Football preview: Princeton vs. Lafayette

Just one game into the Bob Surace ’90 era, the Princeton Tigers already have a lot to be excited about and a lot to worry about. First, the bad news: The team announced this week that middle linebacker Steve Cody, a preseason All-American and captain, is out for the season with a broken leg sustained late in the season opener, a 35-22 loss to Lehigh. Cody was perhaps the team’s best player, and filling his shoes will be a major challenge. Senior outside linebacker Jon Olofsson has been shifted to the middle to replace Cody, and sophomore Tim Kingsbury has been inserted into the starting lineup in Olofsson’s place.

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The good news? Princeton’s offense looked strong in its debut. Though the Tigers struggled to finish drives and wound up kicking five field goals, Princeton totaled 528 yards. Junior quarterback Tommy Wornham completed just under 63 percent of his passes for 392 yards, a career high. Wide receiver Andrew Kerr finished with 11 catches for 125 yards, while his counterpart Trey Peacock assaulted the Mountain Hawks for eight catches and 196 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown play. The Tigers also ran for 141 yards, led by senior running back Jordan Culbreath’s nine-carry, 56-yard performance. Culbreath appears close to the form he had two years ago, when he was named first-team All-Ivy.
 
Lafayette has stumbled out of the gate, losing two close games to open the season. The Leopards fell to Georgetown 28-24 in their home opener before losing to reigning Ivy League champion Penn 19-14 on the road. The last time Lafayette started a season 0-2 was in 2001.

History
 
Princeton has dominated the series. The Tigers have won last four, including a 26-14 victory in 2006 when the Leopards last visited. Historically, Princeton leads Lafayette 37-4-3. The two teams have not faced each other since 2007, but will resume their traditional series now that Princeton has completed its home-and-home exchange with The Citadel.
 
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Tim Kingsbury ’13 (Office of Athletics Communications)

Players to watch

 
Princeton outside linebacker Tim Kingsbury ’13
 
Kingsbury was inserted into the starting lineup when Cody went down. While Jon Olofsson, who will replace Cody at middle linebacker, has starting experience, Kingsbury has none. With five collegiate tackles to his name, Kingsbury will play an important role on a defense that gave up 35 points a week ago and is looking to make major strides.
 
Lafayette senior wide receiver Mark Layton
 
Last week, Lehigh’s top receiver, Alex Wojdowski, gave the Tigers fits, finishing with four grabs for 79 yards and two touchdowns. This week, Layton could be the big threat. The 5-foot-9-inch senior has 17 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in two games. Layton will be a major factor on underneath routes that could allow Lafayette to sustain long drives and keep Princeton’s quick-strike offense off the field.
 
Roster notes
 
Cody will be the most conspicuous absence for the Tigers, but starting center Mike Muha ’12 also was felled by injury in the opener. He was replaced by senior Michael Crowder, who will start the home opener.
 
The Leopards have an interesting situation at quarterback, where Ryan O’Neil was called into action late last week against Penn after being benched following an injury vs. Georgetown. His replacement, Marc Quilling, had completed 4 of 13 passes for 55 yards with three interceptions. O’Neil, who totaled more than 300 yards in week one, gave the Leopards a late spark and finished 8 of 13 for 94 yards with an interception. O’Neil will be back as the starter this week.
 
Around the Ivies
 
Five of the league’s eight teams came away victorious in their non-league openers last weekend. Dartmouth knocked off Bucknell, 43-20, behind a blistering offensive performance. Yale shocked Georgetown with a late touchdown to win a 40-35 shootout. Harvard asserted itself in a 34-6 shellacking of Holy Cross, while Brown knocked off Stony Brook 33-30 in a double overtime thriller. Penn opened its title defense with a 19-14 win over Lafayette. Columbia came up short against in-city rival Fordham, losing 16-9, while Cornell was blown away 41-7 at Wagner.
 
Final quote
 
“There are three areas we need to make improvement. We can’t have as many penalties. We can’t turn the ball over. And the third area is the red zone on both sides of the football.”

– Princeton head coach Bob Surace ’90

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