day against a Harvard team having an exceptionally good one – gets blown to bits, along with their egos, if they lay another egg Saturday at 0-6 Cornell. But the workweek has proceeded with a minimum of insults or even emotional appeals to their pride, only with a professional determination to get better.

“We’re just onto Cornell at this point, trying to move on,” said center Joe Tull.

Moving on largely will come down to Tull and the other guys flanking him moving some bodies in front of them, which just didn’t happen against Harvard. The Tigers produced 65 yards rushing. Long yardage on third down made the game interminable and almost impossible to win.

“We take that very personally,” said Tull.

The only way to take it when you lose 49-7.

“They were bigger, stronger, more physical, and angry,” said offensive line coach Eddy Morrissey. “They got after us and we did not come close to matching their energy.

“We were completely outplayed, outmanned, and outcoached – not able to move them one inch. They just beat us up, so it’s back to work, work, work and work some more.

“I think we have been physical this week. [Yet] I thought we were physical last week, practiced well and it didn’t carry over.”

It sort of did for most of the first quarter, but Harvard hit for two big plays and there was no response. Of course, it did not help that the Tigers were without two of their biggest playmakers, Di Andre Atwater and Seth DeValve, which of course, limited the comebacking capabilities. When the Tigers fell behind by three scores last year at Brown, Connor Kelley made a circus third-down catch to get them off the goal line and the game changed, as games can do. 

Harvard looked almost as unbeatable two years ago in rolling to a 34-10 fourth quarter lead, but the Tigers started to make some plays and altered both team's mentality. After having fallen to an historic comeback, it is hard to believe the Crimson didn't come into last year's game at Harvard Stadium just as angry as it did this year, but the Tigers jumped up 14-0 regardless and won in triple overtime.

To win, at some point you have to build some confidence and dictate some doubt.  At 0-6, Cornell should have its share of the latter, which the Tigers (3-3, 2-1 Ivy) can exacerbate by dictating the line of scrimmage from the start.

Jonathan Esposito '15

“We just know that wasn’t us last week, that’s the worst part of it,” said fullback Jonathan Esposito. “When you had such a good week of practice and come out like we came out that’s the most disappointing part. 

“We’ve all been extremely angry. Such a big game. How did we put that out of the field? But we’ve got to look forward from now on and it starts with hitting and smashing up front."

That doesn’t just go for the offense. A year ago, a more experienced defensive line put Harvard quarterback Connor Hempel down seven times. On Saturday, the Tigers were all around him and only were able to come away with one sack.

You have to make plays. And not just the big ones. With fewer playmakers at its disposal on offense, Princeton must better grind in order to stay in the hunt for the Ivy League title.  

TIGER TAILS

The 12:30pm game will be televised by FOX College Sports Atlantic (DirecTV 608, Dish 440, Verizon FiOS 300) . .  . Radio is WPRB.com . . . Princeton leads all-time series 53-20, but has lost two straight at Schoellkopf Field. . .The last seven games there have been decided by seven points or fewer.  In 2012, Connor Michelsen threw for 390 yards, but Jeff Matthews threw for 525 and Cornell won 37-25. A year ago on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium, Quinn Epperly completed his first 29 passes of the game in a 53-20 Princeton win, setting the NCAA record for most consecutive completions. . . . Tigers haven’t lost two straight contests since the 2012 season.

jaygreenbergsports@gmail.com


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Dust Settles On a One-Game Season

BY JAY GREENBERG

Harvard was a jarring 42 points better than Princeton on Saturday, but Cornell is next regardless. Whether the Crimson were a good team having an exceptional day, or will prove that far superior to Dartmouth and Yale too, has become the Big Green’s and Bulldogs’ concern, no longer the Tigers.

“We have to worry about this week,” said Bob Surace during the hard morning after, following video study of all the plays that were only close to being made during seven Harvard touchdown drives. “We don’t control our destiny; we have to control ourselves by being more exact in every area.

“How we are going to come out of this and how we are going to tighten up and be a better team?”

Whether somebody is capable of knocking off 3-0 Harvard or not, 2-1 Princeton didn’t look ready to run any tables Saturday regardless. So the only thing on the table is 0-6 Cornell, the first and minimal step towards building to a strong finish. In four weeks, the Tigers will have a better gauge as to whether they had an exceptionally bad day against a good team playing exceptionally well. For this week, the 3-3 Tigers have Cornell in Ithaca.

