Princeton vs. Yale football preview

i-d7d558d78c1412b1339f635e1d6cec9a-princeton-yale.jpg

Princeton (2-6, 1-4 Ivy) vs.
Yale (4-4, 2-3 Ivy)
Nov. 14, 1 p.m.
Princeton Stadium
Princeton, N.J.
TV: YES Network

(Photo © Beverly Schaefer)

Winning a rivalry game doesn’t change an entire season, but for Princeton, it could provide an important boost. The Tigers are headed for their third consecutive losing campaign, and a win over Yale won’t prevent that. But beating the Bulldogs would send the seniors off with a positive memory from their final home game — and give the younger players a season highlight, too.

“The Yale game, for Princeton, always has been a big rivalry,” said head coach Roger Hughes. “It has been a game that many coaches [and] many players, many teams, many championships are benchmarked by.” Hughes is 3-6 against the Bulldogs; his 2006 team’s comeback win at the Yale Bowl propelled Princeton to a share of the Ivy League championship.

Yale, under the direction of rookie head coach Tom Williams, is looking for momentum before heading into its finale against Harvard. The Bulldogs are among the Ivy’s top defensive teams, but they dropped a home game against Brown last week, surrendering a season-worst 35 points. Despite new leadership, fans can expect to see the same style of play from Yale, according to the Princeton coaches. On offense, the Bulldogs have a dangerous passing attack led by sophomore quarterback Patrick Witt, a transfer from Nebraska who averages 165 passing yards per game. Defensively, Yale is led by experienced, disciplined, and aggressive starting linemen and linebackers (four seniors and three juniors).

History

One paragraph could never encapsulate the story of 131 Princeton-Yale games, a series that has seen the likes of Walter Camp (Yale class of 1880), Hobey Baker ’14, Dick Kazmaier ’52, and Calvin Hill (Yale ’69). But from the Princeton perspective, one game speaks volumes: the Tigers’ 1981 victory, which featured an unthinkable rally led by quarterback Bob Holly ’82. Click here to read Mark F. Bernstein ’83′s 2006 PAW story about that memorable meeting — voted the best game in the history of Palmer Stadium.

Players to watch

Princeton defensive lineman Caraun Reid ’13

Reid, one of two freshmen to play in all eight games for Princeton, came to college with the tools to become a star on the defensive line. He has size (6 feet, 2 inches, 270 pounds), speed (runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds), and power (in the words of teammate Joel Karacozoff ’10, “his legs are the size of tree trunks”). Reid has been solid against the run, and this week, against Yale’s pass-first offense, he will try to chase down Witt for his first collegiate sack.

Yale senior tight end and H-back John Sheffield

Sheffield had been a valuable blocker, a standout on special teams, and most importantly, the Bulldogs’ top receiver with 52 catches for 495 yards and two touchdowns. “He is maybe a man without a country, in terms of a position, but because of his flexibility and versatility, we’re able to use him at a lot of different spots,” Williams said. “He performs well at all of them.”

Injury report

Princeton’s lineup has been decimated by injuries, particularly in the last four weeks. Hughes provided an update Nov. 11: “We have 27 kids on the injured list right now. We’ve had six ACL tears on our team. Nine linebackers were out [for the Penn game]. Three strong safeties — out. We’ve had three running backs hurt. … Frankly, these last two to three weeks have been almost like an early preseason camp-type mode, to try to get some of these younger [backups] ready to go.” Two key players — linebacker Jon Olofsson ’11 and offensive tackle J.P. Makrai ’10 — may return against Yale.

Around the Ivies

Penn travels to Harvard for the de facto Ivy championship game on Saturday. (Both teams are 5-0 in league play, so the winner is guaranteed at least a share of the Ivy title.) Defense could dominate the contest. Harvard coach Tim Murphy said the Quakers are by far the best team that the Crimson will face this year. “If you look at their last three games, I don’t think anybody has crossed the goal line against their first-string defense,” he said. Penn coach Al Bagnoli believes his offense will have its hands full against the Crimson defenders. “Harvard causes some schematic headaches, and they always have great athletes,” Bagnoli said. In other action Dartmouth (2-3) travels to Brown (3-2), and Cornell (1-4) hosts Columbia (1-4).

Final quote

On playing against Yale: “Those are the games we live for. Forty years from now, we’re going to come back for Reunions and say, ‘Man, remember that Yale game senior year?’ ”

– Princeton defensive end Joel Karacozoff ’10

Princeton’s probable starters

Offense

Defense

WR 19 – Trey Peacock ’11

LT 75 – Mark Paski ’10

LG 65 – Andrew Mills ’11

C 78 – Andrew Hauser ’10

RG 76 – Marc Daou ’10

RT 72 – J.P. Makrai ’10

TE 48 – Harry Flaherty ’11

WR 82 – Jeb Heavenrich ’11

or 9 – Andrew Kerr ’11

QB 7 – Tommy Wornham ’12

TB 29 – Meko McCray ’11

FB 25 – Matt Zimmerman ’11

K 99 – Ben Bologna ’10

DE 92 – Matt Boyer ’11

NT 91 – Kevin DeMaio ’12

DE 85 – Joel Karacozoff ’10

LB 50 – John Callahan ’10

LB 51 – Steve Cody ’11

LB 45 – Jon Olofsson ’11

LB 56 – Brad Stetler ’10

CB 3 – Cart Kelly ’10

S 27 – Andrew Starks ’13

S 18 – Dan Kopolovich ’10

CB 23 – Glenn Wakam ’11

P 41 – Otavio Fleury ’12

or 31 – Joe Cloud ’13