Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Princeton Must Do to Defeat Yale

1) Stack the box.   Yale, hammered by quarterback injuries, was down to using dynamic tailback Tyler Varga there last week.  “So now you have your best player getting the ball 50 times instead of 25,” frets Bob Surace.  But whatever position the shifty Varga, the league’s leading rusher, plays on Saturday, the Bulldogs (2-6, 1-4) should not enjoy a strong run-pass balance.

Mike Catapano '13
2)  Tackle.   Of course Yale may not need one if the Tigers help Varga refuse to go down.  Last week Penn’s Lyle Marsh looked like Bronco Nagurski during the first half. Second half was much more like the Tigers who had dominated Columbia, Lafayette and Brown on successive weeks.  “Our tackling hasn’t been as good as we wanted it to be the last few games,” said DT Mike Catapano. “Too many [backs] are falling forward. Leaky yardage.”

3)  Limit turnovers.  Give away the ball often enough, anything can happen, like Penn losing to Yale and Lafayette, or the heartbreak Princeton suffered the last two weeks against Cornell and Penn.

Nolan Bieck '16
4) Spread It Around.  Offensive coordinator James Perry doesn’t need our advice on this.  The only thing that has stopped the Tigers the last three weeks has been the Tigers themselves.  Connor Michelsen, who won’t be spooked by the game-changing interception last week, has too many receiving options for Yale to cover. Eleven Tigers caught passes last week.  “Penn doubled me a little,” said Roman Wilson. “But it’s really hard to do against us because anybody can catch the ball.”

5) Be Special.  Blocked extra point, followed by a long Penn runback, sapped momentum after Tigers had scored two touchdowns to take the lead in the first half. Neither of the blocks – there was another on a field goal -- were kicker Nolan Bieck’s fault, but he no longer is consistently getting his kickoffs into the end zone as he did earlier in the year. So kick coverage can’t let Princeton down again.