“We’re not the Denver Broncos, but if Denver and Seattle play 10 times it is not going to be 10-0,” said Surace. “Denver will win its fair share; teams will have their good and bad days.  

“But we’re not going to talk to the players about the season. All those other things are down the road.”

One fork leads to four games of bad road. The only way the other direction leads to anywhere good is to win the next one, then go from there.

GOOD PLACE TO START DEPT:

Cornell has allowed 1310 rushing yards, five per rush and 198 per game, promising news for a Princeton team had to pound it 24 times for 65 yards against Harvard, on top of gaining just 39 while trying to run clock in the second half against Brown.

The Tigers were three-for-16 on third down Saturday. All three successful conversions were with three yards to go or fewer, and their only failure in those short-yardage situations came the only time Princeton attempted a run.

 “We struggled at times on the interior,” said Surace. “When we made blocks we missed a hole, missed a cut; when we missed a block there was nothing there.

“It was one of those games that got out of hand early, so it was tough to stick to the run in the second half. 

“We hit a couple runs outside but not enough to sustain anything. It was a big part of our game plan but they did a good job against it.”
Quinn Epperly '15 Escapes The Reach of Fellow 2013 Bushnell Cup Winner Zach Hodges (Photo by Shunella Lumas)
BEST LAID PLANS DEPT:

“We went to Colgate like we go into every week, thinking we can win if we take away their best thing, in that case the running game,” said Surace. “We pretty well stopped that and they passed (for 303 yards and three touchdowns) and beat us.

James Frusciante '17
“Going into this week, if you would have told me we would hold (Zach) Hodges (the incumbent Bushnell Cup Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year) to one assisted tackle and a half sack, I would have said we have a shot to move the ball.  But with the attention we put on Hodges, those other guys hurt us.”

SILVER LINING DEPT:  

When you lose important upperclassman, underclassmen get to play and come back next year with a better share of ownership of their role and the team. Sophomore tight end Scott Carpenter isn’t operating out of the slot, as was Seth DeValve, but he is a big (6' 3") target being found more often during this absence. The ball has come to Carpenter 16 times his season and 13 times it has traveled to DeValve’s heir apparent, sophomore James Frusciante.

“James does a really good job in the slot. He’s crafty, he catches the ball and he ran hard (for seven yards) after the catch with that bubble screen,” said Surace.

LOOKING DEEP DEPT:  

"Maybe I have to look at our practices because I thought we looked tired," said Surace. "I thought it looked like San Diego.

"For whatever reason we didn’t have great legs coming into it. They had a couple guys (including quarterback Conner Hempel who had missed four weeks) who were fresh and you could see that from the third and fourth series on. 

"I have to look at some of the things we are doing, like maybe playing more guys to make sure we are fresher. Play to play I thought we fought in there, but the second we missed a gap they have explosive players and hurt us. I count 15 plays of more than 15 yards for them and we had three. When you don't get turnovers, that's hard to overcome."

John Lovett '18
NOT THE END ALL DEPT:

With the Tigers --and most of 12,164 -- looking for something, anything, that was going to work, where was the end-around that Roman Wilson ran in at Harvard last year in the second overtime, before he caught Quinn Epperly’s pass to end it?

“The way they were playing their defense this year, a four-four, makes it hard to get that edge guy blocked,” said Surace.

TIGER TAILS

John Lovett threw for two touchdown passes to Reinaldo Maristany and another to Isaiah Barnes on a terrific corner-of-the-endzone grab, while Hayden Murphy and Spencer Long each had scoring runs as the Tiger JVs beat Kean, 48-0 on Sunday. On defense, Khalil Bryant had two sacks and John Hummel and Connor Grogan each had fumble recoveries. The Tiger JVs have now finished the season with a 3-1 record.


jaygreenbergsports@gmail.com


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tigers Shockingly Routed by Harvard, 49-7

BY JAY GREENBERG

Five years -- including an Ivy League title season -- into the Bob Surace era, the Tigers thought they were well past suffering the kind of beating Harvard laid on them Saturday. 

So it hurt, even more than do the body parts of Seth DeValve, DiAndre Atwater and Spenser Huston that have shrunk Princeton’s margin for error, leaving four games to find out just how much pain these players’ self-images are suffering, too.

“Our butts are going to be sore because we got kicked,” said Bob Surace. “We are going to have to find our way to come back tomorrow and move forward.

“I am very confident the leaders will do that.”
  The Crimson Surged a Second Quarter Goalline Stand to Push Its Lead to 21-0  
After getting clobbered 49-7 by Harvard Saturday on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium, the Tigers really don’t have any other choice. But we all know how that goes sometimes, when a seemingly season-defining game is lost.

So it’s up to them really to prove that this was what the architect of this perfect storm, Harvard coach Tim Murphy, kindly called “just one of those days that we have all been on that end of ” and not really the dirty wash hanging on the line of a team not as good as it believed it was. In four remaining games, only the Tigers can define how good they are.
Tyler Roth '17 Was Called to Punt 10 Times and Totaled 437 Yards for the Tigers on Saturday Afternoon
It’s scary to turn the ball over only once – a third-quarter fumble by Matt Costello long after the issue was decided and still get manhandled by a margin of 42 points. But a rule of thumb in life is that nothing is ever as bad as it first seems, so on the film Surace scours Sunday morning, he will find not only an awesome performance by Harvard quarterback Connor Hempel, but some things that the Tigers did right, even as they were getting shredded for 392 passing and 320 rushing yards.

“Eight out of ten (rushing plays) were for four yards or less, but the one we would miss would go for a big gain,” said Surace.

"On some of those scrambles, it’s not on [the secondary]. It was a wide variety of things. 

“[Hempel] threaded one on a cover two. They ran by us on one, he put the ball on the money and it was a great catch.  It still would have been an uphill battle -- believe me. But it got out of hand because of three early plays we didn’t make.

“We had three rushers on (Hempel) and he escapes to throw those touchdown passes. There are two or three times he scrambles for first downs. [A] couple times I thought he was going to throw into an area of coverage and he pumped it and held the ball and threw it the other way.

“I walked off the field trying to remember one guy impacting a game against us like that -- maybe the Lehigh receiver (Ryan Spadola) a couple years ago.

“This was one of the finest performances I can recall.”

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Indeed Hempel, who had been out four weeks, didn’t need much of a warmup in his return to dismantle a Princeton team that in 2012 and 2013 had broken Harvard’s hearts with a 24-point fourth quarter rally and a 51-48 triple-overtime hard cherry bump off the see saw.

“Obviously we exorcised a few demons,” said Murphy, who became the fourth Ivy coach to reach triple figure wins since the creation of the official league in 1956.  “That one down here two years ago I will take to my grave.

“But that wasn’t what we talked about (pre-game). Let’s play up to our potential.

“It was just one of those days that got away from Princeton. We have all been on the other end of it. Princeton was banged up; there was a combination of factors. There wasn’t that much of a difference between the teams.

“I thought our kids stepped up tremendously intangibly. And we also executed.”

Boy, did Hempel (25-for-31, for 382 yards and three touchdowns, plus another 61 rushing yards) ever execute.

“Guy’s a stud,” said Murphy. “Yeah, you have to be an accurate passer and good decision maker but if you are not a tough guy and a leader then the other stuff doesn’t matter.

“It’s great to have him back because his improvisational ability is tough to defend.

Hempel got outside the containment of Marcus Stroud on his first touchdown pass, a 39-yard catch-and-run off a crossing pattern by Joseph Foster. Seitu Smith ran by Khamal Brown to catch a 49-yarder on the second score.

You don’t win giving up big plays, nor when you fail to make them. The Tigers not only didn’t force a turnover but Garrit Leicht and Joe Percival combined for the only sack.

All the while, Princeton’s best run was an 18-yarder that Will Powers popped outside while the game still was scoreless. And as the Tigers tried to dink and dunk without the means to hit shots down the field, their longest completions of the day were 27-yard Connor Michelsen passes to Scott Carpenter and Connor Kelley,

There was such an absence of holes that it is a reach to blame a 65-yard rushing game on the absence of Atwater for a second straight week. But clearly the disappearance again of DeValve from the lineup is impacting the offense as much as all these third-and-sevens the Tigers are facing. After catching 10 passes last week against Brown, he went out again as Hempel came back, quite the swing in the fortunes of two teams.

“Hempel and DeValve are good players,” said Surace. “Our margin for error probably is slimmer than any time I have been here.

“Statistics-wise we were solid but we weren’t able to get a deep one, get the ball down the field.

“Not to downgrade anyone else we played, but Harvard is a different team. We’re trying to go 8-10-12 plays, we are just not that explosive offensively right now, so we had better execute perfectly play to play to play. 

“The first series of the game we had a false start and then a chop block from when we are trying to get back into the game.”

“We have to be exact, [more] refined. That’s who we are right now.”

And that is 3-3 (2-1 in the league) with struggling Cornell and Penn coming up next before closing with Yale and Dartmouth -- contenders that Harvard still has to play, too. So it won’t be over until the Tigers say it is over.

Just as we had every reason to believe the Tigers weren’t as good as they looked against Davidson, they aren’t as bad as they were made to look by Harvard either. It’s still up to them to decide just who they are.

“As bad as this one tastes, we have to move on,” said Quinn Epperly. “It’s not going to be a quitting situation.”

TIGER TAILS

Princeton’s 1964 undefeated team was honored no the field at halftime, after many of the members met the 2014 Tigers on Powers Field Friday afternoon.

The '64 Tigers Relished in a March Across Powers Field In Front Of Crowd of Over 12,000 on Saturday in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Their Undefeated Season 
“All of us would like to lose the moniker of being the last undefeated team,” said Johnny O’Brien ’65.

Surace told the reunion dinner Friday night at Springdale Golf Club that 50 years later the program still feels a kinship with the 1964 team, for reasons more ongoing than the standard set on the field.
A Commemorative Banner Was Unveiled At Halftime of Saturday's Contest 
“Nobody has been more supportive since I got there than your class,” said the coach.  “I think of the responsibility to hold the standards of Princeton and nobody has done it better than you guys and I’m not just talking about Saturdays but in the 50 years since.  

“I share your emails with the team because I think it makes them better persons.”


jaygreenbergsports@gmail.com

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Princeton Must Do to Defeat Harvard

1)  Block Zach Hodges. Reigning Asa S. Bushnell Award winner as the Ivy League's Defensive Player of the Year had only four tackles, one breakup and one quarterback hurry last year thanks to the Tiger double teams which he will likely see again.
Mike Zeuli '15

2) Hold That Line. The Tigers lead the FCS in rushing defense, 61 yards per game, which is an astounding number considering the youth of the starting front seven (except for Mike Zeuli). But Harvard isn’t throwing 71 times like Brown did to inflate those numbers, and the Crimson pass protection will be excellent.  “They have two NFL prospects (Center Nick Easton and right tackle Cole Toner),” said Bob Surace, “This is as complete an offensive line as I have witnessed in this league.”

3) Cover. Quarterback Conner Hempel, expected back this week for the first time since Game 1, threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns last year against Princeton. Tigers did the job in the red zone last week, have to do it again.

4) Throw It Often and Well. Harvard has allowed only 11 points per game, but hasn’t faced an offense nearly as good as Princeton’s. The Crimson secondary has given up 11 touchdown passes and 608 yards over the last two meetings.

5) Take That Ball Away. There is little reason to believe these teams aren’t as evenly matched as the last two years,  when the team with the last shot -- Princeton in both cases -- won. Tigers still minus-2 in giveaways-takeaways while Harvard is minus-3. Fewest mistakes likely wins.

Jay Greenberg

jaygreenbergsports@gmail.com


On Saturday, Nothing Will Rival This

BY JAY GREENBERG

Matt Costello says every one of the Tigers has his own rivalry team. In fact, his happened to be Harvard even before epic games the last two seasons and a shared 2013 Ivy League title made this the most prideful and compelling game on the Tigers’ schedule.   

“Either because of a recruiting story or where you are from, I think everyone on our team has that one team that they like to play a little more than another,” said the senior receiver.  “Being from [Everett, Mass.], I’ve always enjoyed playing against Harvard the most.

“My junior year I wanted to go there but they were the third most interested of all the Ivy League schools in me. It came down to Penn or here, and I chose here because the coaches were honest and I believed in them and they believed in me.
Matt Costello '15

“It really made me want to be a part of what I knew was going to be special; turning a program that was struggling.”

You would have to say it has worked out for him. With five games remaining in his career, Costello is sixth on Princeton’s all-time list with 133 receptions, 18 of which have come in three games against Harvard.   

During the 2012 comeback from a 24-point fourth quarter deficit, he made a 29-yard circus touchdown catch to cut Harvard’s lead to eight.  Last year, Costello had a touchdown grab to put Princeton up seven in the fourth quarter; plus an 18-yarder for a first down in the third overtime, two plays before a Quinn Epperly to Roman Wilson pass won the game for the second straight breathtaking year.  

“Those two wins [over Harvard] kind of catapulted us as we turned the program around,” said Costello.

Coach Bob Surace always says the concept of revenge games is an insult to the week-in, week-out preparation/motivation put in by his coaching staff – or anyone’s coaching staff. On Saturday, undefeated Harvard must beat undefeated (in the league) Princeton to stay in the Ivy lead, which is certainly incentive enough. But it's impossible to fathom the Harvard players coming onto Powers Field at Princeton Stadium not burning from two excruciating losses. 

Most Tigers, old and new, will tell you Yale is Princeton’s greatest rival. All in the eye of the grudge holder, of course, but this season is the first since 2006 that Yale and Princeton are both championship contenders in the same year. Besides, the Yalies think The Game is against Harvard regardless, making Princeton the third wheel, which is what Yale became a year ago when Harvard and Princeton shared the title.

Recent results build rivalries even more than tradition does. True, there is plenty of history -- 107 previous Princeton Harvard meetings, including a 16-0 win by Princeton’s last undefeated team 50 years ago that will be celebrated by approximately 45 members of that squad at halftime -- to add plenty more juice on Saturday. More than anything, however, the memories of the last two contests is what makes Harvard vs. Princeton the grudge match of this year, and we’ll see about future years when they come.

Roman Wilson '14
“Whenever you are playing a team that close two years in a row, you get excited to play them,” said Senior receiver Connor Kelley. “They had great teams the last two years and have a great team again this year, so for this group of people I wouldn’t say it is a false statement that they are our biggest rival.

“We did share a championship with them last year.”

That could happen again this season. Yale is dramatically improved and Dartmouth, last year’s spoiler, looks at least as strong, which will make it that much harder for anyone to run the table.  But there is no big picture Saturday, when looking ahead will be dangerous and looking back will be something these Tigers largely will put off until after graduation.

“Those two games are always going to be big memories of mine when I am old, looking back and talking to the guys in my class and the classes of ’13 and ’14,” said Kelley.

It took more than those two games to turn around the program, but they certainly were the contests most responsible for changing the perception of it.

Connor Kelley '15
“Maybe for those on the outside looking in, that first Harvard game (2012) especially was when people were able to look at us and say, ‘things are different.’ said Kelley  “The offense came from behind and scored [29] points in the fourth quarter?

 “People on the inside knew how hard we were working and that it was coming. But that [was the] day we put that effort together against a really good Harvard team. So that will definitely be the game that showed our turnaround.”

And last year showed that Princeton wasn’t turning back.  

“Personally I don’t like looking at it (the once-in-a-few-lifetime rally in 2012) as a miracle,” said Kelley.  “I saw all the work that Roman and the other people who made big plays in that game put in, so I don’t really look at it as 'luck'.

“But [the 2013 win] was solidifying, showed we are for real, that it wasn’t a fluke, that this is a different program than it was three years ago.

”I know a lot of guys from the Class of ‘14 are coming back for this game and some from ’13, too and that will get us up, knowing they are there and all the great things they helped make happen.”

Like the two best things that ever happened to Connor Kelley on a football field?

“Hopefully not,” he smiled.  “Because there is more to come.”

jaygreenbergsports@gmail.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tigers Get The Max Whenever the Opposition Punts

BY JAY GREENBERG

Put your hands together, please, for the best set of hands on the Princeton Tigers: Punt returner Max Lescano’s. 

Max Lescano '16
With nary a hint of a bobble, let alone a drop, in 41 clean snags since taking over the job last season, Lescano has proven almost as sure as fair catches -- and sometimes not-so-fair catches -- are to be taken for granted by the fans.

Well, at least they are until an opponent gets a score off a short field. Coaches, on the other hand, don't have to wait for something to go wrong to live in fear of it, but Lescano is removing the anxiety. 

“There is a lot of hidden yardage that Max is responsible for,” said Bob Surace, who didn’t have to watch the film of the 3-2 Tigers 27-16 win over Brown Saturday to be reminded. “There was a short one that he ran up and got, then there was a long one he ran back and got that one, too.

“When Tyler (Roth) booted that (64 yarder) and their guy couldn’t get to it, 15 more yards were added on the roll, giving us great field position.

“We had a few missed blocks on punt returns, but we played really well on special teams. One punt Tyler would like to have back (a 30-yarder), but we punted it well (six total for an average of 43.8 yards, two inside the 20), kicked off well (Nolan Bieck 61.8 average, with three touchbacks) and covered well.”

Through five games Coach Andy Aurich’s units have probably been the best of the 5-year Surace era, which considering the quality of the kickers -- Joe Cloud, Otavio Fleury, and Patrick Jacob – that have come through the program recently – is quite the compliment. 

“We hit our (two Bieck) field goals and the (three) extra points,” said Surace. “We would like to have had better get-off on our field goal block (attempts) because we were close a couple times, but we went hard.

“We’re getting good protections, good snaps, holds, and are in a pretty good rhythm on all those units, which is great.”

NEXT MAN UP DEPT:

Just as Connor Michelsen, a former starter came through grandly in the absence of Quinn Epperly Saturday, senior linebacker Garrit Leicht, who has had his first-string position snatched by the dynamic Rohan Hylton, may have his chance this Saturday. Hylton was ejected for targeting Brown quarterback Marcus Fuller with a helmet hit, which usually means a half-game suspension for the following game.
Garrit Leicht '15 

Surace made his case for Hylton privately and had no further comment, except about his superlative linebacking play.  

“Mike Zeuli has been playing as well as any linebacker I have been around and Rohan the last couple of weeks has been at Mike’s level or even a notch above on some things,” said Surace. “He is playing tremendous. Garrit is playing tremendous.”

Leicht, who still will spell Hylton in the middle, drilled some on the outside at practice last week as the coaches would like to get an obvious asset on the field as much as possible. But the emergence of Freshman Joe Percival  has left less need for backup there, at least for now. "Joe has been really good," said Surace.

That said, all situations are fluid, as Michelsen can remind Leicht.

AFTER THE CATCH DEPT:

Next to the improved passing game. The biggest steps forward the Tigers took Saturday were downfield.

“All three of our receivers did a great job finishing,” said Surace. “It seemed like we got extra yards almost every time we threw the ball out to the flat or on a hitch or a curl. 

“Seth DeValve’s (31-yard catch and run in the third quarter to set up Princeton’s only score of the second half ) was a physical play, and some like (Matt) Costello’s (49-yard touchdown) were good open field runs.
Seth DeValve '15

“We have been missing that, haven’t maximized yardage in our pass game. They really stepped up.”

HOW ABOUT A FEW SPRINKLES ON THAT VANILLA?

After jumping to a 24-0 lead and then killing two more promising second quarter drives with penalties, Surace decided only bad things could happen putting the ball too often into the air. But with Will Powers running well in the absence of DiAndre Atwater, the 39 yards rushing in the second half were disappointing. The Tigers wanted to run more clock.

“The last drive (Joe Rhattigan ran for one first down) before Princeton took an ethical knee at the Brown 12) was positive,” said Surace. “The two before that, I’ll take the blame.

“At this point of the year, we don’t work our four-minute drill a lot and Connor hasn’t had as much repetition at that. I was trying to time the rhythm of his cadence with the clock and we ended up with a delay penalty on a third-and-short when we should have had a first down.

“Then we had another where he was trying to get it off and we started that play a little late. Connor played a terrific game but I shouldn’t have put him in a situations where he was rushing anything. Those were two first downs we should have had.”

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO TOWN

“Even the one we lost (at Harvard) three years where it was 42-39 with seven or eight minutes to go, we have had some unbelievable games with them,” said Surace about Saturday’s upcoming third clash in three years between Ivy League unbeatens. “They were three or four plays better three years ago; two years ago we got that big throw (Epperly to Roman Wilson) at the end; and last year we were one play (Epperly to Wilson again) better in three overtimes. 

“This is great for the league.”

TIGER TAILS

When the Tigers took that gentlemanly knee at the Brown 12 to let the clock expire, they passed up the opportunity to stay perfect for the year on red zone conversions. Princeton is 21-for-22 with 16 touchdowns. . .About 45 members of the 1964 team, Princeton’s last undefeated one, will be on the field at halftime Saturday for a 50th anniversary celebration. . .The '64 Tigers will spend time with the current ones on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium on Friday afternoon.

jaygreenbergsports@gmail.com